Interview with MAD-Exhausts Head of Design: Bruno Carmo

Interview with MAD-Exhausts Head of Design: Bruno Carmo 
Interview performed by Ride-Just-Ride

Saturday morning. I have known Daan Borsje for quite some time now. Formerly via Moto Adonis Motorcycles in the Netherlands, a company with high quality in the field of vintage and old-timer motorcycles, giving them a new lease of life with sublime finishing and renovation. For several years now he has been the driving force behind MAD-Exhaust, together with Wouter Buningh. Wouter Buningh joined after the tragic death of Wouter Van Egmond at too young an age.
MAD-Exhaust is a company that builds exhaust systems with high-quality raw materials. From exhaust pipes, bends to silencers, meanwhile with an international reputation.

A success story that you can only achieve through a healthy vision, a high-quality end product and of course a passionate team.
Daan Borsje wanted to put one of his team members in the spotlight. Bruno Carmo has been working at MAD-Exhaust for quite some time... and how!
Currently he is the driving force to put new ideas, new innovations into practice. Together with the entire staff, he is one of the people who help determine the vision and innovation at MAD-Exhaust.
“Your company is only as strong as the team that builds it.” And they have understood that well at MAD-Exhaust. From day one, only the best materials were used to sell their end products. MAD-Exhaust is currently strengthening its market position in all factors: cross, racing, classic bikes, modern motorcycles, ... Here is one of the people who contribute to the international success of MAD-Exhausts.

Name: Bruno Carmo
Age: 37
Origin: Portugal RESIDENCE: Beveren, Belgium

Occupation: I do 2 professions:
- metalworking - lathe worker in OW
- Head of Design & Production at MAD-Exhaust I produce custom exhaust systems, mufflers and curve parts.

Which bikes do you own yourself: I own a CBR 954RR , CBR 900RR , VTR SP1, Yamaha XJ 600 Naked Bike

Since how long do you manufacture exhaust systems: about 4-5 years now, before that too but very intensively in the last 4-5 years.

For how long do you have your licence: about 18 years. So from my 19-20 years.

How many meters of exhaust have you made : hahaha, actually no idea but rough estimate still more than 1000 meters.

You really have been riding a motorcycle from an early age. Where the love for motorcycles?
The moment you get on a motorcycle and start riding, you just forget everything. And that is unique. The moment you feel the wind in your face, your mood changes to me with my motorcycle. Just me, the noise and vibration of my bike. That is enjoyment and pure relaxation. Then you just forget all worries, big and small.

You came to Belgium as a lathe operator. Was this already a choice you had at school? 
No, I was still living in Portugal at the time. Everything I learned about metalworking with the lathe, I learned after school through internal training during my job at the time. I saw them working on the various lathes and my interest was aroused. Small questions, start with the basics, spin some objects for myself and for my motorycles. I always tried to make my objects better and better. At one point it became my full-time job.

How did you end up in Belgium from Portugal?
At the age of 21 I worked in Portugal for a company that did steel constructions, maintenance and repairs in the Petrochemical sector all over Europe. Then I was in Spain, then in France or Morocco. I was still single at the time. So when my boss asked if I wanted to work abroad, I was happy to go. Many cultures, different lifestyles, experiences both professional and personal growth. At one point, a friend asked me to come and work in Belgium. That choice was quickly made. I received a wonderful proposal and in the meantime I was already together with my current girlfriend. Another leap in the dark. Arriving in Belgium and not yet knowing where I would live and live. A new adventure far from my familiar world, but I have not regretted it for a moment. Work hard and everything will be fine. That was my attitude.

How did you actually start with the specialization in welding? Or was that a logical consequence of your experience in steel construction?
In the steel industry you have 4 parts: the technical development, lathe production, welding and the installation/construction. I wanted to do them all while many people focus on only 1 or 2 branches. That was the driving force for me: from the technical elaboration and the thinking to a beautiful and functional result. I always wanted to learn new things. I was not born just to be a welder from nine to five. I wanted and want to do more. What really fascinates me about welding is that it is really specialist work. I love welding: the technique, the colours, the different ways of welding, the possibilities and love it still.


How did you come into contact with Daan and Wouter from MAD-Exhausts?
I got to know their company and both of them through Facebook and Instagram. It was still the time that Daan was the owner of Moto Adonis. He built really nice motorcycles. We started texting each other and exchanging photos. Until I realized that the shop was not far from my house. At the time, I still lived in a small apartment and had finished my full-time job around 4 p.m. I did enjoy working on motorcycles and trying out a lot myself. Not directly for the money, but mainly for the pleasure and experience.
We met the first time and my attitude was to have a nice chat with Daan and see what we could mean together. If it didn't work out, at least I would have seen many beautiful motorcycles (laughs).

