European Business: Mr. Hollinger, you are known as a veteran custom bike builder and famous designer with a long-standing history as a leader in the motorcycle industry. What drives and motivates you to start new projects?
Gard Hollinger: For me, design inspiration is everywhere. Especially in the non-obvious places; architecture, nature, even fashion in some regard. The inspiration always depends on the project however, taking into account who the project is for, and what the subject matter is. Before Arch Motorcycle, it was driven first by a conversation with the customer and then I would approach it based on my design sensibilities.
Now with Arch, it’s driven by something different and is determined first with what the initiative is for each model. For the KRGT-1, it’s a forward control bike that you really sat into. A bike that looked like a purely American Motorcycle with a specific kind of fork angle and wheel base; it needed to handle. With the 1S, it should be more aggressive. It’s a mid or rear-mid control, has quicker, lighter handling. It’s more agile, with a different riding position creating a completely different experience. Those are the initial parameters, but the things that motivate the intricacies of the design are much deeper than that. We stay true to the design ethos and elements that make you identify the motorcycle as an Arch; there are specific materials and design cues that should be common to the Arch.
For me, design inspiration is everywhere, especially in the non-obvious places. Gard Hollinger
European Business: You are a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of the ARCH Motorcycle Company, together with your business partner and one of the most popular Hollywood actors in the world – Keanu Reeves. How did you and Keanu decide to collaborate and launch Arch Motorcycle? And what is it like cooperating together, how do you complement each other?
Gard Hollinger: Long story short, he talked me into it. We first met in 2007 when Keanu came to me to customize and make some modifications on his 2005 Harley Dyna. After initially saying no, the process became more of a collaboration with us working together and me telling him what I could do to his motorcycle instead. He came to visit me in the shop and the relationship grew from there. The bike I modified for him over the course of a few years became the first prototype for what would eventually become Arch Motorcycle.
European Business: Please tell us more about your company. What is so unique about the bikes of ARCH Motorcycle?
Gard Hollinger: What makes Arch Motorcycle unique is that we are really the only production motorcycle company in the world founded on the idea of heavily personalizing each motorcycle; both ergonomically and aesthetically.
European Business: What is your current “go-to motorcycle” you like most these days from your current fleet of state-of-the-art motorcycles?
Gard Hollinger: I love the new KRGT-1, which we announced last fall. And I’m also very enamored with the 1S. We are in the final development stages and have spent the past year riding and industrializing it.
European Business: Your main market is the United States, but you also develop bikes for Europe, right? When you are redesigning a bike, is it difficult to integrate the technical components needed to conform to the Euro-4 standard in addition to handling, performance and aesthetics?
Gard Hollinger: This is one of the accomplishments that Arch has been proud to achieve over the last two years. It is a challenge to meet the regulations without sacrificing any of the artistic elements and design of the motorcycle. In the UK, we are working with “Future Moto” to distribute the approved new KRGT-1 in the UK, and with “Speedbox” for Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Lichtenstein.
European Business: What does the future of Arch Motorcycle look like?
Gard Hollinger: Well, we are very interested in continuing the evolution of our product line, as well as potentially advancing what motorcycle design means. We also look forward to potentially offering our design services to other motorcycle companies, and non-motorcycle products. We are in the process of building out a more robust design department that will have the ability to service these needs.
Interview: Andreas Detert | Photos: Courtesy of ARCH Motorcycle, Barry Hathaway, Bosch, Rogers & Cowan PMK