Designer Spotlight // Andrew Bazinski

How the lead designer of the all-new Escape drew creative inspiration from café racer motorcycles - Words by Austin Stowe

Racing on bikes from café to café in the 1970s was what started the café racer movement. Manufacturers started developing motorcycles with minimal components to take them the distance in the shortest time. Its beginnings were in Europe, primarily London, but have spread worldwide and are loved by motorcycle enthusiasts who enjoy a quick zip around the city versus a lengthy road trip.

Andrew Bazinski, who was the lead designer for the all-new Escape, works out of his one-car garage building café racers from retro bikes. A finished 1992 BMW R100R painted in Tank Green is displayed under the dim garage light while Bazinski works on his 1981 BMW R100, which he plans to completely black out. Though he takes pride in his work, he can’t enjoy the fruits of his labor completely.

As a Canadian citizen hailing from the Windsor-area, Bazinski awaits his dual citizenship so he can acquire his Michigan motorcyclist license. However, he continues to put work into his café racers as he sees them as another design project. The simplistic aesthetic of the café racers is what Bazinski wanted to translate over to the Escape when developing his first sketches.

His motorcycle curiosity first emerged during a project involving Harley-Davidson motorcycles while attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. After graduating with a degree in transportation design, Bazinski worked in product design for Audi overseas in Austria, where he was influenced by German engineering and learned more about BMW motorcycles.

The R100R’s stock parts were being stripped down back at Bazinski’s Ferndale home in his cluttered garage. An overbodied café racer isn’t a café racer at all – it’s unfit for the quick bursts of speed it desires.

Though he’s highly experienced in the design space, Bazinski went into his first café racer project with little to no knowledge of working on bikes. He pushed himself to learn step by step, whether it be YouTube tutorials or motorcycle forums, in order to attain the café racer aesthetic he was looking for. The on-and-off project took about a year and over $1,000 in parts, but Bazinski was so excited about the finished product that he immediately looked to begin another one – with his wife’s permission, of course.

“You have a product that’s already built, it’s there. Frame, cladding and everything,” said Bazinski. “The essence of the bike is still there, you just create the pure thing.”

The second one, the 1981 R100, is currently being assembled slowly but surely. This one is “a little bit more of a project.” However, his new hobby has gotten the attention of others who follow his Instagram page with one follower asking him to commission a café racer for him. For now, Bazinski is going to focus on his own bikes and take a spin around the neighborhood on his finished racer when no one is looking.

As for the Escape, it’s looking sleeker and cleaner than ever. Who knows – there might be young buyers racing from Starbucks to Starbucks in their Escapes as the next generation of “café racers”.