Sharp designs with a classic focus, Bunker Customs – based in Istanbul – is carving its niche in a busy world of custom shops. Not afraid to stretch its design legs, Bunker has turned its hand to both subtle retro modifications and major overhauls.
Mert and Can Uzer are brothers who share a passion for motorcycling and set up Bunker Customs in 2009. FTR talks to Can – a pro skateboarder who has been sponsored by Vans and Emerica brands – about their workshop, his background and what’s happening in the Turkish motorcycle scene.
How did Bunker Customs begin?
I always wanted a bike, but my family thought it was too dangerous for a kid like me so the dream never came true. They let Mert buy a bike, so then I decided to build my own bobber. This was in 2006 when I was 24 because I didn’t live with my family anymore. When I was building the first bike in my shop and going back and forth to the industrial zone, I realised that I had to learn welding, painting and so on because I couldn’t communicate with the craftsmen.
It took so long for the job to be done. So I started to buying in equipment to a warehouse where I distributed some skateboard brands like Supra shoes, Venture trucks and Jart skateboards at the time. Then, when my bike was finished, we started to build a bike for Mert at the same warehouse. That was in 2009, and we decided we loved to do all of that stuff. It really started to gain momentum because all our friends wanted to ride cool bikes and have fun with us.
What is your design ethos?
Because bikes are more affordable to work on and they have lots of little details, you can change one thing and it will just pop out. They are art and the fact it’s a form of transport is a bonus. Cars don’t have the same feeling. It’s not only fun to design something but it’s also being able to use your creations to become a tribe with your friends and ride anywhere, too. The designs are a mix of mine and my brother’s tastes as well as trying to complement the needs and likes of the customers.
Why do you gravitate towards Triumphs for your builds?
I’ve always been a fan and my first inspiration was a Triumph. It just has that iconic design that still stands out. That’s the reason I started to build the 1961 Triumph bobber in my saloon in 2006.
Tell us about your passion for motorcycles.
We just love riding them and changing them. We always tried to prove ourselves internationally. People thought we were posting some random garage photos we found from the web. We had English content, so they thought we weren’t from Turkey. Some of our customers even find us from other custom shops that are not located in Turkey.
What’s the motorcycle community like where you live?
The community wasn’t that big but it’s getting bigger, especially with the traffic problems in Turkey. Everyone started using motorcycles to make commuting easier and realised that it’s cooler and more affordable. Some of this is thanks to social media, I guess, helping to spread the word about cool bikes.
Do you think these types of custom motorcycles are becoming more popular?
There was always a big custom car scene and chopper scene in Turkey and between 2006 and 2009, when I was saying to people that I was building a bobber or a cafe racer, no one had a clue – even chopper builders didn’t understand what I was doing when they saw my bike. Then suddenly, with social media, everything changed. But, of course, it’s so slow like everything in Turkey.
What’s your favourite part of building a bike?
To combine aesthetics with functionality. The whole process of thinking about every part you change. You need to consider things like bolting points, proportions and finish. We like to design a completely perfect motorcycle for one particular customer. Reconsidering the purpose, posture, style and tuning for them.
Photos: Onur Aynagoz
Find out more about Bunker