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MotörReen. The art of rat bikes

For a long time we were on René’s trail, a German based in London, author of the most special customizations we’ve seen in the fixed gear scene. His stamp? Aging by painting and combination of parts to give that appearance between old and neglect on all of his work.

1. Who is MotörReen? How did your passion start? When did you start to make custom works?

Hi, my name is René Donner and I am the driving force behind MotörReeen. I was born in former East Germany and with 37 years of age I am old enough to remember life before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. My teenage years in the then united Berlin, the vast availability of abandoned industrial spaces were the first step. My main occupation was to find the best skateboard spots and walls to hit with Belton Chrome and Heat Red spray cans on my BMX. I finished University in Digital Media and Media Production, lived and worked in Berlin, then in Bergen (Norway) and since nearly 8 years I’m living in London. The media industry drove me to be in London only to find traffic, lol. It all flipped from a curse to my daily dose of adrenalin when I got my bike up and ride. A Fixed. Risers and a massive Bag.

This scene of that particular creature, the urban cyclist, churned out riders, races and bikes, I love it. I always had the habit of tweaking the look and performance of my things. I could never really let my mind off without tinkering, enhancing or re-designing my bikes. First for my own, then friends’ and now customers.

2. How do you work with the metals?

I’m fascinated by the beauty of decay, strongly influenced by the American Hotrod and custom motorcycle scene, Rat Bikes just clicked with me. I love the look and feel of rust but the machine needs to tune to perfection, no old clunker there! I started using paint to simulate the look of the old. First on my Leader 735 by screwing with the finish then by completely mimicking rust and years of abuse like on my Kagero.

It’s all done in Paint, no degradation of the material. I can rust your alloy frame as well as your carbon fiber steed, your crash helmet or plastic gas tank.

3. When did you start to make custom bikes?

I started around 2011 with minor customizations, parts and smaller paint jobs like the custom wheelset and painted hubs on the Faggin. My second Rat bike, the Kagero caught so much attention and I started to receive requests for paint jobs from all over the globe, ranging from full on rust look to bespoke finishes.

4. What’s your opinion about fixed gear?

Ever since I came in contact with the concept of a track bike in traffic, I was lost to the idea. Not because it makes sense, because it doesn’t, but because it works so well for me. You get ability and that challenges the rider. For me it means I am in the moment with full awareness of my surrounding. I have to and that is my therapy. I understand it’s not for everyone the same and I wouldn’t be dismissive about your ride at all, as long as you ride!

5. Can you tell us more about the project with the new 8bar limited ed.?

This project was a thought when I started to look for a new frame. So many companies are now building affordable performance track frames and components that simply couldn’t be dreamt of just 5years ago. The Berlin based 8bar bikes caught my attention right away since their frames are well up my alley. Top quality for such a competitive price. When I approached Stefan to see if we could work on something together, he was immediately into it. They released this new Krzberg V5 frame this year and we agreed a stunner like that could handle a paint job that really made a statement. That paint job was quite a challenge to unite rust and camouflage and not have both elements compete or cancel each other out.

6. Can you show us some of your works with a small description?

  • Faggin Vigorelli: my first, shy custom jobby, hand build wheels with custom painted hubs. Sadly that bike got stolen during the London Riots 2011.
  • Leader 735: brand new, I took the paint off before the first build up then aged brand new components to go with it. My friends thought I had lost the plot.
  • Leader Kagero (2011): Custom parts all over the shop. Logo modification/removal on seatpost and stem, hand polished Cinelli track drops, powder coated matt black Omnium cranks, custom rear wheel.
  • Leader Kagero (re-styling 2012): Total custom paint job and a front wheel drilled carbon rim to 16 holes
  • Cinelli Vigorelli: Recreation of the original Paint job but done my way.
  • 8bar Krzberg V5.: rusty and camouflage on one of the lightest frames out there.

7. Thanks to…

Thanks go out to my family, my girl and immediate friends. Their continued support and input as much their patience with me helped to get it started and keep it going.

Daniele for helping me to build the brand.

Harvey from Cycle PS Camberwell for his advices and support.

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