Small bikes, big plans: Birmingham-based Mutt shed more light on their first middleweight models

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Small capacity retro specialists Mutt are working on their first middleweight, revealing to MCN that both twin- and single-cylinder designs are on the table, ranging from 400 to 650cc.

We spoke to Mutt co-founder Benny Thomas at their Bethnal Green dealership in east London during a launch event for their latest £3750-£4600 Mushman models, where the company boss confirmed a range of capacities were being considered in order to appeal to a wide range of riders.

“There’s a lot happening behind closed doors,” Thomas told MCN. “We’ve currently got several designs in the pipeline, so the discussion really is what sort of capacity we go for.

Inside Mutt's London showroom

“Being a small company, we can’t really do one of everything and we don’t want to do one of everything. Saying that, the whole ethos behind Mutt is still small, lightweight cool commuters, so that’s where the main business will always lie.”

He continued: “400 to 650cc is the sort of thing we’re looking at and it would either be a single-cylinder or a twin-cylinder.

“We’re working on both at the moment, but most likely a single-cylinder – so very much the same sort of thing we do now, with just a slightly bigger size.”

Mutt Mushman on display at its launch

Much like the current range of 125s and 250s, the eventual motor will not be built in-house and will instead be supplied by an established factory elsewhere.

“It’s a real moving target, and our focus is really on the smaller capacity stuff,” Thomas added. “Although it’s important [bigger capacity bikes], it’s not on our radar as much as smaller stuff.”

Continuing to talk about the smaller capacity bikes, he went on to confirm that we will soon see the arrival of their first liquid-cooled models, with the DRK-01 125 and 250, hitting showrooms from late 2023 and into early 2024.

A launch party at Mutt Motorcycles Bethnal Green

Revealed at the 2022 Eicma trade show in Milan, they were designed by the Mutt team at their Kings Norton headquarters, and represent a significant step change for the company, who have previously favoured an air-cooled motor inspired by Suzuki’s GN125.

Despite branching out into new engines, the Mutt boss was quick to confirm there are no plans to move into any other genres – with the focus remaining on their stripped-back designs.

“The whole thing with Mutt is that it’s a basic classic bike, so we’re not going to suddenly start putting iPhone connectable screens on them, or satnavs – they’re still just going be two wheels, a tank, and an engine.

Mutt Mushman

“We’re not going to suddenly start doing a proper adventure bike,” he added. “We might do some more sort of scrambling inspired stuff – which is pretty much what the Mushman is – but once again, Mutt is really about iconic classic-looking bikes with a with a real flavour of custom already built in.”

‘We’ve got a lot of big plans’ – New tech on the way as UK-based Mutt look to petrol-free future

First published 3 October 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Mutt Motorcycles founders

The co-founders of British small-capacity retro roadster firm, Mutt Motorcycles have confirmed that their first liquid-cooled bikes will be shown later this year – with development of electric and other alternative power sources also well underway.

The Birmingham-based operation may have only been trading for six years, but bosses Will Rigg and Benny Thomas have serious plans for the future – having first taken the name from an offshoot of Benny’s custom business, Boneshakers to create a brand with global appeal.

“We did it from nothing,” Rigg told MCN. “It’s not like we were experienced in the industry and had a load of massive investment at the beginning, it was literally Benny in the shed making a bike and saying: ‘Will, do you think this is a good idea?’”

“We’ve got a lot of big plans,” Benny Thomas added. “We’re still releasing very much in our own way and we’re going to continue doing our own thing.”

With some of Mutt’s biggest markets including Japan and other parts of Asia, we caught up with the duo at a recent open day celebrating the firm’s first anniversary at their Kings Norton HQ, where they revealed plans for their first liquid-cooled 125 and 250 machines, as well as a larger-capacity model further down the line.

“Obviously, with what’s been going on in the last couple of years, it’s been difficult from a development perspective,” Rigg said.

“There are two completely new platforms being launched towards the end of this year. “This one’s special for us in the fact that it’s ground-up design.

“It’s not evolved from taking a Suzuki GN125 and tweaking it [something previously done by the company]. We haven’t developed the engine, but we’ve done everything else.

“Liquid-cooling is all about performance and getting it through emissions regulations without strangling the hell out of it.”

