Alan Stulberg’s love of motorcycles started at age five, after his grandfather gave him a tiny Honda. He’d ride it around the family ranch. “I could get away from my twin brother and feel totally free,” he says. He was hooked. In 2008, 28 years later, he founded Revival Cycles after leaving a tech job. In an East Austin warehouse, Revival builds custom bikes (like the unfinished Ducati pictured), restores vintage ones, and crafts leather accessories. No longer a scrappy upstart, it is now a global brand, with 23 employees. Revival’s Handbuilt Motorcycle Show draws 25,000 gearheads to Austin every April to marvel at one another’s works of art. Stulberg’s favorite recent creation: the Birdcage, a titanium-caged beast he built with BMW—a three-year project.
Texas Monthly: Even though you loved motorcycles from a young age, you didn’t initially pursue it as a career. What led you to make the switch?
Alan Stulberg: I was working in the tech world, and I got fired in 2007 and took off on a motorcycle trip through Europe. I realized that I didn’t want to go back to the working world ever again. So I came back and started Revival. The theme was motorcycles, but I always envisioned a startup that was more of a lifestyle brand with motorcycles as an inspiration for design of all kinds.
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TM: Is there a particular kind of bike you specialize in?
AS: For restorations, collectible pre-war bikes. And then we build full complete customs for major manufacturers. There’s not another motorcycle shop in the world that does the level of work we do for manufacturers and the way we do it.
TM: What’s your design process like?
AS: We start with basic suspension geometry, then sketch the creative ideas around that. That initial shaping of the overall aesthetics of where things are headed is probably the most exciting part. And then when it’s done and you kind of stand back and look at it, it’s pretty intensely satisfying.
TM: Why has Austin been a good place for Revival to be headquartered?
AS: It’s such a creative-focused town, but there wasn’t really much of a scene here around the motorcycle culture, like there is in Long Beach or Los Angeles. There are motorcycle shows out there every weekend, and Austin isn’t that way. I got lucky when the Formula One track opened because it brought a totally different group to the city. Now, we have people from all over the world who come to the Moto GP weekend and our Handbuilt Show.