Written by Ian Lee.
Some people like lots of shiny chrome on their pride and joy, while others prefer the aged look of patina. Today’s bike firmly falls into the second category – with a finish that looks like it was pulled from a swamp. The builder, Janne Martola is an artist hailing from Finland, his artistic expertise being built into this well worn Kawasaki 750LTD. Buying it as a non runner three years ago, Janne has spent the last three years fine-tuning the machine – both aesthetically and mechanically – in a manner which appealed to his tastes and budget. Used as an expedition machine for Janne’s to access places of an interesting nature, this bike is a custom which is ridden hard. On occasion the Kwaka has to pass for a scrambler in it’s duties, and this it does admirably for a bike that was so vanilla when it left the factory. Built in a small garage on a shoestring budget, the bike may not appeal to everyone’s taste but it is definitely a custom in the truest sense of the term. And the fact it’s an everyday rider makes it all the more interesting. But you can probably tell that from the patina.
If your life ever takes a turn for the worst and you decide to fund your insatiable thirst for custom motorcycles by joining a gang that pillages and plunders, there’s a few things you should remember. Firstly, you’ll need to be nimble and light on your feet lest you be caught in the act. Next, you’ll need a nice little secret compartment to stash your ill-gotten gains should the law come a-knocking at a bad time. And finally, you’d best arm yourself with a gun or pistol should the worst come to the worst. Which brings us to today’s build, a bike that fits this bill perfectly and not by coincidence, either. Introducing the latest build from Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche with their very aptly named ‘Brigante’ or ‘Bandit’.
Written by Ian Lee.
It must be said that today we take a lot for granted. Go back 80 years and things would be very different. No mobile phones, no internet, and riding a motorcycle was an adventure in itself. This was the era that Triumph deemed automatic engine lubrication to be superfluous, that the riders of their machines could be trusted to manually work the oil pump as the bike needed it. Could you imagine doing that today on your UJM or custom? This was also the era that a small motorcycle firm named Moto Guzzi came to prominence. From their initial launch in 1921 of the ‘Normale’ model, the Guzzi brand thrived and made a name for itself by showing the passion Italians are so well known for. Today’s feature bike comes from the fledgling days of Moto Guzzi, just over a decade after the initial model launch, this V model bike was born. And 80 years on it looks just as good as ever.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
When you’re a workshop that specialises in Ironhead Harley-Davidson’s and a customer asks you to build them a custom 2001 Triumph Bonneville, there is only one way to prepare, boil the kettle and start watching Guy Ritchie films. And that is exactly what Brothers Jarrod and Justin Del Prado of DP Custom Cycles did when they were approached to build their first British bike. The customer request was clear; a simple and clean looking bike, dark in colour and fun to ride but the spanners they were swinging would have to change.
Wales. A rather quite place, all things considered. Unless coal mining or male choirs are high on your list of wow, it probably doesn’t cross paths with you all that often. But magically zap yourself back in time a few thousand years and Wales would be offering up a whole different set of attractions. And the foremost one amongst a list also featuring dragons, giant Celtic armies and beautiful maidens would be one Mister Myrddin Emrys, a.k.a. Merlin the Magician. So, inspired by Wales’ greatest ever son, our favourite Brit builders have taken inspiration from their wand waving western neighbours and conjured up this little wonder from their alchemic cauldron. Hey presto, meet Old Empire’s magical ‘Merlin’.
They say that genetics are responsible for what’s passed down through the generations. But anyone out there with kids will realised that there’s so much more than just DNA that goes into making a person a person. In fact, it can be down-right scary what they pick up from adults. Or even what they don’t pick up. And then there’s the little things that lay dormant for years and years, like seeds once planted that take an eternity to sprout. For Reginald Hilt from New Delhi’s Bull City Customs, that dormant seed contained the DNA to build an entire bike shop. And that’s just what it did once the conditions were right.
Written by Ian Lee.
Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
An apt description for today’s feature bike, except that the latest release from Kott Motorcycles isn’t just built for show. A 1971 Honda CB750 built literally from the frame up, this automotive art piece has been engineered to look good and go hard, with engine power to match an aesthetic that belongs in an art gallery. The almost ubiquitous CB750 making for an excellent platform to build a café racer on, the Kott workshop has taken the build quality to a new high and produced an amazingly clean motorcycle. In Dustin Kott’s own words: “the opportunity arose for the shop to implement some performance and aesthetic enhancements that had not been utilised prior.” Came up pretty good for a first time try, don’t you think?
Perception is a funny thing. It can be the difference between a positive or negative outcome, between liking or not liking something or someone and often the cause of missed opportunities. To change perception usually takes a change of mindset or to be shown there may be more to something than meets the eye. Until recent years, BMW R-series bikes from the 1980s could have been considered in a similar light. A bike for old guys into function more than form. Solid, dependable, but neither exciting nor innovative. Or at least that was a guy called Bruce’s perception of them when he visited Brisbane’s Ellaspede Customs as a customer. But that was a view which was soon to change – especially after eyeing a certain R-series on a little site called Pipeburn.
When you’ve been building custom Vespa’s for most of your life and you decide you want to build something with a bit more power, then a 1953 Triumph 500 hardtail is a pretty good place to start. Built by Marcus Offergeld and Martien Delfgaauw of the relatively new Berham Customs based in Berlin and Hamburg. “I’ve always ridden, raced, tuned and customized Vespa’s” says Martien. “It’s not what you work on, but rather how. Because for a great result you need to be driven by the joy of doing, rather than wishing to finish.”
After happening upon an “ugly looking and pretty run down” 80s chopper with raked front forks, the boys from Berham could see potential not in the bike itself, but certain aspects of it. Most importantly, the Triumph 500cc pre-unit powerplant had the 1957 Triumph race kit with the splayed port aluminium cylinder head kit. A good base for a build, the bike was given the Berham treatment.
It’s sad to say, but we hear a lot of bike build stories and not all of them end with a smiling owner riding off into the sunset with a quality build between their legs. For Italy’s Giuseppe Pizzuto, his dream to own a classic Honda started well, and then took a sudden left turn into Nightmaresville. His solution to the problem was simple; he rebuilt the bike from the ground up. And this time he did it all by himself. Meet the Japanese phoenix called “La Bambina”.