Rigg added: “And then there’s a larger capacity as well. This takes longer to develop, and homologation takes longer. There’s more to sort out with it so that’s going to be further behind.”

Away from petrol-powered machinery, the firm are also hard at work on alternative power sources, with the UK Government currently proposing to end the sale of all petrol motorcycles by 2035 and smaller, learner legal 125 L3e-A1 machines producing no more than 14.8bhp, by 2030.

“There are alternative fuel source vehicles coming,” Rigg confirmed. “We are doing the conventional battery/electric, but we’ve got something else that we are actually closer to finishing. I can’t tell you exactly what that is.”

Explaining more about the plans for an electric bike, he added: “Benny’s concept hasn’t changed on what it’s going to be, it’s just a case of waiting for some of the technology to evolve enough to make it feasible.

“And we’re looking at other things too – we may well manufacture that in the UK because it’s a simpler process and the logistics of doing it are more workable.

“If it goes to plan and we can get the system into a presentable format and the legalities of it, then we will show it, but I don’t believe it’s going to be commercial reality for quite some time.”

How Mutt Motorcycles are taking on the big dogs with their small-capacity retros

First published on 29 March 2022 by Saffron Wilson

Over 9000 Mutts have already been ordered in 2022 across the globe

British bike manufacturers are beginning to dominate the headlines once more in a modern reflection of the past, with the likes of BSA and Norton announcing all-new metal for 21st-century bike lovers.

With long legacies many of us can remember, these heritage marques have a huge advantage thanks to an almost ready-made brand image and customer base.

It’s a luxury that relative newcomers Mutt Motorcycles don’t have, but that’s not stopped the Birmingham brand from making a huge splash with a range of small capacity retro bikes with that all-important British charm.

A Goblin Garage customised Mutt

Mutt was born out of a barn as co-owner Benny Thomas’s small-cc side project to his custom business, Boneshakers. His customer-turned-friend Will Rigg came onboard as soon as he saw the first Mutt and fell in love with the idea, in 2016.

“I was working for a big corporate by then,” Will says. “I used to drop in at Benny’s workshop quite a lot and I think one Friday evening I called in for a cup of tea. He had the latest iteration of the Mutt and said, ‘what do you think of this?’

“He was a bit nervous because it wasn’t like a full-on chopper, but I thought it was genius,” smiles Will.

“What we wanted to do was create a cool bike that wasn’t pretending to be anything else,” Benny says. “It’s not pretending to be a big bike, it’s just a really stylish 125. It looks and feels like a motorbike, it’s not covered in plastic and it’s not a scooter; it has proper sized spoked wheels and twin shocks, and it’s a bike that you can jump on and be happy riding.

The Mutt business has been a great success

“But it’s not just restricted to learner riders. I’ve got plenty of guys and girls who ride them just because small bikes are fun!”

“We are niche. The style is niche,” continues Will. “The whole concept is about presenting an attractive lifestyle of motorcycling to attract people onto two wheels.

“We like to draw riders into the lifestyle of motorcycle culture, particularly new riders, showing them the dream rather than blinding them with technical details they are not interested in or don’t understand. We love what we do, we live it and try to communicate that in everything we do; people seem to pick up on that.

“It’s important for us to stay true to what we are, we’re not interested in mimicking other people. When we started, if you wanted a learner or small capacity bike you either had to choose a scooter or a little sort of race bike and there was nothing really in between.”

The first ever Mutt Motorcycle

But it wasn’t just Will who saw the potential of the first Mutt. Even without advertising, the small-bore British bikes were gaining popularity.

“I sold another to a friend of mine who lived in London and then we just started getting orders coming in,” says Benny. “We probably sold about 180 over the first year or two which were all built by hand – it was phenomenal.”

“But that was Benny really just sort of playing around with it,” Will adds. “The bikes were one-offs. He found donor bikes from various sources and completely stripped them, hand-built them up, hand-laced the wheels, made mudguards on English wheels and all that sort of stuff. They were like baby versions of the big customs he was building at the time.

“The reason we’re called Mutt, and the reason the first bike was called Mongrel is because that’s exactly what they are – stolen parts creating a bastard child!”

