Bob and Alex Wrenching

“No one pays for landscapes. You need to photograph people.”

Words of advice from my friend, who had re-invented himself once upon a time: Carlo Ricci, Commercial photographer and motion director.

So here we are. An editorial project documenting Bob Cao & Alex Wiecke (Pantheon Moto) building a proof of concept Honda Rebel Motorcycle Scrambler Kit. An after market product designed to transform a Honda Rebel from that of a cruiser to the look of the more popular scrambler.

Now, how does one go about carving their mark in a field as saturated in quality as photography? I suppose writing, finding my voice and documenting it publicly would be a good start. Carlo insisted that this venture ought to be tackled with absolute focus. So as I look around the landscape that is design and advertising, I ponder that kind of commitment. There is creative solace and rejuvenation in working a camera. It can also be an isolating experience, being in sole control of the process and the burden of outcome. It is similar to everything I know professionally, and yet so different. 

This is not Project #1, but it is a convenient line in the sand to begin this written journey.

Alex Wiecke
Alex Wiecke, Electrical Engineer
Bob Cao
Bob Cao, Mechanical &  Software Engineer
Bob Cao and his motorcycle
We had a few weeks to stage Bob’s motorcycle for some test shots and for me to steal a candid hair flip.
Warehouse and the Yamaha
Empty warehouse space. The motorcycle catching some sun.
Custom 2016 FZ 09 Yamaha Motorcycle
This shot is no longer possible. As of this writing, tenants are now moving in and firing up their businesses.
Leather and Sparks
Back to work. As the first tenants of the new MakerLab space in Vancouver, the guys were able to frame out a 300 square foot workshop. Equipped with everything one may need for cutting, torching, grinding, wrenching, and general mechanical application.

The kids are alright.

I met Bob by chance. He works for Damon, a technology startup geared towards automating motorcycle accident avoidance. I can’t even begin to get into the particulars of what he does between 9 to 5, simply because I don’t understand them. But there are a lot of precision monitoring tools, a Unity3D simulator, and some high end motorcycles now parked in our shared studio space.

It was immediately clear that he is both a thinker and a doer. The first thing I heard about Bob, was the time he nearly required a finger amputation. Instead of wallowing at the prospect, he and a friend adept in bionics, started research on how to make a prosthetic finger that would do who knows what. Robocop is all I could imagine. This is the kind of person Bob is. Seemingly always on the go and always looking at what can be done, changed, or improved upon. Not loud, but his presence is known.

Alex is quiet and measured. Perhaps it is cliche, but Bob’s outgoing energy and Alex’s reserved demeanour compliment each other. This isn’t to miscast him as silent. Alex is quick to point out nuances of their build to me without my needing to ask. He explains why he is building a makeshift press (to quickly set foam to the new seat pan); considerations they have made in design approaches; and we also talk about life. I’m prone to rambling and he interjects thoughtfully and with patience.

I tease Alex about his presence on camera, only because I can empathize with him. I try and document what he’s doing from a distance, not wanting to interfere with the story.Viewers know when things are contrived. So either I stay in the shadows or stage with complete deliberation. Trying to live in the middle is fruitless.

Measuring
Working on paper is only going to get you so far. Shape that metal and get it on the bike.
Fail faster. Rapid prototyping is the name of the game. This includes bolting things down to test application.
Throwing Sparks
Then it is back to the lab for any adjustments and an opportunity for me to catch some sparks.

“We came into this project as engineers, not fabricators. Building something useful, as well as being compliant with motorcycle safety guidelines was paramount. We’re not fabricating for the sake of design aesthetics. Utility is everything.”

Foam seat being placed on the scrambler kit frame.
Common theme alert: An alpha prototype being installed. I tend to use language from my design director background.
Alex Wiecke
Conversing over next steps.
Alex drilling
Alex drilling his makeshift press together.
Bob Cao, working on the seat pan design for the Honda Rebel
Bob cutting out some foam for a re-iteration on the seat pan design.
Alex Wiecke
Alex is also doing the same.
Cheese Grater
“This old cheese grater is my favourite way to shave down foam” – Actual Quote.
Bob Cao
WCB applies to everybody kids. Wear proper equipment for the task at hand.
The Prototype
A working prototype of the seat pan destined to live on the Honda Rebel. Thanks to the support and efforts from Honda, there is already some initial excitement and back orders from customers.

Project Status: Upholstering and Final Build in progress.

Project Credits

PANTHEON MOTO

Alex Wiecke

Bob Cao

 

Location

MakerLabs

PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRODUCTION:

Terry Dee

PANTHEON BRANDING:

Anatomy Creative

All images © 2002-2018 Terry Dee.