When motorcycle rider Elaine Chu grabs a Sharpie marker, amazing and beautiful designs begin to flow. If there’s a Sharpie lying around you can be sure that this constant doodler, who admits to sometimes being a little OCD, will be creating eye-catching Sharpie art every chance she gets.
Elaine has a flair for creating eclectic patterns that have become more than just doodles; these random drawings form spectacular mini pieces of Sharpie art. So it was only a matter of time before her masterpieces found their way on to her custom BMW motorcycle.
Reactions to her uniquely decorated customized motorcycle have ranged from puzzling to positive. Someone once said, “That’s one busy bike!” And although Elaine is still wondering how to take that comment, we think it’s an exquisite mobile work of Sharpie art!
Elaine’s rolling masterpiece has appropriately earned the name Bugsy. According to her, it’s the perfect nickname because bugs are all she ever seems to collect on a ride.
How Elaine Got Started – Dozing off to the RPMs
Elaine started her riding adventures on the back of her husband Marc’s BMW R1200C. She rode pillion on a sliver of a seat, one that she jokes was hardly big enough to accommodate two-up riding.
Even without the plush comfort of a Goldwing or K bike back seat, she managed to fall asleep to the rhythmic sound of the engine. Marc found the prospect of losing her off the back terrifying.
“Let the engine hit 3300 rpm and I’m out.”
It was during this time that the biking couple started hanging out with a group called the Chromeheads.org. The group, an R1200C cruiser family of motorcyclists, were a welcoming bunch and encouraged Elaine to join the ranks of women motorcycle riders and ride her own.
Her fondest memory of that time is when “Motzie,” a fellow Chromeheads member, bellowed out, “get that woman on her own bike!” (Alex Motz has since passed away, tragically hit by a cage, but his words will always remain in Elaine’s heart).
In 2014 Elaine took the MSF course, and now that she rides her own, she and Marc continue to have good times with the group. It’s good to know she doesn’t fall asleep anymore to the RPMs, at least not while riding her own bike.
First Sharpie Art DIY Project
After getting her endorsement, Elaine got busy creating an imaginative Sharpie art design on her first bike; a 2001 BMW F650GS.
She used a combination of regular brush tip and oil-based paint Sharpie markers. She then used a clear coat spray to seal in the design and protect it from the elements.
“It’s a bike – who doesn’t want to customize it and make it their own?
I think customization and the desire to farkle your ride is a natural accompaniment to owning a bike.”
Customizing Bugsy with Sharpie Art
When Elaine got Bugsy, her BMW F7000GS, her creative juices started to flow once more; again favoring the brush tip and oil-based paint Sharpie markers.
When she completed the initial design on Bugsy, she decided that she didn’t like the way the yellow portion on the front turned out. Lucky for her, Sharpie markers are alcohol based and removable with the help of a little rubbing alcohol.
She admits there was some residual staining, but that wasn’t going to hinder her next work of Sharpie art on her custom BMW motorcycle.
Elaine eventually lost count of how many Sharpie markers it took to complete her designs.
“Sharpies… lots and lots of Sharpies.”
After removing the yellow portions, Elaine outlined a new design.
Her imaginative design work spanned over a week, and she dedicated a whopping 30 hours to the kaleidoscopic pattern on her customized motorcycle.
After updating the eclectic design, she was impressed at how it popped in the sunlight.
Additional Farkles & Customization
With the help of her husband Elaine also added a few additional “farkles” and other customizations to make the BMW F700GS her own. She is also a firm believer of “being seen” while on a motorcycle and added additional lighting for visibility.
Some aftermarket items for her BMW F700GS include:
- Darla Clearwater lights
- Cyclops headlight
- Centech fuse panel
- Heed engine guards from Poland
- A.C. Schnitzer shortie adjustable clutch and brake levers
- Touratech brake plate
- Parabellum windshield
- Aluminum panniers
The Adventure of a Lifetime
When Elaine became a corporate casualty of downsizing from her job at Coca-Cola, her first reaction to receiving the notice was “GREAT! I get the summer off to ride!”
