A trip to Bali a decade ago inspired Tony Babczyk to start building his own custom bikes. The result is Knallpott, a small German bike shop run by Tony and his co-partner Rick Parker (the photographer from Oilfinger magazine). Along the way, they partnered with Motul and now have their eyes set on the future of custom bike building.
Tony, what’s your connection with Motul?
The cooperation began when Rick started flattracking.... before that we used different oils, some good, some bad. But when we started using Motul's oil and other products like cleaning and care products, we were seriously blown away by the quality. That's when we then realised why it‘s so important to use Motul.
Could you give us an example of why this is important?
It’s so important to focus on high-quality components and oil, to have a good oil inside a motorcycle, because the engine is the heart of the bike. When we first started connecting with Motul I started to learn a lot about different oils and why good oils are crucial.
How did the idea for Knallpott come about?
The funny thing is we're not a real company. This is just a hobby. It all started when I went to Bali to study in 2012. I knew of the brand Deus Ex Machina but I’d never seen one. I was in Canggu and I visited Deus’ Temple of Enthusiasm. Inside I saw these beautiful custom bikes and instantly I knew I wanted to build bikes like this when I came home. So I got my first bike and started building it with Rick. I moved to Dusseldorf and slept on Rick’s couch for eight months. It was baby steps to start with.
How has it evolved?
We met two other guys. One of them had the same motorcycle as me. And they thought they could learn something from us because we could take nice pictures of the bikes and make them look really professional. But in reality, we were just two guys building bikes in Rick’s garden. But because of this collaboration, we moved to the other guys’ sheds. It was a super-huge place and we didn’t have to pay rent. And we could do whatever we wanted to do, because we didn’t have neighbours complaining about the noise and things like that. That was great.
What bike projects are next for you?
As I say, this is still just a hobby. We started in 2016 and we’ve built about four or five bikes between us. I’m working on a bike now that’s going to be finished very soon; it needs a seat and then to be painted. We’re going to be building a couple of bikes with the guys from Motoism, too. They specialise in building bike parts using 3D printing.
What sets Knallpott apart from other custom bike builders?
My thing is, I try to build something that I like. The first bike I built was on a budget because I was a student. And when it was built, I liked it, but thought it could be better, so I’ve rebuilt it again and again. Ultimately, I want a bike to look good for me. If it doesn't please anyone else I don’t care. We want to make old bikes hot again.
What does the name Knallpott mean?
It’s an Indonesian word. Indonesia was a Dutch colony and the word knallpott is very similar to German. It means exhaust. In Indonesian, it’s got one “l” and one “t” but we did it in a German kind of way with two. I used to see this word everywhere on garage signs garages when I was riding my motorcycle in Bali.