There’s something undeniably cool about a bike that can go anywhere. Whether it’s secretly stroking your zombie apocalypse fantasies or it’s just a reminder that life shouldn’t just be about your job and mortgage, every rider should have at least one mountain eater in their garage. But until recently, there was pretty much zero chance of ever finding a cool one – unless 80s fluoro graphics and wall-to-wall plastics spins your wheels. But thanks to shops like Italy’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, we now have options like this Transalp they call ‘Cobra’. Who needs to move mountains when you can just ride over them?
Sportsbikes are all but dead. After bikers realised that riding a litre bike on public roads was akin to straightening that crooked picture in your hallway with the USS Nimitz, the bottom fell out of the global market. And while the more switched-on manufacturers have shifted their eggs to other baskets, it seems that the custom builders are again one step ahead. The recent rise of seriously capable machines with cafe racer influences is undeniable. Finally we’ve realised that fast bikes don’t have to rev to 18 grand and look like a reject robot from a Michael Bay film. And here’s a perfect example, via Rob Chappell from Canada’s Origin8or Custom Cycles.
Clients are the same wherever you go. They come to you because they like what you do and then they go ahead and ask for something that’s the absolute polar opposite. Known for your cafe builds? How’d you like to build them a bobber? Knock it out of the park with your last four tracker builds? Then why not try a drag bike? You get my drift. So when the lads from France’s renown Bad Winners had a client that wanted a ‘pure brat-style’ bike, you can probably imagine the reaction. You might as well ask Picasso to paint a Pollock. But instead of a hissy fit, they’ve gone all ‘carpe diem’ and done their own sweet thing that also happens to work a treat.
It’s easy to parrot the line ‘I don’t like Harleys’. It’s an simple trap to fall into, until you realise the huge selection of amazing customs that have been crafted out of Milwaukee’s finest. There’s cafe racers, bobbers, choppers and flat trackers aplenty but my personal favourite has to be the rarely seen board tracker style. And here’s the best goddamn one you’ll find – a stunning turbocharged Harley Evo-engined special crafted by Argentina’s Lucky Custom.
In the earliest days of the motorcycle the engine was everything. Many of the frames were indistinguishable from a bicycle, it was all about the power plant. Inventors tried steam, diesel, electricity and petrol to make their motors rev and experimented with a host of technologies to improve power and reliability. These days you can barely distinguish one new engine from another, apart from the number of cylinders and the cosmetic dress ups. But David Widmann and his crew from NCT Motorcycles in the Austrian Alps take the mechanical side of things very seriously. For one lucky customer they’ve turned a 1982 Moto Guzzi 850 T4 into a true classic motorcycle. Its looks are great, but it’s the engine that’s the centerfold.
Steampunk bikes. Usually, they’re much more steam than they are punk. And more’s the pity. If the thought of a 19th Century Sid Vicious on a bike tearing around the streets of London pushes your buttons as much as it does ours, then we’ve got just the bike for you. Fresh off the bench of Milan’s Rustom workshop, it’s ironically named ‘Just Another Punk’ as a tongue-in-cheek tilt at steampunk builds. And that’s because this Honda CB900 packs a punch that is anything but hot air.
Ever since we first laid our sweaty little hands on Triumph’s new Bonneville range, we’ve been itching to see what customisers would do with them. And while there’s been a few shots fired already, we’re still holding our breath for something that really shows off the platform’s true custom capabilities. Imagine the collective sigh of relief when we sighted this, the latest bike from Chicago’s Analog Motorcycles. Built for the Rebel Yell Bourbon “Rebels Uncaged” competition, it also appeared at this year’s Handbuilt Show. And now it’s here.
Rock ‘n’ Roll had The Blues. World War I had Franz Ferdinand. And television had Philo Farnsworth. Every big event has its ground zero, and for modern custom motorcycles, it was the inimitable Yamaha SR500. More specifically, it was Japanese Custom shops in the 90s and their ready, cheap access to the bikes that kicked things off. And here we are today, enjoying the fruits of all their hard work. Keen to acknowledge where it all started, Austria’s Vagabund Moto decided to throw their hat in the ring with a classic SR build of their own. Meet the ‘V06’.
My Pando Moto Karl Indigo jeans smell like the inside of a garbage can at this point. That’s because I’ve been wearing them for almost 4 months straight and they’ve never been washed. I wear them to the market, I wear them on the couch, I wear them in the car, I wear them at the cafe and, well, wear them everywhere. Especially on my motorcycle. My fiancé gets especially annoyed when I wear them at home because she cannot believe they are just as comfortable as my super-hero lounge sweats. Maybe they also don’t smell as bad I led you to believe because she has not said anything either.
In recent times it has become all too common a cliché to call a custom motorcycle of a certain quality, a rolling piece of art. It’s not that many of these machines don’t deserve the title and I’d personally take a Max Hazan over an Auguste Rodin any day. But where most art is enjoyed as the finished product, custom bikes are often built by or with considerable input from the prospective owner. From Picasso to Pink Floyd they didn’t sit around with their would be consumers of their work and take input, they simply created. But there was a time, many centuries ago, when the well to do would commission works from their favourite artists and wait for the surprise of the great unveiling. This is the story of such a creation, VITALIS 850 by Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro, using a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans as the canvas.