She took the news as a cosmic sign, deciding that it would be the perfect opportunity to take advantage of her newfound free time. She was happy she could finally spend time with her husband touring the country on their BMW motorcycles.
“We took this as one giant karmic hint to pack up our bags and hit the road.”
Without a schedule to stick to, the two intended to take the Iron Butt Association’s National Parks Challenge and ride through the country’s National Parks. Their motorcycle adventure would span 71 days over the summer of 2017 taking them to 56 National Parks/Monuments covering 27 states.
(You can follow their adventures on Advrider.com where she documented the trip).
Rexie the Brake Buddy
As a safety conscious woman motorcycle rider, Elaine creatively came up with a fun way to ensure that she would be highly visible to other vehicles.
Enter Rexie the tin dinosaur. After working for Coca-Cola, Elaine ended up with a few recycled coke tin dinosaurs made by crafters in Kenya. They were the result of a 50/50 program launched by Coca-Cola, promoting the use of recycled Coca-Cola packaging and cans in artwork created by local craftsmen.
Elaine used one of the dinosaurs for additional brake lights, calling Rexie the tin dino, her brake buddy.
Rexie is fitted with red LEDs and wired into the control fuse box along with the existing brake lights. He now sits proudly on the back of her custom BMW motorcycle, lighting up the back whenever she hits the brakes.
“Kids love Rexie, and he was a big hit with them on the trip.”
The Good, the Bad, and the Faded
Elaine’s talent for creating an impressive, vivid, Sharpie art design has had its share of complications. During her cross-country trip on Bugsy, Elaine discovered a fatal flaw to her Sharpie art designs: the sun.
It proved to be her artwork’s downfall. Sadly, the constant exposure to the elements affected her striking design and caused it to fade.
After six weeks on the road, the colors on her custom adventure motorcycle had deteriorated dramatically, and sections of the Sharpie art had nearly faded away entirely.
She had used Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel after the artwork was first created and has since tried various other brands to seal in her colorful masterpiece, but all to no avail. She has yet to find a clear coat that will completely protect her beloved Sharpie art from the sun.
Winning an Upgrade – BMW R1200 GS Adventure
During their recent trip the couple made a stop at the BMW MOA International Rally in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In another act of cosmic karma, Marc won one of the grand prize bikes from the raffle—a new bike! On the way home the lucky couple stopped at Pandora’s in Chattanooga Tennessee and used the credit plus the trade-in on Elaine’s 700GS to upgrade her to a new BMW R1200 GSA.
Elaine’s new bike is white, and you guessed it, she plans to add her unique custom artistic touch to it.
However, after discovering that Sharpie’s might not be the best thing to customize your ride with, this time around she plans on experimenting with 1 Shot paints.
A Few of Elaine’s Favorite Things
Living in Marietta Georgia, Elaine and Marc are blessed with all season riding and like to head out to the Georgia Mountains every weekend they can.
Elaine admits that as one of the country’s many women motorcycle riders, her real passion is just being on her bike, riding the back roads and passing through country towns.
When it comes to Elaine’s favorite piece of riding gear, it’s a toss-up. She loves her Daytona Ladystar boots that help keep her feet on the ground on her tall-standing GS. And since comfort is a top priority, Elaine’s VNM base layers allow for a pleasurable ride.
Along with her love of Sharpie art and farkling her ride, she also enjoys listening to music on her Sena 20S. As for her favorite motorcycle resources Elaine likes Modern Moto Magazine, Revzilla, Moto Chic and The Fashionista Has An Iron Butt.
Connect with Elaine
Elaine reveals that some people are a little cautious about her at first and jokingly tells us that, “They’re not quite sure about a middle-aged Asian woman with a crew-cut.”
However, we are sure that anyone who meets this down to earth, fun loving adventure motorcycle rider gets over his or her misconceptions pretty quickly!
Do you have a bling’d out bike? Are you fashionably styling while you ride? Then check out How to get featured as a Biker Girl Bling’n It.