Q&A with Brice Hennebert21/03/2019
With work well under way turning a Scout Bobber into a sprint racer, Indian caught up with Brice at Workhorse Speed Shop to find out more about him and what inspired his passion for building one-off motorcycles.
Q: You grew up surrounded by your father’s bikes, what is your earliest memory of motorcycles?
A: “I think that was my neighbour in front of my parent’s house trying to start an old off-road 2-stroke for hours and hours, kicking and shouting bad words at it. I think I was 5.”
Q: At what age did you start working on motorcycles and when did you build your first custom?
A: “At the age of 15 years old. My dad gave me a dead Yamaha DT MX50 that had been crashed into a tractor. I did the all engine refurbishing with my dad, finding front forks and wheels on swap meets, etc. In the end, my first moped was sort of customised. Actually, my first true custom was a BMX modified with a sidecar made from an apple box and a Godier Genoud fairing.”
Q: You trained as a graphic designer, were you riding and working on bikes during this time?
A: “At this time, I was living in Brussels, so I only used a bicycle. Then I had a CB750 but nothing really serious. I came back to motorcycles a few years later, about 10 years ago maybe.”
Q: When did you decide to make your passion your official business?
A: “When the second person arrived to ask for a build. I started to think ‘mmm, maybe I can do this full time’, but it took another 5 years to be able to stop any other side jobs.”
Q: How did the idea come about, was it sudden or had you always wanted to do it?
A: “It was progressive. At first, I discovered, through the work of the Wrench Monkees, that you can do café racers and that kind of build from Japanese rides. In my dad’s and friend’s minds, café racers were European bikes or die. It really had to be old-school British or Italian for them. Then, I built something from my CB750 with a Rickman tank and seat that had been laying in my dad’s workshop for years. When a friend asked me to do something similar, I started thinking ‘hell, this could be the best job on earth’. I decided to fight like a devil for the next 7 years to get to the top-level of builders and I still have many things to learn.”
Q: How does it feel to have returned to the workshop of your childhood as a professional motorcycle builder?
A: “That was a really good feeling, kind of a shelter, far from the city and all the stuff about big cities. For my dad, it was also really cool because my job was born from his passion. The first two years of Workhorse were in that workshop, but now I have moved on to a new place which is better on both the technical side and for the business as Workhorse evolves.”
Q: For you, what makes a really good build? What impresses and inspires you when you see a custom motorcycle?
A: “A sense of proportion, subtle references from all around the motorsport world, efficiency, skilled build process, racing, no plastic, no ‘BS’ and honesty. I’m pushing my own limits every time, so the people I reference are changing all the time and I feed myself from many other areas than just motorcycles.”
Q: What are your favourite tools or equipment in the workshop?
A: “I think that’s the bead roller and my TIG welder for sure.”
Q: Which biking events are you most looking forward to this year?
A: “For me, the best indication of what’s happening in Europe is the Bike Shed in London, but I will be part of the Reunion in Monza, Wheels & Waves, Cafe Racer festival, Glemseck 101 and few others.”
Q: What is the best memory or experience you’ve had on a motorcycle?
A: “My dad bought 14 Urals with sidecars from Russia and sold 13 of them to friends and family. We took five of them on a long trip through the countryside roads all the way to Corsica. I would have been about 11 years old. Five of us travelled in the sidecars, including my mum and sister and even the dog. Although we spent a lot of time doing repairs, as we had a lot of trouble with the engines breaking down because they were old and tired, it is the very best memory for me.”
Q: Outside of motorcycles, what do you do for fun, what other hobbies do you have?
A: “Cars, fabrication techniques, design, drinking beer and spending quality time with friends in my Village.”
Q: We can’t reveal too much about the Scout Bobber racer you are building yet, but what are you working on right now?
A: “Today I did the swing arm welding; it wasn’t a piece of cake but I’m quite happy with the result. The project is well advanced and, so far, I am fulfilling all my objectives and deadlines in terms of the fabrication. So that’s quite cool.”
Follow the progress of the IndianxWorkhorse Scout Bobber sprint racer on these social media channels.
Workhorse Speed Shop