Bob Ranew / Redeemed Cycles

Born to Be Wild

In September 2022, Stuff by Anna Beth AdcockLeave a Comment

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In a literal cycle of life, Baldwin& Creative Director Bob Ranew breathes new life into classic motorcycles.

When he isn’t kicking creative ass illustrating, photographing, designing or tackling entrepreneurial endeavors, Baldwin& Creative Director Bob Ranew restores classic bikes to their former glory via his hobby-turned-company Redeemed Cycles (recognized as a top 50 custom motorcycle builder in the world by French motorcycle lifestyle magazine Moto Heroes!). Here, we chat up the creative director by day, bike builder by night on all things career, creative and more.

Bob Ranew / Redeemed Cycles

Where does your love of motos stem from? I loved motorcycles as a kid, but my parents would never let me ride them. Once I got married, we had a little extra money, so I got my first street bike, but I had to sell it when we had kids to buy furniture. Eventually I wanted a custom-built bike, so I started Googling photos and I found these crazy, Mad Max bare-metal raw motorcycles. Then I found this guy in Richmond named John Ryland who was building them and learned from watching John that he wasn’t doing everything himself—he found people to do it with (mechanics, etc.).

What motorcycle popped your restoration cherry? A friend (who has now passed away) had a motorcycle that he wanted to give me because he felt like I could give it a second life. I got it running and was able to turn it into a cafe racer in my garage. The rest is history.

Why “Redeemed Cycles”? It’s easy to make something look good. … I do that every day at the office, but giving something life again after it has been dead for decades is the greatest feeling ever. That’s why I named my business Redeemed Cycles. You take these discarded old bikes, worthless to most, and give them a new life that’s better than their first.

What kind of bikes do you redeem? Harley, BMW, Honda, Triumph, Ducati and Yamaha bikes for many first-time vintage owners. 

How does your side hustle rev up your day job and vice versa? The two can be very similar. When working on an established brand, we have to peel back the onion and ask: Why did their business start? What were they trying to solve? Is the vision still clear today? How do we strip away all of the unnecessary junk that’s clouded their mission? Old bikes are the same. My first step when beginning a new build is stripping everything down to the bare frame, building using only what’s necessary, then making custom changes to make it cool and relevant to today—which is the same thing we do at work when we help a brand stay relevant.

Any advice for the road? If there is something that fascinates you, something you’re passionate about—even if you know nothing about whatever that passion is—you can figure it out and do it. Never let the unknown stop you. In advertising, we’re always trying to do something that’s never been done before, so I try to apply that boldness to my personal life as well. Sure, you’re going to mess up when you’re trying something new, but even that is a great learning process.

This interview has been lightly edited for length.

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