Thrive's Journey in Designing Distinctive Custom Motorcycles

Thrive Motorcycle is well-known among custom motorcycle enthusiasts. Founded in 2013, Thrive breathed new life into the motorcycle scene, particularly in Jakarta, Indonesia. Established by five individuals, Thrive grew out of friendship and trust, aiming to create custom motorcycles with unique designs. Erlangga Djojosaputro, Co-Founder and Head of Operations, shares with Grafis Masa Kini the story of Thrive’s journey amidst the highs and lows of Indonesia’s motorcycle scene and their design practices that continue to attract widespread attention.

Thrive’s foundation lies in five individuals with backgrounds in the creative industry—art directors, graphic designers, photographers, and branding consultants. When Thrive was first established, the custom motorcycle scene was still finding its place in the local creative industry. “It hasn’t been as popular as before for the past three years. But Thrive is still standing strong,” said Erlangga, describing the custom motorcycle scene in 2013 as akin to going to a banner maker, where the product simply fulfilled customer desires. According to Erlangga, many talents in the custom motorcycle world excelled in design but struggled to package their work into appealing visuals. “Thrive places great importance on all visual aspects, such as design. Additionally, we pay attention to the photos and videos we produce. When we built Thrive, we wanted to present it properly,” explained Erlangga. This meticulous attention to visual elements has made Thrive appealing to many, even outside the motorcycle community. The founders’ design backgrounds heavily influenced Thrive’s visual decisions, which continue to stand out in the scene. “It’s certainly not easy, but what we can do is have a different visual concept, which might make us stand out,” said Erlangga.

Thrive's design practices are not much different from typical design studios, except the product is custom motorcycles. Erlangga and his team apply design thinking in every product design process. “We always try to provide solutions based on what the customer really wants,” said Erlangga. Another strength of Thrive in design is researching customer characteristics to find the right motorcycle design. Erlangga shared that when Thrive started, no workshop offered custom motorcycles personalized to the owner's characteristics. “At that time, you would go to a workshop with a picture and say you wanted something like it. But what the customer really wanted was not like the picture; they just couldn’t describe the design they truly desired,” said Erlangga. For Thrive, such practice is a form of duplication. “We believe the owner’s characteristics are an important design element for custom motorcycles. The motorcycle should represent its owner’s character, like clothing.”


To create a motorcycle that matches the owner’s characteristics, Thrive first conducts research on the owner. Erlangga explained that his team makes a mood board reflecting the owner’s character. The needed visual image is identified through a detailed questionnaire. “We try to crack the owner’s psychological or unconscious traits to find their character. Then, we provide geometric patterns, lines, and dots, all in multiple-choice formats. We try to discover what they truly want, what shape represents them.” Additionally, Thrive asks about the music the owner listens to daily and requests them to describe the motorcycle as a human figure in their environment. “Such personal characteristics need to be asked as they influence the final motorcycle design that aligns perfectly with the owner,” said Erlangga. The Thrive team doesn’t mind if the final design is very different from the reference, as the studio offers a design highlighting the owner's characteristics. “In many cases, our designs are totally different from the reference images. We never provide motorcycle reference images. More or less, our practices and processes are similar to regular design studios. The difference is that we produce three-dimensional custom motorcycles.” Like other creative industry players, Thrive faces its own challenges in balancing design ideals and customer desires. According to Erlangga, in the creative industry, he and his team cannot entirely act like “artists” designing solely based on their ideals. “What we do is a form of compromise between the customer’s wishes and our ideals. Then, we blend everything into something hopefully authentic yet still satisfying for the customer. It’s a unique challenge, bridging customer desires and our ideas,” he explained.

Throughout its journey, Thrive has shone in both the local and international motorcycle scenes. Their first bike, Thrive’s T 03 Kàku, was featured in *The Ride*, the first book about the world’s best motorcycle workshops, published by German publisher Gestalten. Years later, Gestalten released another book, *The Ride: 2nd Gear*, featuring two more Thrive bikes, T 04 MooN, and T 05 Cross. In the following year, Thrive’s first chopper build, T 06 Kuzuri, was the cover story for DicE Magazine (US). In 2018, T 05 Cross was displayed at the Custom Revolution exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum, curated by Paul D’Orleans in Los Angeles, California. In 2019, T 05 Cross was also featured in an exhibition by The Arsenale titled *The Most Insane Garage In The World* in City of Dreams, Macau.


Thrive has also collaborated with Royal Enfield Indonesia on their initial Bullet 350 with a factory scrambler look, dubbed T 016 Moltar, and continued working with Royal Enfield UK on their latest Interceptor 650, named TXX in 2018. Thrive is known for collaborations with local Indonesian brands such as Esre Denim, Life Behind Bars, Ensemble the Label, Riders and Rules, Sekepal Aspal, Kelas Pagi Jakarta, Frekuensi Antara, Elhaus, and Maywild Riding Gear. Besides local brands, Thrive often partners with local individual talents like Ilham Nuriadi, Agung Pambudi, Andra Maulana, King Acan, Morrg, Steven D Mariko, and Rio Sabda. Recently, Thrive has launched more products under the THRV name, including the Louie full system exhaust for single-cylinder engines, Peony Slip-On Muffler for twin-cylinder engines, Odipus Footpegs, Handlebar, and many more to come.

For Thrive, collaboration is vital in their business. “We collaborate with many parties because we believe something communal will create multiple effects. We also prefer to collaborate across disciplines, not just in the automotive world,” said Erlangga. Thrive believes that collaboration expands its market. For example, Erlangga mentioned their collaboration with Life Behind Bars, a lifestyle product for bicycle enthusiasts. Their collaborative products are still selling well, introducing Thrive to the bicycle scene and vice versa.

Surviving over a decade in an unpredictable industry is an achievement for Thrive. When asked what keeps them going, Erlangga said that Thrive needs to be one step ahead of trends. “The key is when the trend is at its peak, make sure you’re already on top of the wave. When the wave goes down, at least you’ve been at the top first.” Erlangga described Thrive as a niche within a niche, as big motorcycles are already a niche market, the community that likes custom motorcycles is an even more niche market, and those who customize their motorcycles at Thrive are even more niche. “Customers who come to Thrive have likely customized their bikes elsewhere multiple times but never found the right design. Then, they come to Thrive. We are the final stop to realize their desired custom motorcycle.” Concluding the conversation, Erlangga said that in the future, Thrive will never stray from the idea that they must have original ideas. They believe that their unique ideas are what bring their name far and wide. More than that, Thrive doesn’t depend on the motorcycles they design, as strong visual ideas are their foundation. “It’s not because of unusual or good-looking motorcycles, but purely because of our ideas and concepts. Even if the motorcycle is simple and found in every parking lot, the ideation must be strong and original,” concluded Erlangga.

About the Author

Alessandra Langit

Alessandra Langit is a writer with seven years of diverse media experience. She loves exploring the quirks of girlhood through her visual art and reposting Kafka’s diary entries at night.