Plenty of Mutt Motorcycles on display

Benny wasn’t expecting the sheer amount of interest in the first Mutts, and quickly called upon Will to help with the business. Soon enough, the idyllic old mill on the outskirts of Birmingham was outgrown by Mutts, parts and customs. Will took over the running of the business, and Benny did what he did best – built bikes.

Now, when Benny is creating a new bike or new part for their range, he still takes to the angle grinder and English wheel again and perfects the shape he wants before it is 3D-drawn and standardised by the ever-expanding technical team.

Not just the UK

The pair built the brand using their own money – even turning down investment from interested parties – and did it all with no prior experience of the motorcycle manufacturing industry.

“If we knew then what we know now, we probably wouldn’t do it,” laughs Will.

“I know it sounds cliché, but we just do what we want,” Benny says. “The truth is none of us at the time had any background in the motorcycle manufacturing world as it were. Which is good in a way because we did it our own way.”

MCN's Saffron talks to the Mutt Motorcycles team

But, despite the lack of experience, Mutt is now a thriving business and is in nearly 20 countries with more signed up to join the Mutt family imminently. And, according to the pair, the international market loves the look of a classic British bike.

“Japan was the one,” laughs Will. “They rang us up and said, ‘we love your product; we want to come and look at it’ and they came literally two days later in Black Sabbath T-shirts as homage to the brand and our Sabbath model. We really got on with them.

“We sent bikes over to test and launched in 2019 – when we turned up, we were getting papped! It was bonkers. It was a very restrained approach there, but within nine months, we were one of the top 20 bike models in Japan.”

Mutt is increasingly becoming a household name all over the world. In fact, they have already taken 9000 orders for 2022.

Coming up…

With the success of Mutt already thriving throughout most of the world, the nine core bikes in the range are to be joined by two new models in 2022, as well as a limited re-run of a retired model.

Plus, expect makeovers of some existing models to keep appealing to those small capacity fans who want a little more finesse…

“We’ve got various new models coming out this year,” explains Benny. “They’re full of changes and we’ve got monumental amounts of stuff in the pipeline, including the GT-SR which will be out in April, as well as some really exciting stuff coming out for the end of this year, hopefully.

“The bike coming out at the end of the year will still be a Mutt – we’re not going to suddenly veer off into sportsbikes or adventure bikes, or anything like that.

“Anything from us will be a cool custom-looking retro bike, so it’s sort of more of the same… but better. It won’t be monster cc, but it will be 400+ to cater for CBT requirements in other countries.”

Mutt’s wall of fame

The original Mutt motorcycle

The original Mutt The first Mutt sits proudly on the top floor of the HQ and has been the bike on which three people have learned to ride. “When parts manager Sam wanted a bike, I passed it on to him,” says Benny. “And the deal was he could have it as long as he never washed it. We wanted it to stay looking like a barn find. But it’s a really good fun bike, it still goes like the clappers.”

Tom Hardy learned to ride on this Mutt

A Hardy learner In order to star in Venom, Hollywood star Tom Hardy had to learn to ride a motorcycle, and now, his learner bike has pride of place in the Mutt HQ. Hardy was papped numerous times on the Blackest Sabbath 125 which The Sun misdescribed as a moped, and once he got his licence, he signed the tank and gave the bike back to Mutt. They say it’ll be raffled off for a charity of Hardy’s choice.

This Mutt 250 took on the Scram Africa rally

Scram Africa Sabbath Liam Cormier, lead singer of hardcore punk band Cancer Bats, took this 250cc Sabbath to the Scram Africa rally. “We put this together for him, he rode it on the rally and it didn’t miss a beat,” says Benny. “Not mentioning any other brand names, but a lot of the other bikes broke down and struggled, but our little Mutt just went straight across with no problems.”

A custom Mutt built by the Goblin Garage team

Goblin Garage Custom Mutt supplied Ant Partridge at Goblin Garage (from Discovery’s show Goblin Works Garage) with this Super-4 Gold Edition 125cc, which Ant then customised for his daughter on one of the episodes of the TV show. “He had it painted by notorious street artist D* Face, and had custom exhausts made to his own design as well as loads of other little touches,” Benny says.