Somewhere slightly hidden away in an industrial park in the Northern part of Amsterdam little bits of magic lighten up the workshop. Hunched over his sewing machine Jeroen Bouwmeester of ‘Silver Machine Custom Seats’ creates the custom seats for a worldwide audience of bikers and builders. It is his true craftsmanship that has awarded him a loyal group of fans and clients.
Born in the south of the country, Jeroen decide to move to Amsterdam at some point and has not regretted it ever since. Four long years he was slaving away finishing his studies in fashion, management and design. Jeroen started out on two wheels at a young age. However the forward movement was created by human energy rather than an engine. As a fanatic BMX expert, that’s how he learned to keep his balance on rubber. In all honesty that’s where his time and money were spent as a youngster. Motorbikes came at a later age and again the catalyst was the BMX world. Our saddle maker worked at a popular BMX shop in Amsterdam. One of his colleagues at the time was the now well-known owner of Pan Cake customs.
It was Boy who sparked Jeroen’s interest in riding motorbikes and got him to buy a bike even before he had his driving license. It took Jeroen until August 2013 to hit the streets legally. Until then he was doing practice laps in and around Amsterdam.
The bike that was supposed to start a career on bikes with an engine was a Honda CX500 which was purchased for just € 125,–. The fact that is was not running did not pose a problem to Jeroen. As a matter of fact it still doesn’t as it is still in a corner of his workshop in the same condition, serving as an perpetual guilt memento. “one day I will finish this project” Jeroen adds.
In the meantime he can often be seen riding his Yamaha XT600 at variable speeds in Amsterdam and the rest of Europe. Even the national dirt track in Lelystad is familiar turf to Jeroen’s XT. It was fun and he was doing well. Just up to the point where he encountered ‘Mrs. Highsider’ and launched himself into the haystacks.
Not walking away from a challenge our Golden Boy still came to the conclusion it might be better to stick to what he could do best and has full focus on creating wonderful seats for bikes in his studio.
Jeroen is a very easy going guy and Bikebrewers have visited him regularly to interview him for this story. On the subject of stories he told us a true classic one:
After attending a friend’s birthday party far away in France, Jeroen was riding back to Holland. He was scheduled to meet a customer in Belgium who wanted a custom seat for his bike. The biker turned out to be the Ambassador to Argentine and he was living in this gigantic and luxurious villa.
After taking the measurements, Jeroen asked the ambassador for advice on a good camping site nearby. Unfortunately the guy had no idea, and why would he? He did offer our friend to spend the night in his little tent on the premises next to the swimming pool. Quite a good idea!
To his surprise, the legal camper was woken up the next morning by the ambassadors servant who was outside the tent offering a silver tray with a full breakfast! We bet not many bikers can say this about their camping trips!
Back to the shed
As stated before, it was his friend Boy from Pancake customs who sparked Jeroen’s interest in riding motorbikes. But it the same boy who later on became our hero’s launching customer when he opened shop. Shop being at home at the kitchen table, merrily sewing away on his grandma’s Singer machine.
In those days Jeroen was already happy to be able to produce a decent seat that would bear the approval of his customers. Nowadays he challenges himself to constantly improve on what he has achieved already. Each and every seat which leaves his workshop has to look and feel better than the one he did before.
Jeroen is a meticulous guy and constantly makes notes on conundrums he encounters or how he could improve on certain technical issues. Getting better with each seat produced is what drives this man.
“Absolutely!” Jeroen replies. “If money weren’t the problem I would build myself a bigger workspace where I can do more than just make seats. Just manufacture anything that I could do an let my imagination run wild. How cool would that be?”
Talking about ‘crazy cool’, one of the things Jeroen would love to do is putting together a wild ‘Bosozoku’ bike. We at Bikebrewers are crazy about original and left of center design, but this Japanese style is a step too far for us.
During the interview we touch the topic of inspiration and icons. When given the option to choose between James Dean or Marlon Brando, Jeroen retorts “Lemmy! He truly was an icon man! If you want to know why, just check out the 2010 documentary on the Motörhead front man.”
As far as inspiration goes, the saddle maker follows some of his peers in the US. According to Jeroen they really nail it when it comes to getting it just right up to the tiniest of details. He loves to watch and learn from them.
He tries to make his seats to reflect his inner self. He is a quiet and easy going guy. That’s how he prefers to do his seats too. Preferably not too loud or gaudi. If clients insist, Jeroen will obviously do everything to make them happy, but only after they have had a good chat about alternative solutions.
His personal slogan: “Silver Machine has got you covered”.