Michael Gerstenmayer is a fifth generation woodworker, running a one man business. He’s cabinetmaker and furniture restorer in the southwest of Germany, and most recently, he’s been applying his skill, trade, and art, to the world of motorcycles.
bikerMetric: Hey Michael, so how’d you get started applying your woodworking skills to motorcycles?
Michael Gerstenmayer: I always liked to try different things and experiment. In the last few years I got involved with CNC machines and their tremendous potential for creators. Three years ago I was tinkering around and suddenly I had a flexible veneer in my hand. So, what to do with that? Well, I started with fruit bowls, which isn’t very sexy. So I thought, what about a motorcycle gas tank?
bikerMetric: How did your first attempts go?
Michael Gerstenmayer: I did some early attempts with an old gas tank that I bought on eBay and I thought, “Yeah, that should work.” So I bought a Suzuki LS 650 (Savage 650) for cheap and started customizing that.
bikerMetric: Was that your first motorcycle build?
Michael Gerstenmayer: Yes it was, and there was lots to learn, but it was so much fun. I really loved it!
bikerMetric: What stood out with the Suzuki Savage build?
Michael Gerstenmayer: The gas tank was really hard to do, my most challenging project so far. I also veneered the seat and the small back light and everything turned out fine. I showed the bike at some motorcycle meetings, and for fun I applied to a custom bike show in Salzuflen. To my great surprise, I was accepted.
bikerMetric: And the rest is history?
Michael Gerstenmayer: That’s when I decided to try to make a business out of it. That is the hard part of it: finding a way to streamline a difficult and time consuming technique, so that it does not get too expensive for people to be able to buy it.
bikerMetric: Speaking of expensive, you’ve added wood veneer to fancier motorcycles than just an old Suzuki.
Michael Gerstenmayer: Yes! Last summer I met a local BMW dealer at a fair and he offered me a BMW R NineT to use to make an affordable wooden set. I finished the custom BMW R NineT wood veneer build for the custom bike show in Salzuflen in December. I exhibited the bike and at the same time I was also designing and developing motorcycle grips from wood and micarta.
bikerMetric: That sounds like a challenge.
Michael Gerstenmayer: It is. The most difficult thing is to develop this new technique with very limited financial resources, but at the same time have the goal for a good reliable quality product that is still affordable for people.
bikerMetric: So what does your BMW R NineT wood veneer kit go for?
Michael Gerstenmayer: I am selling the wooden kit for the BMW R NineT for 990€. The 3D veneer gets glued with epoxy over a form and finished with 2k polyurethane boat lacquer, leaving it full water proofed. These 1mm thin three-dimensional sheets then get glued to the motorcycle with 3M double sided tape. That allows people to glue the pads on the motorcycle themselves with no lacquering involved.
bikerMetric: What else do you have coming down the pipeworks?
Michael Gerstenmayer: I’m also working on a Vespa GTS 300, and some new motorcycle hand grips made of a combination of aluminium and wood. I would also like to work together with other bike builders if they have ideas for wood on bikes!
bikerMetric: Where can readers find out more about you?
Michael Gerstenmayer: My website is www.formfurnier.de/index_en.html
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