When we launched the Sierra Stake Out, Matthew Allard of Inked Iron was one of the first people we did not know that reached out to support the event. Take a minute to get to know the artist/owner behind the San Rafael, CA brand.
What inspired you to start Inked Iron/What do you make?
About 14-15 years ago I put myself through art school to improve my Photoshop and web design skills. I was playing in two bands at the time and we needed flyers and websites. I wanted to get out of the warehouse I was working in, and had taken full custody of my son who was about 5 years old at the time. At that point I had a BMW, which I had been gifted from my pops, and a brand new Triumph … and was barely getting by - I was determined to outfit my garage with artwork and tools, etc. I had the tools, so that was cool. Started looking at art and was stunned at the prices. I was finding existing moto art going for $80-120 a print! WTF!?! So I decided to put my skills to the test and make art for my own garage. And I did! I was psyched. It looked more like coffeeshop art, so I ran with it. Went down to a local printer to print one and they told me one print would cost $45. Then they told me they would print 25 of each (I had 5 pieces) for $35/set. I did the math pretty quickly and walked out of there a few days later with 125 prints. I threw them on Etsy and a couple of the prints sold out in two weeks. Boom – money for parts!
About a week after that, Ginger from New Church Moto reached out to me. We’d been following each other on Instagram, because she had done some custom leatherwork on my BMW seat. Turns out she curates the art for the One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon. She invited me to put the art on the walls behind the bikes along with all of the other incredible artists making motorcycle art. I was humbled and felt outclassed, but the feedback was unbelievable. I left the 1 Moto about $500 richer, minus lodging… but thought to myself “shit I should brand this and make it a thing!”.
After the 1 Moto Show, I had a t-shirt printer call me and tell me they wanted to print my art on t-shirts. I thought… why fucking not! I can put em up in a shop online and probably re-purpose my old portfolio website into a motorcycle art website, and hence Inked Iron was born.
Since then, I’ve been doing more and more shows. I’ve had art up at the 1 Moto 4 years in a row now, and started vending the day they allowed vending at the show. The family up there is incredible. So real. So true. I started meeting more and more people in the motorcycle community and now literally every show I go to, it’s family. Same folks, new folks, shenanigans, etc. So much fun.
Recently I’ve been authorized as a dealer for Biltwell. This is exciting as it’ll allow me to offer more to my customers. This is a result of the consistent inquiries I get from show goers when they see my Handlebar Field Guide and think I sell bars. I’ve always had the reply… “no, it’s art.” and had to turn them away. At this point I have a handlebar display stocked with most of the bars they offer, as well as helmets, grips and the odd foot peg and saddlebag. Honored to be part of the Biltwell family.
The end goal was always brick & mortar with coffee shop and motorcycle repair shop, but that was early on. I didn’t know the cost of rent here in the bay area and it’s outrageous. I would need a serious investor if I wanted to pull that off. Here’s to the possibilities that lie ahead. May they come swiftly or at least… before I’m dead.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into motorcycling:
I was born in England, and my family moved out to California in 1976. I’ve always ridden motorcycles, since I was a kid. Dad always had them around and rode daily, mostly BMW’s, but the odd Norton and Triumph, etc. I didn’t own a street bike until about 8 years ago, or so when my Dad gifted me his old ’83 BMW R80. I’ve torn it down to the frame to do a custom build. Originally it was going to be a café racer, but at this point I’m looking at building a Gas Box inspired bobber or something unique like that. I bought a Triumph Thruxton as a daily rider to ride while I’m working on the BMW. Always wanted an old Triumph or Harley chopper, but that’s down the road. The goal is to start building one once I’m done with the BMW.
Current bike(s) you’ve got & what modifications you’ve done:
2013 Triumph Thruxton – Black. Modifications include: British Customs Predator exhaust, air injector delete, modified gauge cluster, Analog Motorcycles A3T Fender Eliminator, Progressive 970 rear shocks, Race Tech Front springs, gold valve emulators, Moose Racing header wrap, after market blinkers & mirrors. Next up, new paint.
Best moto route / camping trip you’ve ever been on:
How does one pick from so many epic trips? Shit. Motos in Moab was a blast. It’s one of the farthest trips we’ve done as a group, and between riding bikes around the bonfire, the most insane landscapes where you feel like you’re riding on the moon, and the partying that was had, it is definitely top ranking in the best department.
Have you ridden the Sierra Nevada area? If so, tell us about them in your own words or where you went. If not, tell us what you are looking forward to the most:
I lived up in Nevada City for 8 years. It’s the most amazing area. Nevada City is about 30 minutes from the event space and there’s so much to do up there it’s mind blowing. The roads are a mixture of winding forested roads with the sun bursting through the trees, and straight solid highways that take you up through the mountains to Reno and down to the Central Valley. Prime camping all over, and mountain peaks to climb. The Yuba River is one of the most amazing rivers I’ve seen and swam in. I used to have 4 days off a week and would spend most of them riding down to the river and swimming in the many swimming holes that wind up and down the Yuba valley.
Who are you rolling with to the Sierra Stake Out and which route are you planning to take there?
The crew. We’ve got a solid groups of riders who ride all types of bikes from Harleys to modern vintage Triumphs and old Hondas and Yamahas. It’s a mixed bag but that’s what makes it fun. Unpredictable. Someone always breaks down. We’re heading up American River from the Bay Area which winds up towards Sacramento, jumping on Hwy 80 for a bit and then cutting up Hwy 20 through Grass Valley and Nevada City on up to Cisco Grove. We’ll likely stop for grub at Awful Annie’s in Auburn on the way through. It’s a common stop from the old “Ride to the Pines” with Biltwell the past few years and delicious food. Highly recommended.
Can’t wait to get out of dodge and enjoy some time in the mountains. Good times ahead!
Instagram handle: @inked_iron