The World’s First Tattooed Motorcycle

Ozbike Podcast

THE Recidivist is a machine inspired by the art of permanent body adornment. Motorbikes are commonly adorned with tattoo motifs using an airbrush, however, the uniqueness of The Recidivist lies in the fact that the bike’s entire construction is covered in tattooed skin branded directly onto the bike’s tyres, tanks, seat, rear fender, lamp, and many other smaller elements. Light coloured cow hide leather — similar to the colour of human skin — is engineered onto the bike. and artists from Polish tattoo studios applied traditional works of tattoo art onto the bike.

The worlds of motorbikes and tattoos have long been kindred spirits. The theme of the The Recidivist relates to this traditional relationship. In the USA, bikers used to tattoo for personal reasons — to express their character and lifestyle — as well as their social attitude. The Recidivist as an artistic vision references those traditions and through its construction and decorations presents a story of a man with strong character — a person who values individuality, personal expression and sense of freedom. 

tattooed motorcycle & sidecar

References to the traditions are expressed not only in bike’s theme, but also in its construction. The motorcycle’s construction include elements that draw from the look of tattoo machines. All of these parts are fully operational elements of bike’s construction, and the mechanisms of these elements operate in the same way as they do in the original tattoo machines:

Bike’s front suspension has the look of a traditional coil tattoo machine

The exhaust pipe looks exactly like a modern tattoo machine, including the tattooing needles which when you start the bike, move exactly as they do when the tattoo machine applies ink under skin

Further more, the machine’s design is based on a number of technical solutions drawing from the turbulent lifestyles of post-war bikers:

The lever starting the bike has a shape of a bomb detonator lever.

The rear light indicators look like brass knuckle-dusters.

Front wheel caliper brakes have the appearance of handcuffs.

Front clutch and brake handles are formed in the shape of butterfly knives.

The break pump lever is shaped in the form of a section sign.

The Recidivist is based on the Harley-Davidson Heritage model. From the original machine only the engine, a Twin Cam, and part of frame are left. All other construction elements and mechanisms are original solutions created by constructors of Game Over Cycles.

The Recidivist’s sidecar is fully tattooed, both outside and inside and also on the tyres. In terms of the construction, the sidecar relates to the bike, mainly its fuel tank, as it has similar construction made of two sheets of metal joined with tubes, which imitates the look of a human spine. Sidecar tattoos also relate to motifs present on the bike, but as it is with tattoos on a human body, with time they change together with the person they are tattooed on. Given elements get bigger, change colours, shapes and meanings. That is why on the sidecar there are tattoos paralleled with the ones on the motorcycle, such as the Themis or handcuffs, but it also includes new motifs in the form of relations to the abstract art of H.R. Giger and Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński, as well as inspiration taken form the real life, such as selected images from the history of Harley-Davidson company.

Construction of the motorcycle and sidecar more than 3000 hours. Tattooing of the bike and sidecar took more than 2500 hours.

Recidivist sidecar was constructed by Game Over Cycles, a custom bike manufacturer in Poland.

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