Once a black­smith, Foundry Mo­tor­cy­cle’s Tom Simp­son spe­cialises in bru­tally in­dus­trial cre­ations, but ad­mits it’s taken a while to get right

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Gary Pinchin

Cross­ing the thresh­old into Tom Simp­son’s Foundry Mo­tor­cy­cle you’re greeted by the wel­com­ing smell of roast cof­fee min­gling with burnt en­gine oil and fresh petrol. Foundry Mo­tor­cy­cle was formed af­ter Tom met Simon Lunn dur­ing his black­smith’s course. “We got chat­ting about bikes and two years later we started this busi­ness to­gether.

“But we dis­cov­ered it’s not an easy in­dus­try to make money in and we reached a cross­roads in 2014. Simon went off to do some­thing else and I con­tin­ued to do what I do here. I got lucky, tim­ing-wise. The retro scene boomed and now I’m so busy that I’m booked up into next year.”

But the Bike Shed showed Tom that go­ing to shows with com­mis­sioned bikes wasn’t a great busi­ness idea.

“If you go to a show with a bike that’s not al­ready sold, peo­ple will buy it - but the minute you say it’s sold they disappear. They don’t want to dis­cuss you build­ing them an al­ter­na­tive. If it’s up for sale, they’ll buy it.”

As he found with the trick BMW he took to the Bike Shed show at Tobacco Dock last year. The R80, with the en­gine re­furbed by Mo­tor­works, is mad but some­how stays re­fined. High­lights in­clude: stain­less steel petrol tank, tri­an­gu­lated sub-frame, YSS shocks, stain­less ex­hausts ter­mi­nat­ing in an un­der­seat col­lec­tor and a twin-choke We­ber carb feed­ing the in­let tracts through sin­u­ous in­let man­i­folds.

“Peo­ple on so­cial me­dia have a pop, say­ing my bikes can’t be rid­den – that they are only for show. I don’t bother to re­spond, but I’ve bought a Go Pro to use for road test­ing my bikes. That sets ev­ery­thing straight.

“The plan with the bike I took to Tobacco Dock was to build some­thing for me but I got car­ried away and it came out su­per-shiny, su­per-sleek. So I’m build­ing an­other sim­i­lar café racer.

So, how does Tom de­fine his style? “I think my smithy back­ground comes through. It’s more or­ganic than bolt-on. Most of the stuff on my bikes I make here. All the bikes I’ve built have a sim­i­lar feel. I al­ways make the ex­hausts flow in a par­tic­u­lar way. I make all my own sub-frames. But each time I try to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. Mak­ing a carb man­i­fold, for ex­am­ple, is much more sat­is­fy­ing for me than bolt­ing some­one else’s on.”

‘My bikes are or­ganic rather than bolt-on’

Be­spoke ex­haust and sub­frame are works of art

This Foundry BMW R80 show­cases the in­dus­trial, yet re­fined, look the firm is fa­mous for Tom Simp­son likes the or­ganic look Foundry are well known for build­ing bang­ing BMWS

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