Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

Pipeburn 2011 Top 11

Posted on December 28, 2011 by Andrew in Other. 38 comments

10. 1979 BMW R100/7 Blitz Street Tracker

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time again for our second annual top 10 list – or more correctly the nouveau-fangled “top 11” list as this year we’ve decided to include an editor’s choice for the bike Scott and I thought could do with a little repeat viewing. In case you’re wondering, we picked them by looking at the bikes with the most comments and then threw in a little personal preference magic. We hope you like them. First up is the rather controversial Blitz BMW we featured in March. It generated a veritable flood of comments including a few essays, though it’s not often you see the words “hipster douche bag cool kids” in your average English paper. Looking back, we’re not sure what all the fuss was about – tell us you wouldn’t like to find that in the garage every Sunday morning. More


9. Honda CL 360 ‘Willow’

At number 9 we find Troy Helmich and his amazing Honda “Willow”. The bespoke bobbed board track racer was a very original design and unlike the Blitz bike it garnered nothing but admiration from you guys for its copper detailing and beautiful yet restrained pinstriping. The fact that Troy looks like he owns a heap of guns probably didn’t hurt, either. More


8. Kendall Kustoms 1952 Triumph Thunderbird

At number 8 is (oddly enough) another bike with a tank-under-backbone design – Kendall Custom’s ’52 Thunderbird. Created by Kendall Lutchman, it featured more than a few totally amazing details; check out the exhaust, tank, and WWII Ford suspension parts that were used to make the bike’s frame. Also note the cool suspended seat design. Damn. More


7. 1982 Yamaha Maxim XJ650

Along with Classified Moto’s amazing Yamaha XV 750 (which unfortunately was posted in the last few days of 2010 and therefore had to be excluded from the list), this bike marked a noticeable trend towards customising the more eccentric Japanese bike of the late 70s and early 80s that we noticed this year. Chris Tschiffley is not only a great bike builder (obviously), but we began shooting the poop with him after we featured his bike and can testify that he’s an all-round great guy who we genuinely hope we can work with again in the future. More


6. Destino Custom Garage ‘Samurai’

This one was a veritable “bolt from the blue” that we posted expecting nothing more than our average 20-or-so comments. 66 little nuggets of wisdom later we had ourselves one of the most popular bikes of the year. General consensus was that the idea of taking the “Zero” look and applying to a Japanese v-twin was a stroke of genius. And how could you dislike a bike made using parts of a Samurai sword? Just ask “Websys,” ’cause that’s exactly what he did. He’s crazy, I tell you! Crazy like a snake that has been cut, allowed to recover, and then cut again when he was least expecting it… More


5. Evolution Motorsports 1976 Honda CB750

What’s not to like about number 5? It’s a balls-to-the-wall Honda CB 750 with a no-nonsense attitude from our good mate Paul at Evolution. Bad ass seat? Check. Killer stance? Check. Exhaust that can deafen a cop at 50 paces? Hell yes. Brings to mind the line that your helpful, local fireman always comes out with; “get down low and go, go go…” More


4. 1979 GS 1000 Bobber

This GS 1000 was moving in similar cool-as-fark circles to the CB, but strangely enough it was doing so while carrying a designer Italian handbag as a seat. World’s best re-purposing of a useless girlie thing since the slingshot made from dress elastic? We like to think so. More


3. Blown 1940 Harley Davidson – ‘Cojones’

Into the top three and again with the Evolution genius. This Harley was Paul’s personal “statement of intent” bike, designed to be a rolling business card advertising just what his dirty little man-hands could do in anger. Bespoke CNC’d forks. Blown engine. Killer metal flake. Job done, McKinnon. Job done. More


2. 1975 Honda Goldwing Rat ‘El Guapo’

In at number two is another contentious entry in the form of Paul Dutra’s ’75 Honda Goldwing. With as much Machiavellian shenanigans going on behind the scenes as divided comments in front of them, it was always bound to be a discussion magnet. And it bloody-well was. More


