Every biker can relate to this, the freedom, the roaring motors, the petrol fumes, the thrills, all this will stick to your heart like a dirty gum on your soles. If all those nights stuck in my dad’s garage taught me one thing, it was to appreciate that melodic two-stroke sound or the smooth purring sound of a four banger. Finding the right balance between style, power, and drive comfort is extremely difficult. Something had to be done. That’s where Danes Per Nielsen and Nicholas Bech stepped in by giving birth to WrenchMonkees in 2006. They work on new or used-up bikes and turn them into beautiful art on wheels in their Copenhagen based garage. The quality of their work is amazing and their frames are ideal for sharp motorcycles aficionados. Maybe the fact that Per plays in several rock bands and that Nicholas is a furious skater, is why we love their bikes so much, you can actually see their influences in the bikes they make. Anyway, their fine craftsmanship and excellent work have become a reference in the motorcycle world. Each project is deeply studied to meet and even exceed clients’ expectations while keeping that rebelious “WrenchMonkees state of mind”. Nicholas has accepted to tell us a little bit more about his company.
J / Could you explain us how everything started ?
A friend of us had a garage for several years, and eventually, we began to make bikes for friends, then friends of friends... So we asked ourselves why not get some money on it and pay rent and everything. In the same time I was working as a photographer and one of the partners had skills doing websites. So as we began with the company, doing a website, we started doing the three first motorbike under the name of WrenchMonkees, and everybody began to talk about it... We didn’t expect this to happen, but it’s fun that it was.
J / Why WrenchMonkees ?
N / We knew from the beginning that we wanted to find a name that if we would go worldwide, we would not use a danish name, so we are always wrenching and behave like monkeys. There is also a tool which is called monkey wrench which was actually the tool which was used to build the railways. It was called like that because it was so simple that everybody could use it. It took us an hour and that was it.
J / How did your style evolved throughout time ?
N / We are inspired by lots of stuff. Mechanical, buildings, everythiWe are inspired by lots of stuff. Mechanical, buildings, everything, whatever we see that can be inspiring. We never had a plan, it’s just we do the stuff, discuss and find a way to do it on the bike. We never define from the beginning how the bike is gonna end up. It is always a work in progress. Everything depends on how much time we’ve got, how much money we can put into the project, what’s the condition of the bike. Is there a part on the bike which is beautiful ? And so on, and so on... It’s different from bike to bike and that’s the way we work.
J / If there was only one model one earth, which one would you like it to be ?
N / It’s very difficult because we are very influenced by different stuff. Peer is more into race bikes, in my opinion, a combination of different bikes which should be put together in one bike. I have been asked this before and I honestly don’t know. We are like kids with lego, we love to build them ! I would say that a bike that is really great as a base, easy to do in different shapes is the Kawasaki W800. It has a good engine , the sound of it is nice, the alsmost shape of it is nice, it has a lot of components that we like as the simplicity of a bike were you are able to put other stuff on it. For the future, a nice Wrenchmonkees bike. The Yamaha SA400 is for example another bike which is ey to model again, as well as the Kawasaki W750.
J / What are your sources of inspiration ?
N / It can be Fashion, heavy Tools , everything mechanical, everything built by humans, nature as well. I think it’s a combination of what my associator likes, what I like, everything that affects you in everyday life. Bikes other people are building also, I’m inspired from the chopper scene and Peer is more into the oldschool, newschool race bikes scene, but also both like the motocross style. Travels also inspires us... We inspire also from modern bikes, but they are way too complicated, we love the very mechanical stuff, like if you see an old factory. Everything in there is very inspirational, from the colours, from the actual machinery. It’s all getting mixed and become this garage. We want to keep the bikes as simple as possible and remove as much as possible.
J / What are the different steps you take to prepare a bike ?
N / IIt’s about getting the bike into the garage and we take it appart totally. During this process, we decide which part to keep, what to change, deciding what to cut off... That’s the first step. We don’t know what colour, even if our colours are monochrome, black and white, grey.... We take no decision about how the bike is gonna look. We try like 5-10 different things on it. We test a lot. We get the bike to balance. Colour and surface treatment are decided in the very last moment. It is always a question about what you see when you see it and not about having to decide it. It’s like an artist. He doesn’t know how the picture is gonna be finally.
J / On your website, we’ve read “We don’t need legendary models to build legendary motorcycles.” What would be the best example of that ?
N / I would say, in the beginning, we built a Yamaha XS 400 which is a very ugly bike. I think we found something in that bike that we found very futuristic, it really has some good qualities in the proportions. It is a small bike but the almost look of it is really good. We did a sportster in 8-83, Monkee #38, it’s a very ugly women chopper. It’s horrible to drive and looks horrible too. We transformed that into a great bike too. We made it driveable, the handle of it is very nice, we went through with a lot changes.
J / You sell bikes throughout europe, what is the country where you sell the most ?
N / French people living in France, Austria... are our biggest client group. Danish must be second. A little bit german, swedish, Finish... We haven’t sold any bikes in the UK, one to Ireland. We had a very few to Afrika and Dubaï, to the States... So most of it, is Europe. I think it’s because most of the time, the guys who buy bikes want to come to the garage... So it’s a distance reason.
J / You have also a brand. Can you talk us a bit about it ?
N / It was started out as a fun idea because we needed workwear. We all saw our danish craftmen workers fathers work in a danish brand which is called « canvas ». That’s the brand which is now producing our clothing. We wanted to have a clothing line like carhartt, very classic, but still workwear, without all the yellow colours and technical sizes. Very non flashy. Thanks to a friend, we had very good connections and it’s a very old company, so they produce very good workwear. It’s aswell all about having workwear you can wear outside the garage aswell. No other thought behind that, it’s just simple stuff what we love.
J / Can you talk about the Grab your Balls project ?
N / It was a project about trying to bring a different angle to men cancer, which is a wide tabou. It’s something that men doesn’t talk about, the actual examination is about getting a finger in your butt. Most men are not proud about that. Men die from that and women die from breastcancer. And breast cancer is very exotic, beautiful breast, so we needed to tell our community about all our friends who died from men cancer. And it’s not really a big issue here, so we wanted to tell about it’s not really that bad and men are not going to the doctor often enough and checked for that kind of diseases and it’s often too late when they do. That’s why we thought maybe we could do something against this macho way of thinking and just say : « Hey, if you wanna live longer, take care of yourself ».