Most of us will start a custom bike build with a genre, fashion or style in mind. You might want something that oozes classic café racer. Or maybe you’re thinking of a creation in a brat style with a touch of tracker thrown in for good luck. Hell, if you’re anything like me you’re probably planning the colour of the brake leads before you’ve even got a bike. But few of us have the skills or courage to just trust in your love of metal, your passion for bikes and your creativity and simply let the build happen. Which is exactly what Gian from France’s Tredici Custom Castings did. Meet his very groovy ‘Black Smoker’ Triumph.


“My name is Gianluca Curulla. I’m 33 and my parents were South Italian immigrants, so I live in North East France where all the French iron and steel industries are. I’m a blacksmith and a metal founder and until recently I was a foundry teacher. My hobbies have always been metal, music and motos. I’m a drummer in grind-core and doom bands, doing recordings and thousands of gigs and tours all over Europe. I also love mountain bikes and bmx; most weekends I’ll be eating dust and breaking my shoulders somewhere or other.”


[superquote]“Clients payed me with bottles of Islay whiskey or bikes parts, sometimes weed”[/superquote]

“I have always lightened and customised my bikes. As a huge addict of drag, hot rods and all types of motor freaking, I’m always putting all those non-sense accessories and plastics in the bin to keep things light to handle and roll. With my first pay cheque I got my motorcycle licence and bought my first ‘real’ motorcycle. It was a Honda 500 four and since then I’ve had only 70’s bikes – mostly Hondas. I always repaired and built bikes and cycles. Sometimes for friends and for free, doing cast parts at my foundry for old-timers or race bikes. I never got a shop or a real business going; the clients payed me with bottles of Islay whiskey or bikes parts… and sometimes weed.”


“So now, pushed by my friends and family, I’m running Tredici Custom Castings, and I specialise in casts and forged parts for bikes. This little Triumph is my first ‘official’ build, but I’ve got other bike projects going on in my garage, too. But this bike is kind of a living portfolio of my work.”


“I really believe in this stuff. The real things you can touch. I’ve got no Facebook, no Twitter, no nothing except the shop and my poor blog. Soon I’ll open an online store, with lots of parts. I’m kind of discreet person, but I have a good amount of part orders. It’s great ’cause that’s I really want to do. More parts and more bikes, and maybe even make a living with it. That’s my dream, man.”


“I started the build with a ultra-beat up and non-running Triumph T25 Blazer SS (Street Scrambler). I was able to buy this bike cheap as it was pretty much junk. Non-running motor, bent and cracked swingarm, missing or broken parts. But with street legal papers! It’s not street legal in this guise, but I have hidden wiring and quick connectors for headlights, licence plate illumination and the rest.”


“I lowered the forks by 8cm front and rear, put on some Hagon shocks, an Avon 19″ front and a Dunlop K81 18″ rear. The one-off aluminium parts I cast are the mudguard, saddle, primary cover, timer cover, rear drum plate, exhaust ‘salt lake style’ pipe cap, footpegs and the front fairing.”


“The gas tank is from a 70’s Batavus moped; I used some bass drum tensioners to fasten the mudguard and saddle, and old butterfly nuts from 40’s bicycles. The stand is made from the leaf spring suspension of an English MG car and a drag z-bar. All the rest is raw metal which has been hand fabricated and drilled. The only color luxury I permitted myself was to put a light layer of matt black on the frame only to de-paint it with acetone to bring up an authentic 40 year-old look.”


“It runs like a beast now and weighs exactly 103kg with a tank full of gas. There’s 28hp to play with, and the saddle is really comfortable. The leather was professionally made, and it’s the only part of the bike I didn’t do myself. The photos you see here where taken near the last remains of an old steel mill from when I was a kid. It’s now a green park where old people walk the dog on a Sunday. I hope you enjoy them.”


[Photos by Hugo Chevalier]