Never fear, Hageman is here! Needing no introduction, Greg Hageman AKA “Doc’s Chops” of Hageman Cycles is one of the leading hands and pioneers of the custom motorcycle renaissance. He’s also one of those guys who is a builders builder, I know I’m not the only one who before attempting a new build sees what Greg has done with that make and model, both for inspiration and to see how it’s done right. It’s no surprise really, motorcycles are in his veins having grown up on a farm in Rural Iowa in a family where trips to the dealerships had him dreaming of those sweet rides before he was old enough to reach the handlebars. But it’s a lucky rider who gets to throw their leg over his latest build, a 2005 Harley Davidson XL883 Custom that brings more than a little racer to its new cafe look.
For 2016, the Triumph Bonneville has finally shed its air-cooled status and embraced a raft of new technologies that brings the engine of the retro-styled machine truly into the 21st century. It’s a brilliant machine that will no doubt sell like hot cakes, but with such a change there is also a chance for a new bike to become a modern classic. That very well could be steeds like this “new” 2004 Triumph Bonneville. With no electronic aids, no fly by wire and carbies for induction it is perhaps the true bridge between the old classics and the new retro-tech masterpieces. Either way, Macco Motors in Spain sure know how to turn out a brilliant Bonnie of any vintage and this little lady known as ‘Wayra’ sure likes her hair in the wind.
For a man known as ‘Engineered to Slide’, Nigel Petrie certainly gets how to go seriously fast in a straight line. He also knows a good idea when he sees one. Since 2010, he has used his web presence under the E.T.S. banner to share his ideas, showcase his endless automotive creations and be a place where like-minded creative spirits can push each other to new heights. His latest venture is this Salt Flat Racer based on a 2012 KTM 350 SX-F, but his ground breaking Hilux Drift Ute is perhaps the vehicle that truly put Nigel on the map and spawned a documentary about its build and exploits known as Dream.Build.Drive. So it made perfect sense that as he began this new adventure to concur a land speed record that the cameras would once again be rolling. The results, a movie called Flats, will soon be released. But first, the bike…
From the outside looking in the custom motorcycle culture must appear to be quite confusing for those who don’t have petrol running through their veins. Why do builders the world over take old bikes, that may not have even been that great at the time of their release, and then spend thousands of dollars and hours building crazy contraptions when you could just go into a dealership and buy a brand new superbike for the same price. The reasoning is just not something the average punter will ever understand, the thrill of an old 2-stroke, the character of the best of British or buzz that comes from hearing a 50-year-old engine fire to life again for the first time in decades, it has to be lived. But amongst us is a rare breed that make much more logical decisions, like first time builder Krystian Bednarek from Bull Cafe Racers who chose a 1992 Honda CB750 as his project over the much more fancied early models.
When you’ve been in the custom bike game as long as we have, you get pretty darn quick at spotting bikes that make the grade. Like some crazed laboratory chimp, we get shown a whole heap of bikes on a daily basis and we often have to make a call as to whether we’d show them or not in a matter of minutes. And ‘show’ is exactly what we agreed to do for this bike. In 2011. Then one thing led to another. Photoshoots were booked. Photos were taken. Photos were lost. Grass grew. The world turned. Then, last week, we received the finished product. In the end, we shrugged our shoulders and said the same thing we say about our love lives. “Better late than never”.
Bike builders often become known for creating particular styles of motorcycles. Maybe they have an affinity with a particular marque or a signature element to their builds, such as big horsepower or amazing paint. But Jesse Bassett of The GasBox in Ohio has just one simple word that describes every build he has undertaken and continues to create. “Perfection”. If you want a custom bike built with many a corner cut in just a couple of weeks, then Jesse isn’t your man. But if you desire motorcycle nirvana, where your builder ensures every nut, bolt and washer is to the highest of standard and torqued to exact specs then Jesse has you covered. So when a customer from Maine saw this 1970 Ducati 350 Scrambler on the GasBox website advertised as a potential project he knew he had the bike and the man to build his ultimate ride.
The Father and Son relationship may just be the biggest reason many young men find their way into the world of motorcycling. For Jared Morris and his Dad Bob that relationship extended even further and they shared this Yamaha RD400 not just as a bike to ride but as a bike they would slowly build together. The RD could be heard screaming through the neighbourhood as Jared tested out the latest changes and modifications they’d made before ripping it back apart and making it that little bit better. When Bob fell ill Jared continued the build but with the pressures of life there just wasn’t the time to give the RD the attention it deserved. When Bob, a former Flat Track Racer, sadly passed away, Jared thought of the best way he knew to honour his Dad.
When the custom bike revival began in earnest a few years ago, the bulk of builds were Cafe Racers based on the best of British from the ’60s and the Japanese legends of the ’70s. But as the scene grows, many builders have looked back decades earlier for both inspiration and donor bikes. For Pip Davidson, it started by joining the BSMC and with a few builds under his belt picked up an imitation Board Tracker, a bicycle really, with a 60cc mini bike engine. But it gave him an idea. What about the real thing, built from a small capacity machine, girder front end, vintage and rare? So after a long search and a winning auction bid, he found himself the perfect donor for his very own take on a Board Track Racer, a French 1948 Monet & Goyon S4J.
The name may sound like a ‘special’ Amsterdam lollipop, but it is in fact that of a truly innovative pre-war motorcycle company. Zündapp, the now defunct German motorcycle makers based in Nuremberg, had two very distinct types of motorbikes they produced. Largely defined by the periods pre and post World War II, their post war motorcycles like the Sport Combinette have been featured on these pages before. They were a small capacity 2-stroke with just 2.6hp – basically a lightweight urban transport vehicle. But before the war, Zündapp produced “Heavy” motorbikes that came under the K classification, standing for “Kardanantrieb”. What does that mean? We’re glad you asked.
Land Speed Racing gets into your blood. Once there, it digs down deep into your veins, stretches its claws and releases its barbs. It stays with you for life. That has to be true if the 100+ years of man and machine racing down abandoned runways, across salt flats and hurtling over hard sand beaches has taught us anything about this sport and those who compete in it. For once they’ve completed that first pass, success or failure, they spend the rest of their lives tinkering, designing and building new parts and machines that will get them even that extra mile per hour faster. Dan Daughenbaugh and his ’51 BSA Star Twin ‘Greasy Gringo’ are no different and he’s the first to admit it – “It sounds like you’re crazy”.