When he’s not in his studio, perfecting his sound, or expressing himself through art or music production, you’ll find Mark in his garage, tinkering on his next project bike. Well, to be honest, you’ll probably find him turning heads on his 1981 BMW R100.
We sit down with Mark Laccay to talk about all things two-wheeled, and a little bit more on his personal life. Mark Laccay has been one of those responsible for the growth of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in the Philippines, and the sudden interest in café racers thanks to their Facebook page, Café Racer Manila.
Q1. Where did it all begin? The passion and love for motorcycles.
Mark: As a little boy who grew up in the province, the motorcycle was always a mode of transport for us. I grew up with my parents in Nueva Vizcaya, and we had a bakeshop that had a delivery tricycle. We decided to remove the sidecar and make it something we could use daily once the bakery wasn’t making money. I learned how to ride on that.
The passion started maybe around 11-12 years ago. I was married to my wife and we had a condominium. It just so happens that next to my parking slot, there was a Vespa. I always told myself that if I ever wanted to get a motorcycle, it would have to be stylish. Actually, I never saw the owner of the Vespa until I saw him trying to start it in the parking lot. I struck up some conversation with him, asking how to get my hands on one. Abet Rana was his name, and he would then help me source my parts and first ever Vespa.
Over time we talked about the groups involved, the Vespa scooter scene, and all the help that could be extended to me. I finally got my first Vespa from a friend who knew a mechanic that was working on a customer’s bike that was actually for sale. It started there, the passion and diligence in maintaining a classic or old scooter – it was new to me, it was Italian, and it was a lot of research.
After several years, the retro feel of the Vespas and Lambrettas would lead me to the mods and rockers type of thinking.
Of course, I wanted to explore classic big bikes, mainly café racers, trackers, and scramblers. Looking for old bikes, restoring it to specifications, be perfectly running, then modify from there. It was all fun – the picking, barn finds, and provincial areas where you could chance upon nice motorcycles.
Q2. Did you have any riders you looked up to? Any major influencers?
Mark: Growing up, wala! My dad doesn’t even ride a motorcycle; he’d even be scared every time I rode – always told me to be careful. Even foreign influencers such as racers? Moto GP and the like isn’t my thing. I’m more of lifestyle riding and off-road trail riding also.
Q3. How does your profession play into your motorcycle lifestyle?
Mark: I’m an audio engineer by profession, and I used to do a lot of music production. I started out with touring systems and travel with big bands such as Eraserheads around Asia and the like. I was a musician in the underground/alternative scene, and they needed me to help tune their system during a show. So they had me help run the show, so I was very hands on and technical.
That’s the thing with motorcycles also – understanding, operating, and fixing things. Setting up motorcycles is natural for me with my line of work. Of course there’s the curating and molding my own style and look I want for my motorcycles.
Q4. How did the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride make its way here in the Philippines?
Honestly, when we saw that the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) was happening around the world, of course we wanted to put ourselves on the map, too. With the rise in stylish motorcycles and culture, we wanted to reach out and let the world know we have that kind of scene, too. When we did it five years ago, it wasn’t official.
We were late to the party, and we decided to push through with it anyway. So we decided to support an annual Mods versus Rockers event in Pampanga, and have a themed ride that would be marketed to bring people from Manila to Pampanga, raising awareness and attendance. With all the cameras and videos we took of that event, we edited and collated everything, and I used it as a pitch to get official support from the official DGR organizers.
It was a franchise that we wanted to be a part of, and we wanted to support the advocacy against prostate cancer. The formal correspondence happened after they saw the videos, and we got coached and were taught the guidelines and the importance of the advocacy. The advocacy is always at the forefront, while still curating the style and promoting safety in the implementation.
It’s now on its 4th year in Manila in 2018, and the number of riders just keeps on growing, and we’re finally recognized on the world map as one of the biggest donors for the advocacy.
Q5. What are your favorite bikes right now?
Well, favorite is tough, but all the time and money was poured into my 1981 BMW R100. I got it for cheap, and the retro bike scene wasn’t booming yet. I had to consider parts availability, stability of the platform, safety, and electricals. After many headaches, once it’s up and running, then the customization begins.
For the modern classics, I really would love to own a Moto Guzzi V7. I like standard bikes the most, but I also do off-road. For off-road, I use a 2012 Serow 225, because it’s light, low, and parts are easy to replace. Besides, you’re going to drop the thing, anyway. I have a lot of bikes I’m working on now, but those are my favorite ones.
Moto Guzzi V7II Stone
Art Direction: Mike Bondoc / Maki Aganon
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