What was your first project?
Daan was working on a CX500 project. We started discussing what the exhaust system should look like. We complemented each other's ideas. Daan told me to build an exhaust system and with the welding we discussed. Producing a good exhaust system is one thing, but producing an exhaust system like no one else does in a unique and innovative way is something completely different. That was the big challenge. Make the difference. Everything was new to me, but Daan reassured me. Is it technically possible? Which techniques will we use? How to design? That was the learning phase for me. Daan has me a lot
helped in the beginning. Try, fail, try again, succeed and make good results even better. It was a constant thinking and evaluation process.
That's how the passion for exhaust systems actually started. At the time, Daan was already busy making custom bends and already had extensive experience with stainless steel materials.
So it actually started to produce custom exhausts and bends for each project. At Moto Adonis it was not the intention to work out multiple exhaust systems in advance. Just per project.

Evolution in time
The concept, the idea MAD-Exhaust actually grew out of Moto Adonis. Mad exhaust was created due to the increasing demand to also ship the exhausts that we made on Moto Adonis motorcycles. During that period, Daan also founded MAD-Exhaust. September 2019 MAD has been disconnected from Moto Adonis and continued as a separate company.
In September 2020 Daan Moto sold Adonis and after six months the company was completely owned by new, friendly owners.
More space was needed to work more intensively with innovative techniques and materials. In the meantime, we had already delivered great results of very high quality, but it was always a matter of waiting for a new project to work out and test the next step.

Customization with high quality materials
Working with stainless steel requires a lot of experience to achieve good results in the welding process. Do you have any tips for novice welders who want to raise their level?
Most importantly: clean, clean and clean your equipment. (laughs)
Any residue of oil, grease residue from your fingers, dust particles, grinding residue, ... must be properly removed. Otherwise they end up in the welding area. This can affect the weld colors and cause irregularities. Not only clean the outside but also the inside of your material. The moment you start assembling the various pieces, you should not assume that these dozens of parts will fit together down to the millimeter. It is and remains manual work. With stick welding you start and stop after one complete movement. So you get different colors at the start and stop of your welding. The material you use for welding naturally also has an influence on the colour. I try to keep to the same pace, the same speed of my welding movement as best I can. You will get a combination of colors after welding. But if you only have blue color then it is not good. Then your material and therefore the end result will lose its character. I strive for an even color combination from start to stop where the start and stop stand out as little as possible.
There are other factors that influence your welding. Such as the type of gas, which ampere you use, which temperature... it all depends on the material you are handling at the time. The thickness of the material, the alloy, but mainly the speed of your hand movement. So in summary: the material, the intensive cleaning of your material, the preparation for mounting, the type of gas, the ampere, the speed of your hand influence the quality and colors of your welding. For our tubes we use 1.5 millimeter body, for our silencers we stay below 1 millimeter thickness of sheet material. So here we always work with varying settings. Practice makes perfect and so do years of experience. Even with me it remains a constant learning process to keep improving myself. That's the perfectionist side of me.

Every project is unique. Every motorcycle for which you deliver custom work has different power, different frame, different technical characteristics. How do you deal with this?
It all starts with a first conversation. What bike do they have? How do customers see its end result? Do they want 4 in 1 with 1 custom damper or are we going to end up with 4 dampers? Or even six. (laughs)
For some people, aesthetics and sound are more important than power. So more looks than functionality. In that case we go along with their story, but functionality remains very important. The power must also be there to make the engine run properly. We've done that exercise hundreds of times.
Usually I try not to deviate too far from the original. The thickness of the material is slightly thicker, but I try to keep the length of the bends and exhaust pipes as good as the same. The ratio of length between the exhaust pipes per cylinder is also important. You can be creative in the shape, but in terms of percentage all lengths must be correct if you work with 4 in 1 or 2 in 1.

Daan told me about your early days at MAD-Exhaust. In the beginning you discussed and philosophized a lot together about which direction you wanted to evolve, about the design and function of each exhaust system. But right now, you teach them. That is why he is now well-deserved Head of Design & Production. How did this evolve from your initial process at Moto Adonis to now?
In the beginning I mainly worked at Moto Adonis in the workshop. After a while I also bought engine blocks and frames of certain models for which we did work on a regular basis. Like this frame of a BMW RT and matching engine. Or this frame from Yamaha and Honda with matching block. They are worn engines and old frames but that doesn't matter. I use them as a fit for our creations that we manufacture per project. The fact that I can work both at home and in their business saves me a lot of time and more functional working hours. This has greatly accelerated the process of learning and increasing innovation. Connection of the exhaust pipes to the engine block, the gradual calculations of the bends, but also the flow of the entire system. How do the exhaust gases pass through the whole? What is the best design to have a well-functioning and highly functional complete exhaust system? A good flow, no confrontations in your flow, ensures good power. Then your engine will run smoothly. That was our biggest learning experience in the early years. Some creations are beautiful on photo but may not be good for the functionality of the engine. Then we just started over. That was our most important learning process in the early years. In the meantime we have gained so much experience that even with a new bike we immediately know what to look out for and where the bottlenecks are.

