La-based Dustin Kott quietly earned a reputation for turning out meticulous 1970s Honda café racers. But Dustin’s latest build for Hollywood superstar Ryan Reynolds has thrown him firmly into the spotlight
Ryan Reynolds’ Triumph was all over Youtube. No surprise given the award-winning actor’s current profile following the success of Deadpool. But when we spotted the Kott Motorcycles decal on the tank we quickly got in contact with Dustin for his story of the build. Turns out the project was a wily piece of marketing by Triumph USA who gave the bike to the A-lister. But the real smart thinking was done by Dustin in turning a new (but pre-2016 model) Thruxton into this sleek café racer. Here’s the full story, from the man himself…
You had a rep for building beautiful Hondas. At what point did you start doing retro Hinckley Triumphs and why?
There are a number of reasons. The obvious one is that these newer bikes are readily available as donor machines and have a tremendous amount of factory support in terms of replacement parts. The next advantage is that the restoration process isn’t nearly as exhaustive. When I use vintage machines the projects are equal parts restoration and customisation. The restorative process can be overwhelming, depending on the disarray of the project bike.
With the old classics you can do what you like with carbs and ignitions but modern bikes come with complex electronics and fuel injection. What’s it like working with it compared to the old stuff?
The engineering philosophy I have adopted is that simplicity is key and the fewest moving parts create the most reliable outcome. There is a tremendous difference in the simplification process between modern motorcycles and retro machines. The biggest challenge taking on a machine with so much technology is trying to rid it of any encumbrance without stopping it working. On retro machines one never has to consider much more than just several wires that operate ignition, lighting and some form of a charging system. The notable modifications to this Thruxton included the removal and transfer of the fuel pump system into a Yamaha XS1100 fuel tank and the downsized lithium ion battery and ECU unit were carefully repositioned beneath the cowling of the seat unit. The rest of the wiring was placed in a series of trays that were welded to the frame underneath the pan of the seat. I
'Creatively and aesthetically Ryan turned me loose and trusted my intuition
was careful to maintain accessibility of components for servicing and the elevation of the frame rails allowed for a perforated steel plate design, which allowed turbulent air to cool components. Ultimately the biggest challenge on this build was to try to create and maintain mechanical and aesthetic simplicity. All the while working within the electronic and technological parameters of what is a non-issue with a vintage machine.
How did you hook up with Ryan Reynolds for this Triumph build?
I have come to the point where I realise the only things I can take credit for in my business are the willingness to put my work boots on every morning and the gumption to walk through open doors of opportunity. I have been a bit lucky to turn a hobby into a profession and I have been very fortunate that some motorcycle enthusiasts have taken a genuine interest in my work. At the beginning of 2014 I received a phone call from Triumph saying they wanted to give Ryan Reynolds a motorcycle but they were interested in having it customised. Ryan asked for the bike to be sent to my shop in May 2014 – he had expressed interest in my work and felt that I would be able to accomplish the desired outcome for the Thruxton.
Had you built bikes for celebrities before?
I have had a number of celebrity encounters in the past few years. My favourite meeting was with Ewan Mcgregor and another with Katy Perry.
How much extra attention and money has doing Ryan’s bike brought?
The notoriety of building a bike for a high profile actor does not necessarily equate to monetary success but I have had an increase in interest since then.