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Bike Life : September 6th 2011
1HERSA1 R003 148 GEORGE ST • PH: 9910 9500 HORNSBY • ST PETERS 140 PRINCES HWY • PH: 9564 8000 SYDNEY's HOME OF New Choices. New Triumphs. New Standards of Dealer Service. BikeLIFE The Sydney Morning Herald August 26, 2011 3 The mail of the species Special delivery . . . Merrick Watts on his Blackmail postie bike. Photo: Quentin Jones Comedian and radio host Merrick Watts tells Stephen Ottley why you just can't beat going postal. 'I could talk about bikes all day.'' Merrick Watts may be best known as a comedian, radio host and actor but he's also one of the biggest petrolheads you'll ever meet. His passion for two wheels began when he was a child riding with his cousin, and led him to start his own custom bike business, Post Modern Motorcycles. But, as you'd expect from this funny man, there is a comedic twist. The bikes he and his business partner, James Clark, modify are Honda CT110s, otherwise known as postie bikes. The pair met while working on the television series The Hollowmen -- Watts in front of the camera and Clark as the set designer and builder. ''Whenever I wasn't shooting scenes, he and I would be out the back talking about motorbikes and this would go on for months,'' Watts says. ''He had a motorcycle that he'd made and he'd brought it in. I saw it and went 'that's fantastic'. ''We were talking about bikes a lot and then one day I said to him, 'Why don't we get a postie bike and see if we can reverse the psychology of a lot of bikes? Instead of having a wolf in sheep's clothing, let's have a sheep in wolf's clothing -- get the most pissant bike we could and make it look tougher than it is.' '' And thus Post Modern Motorcycles was born. The pair has since created five different models, each in a cafe-racer style. Fittingly, each bike has a post- theme name, such as Blackmail, Dear John, Express Post, Post Mortem and Junk Mail. While it would be easy to dismiss the idea of a customised postie bike as a novelty, even a passing glance tells you these are serious machines. The design is top-notch and includes details such as leather Brooks saddle bags, matte paintwork and a unique tailpipe. Watts and Clark buy the bikes at auction, but only the ''grade-A'' quality ones. Then the engine is completely rebuilt and the bodywork is chopped to suit the design. That means despite the wild looks, the bikes remain the trusty and reliable CT110s that help get the mail delivered every day. It also means they are cheap to run and buy, even with all the customisation. Exactly how much customisation you want on your particular postie affects the price but Watts says they sell from about $5000; a ''grade-A'' standard-issue postie bike costs $1300. ''It depends what you want to do with it,'' Watts says. ''You can go nuts, put chrome on it, do whatever you want.'' But having said all that, Watts does admit that so far none have actually been sold. ''If people want to buy them, they're custom [built] but we're not exactly flogging them, getting them in people's faces . . . They're definitely for sale but they're customised so we'll build them to people's specifications,'' he says. ''We've got different types of seats, different sorts of wheels and tyres, different colours, different handlebars, different configurations because they're pretty easy to do; whatever people like.'' Watts says the bikes turn heads. ''We get people who love them,'' he says. ''They're certainly a head- turner in the same way when you see a Maserati drive past -- people turn their heads. It's like that but for none of the same reasons. It's because people are thinking, 'Why is that enormous man riding that tiny monkey bike?' '' He stresses that he isn't responsible for any of the important business with the bikes. ''I should reassure people that I have nothing to do with the tools -- James does it all,'' he says. ''I'm just the brains. I'm not actually the brains at all. I'm not really sure whatIdo. . . ''If anybody is going to get sacked in the organisation, it's going to be me because I contribute the least. I'm glad there's only two of us.'' See pmmc.com.au.
May 28th 2011