The evolution
Have you seen the projects change significantly in recent years?
Yes absolutely. During the early days we did some modelling. Our variety grew over the years. Our spectrum has become very broad in the last year.
Recently we received an assignment to take care of a rally car. Here, power and functionality were the most important. Our expertise has opened the door for this project. We are proud that we have been able to give this car even more power. We experimented a lot with different angles, inner diameters, lengths and dampers. Very much tested and gained extra experience.
The type of customers has also changed. We have been doing private individuals since day 1. Here we still work in the same way. We can already show a lot of photo material and in this way we discuss every customer's wish. What kind of exhaust pipes, what cornering and what silencers.
We always try to work towards a beautiful whole, a nice symbiosis between the exhaust system and the entire look of the motorcycle. But the end result must always look unique and of course be practical. By practical I mean a nice sound and not too high or too loud and the cornering has to be safe so the rider can't get burned. On the other hand, we also work on behalf of
other custom builders and garages, here in the Netherlands but also far beyond.

There are several other companies on the market that focus on exhaust systems. How does MAD-Exhaust position itself in that market?
It is true that there are other companies that also build exhaust pipes, but produce complete and very high-quality silencers from scratch, not many companies can imitate us. Our custom-made silencers consist entirely of stainless steel, both the interior and the entire exterior.
We also buy our pipe material here in Belgium or the Netherlands. We only work with the best stainless steel material on the market. Also the way of cutting, preparation for assembly, welding, cornering. That's where we make the difference.
Many companies use machines to make turns. A pipe is placed in a machine and with force the desired bend is obtained. With us everything is made by hand. Cut pipes to size so that a bend with the desired angle can be made. Everything by hand. So we make exhaust systems the old school way. Completely custom and handmade. So every creation is possible, every form.

The future
What do you think the future will bring?
For several years now we have had the trend of cafe racers, vintage bikes and oldtimer motorcycles. That trend will continue for some time. What we do notice is that owners of such motorcycles are making ever higher demands on the finish of their engine. And then they come to us. You also see an expansion of models that are converted into cafe racers. In the past, it was mainly the BMW RT models, the Honda CBs and a few Yamaha models that were converted the most. Now that spectrum is very broad. In recent years there has been more experimentation with other vintage models. Often by the professional custom garages in Europe and the rest of the world. Hobby builders follow these examples. In the meantime, almost every model is eligible to build something beautiful.
On the other hand, you also see renovations to new models. Not directly to turn it into a cafe racer, but to embellish the motorcycle or to give it your own personal touch.
While you think that the younger generation would opt more and more for electric, you see the opposite happening. More and more people in their twenties are resolutely opting for the 1970s and 1990s motorcycles, the old school motorcycles. But also the vintage leather vests, the old motorcycle goggles, ... everything comes back. So our future still looks bright. (laughs)

Between the big boys
If you can choose one project that you really look back on with pride. Which project would that be? That's hard to choose. Several projects have already passed the review of which I thought: wow, beautiful. Not only the project, but also for whom we have been able to carry out these projects. Like for Arjan van der Boom of Ironwood Custom Motorcycles. Still a motor builder with world fame. Several of his motorcycles have received our exhaust systems. A wonderful collaboration. BikeShed in London is a special event for me. There were a few Arjan engines with our custom-made exhaust systems and also with parts supplied by Powerbrick Parts from Scheidam. The Powerbrick representatives were also full of praise for our quality.
Usually you work on a project alone and you only see the look of satisfaction from that one customer. But at a trade fair they very frequently come to address you or congratulate you on your work. Not only the average visitor, but also other professionals. At these events you measure yourself against the best in the world. The exhibitors at these shows are simply world class in custom building. And
there you are. Among the greats. Initially I felt a bit pressure at the start of these events, but the comments were always positive. That gives me great satisfaction, both for myself and for MAD-Exhaust.

Does MAD-Exhaust offer any other services besides producing custom exhaust systems? Yes, you can also just buy the silencers from us, without all the rest. We can also prepare all the work for the exhaust pipes. Some wish to carry out all the welding work themselves. We will then ensure that you can get started with very good material. We can custom make collector tubes for your 2 in 1, 4 in 1. No problem. Or end rings to attach your exhausts to your engine block. You can even order our stainless steel tubes that are specially made for MAD-Exhaust separately.

The next step

After all these years, what keeps you motivated as Head of Design & Production at MAD-Exhaust?
Stepping out of my comfort zone every now and then and trying something new in my free time. How can I still improve? Each project remains a learning process in my head, while we have been delivering high quality for years. But for me, the bar can be raised a little higher with each new project.
Especially when it comes to silencers. In the early years we bought dampers. Now we make them entirely ourselves. Every silencer produced is currently already of a high quality. But our damper production will evolve much further. New materials such as titanium or, in combination with carbon, tailor-made attachment points or end caps for mufflers. I want to develop this extension even further for MAD-Exhaust. Even more beautiful, stronger and more durable.
I don't have to deal with the projects and sales. That's what Dan does. (laughs) I can fully concentrate on production, testing, new innovations and new materials. That's my element. I feel good there.