Lifestyle: Workshop

Don Juan

The Flying Don Juan

Tommy’s flying machine

A classic 1950 Triumph 6T, owned by Jakarta-based Tommy Sunu, has turned heads in a new ‘Free for All’ category at the prestigious Deus Bike Build Off.

So we asked him how the 650cc Flying Don Juan project got its wings.

Q. Pleased?

A. To win the former Peoples’ Choice award is amazing because the bikes we were up against were beautiful and detailed. All I wanted was to own the perfect bike in terms of theme, shape, colour and details.


Q. Tell us about yourself?

A. I’m 37, married with three boys, and living in a peaceful neighborhood in Bintaro, South of Jakarta. I’m an in-house tax lawyer for the biggest mining company in Indonesia. I love motorcycles and riding them.

Q. When did you get into motorcycles?

A. On my 18th birthday, when my father bought me a Honda GL-200. I learned about engines, structure and the motorcycling brotherhood from that bike, but my interest in classics came when I visited a friend whose father had a collection of classics. He allowed me to ride the Triumph and I fell in love with it and have learned about the classics ever since.

Q. What’s the Indonesian motorcycle scene like?

A. Intense… most people have one in their home. There are many motorcycle clubs and communities in Indonesia, from small to big engines and classic to modern. There are many custom contests and since 2013, I’ve been heavily involved with Cafe Racer Indonesia (CRI), a community of cafe racer bikes with smaller engines, from 100 to 300cc, and larger engines of 300cc and above in a cafe racer style. We’ve just had our second annual Mods vs Rockers event to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day, attended by 7,000 riders of mods (scooterist), and cafe racer and custom bike lovers. This year, we were supported by Triumph Motorcycle Indonesia and other brands..

For me, the very word Triumph means great victory and achievement.

Tommy Sunu

Q. Why Triumph?

A. Because I fell in love with the brand the second I sat on my friend’s dad’s bike. For me, the very word Triumph means great victory and achievement.

Q. How did you choose Yusuf Syam to carry out the build?

A. He lives in Bali and his Lowo Abang Art Cycle (LAAC) workshop is in the middle of a rice field, so he meditates and paints as well as builds bikes. He’s well known as a classic custom motorcycle builder and I admire his handmade works. I got the Triumph 6T Thunderbird from a friend in Bali at the end of 2013, with the original engine, frame, gas tank and spring wheel drum brake. Since the 6T is rare in Indonesia, it’s almost impossible to restore the bike to its original condition as it’s so difficult to find the parts. I contacted both Yusuf to do the customising and Ipin and Alel of Classic Bikers Batavia to do the engine rebuild. A year and three months later the bike was complete. Custom bikes truly allow you to show your creativity and art.

Q. What’s in the name Flying Don Juan?

A. Flying came from the wings painted on the side by Fahmi Freeflow Painting on the tank and Don Juan from the iconic Triumph 6T used by Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

Q. How do you and Fahmi Freeflow know each other?

A. We are friends and roomed together at the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show in Japan last December. This is the second project we’ve worked on as I built a Honda CB450 1969, which was runner-up at the national bike custom contest at Kustomfest Yogyakarta. We both have wild and out-of-the-box ideas. I told him I wanted something new, with a different painting technique and patterns that he’s never done for anyone else.

Q. Are there any more builds on the horizon?

A. Yes, I want to build an old school chopper with a basic engine of a new Triumph and psychedelic painting. Watch this space.

Photography by Dipo Panenmaya.