James Loughead is a man of science. With a PhD in clinical neuropsychology, Loughead led a brain imaging team in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. When he was off the academic clock, Loughead easily transitioned to James Hammarhead, designer, fabricator, builder. In 2012, James made the switch to Hammarhead full time. The name, a combination of his and his wife’s last name of Hammarlund, is also attached to his Philadelphia-based firm, Hammarhead Industries.
Here, Hammarhead creates products he personally has a passion for – first and foremost motorcycles that inspire him, but also a growing collecting of industrial-influenced soft goods, including gear and accessories, such as the urban-tough, supremely functional Hammarhead Daypack (complete with the same quality of straps used in racing harnesses).
Whether wheeled or seamed – each product embodies the Hammarhead design aesthetic of purity, simplicity and functionality. As with all his designs, he infuses each new concept with a nod to the past, while never becoming mired in nostalgia. The result is a thoroughly modern brand that captures the essence of what we seek among the clutter of life: an artisan and craftsman’s approach, unpretentious and timeless in its appeal.
Hammarhead’s machine design process is unique. No stereotypical cocktail napkin sketches or digital tools, his vision unfolds on the actual “donor” bike. Once he selects a motorcycle that intrigues him, Hammarhead iterates directly on the machine. He finds he’s completely focused on the physical nature of design. The art of manipulating the tangible carries allows his instincts to emerge, and in turn guide the final product.
Rather than take his inspiration from other designers, Hammarhead is drawn to the mechanical soul and simple beauty of machines, like a Bridgeport mill or a Soft Bend lathe. It’s the same lure that dirt bikes held for him early on.
A child of the 70s and 80s, Hammarhead’s interest in motorcycles was inspired by the backwoods enduro culture in his native Pennsylvania, then in its heyday with legends like “King” Dick Burleson dominating on lean, fast Huskies. Hammarhead gave his nod to the era with his modified Triumph Scrambler, named after the legendary Michigan Enduro, the Jack Pine.
Hammarhead’s latest project, scheduled to be unveiled January 18th, taps into his soft spot for Italian bikes – primarily those that go beyond brute performance. He is currently putting the final touches on the Hammarhead V7 Wayward, a Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic has been optimized as a metro-friendly ride that is equally happy to take its owner outside of city limits for the weekend. It’s the first Hammarhead(ed) Guzzi, but not new territory for the designer. Hammarhead has fond memories of owning a Moto Guzzi LeMans 3.
The historic Moto Guzzi V7 vehicle range sparked his interest as Hammarhead was mulling over the next problem he wanted to solve with a build: “We were thinking about doing a bike that confronted what features a functional transport in an urban setting would require, such as the ability to store a laptop, for example. At the same time we wanted the bike to be able to break free for fast and light travel.”
As the name implies, the new Hammarhead V7 Wayward won’t be a mild-mannered commuter bike. To get a first look at this Hammarhead Moto Guzzi Original, check back in January 18th.