WHO ARE OEM?
Old Empire Motorcycles were founded by Alec Sharp and Rafe Pugh, about four years ago as a bespoke custom builder with the intention of creating a handful of one-off machines annually to the very highest standards.
Operating out of an impressive yet charmingly rustic workshop/ office building in a converted barn in the glorious British countryside near Diss, Norfolk, its design themes, as its name suggests, are Great British automotive, aeronautic and maritime history. Think: Supermarine Spitfire, 1930s Bentleys, Brooks bicycle saddles, brown leather and hand-turned brass fittings with a dash of steam punk thrown in and you’ll start to get the idea. On top of that, the aim is to design and create as many of their components as possible in Britain – either on site or through an extensive network of craftsmen.
The resulting machines have so far have proved both unlike any other and impressively successful – enough to start earning commissions from the likes of Triumph. To date, around 15 bikes have been completed, ranging from the Royal Enfield-based ‘Pup’, to the Kawasaki W650-derived ‘Merlin’, to the Ducati Ss-powered ‘Typhoon’ (and, yes, there is a deliberately British aircraft theme to the bikes’ names so the latter is more Hawker than Eurofighter). Most have been featured in magazines and on websites around the world; many have been award winners in their own right.
In addition to bikes (which, with prices starting at well over £20K are not within reach of everybody), OEM also create and sell, via their slick website, a range of not just clothing but also smaller, individual custom items, such as their leather grips and brass fuel caps which, starting at just over £ 100, are far more accessible to most.
Sharp (right) and Pugh are building their own very special little empire