Evolution always seems slow for the living. They are blissfully unaware of any new creatures rising up, until a swarm of better beasts takes them down as they are going about their daily business. From the post war Hogs on the interstates in the USA to the Motorway Cafes of a Rockin’ ‘60s Great Britain, the commuter class that was previously afraid of us has grown accustomed to these stalwarts of the custom motorcycle scene, as generations of bike builders have followed their founder’s leads. But in an increasingly urbanised world, a new animal has emerged from the city streets of Munich; two of its favourite sons have joined forces to put their signature touches on Bavaria’s most famous brand and created a revolution, codenamed ‘DA#4’. Prepare to witness first-hand the birth of the ‘Neo-Racer’ genre.
Ever noticed how great musicians or bands are able to write songs in their own unique style, yet each of their tracks is completely different from the others? How separate tracks on an album can work as individuals, yet still make up an overall narrative that ties together the whole work? How they can be so damn perfect, yet so damn unique all at the same time? Well if you wanted a custom bike shop equivalent, you need look no further than Miami’s legendary Moto Studio and their frontman, Maximiliano Medina. And here they are with yet another hit; this time it’s a Guzzi with looks that’ll be sure to give it some time in the limelight – especially with those headlights.
If you’re a regular Pipeburn reader, building a custom Honda CX500 might seem like a task that’s easier than not winning the lotto. But don’t let the pixel mirage fool you; it’s actually a really tough gig. You need a steady eye and a solid understanding of proportions to keep the bike from looking like a half-turned transformer. It’s clear not every builder can avoid that pitfall. This highlights why some CX500’s have it, and others just don’t float your metaphorical boat. The trick is to keep the quality high and the lines clean, which just so happens to be exactly what this bike, Josh Deardorff’s One Moto Show entry, did. And how.
A Renaissance man can do it all, and Curtis Miller from Ardent Motorcycles in Milford, Michigan is practically Da Vinci with a thumping V-Twin between his legs. Forget about riding bikes as a kid, Curtis didn’t own a motorcycle until he was 56 years old but once he’d thrown his leg over a Harley Sportster and hit the road he was hooked and began to discover a new art form. Which is exactly what he has always done, a holder of a Bachelor of Fine Arts he’s been self-employed his whole life, first building furniture, then as a computer animator and a photographer but along the way he’s also built everything from classical guitars to a wooden kayak and even radio controlled gliders. So when the motorcycle bug hit it was only a matter of time before Curtis was building them from scratch and this hand-built machine known as “The Grand Prix” powered by a 2009 Sportster engine is his latest creation.
For many decades it was a mythical creature, believed destroyed in a nuclear apocalypse that shocked the world and any documentation of it’s existence deliberately destroyed. Even the official historian of a very large American motorcycle manufacturer with a strong connection to the machine believed any trace had been lost forever. But of all places, the war time Kurogane Type 95 motorcycle by Japanese corporation Nihon Nainenki appeared on US television in a brief scene on the hit show “I Love Lucy” in the ’50s and ever since collectors and historians have been searching for a complete example. With only three remaining in the world and two in the collection of our friends at The Motorworld by V.Sheyanov, we can now present to you this 1939 Type 95, the only “Civilian” version of the sidecar equipped V-Twin beast anywhere in the world.
There is a lot to be said about picking a model of motorcycle to customise that is already popular in the industry. Parts are readily available, there is a wealth of knowledge on what does and doesn’t work and plenty of inspiration to be drawn from other builds. The problem comes, when if like Wena Customs of Poland, you pick such a bike and hope to not only stand out from the crowd but win trophies too. But their 1980 Honda CX500 is positive proof they can take a popular machine and build a bike so good that judges at the Poznan International Motor Show awarded them the prize for best cafe racer. Even more impressive is that the Wena Customs journey only began two short years ago, but the team brings together a wealth of knowledge that means this Honda has the go to match the show.
With the boom in popularity of the R series BMW’s of late the men who designed and worked on its many incarnations must be sitting back and scratching their heads, this they would say is not what they had in mind; BMW until recently had always been a very conservative manufacturer. That’s even more true of the R100rs that was built with the purpose of slapping on some panniers and cruising the highways of Europe, with the first review by Cycle Magazine describing it as a “Basic long-haul BMW”. But Craig and Thor of Route 62 Customs from Port Elizabeth in South Africa saw in this a 1982 BMW R100rs what so many others have seen, solid engineering, mechanical strength and a sense of unique style that would be perfect for their shops first custom.
If you’ve been building motorcycles for a long time, you will start accumulating parts like a housewife collects Tupperware. My garage, for example, is full of old parts I have taken off, upgraded, bought cheap at swap meets or had thrown in when I’ve purchased a bike – it’s damn hard to say no to free spare parts, right? Like many builds featured on these pages, the Bavarian Knight began as a big pile of metal from a multitude of different bikes. The owner, John Yeosock, initially purchased a stash of old cast-offs from John Landstrom at Blue Moon Cycles. Then, not knowing what to make out of all the random parts, he contacted Bryan Fuller from Fuller Moto in Alanta to see if he could help. Together, they went back to John’s warehouse and rummaged through all his bits and pieces until they had picked up all the parts they felt they could build a modern, yet classic BMW cafe racer.
It took the sacrifice of a 30-year-old comic book collection, over 7,000 comics to be precise, for Dave to appease the Motorcycle Gods as he sold one hobby to fund another. This one had a little more action and little less action heroes, however. A 1980 Yamaha SR500 would be the machine of choice to pop his speed demon cherry, but this wouldn’t satiate his appetite as he craved more from his machine. “The SR500 was so much fun to throw around, but I never felt I could trust it not to break down 50kms from home. Carbies became the bane of my existence. Since I’m not mechanically minded, fixing it on the fly wasn’t much of an option for me. I had had enough…”
When it comes to the history of motorcycles, you’d have to admit that sometimes the more esoteric the bike is, the more interesting it becomes. For all the Yamahas, Ducatis and Hondas you have running round out there, there are untold thousands of Francis Barnetts, Fabrique Nationale d’Herstals, Rupps, NSUs and Flying Merkels that have fallen by the wayside. Hell, even Triumph Motorcycles almost went the same way. And for each of these ghosts of the civil dead, there lies story upon story of genius engineering, wild successes and miserable, business-ending failures. The partnership between Harley Davidson and Aermacchi in the ‘60s and ‘70s is one such story. The silver lining here is that both companies continued on and still exist today, in one form or another. So, like a phoenix from a engine foundry’s ashes, today’s bike is here to remind us of what once was, and what could have been. Here’s Scott Brown and his beautiful Aermacchi Harley 350SX.