Suus Customs is a Melbourne-based website and factory that last year started making urban custom bikes and selling vintage and new riding gear plus other fanciful products – even furniture – that all share a sympathetic simplicity. It’s the brainchild of 28-year-old product design engineer Ryan Mischkulnig. “I’ve been working toward this for a few years as a personal project while working as an engineer, but now I’m working full time as a mechanic, designer, the works,” he says.
The Suus logo bears the motto “hand refined hard defined” and the name actually came from a search of Google Translate. “I simply started typing in different English words that I felt captured some of the essence of what I am trying to achieve … and seeing what came up that had a good sound and feel. Suus is translated to ‘his, its, own, free, personal, favourite’ all words which I feel work well to describe Suus,” Ryan says.
Suus custom motorcycles are therefore a simple personal statement about freedom. “I’m interested in building compact little motorbikes that are fun to ride around town and hark back to the simpler ages of ‘50s and ‘70s machines,” he says. “However, a lot of people don’t have the time to service and maintain those bikes these days, so I build them with a little more reliability.”
But, like Deus, it’s more than just a custom bikemotorcycle shop. “It has elements of Deus to it in the sense of humour and encompassing not just bikes but the gear to go with it,” he says. “I have no intention of imitating them. I just love building bikes that make you smile every time you walk into the garage and see them, and that make your smile grow even bigger when you hop on and ride. This is a key element which I try to carry across to every product that Suus carries or produces.” So there’s rider fashion, there’s bicycles, there’s vintage helmets and jackets, there’s furniture and even “curiosities” such as an old steel pedal car.
Most of the vintage stuff is unrestored, wearing their patina of age with an air of pride. “This is a big appeal to me. I love the story that secondhand goods can tell, so the pieces such as the helmets and jackets are kept with all their battle scars, and where suitable this is done with the motorcycles as well. The bicycles on the website show a little of this. The frames are kept as is with 40 or so years of patina, but all the driveline is rebuilt or replaced to create something that is easy to ride today and easy to get parts for.”
As for the old helmets Suus sells, they are more for decoration than protection. “It just seems such a shame to let them (the old helmets) go to waste,” he says. His product description of the old helmets clearly points out that they are not really for use, but as a collectable. “The jackets are a bit more useable and have a bit of protection,” he says.
Ryan also has plans to work with local companies to make vintage-style riding jackets. “There are enough people out there making them now, so we’ll look to work with them and make the product to our specs, but I would like to have a Suus branded range eventually. We’ll see how the next six months goes.”
Ryan has only been riding motorcycles the past couple of years. “I’m still just getting into it now. I came across from cars for the design side as much as the riding of them. I love the fact that I can build a custom bike for the price of a second-hand Corolla. I love the speed and freedom of working with bikes.”
He has so far only made a few cafe racers and bobbers but he scored ninth place last year with his BSA Bull Shit Art Bantam in the international people’s choice award section of the Deus Ex Machina Boundless Enthusiasm Biker Build Off. Ryan also set a couple of new Australian records at the 2014 Speed Week at Lake Gairdner with two of his small-capacity custom bikes. “Speed week was fun. I’d been planning to go there for about 10 years,” he says.
Ryan will reveal his “next big project” at the official Suus Launch Party at from 6pm on May 9 at the Kustom Kommune communal motorcycle workshop at 25 Easey Street, Collingwood. He’s not saying much at the moment, but he is talking enthusiastically about bobbers with 50 to 60-year-old rigid frames and under-350cc engines. “I’m not a mechanic coming into design. With my background in design engineering over the past five years I have more understanding on how to work with these things so they are a little more legal and usable than some of the customs coming out,” he says.
Custom bike lovers are invited to attend the Kustom Kommune event which will also feature the launch of the South Korean uglyBROS motorcycle clothing brand into Australia. “Their jeans and shirts are among the best cut and they are comfortable enough to wear anywhere,” he says. “I want to encourage people to ride in semi-protective gear rather than just Levis.”
Suus currently exists on the internet and as a temporary shop in a shared factory space at 335 Darebin Rd, Thornbury, but Ryan is also looking for more shop fronts to share his passion for bikes, clothing and collectibles.