Last September a friend’s father contacted me about a commissioned build. He had a 1983 Yamaha XS 650 Special that a previous owner had already modified quite a bit. It needed a little mechanical work, so it hit the Retrowrench side of the shared space first. Chad Francis got the basics working properly. Then I met with the client and he informed me he only had a minimal budget. He just wanted to freshen the bike up and have it repainted with the Gulf color scheme, the number 64 (which his son races under) and the JC3 emblem, which is in memory of his daughter. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
For some of the most isolated people on the planet, West Australians have a well-earned reputation for punching above their weight. Take Australian music, for instance. You may have heard of such bands as Tame Impala, The Scientists and INXS. Yes, you guessed it. They’re all from the West. Maybe it’s the sublime climate, or the clean water and fresh air. Hell, maybe they’ve discovered the meaning of life and they’re keeping it from the rest of us for shits and giggles. Steve Gernhoefer from Perth’s RAGE Motorcycles is obviously in on it. That’s the only rational explanation for this killer KTM 640 LC4. That and sheer skills.
There must be something in the Virginia air. When you consider the state’s track record for creating great bike builders, their batting average ain’t half bad. With shops like Classified Moto, Cognito Moto and MotoHangar all hailing from the Lover’s state, there seems to be little doubt that they are head and shoulders above most Eastern states when it comes to custom bike coolness. And as if to rub your nose in it, here’s perennial favourites MotoRelic with another killer build. Fresh from their place in our most recent Bike of the Year Award, we’d like you to meet their take on the build platform du jour, the mighty (square) BMW K100.
When does a custom bike shop become a fully fledged bike manufacturer? While some successful shops are happy with their two or three bikes a year, others like Spain’s Macco Motors take things a little more seriously. Eminently comfortable in their own stylistic skins, they’ve now developed quite the global business. With a waiting list as long as Stretch Armstrong’s arm and customers from as far a field as the UK and Miami, we’re beginning to wonder how long it’ll be before Hinckley starts to get worried. Here’s their latest build, a Triumph T100 they are calling ‘Seagull’.
This old 1986 BMW R80RS has had four iterations. In its original form it was a tourer, designed to ferry middle-aged German men to Paris for wine tasting, to Madrid for lunch, or Kiev for sex tourism. Then Tattoo Customs got their grubby hands on it, stripped it back, painted it black and stuck Firestones on it, dubbing it a mixture of a cafe racer and a bratstyle bike – a ‘Brafe’. But the Firestones went all Firestoney and dumped the bike onto the road. So the third model was born: a nose down cafe racer with a psychedelic paint scheme. And now it’s been changed again – this time into knockout Bultaco-inspired flat tracker. Fourth time’s a charm.
Oh the ’80s. It was a decade when the planet got so many things really wrong, including the fashion. Unfortunately, that extended to motorcycle design and history has not been kind to the machines of the period. So despite Cycle Guide predicting that the Honda VF750S Sabre would be the bike of choice for the next ten years to come it proved to be more Video Killed the Radio Star than Jacko’s Thriller. But what those years of dodgy hair and shoulder pads really needed was just the skills of a master craftsman. Today, Thailand has such a man, Eak of K-Speed Customs, who’s taken this ’80s horror show and turned it into the most badass Honda “Sabre Racer” ever created. It’s literally fit for a movie star.
We think it may be time for an intervention. For Officine Rossopuro’s Filippo Barbacane, barely a week goes by in which he doesn’t send us a ‘bugger-me-sideways-that’s-an-amazing-build’ bike. There can only be a few valid reasons as to the cause of his ceaseless productivity. He’s either possessed, a robot, or he has cloned himself half a dozen times. Unable to decide which scenario is more likely, we’re going for a combo answer; clearly the guy who makes these bikes is some sort of Sextuplet Satanic Cyborg that’s hell-bent on world domination through a never ending stream of totally sweet-ass bikes. Here’s his latest evil effort – a Moto Guzzi Bellagio he calls ‘Terra Moto’.
Think about American motor racing legend Eddie Lawson for a moment. You’re probably picturing him on the early 80s Kawasaki Z1000 he made famous. Or maybe it’s the mid 80s 500cc World Championship Marlboro Yamaha. Or, at a stretch, it could be his Rothman’s Honda of the late 80s. And unless you’d had one too many disco biscuits, a BMW boxer is probably the last bike that was on your mind. That’d never work. Or would it? Maybe we’ve all had one too many biscuits, because from the moment we laid eyes on this Eddie-inspired No. 21 R1200R, the latest build from Switzerland’s VTR Customs, we were smitten. Eddie on a Beemer? Human sacrifice? Dogs and cats living together? Count us in.
Indonesia has proved quite the powerhouse of late when it comes to custom bikes. With builders that are easily the best in the region and a beautifully original take on things, it’s a country that attracts the interest of the region’s bike fans over and above many of its contemporaries – Australia included. And the Indonesian crème de la crème would have to be Bandung’s White Collar Bikes. Their main man, Ram Ram Januar, has the metalworking skills of sword maker. And here’s very shiny, perfectly brushed proof. It’s his latest build, an all-metal Ducati 795 racer.
Yamaha’s poor MT-01. Released in 2005, it looked like it had so much customising potential. A killer engine with more torque than the Titanic on Nitrous. A decent, sporty frame and suspension set-up. Tuning kits straight from the factory. By rights, we should all be complaining about yet another MT-01 custom bike instead of directing it at her Virago grandparents. Yet here we are, all red-faced at having never featured a single MT on these pages. Until now. Direct from (of all places) Corsica, here’s Kekedesign Artkustom with their brutal ‘Bull Gold’ cafe fighter.