The custom motorcycle business has a hierarchy that is more organic than most; it’s not about money or ego but sheer ability. At its most pure form it is simply about the quality, creativity and workmanship of the bikes you build. Australia’s Matt Machine is one of the builders at the top. Living an idyllic life in the bush, his creations are as real and honest as the environment around him and this Norton custom was deemed so good it won “Best British” at the Born Free 7 show.
Auto Fabrica of North East London are fast becoming the place to go if an ultra-clean custom is what you desire. Run by brothers Gaz and Bujar, they have been creating tasty rides for a few years now. With technical backgrounds in design, and also offering an aqua blasting service, it is no wonder their finished products are clean in every way. The end result are motorcycles that look like the sort of prototypes manufacturers might have come up with for their respective classic machines, with a level of fit and finish you don’t often see.
Building a custom motorcycle usually takes time and a lot of knowledge. Jared Smith from El Cerrito, California, had the time but didn’t have much knowledge when it came to building his first bike. 12 months ago when Jared started building this 1960 XLCH Ironhead, he had never welded anything. After picking it up cheap as a non runner that had been completely spray painted black, he started the steep learning process of rebuilding the bike from the ground up. Jared had a clear vision of how he wanted the end product to look. “I was going for an ‘old but loved’ look to the build” he says, “and purposely used vintage components where I could that had not been refurbished, everything else I wanted to make by hand.” Over the next year he started a crash course in welding – mostly as a student at the prestigious ‘School of Youtube’. Meet the Ironhead aptly named the ‘The Bad Investment’…
‘Maxwell Hazan’ is a name that needs no introduction. As s two-time winner of Pipeburn’s Bike Of The Year award, he’s one of the few builders globally that could lay claim to the title of ‘world’s best’. So what does a guy with so much raw talent, fabrication ability and vision do next? Whatever he damn well pleases – that’s what. And what Max pleases in 2015 is to take two Royal Enfield 500cc engines, enlist the help of a certain Mr Aniket Vardhan to magic them into a single 1000cc V-twin, and then construct a bike around it that just might be the best-looking custom bike we’ve ever seen. Excited? We sure as hell are. Here’s Hazan Motorwork’s latest, ‘The Musket’ Royal Enfield V-twin.
An event like the 2015 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is always going to attract lenses. Whether they be of the mobile phone variety, the video sort or good old-fashioned SLRs, you can bet there’ll be a veritable avalanche of photos to capture the event for posterity. But it’s not all tea and cakes. The hard truth is that for the most part, the average Joe or Jane’s shots are anything but distinguished. But then again, Sydney’s Joshua Mikhaiel isn’t just any average lensman.
Plan B Motorcycles from Northern Italy might describe themselves as being a ‘neo-café’ workshop, but in the grand tradition of Speed Shops around the world they have an in-house racing monster with a quirky name, a mongrel sprinter named ‘Cherry Salt’. Christian the owner of Plan B makes no apologies about being inspired by the all-conquering drag machine built by Lucky Cat’s Garage that took the European scene by storm a few years ago. But the plan was never to simply emulate it, Christian wanted to build his own bike to take to the Glemseck 1/8th mile race in Germany, conquer his competitors and win big.
There are a lot of memes floating around the internet about Mum’s basements and not a single one of them kind. Often the domain of keyboard warriors and 40-year-old virgins, finally we’ve made a basement discovery from those dark depths that’s worth paying attention to. The fine lads from KickMoto in Halifax, Nova Scotia had a customer who was after a clean Yamaha XS650. As fate would have it, a friend of the workshop just so happened to have a stash of XS650’s stored in his mother’s downstairs you-know-what.
Though primarily a bike wrecker, Jason Reihing has built his fair share of customs out of his small one man workshop, Charlie James Customs, in Williston, Ohio. ‘Every old car, ATV and motorcycle I’ve restored, rebuilt or modified, I’ve felt them wanting to come back to life,’ Jason explains. ‘But this bike was the opposite. I’ve named it ‘Micky’ after the boxing great Micky Ward as, like him, this bike is a fighter. Throughout the build I had a feeling it would have been happier sitting out the back of someone’s barn and rotting away.’ Thankfully Jason has the tenacity and skill to roll out something as pretty as this CB after just about everything went wrong during the build process.
The ever-useful Wikipedia notes that the ‘Ripon’, or ‘Blackburn T.5 Ripon’ to use its correct name, was a ‘British carrier-based torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane which first flew in 1926.’ Naming their creations after Britain’s rich aviation history has become quite the thing with Norfolk’s Old Empire Motorcycles, as has creating bloody amazing custom bikes, and drinking cups of tea. And rest assured, this one is no exception to the rule. You may know it as a Honda CB550, but they know it by another name…
El Solitario Motor Co. is a little custom shop nestled outside a tiny village in the Spanish countryside. Staffed by four regulars, David, Valeria, Frank and Tony, the operation is assisted by a group of friends who drift in and out of the shop in their spare time to lend a hand. Known for their raw, eclectic builds, El Solitario collaborated with famed German workshop Urban Motor to produce this 1978 BMW R80/7 bobber dubbed ‘Gabriel’. Urban Motor lead the project doing all the mechanical work while El Solitario added their creative offbeat style to the aesthetics. As it turned out, building ‘Gabriel’ was a match made in heaven.