Our recent expedition to Northern Italy for the inaugural Wildays show gave us more than just ham-induced consumption, some sunburn and a flat track-related bung knee. It also provided us a chance meeting with Germany’s Hookie Co., who had set up shop right alongside the Pipeburn display area. Bumming their shade, we got to talking over this, their latest build. It’s a 1993 Harley XL883 that’s been given a new lease of life as one of 2017’s coolest trackers yet.
For those not in the know, Yamaha’s ‘M-Slaz’ is a naked version of its popular YZF-R15 single cylinder sports bike first launched in Asia and India in 2008. And yes, we had to look that up. As reliable as it is underwhelming, it’s a bike that in normal guise most of us would instantly overlook in favour of an MT or XSR. But when they just aren’t on the menu, how do you take what’s available locally and turn it into something you’d die to ride? This is how. Here’s Thailand’s K-Speed with their Yamaha ‘Monkey Slaz’ Tracker.
Clearly, France’s Bad Winners never sleep. Either that, or they have a rather serious amphetamine problem. Why, you ask? Because here you have their third new bike in five weeks. Seriously. This time it’s a superbly timeless Honda CB400T build that looks as good now as it will when cars start flying and mobile phones can out-think you in a chat about French Existentialism. They call it ‘Raw to Raw’. We call it our new addiction.
It’s a dream come true for most custom motorcycle workshops; to have a major manufacturer come to you with the offer of a new bike and a request to create a crazy custom. But everything that seems too good to be true usually is and when the list of demands start to roll out the dream can become a nightmare. Never before have so many manufacturers turned to small custom shops and yet so few have got it as right as the pairing of Suzuki and Germany’s Mellow Motorcycles. From a base of a new Suzuki DL1000 XT V-Strom that starts life as a bulky Sport Adventure Tourer. They’ve created a custom carbon flat tracker that’ll do it all, from Dakar to the drag strip, they call it Suzuki-Mellow V-TRACK 1000.
Despite the incredible motorcycles that have been coming out of Italy for more than a hundred years, even the biggest of manufacturers has gone through financial turmoil. Perhaps none more so than Moto Morini, who seem to have had more bankruptcies than Donald Trump. Things got so bad, the company nearly fell into the hands of Silvio Berlusconi’s Brother. But despite all of the financial woes, when the company has been on its feet it’s produced some incredible machines. Which is why fans of all things two wheels, Michael and Tom of Austria’s Titan Motorcycles had a desire to build a custom Morini to do the brand justice. Based on a 2007 Moto Morini Corsaro it’s a stripped down urban racer for the cafe set with a need for speed that earns it the name ‘Superleggera’, or ‘Superlight’.
Life can be a lot like a game of Texas Hold’em, you can’t determine which cards you’ll get dealt, but what you do with them and how you play that hand is down to you. It’s something we instinctively know and why so often we find ourselves cheering for the underdog, knowing their victory was hard-earned. It’s fair to say that Maxime Montaggioni didn’t get dealt Aces, he is missing his right arm; but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a World Champion Snowboarder and winning Gold in Taekwondo. But racing down mountains and kicking people in the face just wasn’t enough adrenaline. So he’s commissioned fellow Frenchman Lionel of Duke Motorcycles to build him a steed of speed based on 1993 Honda XR600, appropriately named Mad Max.
We all know that without getting kids into motorcycling the sport will go the way of the dinosaurs, Morris Dancing and Tiger Wood’s reputation. But what have you done about it lately? For Eduardo and Dani from Spain’s Russell Motorcycles, they’ve introduced their kids to the sideways glory that is flat tracking by building them a bike to do it on. It’s a Sanglas/Puch/BMW mash-up that makes us want to get some dust in our faces.
Maybe it’s an old school mentality that I should let go, but no one works on my bikes but me. Knowing you tightened that axle bolt yourself gives a little added comfort when speeds start going past the ton. But if he didn’t live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean I’d throw my keys to Greg Hageman in a heartbeat! He’s a master mechanic who never fails when it comes to building incredible customs that ride as perfectly as they appeal to the eye. So it’s easy to see why Rebel Yell Bourbon entrusted the future custom bike hall of famer to knock out a give-away machine for one lucky customer. The prize? A go anywhere 2015 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 that tips its cap to the AMF years.
A headless chicken earning $50,000 a month, a female racer beating up on the boys and an Indian Scout with a 1:1 power to weight ratio. These are not old wives tales, stories from someone three sheets to the wind or plucked from an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. All these things are true and they form the foundation of one incredible machine that took home the top trophy at its first race meeting. Having been selected by Indian to undertake the build Nik, Fabien Ale and Zesi at Switzerland’s Young Guns Speed Shop haven’t let down the big American maker. Delivering a tyre shredding 2016 Indian Scout Sprint Racer known fondly as ‘Miracle Mike’.
Motorcycles have an amazing way of getting under your skin. It seems that no matter how hard you try to forget about them, they’ll always bubble to the surface one way or another. For California’s Fernando Cruz, college and his own business took over from his love of bikes, but sure enough fate stepped in and the result was a slow and steady re-entry in motoland that finished with a racing job, an award from the Quail Motorcycle Gathering and this amazing Yamaha XS750, built with his employer, Meen Motorsports.