Kris Van Damme - son of star Jean-Claude - loves his bikes. So what better way to remember his dad's late dog Scar than build J-C an arse-kicking Triumph?
Kris Van Damme
Spirit of Scan
So what’s the story behind this Triumph Thruxton build?
I took on this project in honour of my father’s dog, Scar, who passed away last year. Scar loved the open road – I’ve never seen a dog that love cruising co-pilot in a convertible sports car like Scar did. Not only did he love to navigate along side my father, he travelled everywhere with him as well. From aircraft to motorcycles, as long as it had a motor he was game.
Your father and his dog must have been really close?
Yes, and Scar’s ashes will soon be mixed with his paw print mould and stamped onto this build’s rear passenger cowl.
What got you interested in custom motorcycles?
I’ve always been a highly creative individual with the instinctive need and want to make something mine. To me, a project of any calibre must have meaning and reason to live, through my love and creativity. The first motorcycle I really began tinkering with was a 2012 Harley-Davidson XR1200X. Experimenting with that motorcycle opened up a brand new chapter in my life, bringing out the artist in me at an entirely new level. Coming from a 2D animation background, I utilised that as a trampoline to get where I am now.
What was your first streetbike?
My very first was an early 2000’s KTM 350 supermoto. What a blast that motorcycle was. I remember not telling my parents about it when I first got it from an old classmate at the Vancouver Film School. They eventually found out three or four months later and slowly, but I mean slowly, eased into the idea of me being on two wheels.
What appeals to you about the Triumph Bonneville Thruxton?
When I first laid my eyes on the rebirth of Triumph’s modern classic line-up, I noticed their sleek and original lines. I was captivated and said to myself, ‘one day I will own one of those.’ Seeing what other builders, custom shops, and designing companies have done to them only motivated me even more to finally get my hands on one.
What’s your favourite place to ride your Triumph?
I love my weekend route with my Wolfpack. We meet at Deus Ex Machina in Venice (Los Angeles) for coffee, then cruise out to the canyons via the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) carve a bit, make a stop at our favourite brunch spot called The Old Place, refuel on some solid grub, saddle up and cruise back home via the coast again. I currently commute on my Thruxton build but, I’ll be picking up a commuting machine very soon so that this build can remain secure.
What have you done to the bike?
As far as the custom Fern Mechanix Design parts go, here’s the list: Fern Mechanix Design custom 2-2 passenger friendly high mount exhaust accompanied by custom fabricated heat shields and painted aluminium side covers that accommodate the Triumph Modern Classic aesthetic bodywork flow. All these parts were hand built by Evan Scott at Iron Cobras Fabrication. Fern Mechanix Design one off aluminium front fender mount. Fabricated at Iron Cobras Fabrication. Plasma cut Fern Mechanix Design badges, cut and etched out at Iron Cobras Fabrication. Fern Mechanix Design custom seat cover, matching fuel tank pads, and grips. All vinyl and hand crafted by Jose Vidal at Vidal’s Custom Seats. For paint, I worked with an outsourced aircraft painting company. Plus there are a lot of aftermarket parts fitted.
Is this the first bike you’ve customised?
This is the second motorcycle I’ve customised, but the first to be presented. My first build should be done sometime this year – it’s called #Spirit Of Ajax. There’s even more custom work being done to that build which is why it hasn’t yet been released. I couldn’t have reached the point I’m at with this build without the teamwork and friendship I have with Kevin Stanley from Moto Chopshop, Evan Scott from Iron Cobras Fabrication, and Jose Vidal from Vidal’s Custom Seats.
Does motorcycling run in your family and if so, do you ride with your father?
My father’s been riding for as long as I can remember. Not only in his films, but along side friends, co-stars, and family members (including me). When I ride with my father, it’s usually to the beach through the canyons, and during the week when he has time or a day off.
What’s his favourite or current streetbike? And his dream machine?
He’s always been a fan of classic English motoring. The icon of classic Hollywood gearheads such as Steve McQueen, James Dean, Paul Newman, Elvis Presley, etc have always been a natural attraction for him. Since he was a child, my father has always admired the Norton Commando, but the Triumph badge has continuously captivated his heart.
Spirit of Scar detail:
Ohlins front-end with Andreani Thruxton kit, Joker Machine stem nut, EFI tops & choke knob, Biltwell clubman handlebars, Diamond stitched grips by Vidal’s, British Customs handlebar risers, Custom Goodridge brake lines, Motogadget bar end mirrors, Motogadget M-Disc Blaze bar end signals, British Customs flat gauge mount, LSL headlight with yellow tint, Wilder Factory brushed stainless tank and cowl straps, Monza style gas cap, Meyerbuilt Metelwerks Integrated tail loop with LED tail light and turn signals, Custom Seat with diamond stitching by Vidal’s, aluminum side covers by Iron Cobras Fabrication, EMD/Speed Merchant finned engine covers, Axljak rearsets, LSL Pegs, folding passenger pegs, Power Commander, Dubya Triumph 17in wide wheel set.
John-Claude Van Damme talks bikes
So Jean-Claude, what do you think of the bike Kris built?
When I first heard of what my son wanted to do for me, I was honoured. It had me in tears accompanied by a smile of pure joy. Kris not only built a motorcycle that I am absolutely in love with, he made it a definition of Scar in many ways, and that’s impressive.
Has Kris let you have a blast on it yet?
Yes, and it’s an absolute pleasure to ride. I not only feel like I’m riding a motorcycle, I feel like I’m running with my Scar again.
Are you tempted by the retro Triumphs?
I love all vintage and retro motorcycles. I am currently very happy with this modern classic Triumph Thruxton my son has generously put together for me.
Which do you prefer most and why: custom bikes or stockers?
Custom because you can take something someone else had created and make it your own in an infinite amount of ways.
How far back does your interest in motorcycles go?
It goes back to when I was a child reading TinTin comic books by Herge. I remember seeing TinTin and co riding on old Harley-Davidsons, Nortons, and Triumphs throughout their adventures. I knew I wanted a motorcycle when I first saw my childhood heroes riding them. My first motorcycle was a 150cc Honda – I was about 16 years old.
Kris told us you always had a thing for Norton Commandos. What was the attraction?
I love the old Norton Commandos and wouldn’t mind owning one some day. I’m a big fan of Keanu Reeves and his Norton Commando 900.
How do you feel about the new Norton machines?
They are absolutely stunning and breathtaking – extremely photogenic and impactive in person. I’m a big fan of the Domiracer and wouldn’t mind having one docked in my garage.
Kris reckons you are happy to ride anywhere, but given the option, what’s your dream route?
It’s like my son said, anywhere works for me. Our planet has so much beauty to offer. As for which motorcycle, I’d mount a strong adventure machine – Triumph Tiger, BMW GS1200, or a KTM Adventure.