New, Gritty Bike-Building Show Takes Everything To Extremes

Another motorcycle show rumbles onto the small screen as the Esquire Network rides out ‘Wrench Against the Machine’, a bike-building contest focused on the rawest level of customization in the shortest possible time.

Premiering on Tuesday, November 15th at 9pm EST/8pm CST, the weekly series pits grassroots motorcycle-building garages against each other with the winner decided by three celebrity judges.  Roland Sands, founder of the highly esteemed motorcycle and apparel company Roland Sands Design, and two of the most revered names in motorcycle design, Michael Woolaway, U.S. Director of Motorcycle Design for Deus Ex Machina and Alan Stulberg, Co-Founder and Chief Designer of Revival Cycles and the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show.

The teams only have three days and $3,000 to transform basic stock motorcycles into rowdy, riding, works of art. Each episode will also feature a different type of bike including café racers, choppers and bobbers. Making the challenge even harder, the competition takes place with both teams building in a strange garage and no idea what kind of motorcycle they’ll be working on, both in age or brand, before walking through the doors.

“They have no idea what they’re going to see,” explains Roland Sands, founder of Roland Sands Design. “They really had to put their heads to together for a buildable idea and not overstep their boundaries financially or time, or even their skill-level. It wasn’t a great time to learn things or have to do them twice, you have to get it right the first time.”

The Three Judges  - Roland Sands, Alan Stulberg and Michael Woolaway

The first episode pits Steel Bent Customs from Tampa against Draft Studio out of Chicago. As mentioned, the competing teams are flown to a garage and have 72 non-stop hours to customize the motorcycle they’re given. Not only are the custom motorcycles judged on looks and originality but also how well it rides. If the motorcycle can’t be ridden, it loses automatically.

While the first two teams to compete enjoy a brand new Indian Scout in the premier, that’s not necessarily the case going forward.

“Some of these guys are given old bikes in somewhat of an unfair situation,” Michael Woolaway, U.S. Director of Motorcycle Design for Deus Ex Machina told Clutch and Chrome. “One didn’t run, one had a bad carburetor, some had bad electronics so they were fighting all kinds of bad things in the other challenges.”

In an interview with the three judges featured on Clutch and Chrome’s ‘Another Motorcycle Podcast’, it was apparent their own individual styles and bike-building mantras heavily influenced decisions. A belief held by Sands, Woolaway and Stulberg, ‘Do no harm’.

“That’s one thing with this show that Woolie is critical of and Alan is as well, we were kind of hard on the guys that destroyed the bike,” notes Sands. “There were a couple of guys who destroyed the bike, they took perfectly good motorcycles and turned them into piles of shit and that was something as bike-builders we don’t essentially condone. We understand the purpose of the show is to modify the bikes, but I like simplicity and to increase the performance of a motorcycle rather than break it down.”

The three judges have known each other personally for years, and maybe that familiarity was the cause of some heated disagreements when deciding on the winning motorcycle.

“There were many moments when I disagreed,” says Alan Stulberg, Co-Founder and Chief Designer of Revival Cycles and the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. “They were together on most of their opinions while I had some contrasting opinions.”

Wrench Against the Machine’ premieres Tuesday, November 15th at 9pm EST/8pm CST and at the time of speaking with the three judges, eight episodes have been filmed.

More behind-the scenes stories, a closer look at the three celebrity judges, their bike-building philosophies as well as tips and hints on how everyday riders should approach customizing their own motorcycles can be found on Clutch and Chrome’s ‘Another Motorcycle Podcast’.

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