CHEK Upside: Island motorcycle builder creating custom bike for BMW

CHEK Upside: Island motorcycle builder creating custom bike for BMW
WatchJay Donovan's metal sculpting and custom motorcycle creations have earned him the attention of BMW Motorrad Canada. Cole Sorenson has more.

In his Saanich garage, Jay Donovan moulds metal into art.

The 27-year-old was first drawn to metal shaping and sculpting as a result of his high school auto body class.

“I got a ticket for collision and then was just kind of looking for the next way to elaborate that skill set, which was the sheet metal shaping and forming,” says Donovan.

“From there I was doing some hot rod work, but the medium was so big it was kind of limiting to the creative potential and that’s when I came across motorcycles.”

It wasn’t long before he found success with bikes named Manta, Stingray and Amadeus, all of which currently reside in the Haas Moto Museum and Sculpture Gallery in Dallas, Texas.

The museum was founded by the late Bobby Haas, a former financier and aerial photographer who helped Donovan kickstart his career.

“I mean it’s kind of the experience really, getting that someone to come along and encourage a pursuit that you’ve chosen yourself,” says Donovan.

“Then to have all the support along the way, you just learn so much about yourself and the medium.”

Donovan’s latest project is for BMW Motorrad Canada. The company has asked three custom bike builders from across the country to put their spin on BMW’s R-18 motorcycle.

“We wanted to show the diversity of what the R-18 can offer in terms of customization and that’s also how we selected the three builders,” says BMW Motorrad Canada director Johann von Balluseck.

“We wanted to ensure that through their previous work that the results would be completely different from one to another.”

As for what stood out about Jay’s abilities?

“What I really like is that his custom projects are quite radical, especially thanks to his metal shaping skills which are completely unique,”  says von Balluseck.

The motorcycles will be revealed in the second quarter of 2022, with a dealership tour planned for this summer.

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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