Jeremy Lacy’s love for motorcycles started when he worked on his grandfather’s farm in Nebraska as a kid, riding his grandfather’s three-wheelers and tractor around his stretch of land. Growing up, his parents would never let him have a bike, but as soon as he got out of college he bought a ‘92 Bandit 400 and hasn’t stopped riding since.
Lacy now works as an industrial designer, but moonlights as a custom motorcycle designer under the moniker DownShift Studio. His designs have been featured in the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, built by Threepence, and many others. Recently, he helped us generate support for the charity group Riders for Health, which is dedicated to saving lives in Africa by designing the Mad Max-themed CROIG X BC Edition 2015 Bonneville we’re giving away. At the end of the day, he just does it ’cause he loves it.
His love for drawing started when he was young. “I was always that kid who drew when the teacher was talking,” he explained, laughing. But as he grew older, just drawing something wasn’t enough for him: he wanted to start creating. When he started studying industrial design in college, he felt like he was in a place where he belonged when he could take the ideas that were in his head and figure out how to actually make them into something.
Branching out into motorcycles was then a natural development for him.
“I get goosebumps when I see a bike or part I helped design come together into a build. Sure, sometimes a design doesn’t work out, and you learn from that. But when it does work, the feeling is amazing.”
“I hate being in cars because they make me feel confined. When I’m on a motorcycle I feel like I’m more connected to the environment around me. I love being outside, and you can really appreciate being outside when you’re on a motorcycle.”
Being outside is something that’s important to Lacy’s work because he draws inspiration from everything he sees: architecture, environmental design, machinery, graphics.
“In design, anything can lend ideas to anything else. When I see a watch I like, I think about how I could design a tach or speedo inspired by it. Letting ideas cross-pollinate makes for the most interesting designs.”
Lacy primarily designs retro styled motorcycles, cafe racers in particular.
“As a designer, I feel drawn to the underpinning idea of minimalism in cafe racers. The lines, the rawness of the exposed machinery, the way they’re stripped down to only what you need to go as fast as you can. They’re timeless.”
Timeless as they are though, Lacy believes there’s a major shift coming in the motorcycle scene.
“The days of the average rider buying a $400 bike from the ’70s and rebuilding and customizing it are changing. Sure, the die-hard enthusiasts will always build the vintage stuff and keep that segment alive and kicking, but with the aftermarket offering so many great off-the-shelf parts it’s becoming easier and arguably just as satisfying for most riders to buy a reliable modern-retro bike and customize it themselves using those parts over a few weekends’ time. It’s interesting though because heritage is what’s driving the future. Just look at the newly released Triumphs for proof.”