1. Honda 1971 CB450 ‘Bonita Applebum’

We found her at a Deus show being criminally overlooked and she’s gone on to reign supreme as the bike that defined what “modern cafe racer” really meant. If Scott or I had a dollar for every time we’ve introduced ourselves as “the guys from Pipeburn” and been greeted with the response “blah blah blah that Bonita bike” we’d both have about $10 or $12 dollars. But you get my point. Peruse her lines and inspect her details; you’ll not find a misplaced detail or awkward placement anywhere on the thing. Sheer design poetry, we say.  More


Editor’s Choice: Sportsman Flyer Company’s ‘Racer’

Not so many comments on this one but it’s the bike that never fails to impress us, even on repeated viewings. If there’s one shop we’ve got our eye on for 2011, it’s Pat Dolan’s Sportsman Flyer Company. All you need is the bike you see here, and an illegal night visit to your local velodrome and those long-nurtured board track racing fantasies you know you’ll never satiate will be well and truly, er, satiated. More

  • Guest

    Not such a huge fan of 8. and 9. but still, its been a good year for custom bike lovers.

  • Rouleur

    Willow was definitely my fave bobber while Bonita was my top pick over-all. The Dixie Flyer is the one I’d most like to ride on to the lical bike night.

  • GuitarSlinger

    Wish I’d bee around to comment on # 11 ( shades of ” Spinal Tap ” ) But again , they’re all great and ang if’n you guys don’t dig up some of the coolest and rarest customs floating around out there . Which is why I stick my nose in daily . 

    Request for 2012 ? How’s about a few Vincent customs , both old and new ( some of the Vincent one offs from the 60’s 70’s are incredible ) 

    Happy New Years !

    • GuitarSlinger

      FYI the Vincent is Jeff Deckers and the post should of read ” ……. and rarest customs out there I don’t know who does ! ”  Sorry for the phoo pas 

  • Tim Burke

    Saw Willow at Barber this year and hung out with Troy a good bit.  He is a heck of a good person with an artistic sense that is uncompromising.  That bike is so tight.  He used something (garden hose?) in the morning sun to create the shape, but actually only looked at the shadow it created on the ground until he got the shape he wanted.  And he tried to keep as much of the wiring inside the tubing and hidden which lends itself to the clean look.  I mean, this guy is sharp.  I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

  • What I want to know what’s Destino Custom Garage ‘Samurai’ do’in way up on number six? The Willow is probably the most awesome though. But the Samurai is the one I want to ride.

  • revdub

    One of the things I have appreciated most about this site over the past few years is the diversity of what is featured. And this list is no exception. Also, I couldn’t agree more on the “Editor’s choice.”

  • Good end to the year. Hope to see more face-melting work through pipeburn!
    Cheers guys!
    Happy New Year 🙂

  • Kerosene351

    I find it sad that looks like only #10 is a bike that actually could be ridden seriously. The rest are ridden with modifications that just make the bikes perform worse (hard tails, no suspension travel, lowered, horrible ergos).
    I get the art piece choppers etc. But it is much more admirable to make a bike that actually walks the walk… These are slipping to the “all show, no go” -category. Even #1 that looks pretty solid has major issues like that the rear wheel will grind the frame hoop.

    Don’t take me wrong many are pretty objects – just bad motorcycles.

    • Andrew

      Not sure what you mean – I know personally that bikes 3 & 5 are daily rides, and I can’t see any issues with 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7. Don’t mistake comfort and usability; have you ridden a new sports bike recently? They have no suspension travel, a hard ride, and horrible ergos but fools like me ride them day in and day out. 😉

    • “Bad motorcycles”? Not sure what you mean – I know personally that bikes 3 & 5 are daily rides, and I can’t see any issues with 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7. Don’t mistake comfort and usability; have you ridden a new sports bike recently? They have no suspension travel, a hard ride, and horrible ergos but fools like me ride them day in and day out. 😉

      • Kerosene351

        Idea of a caferacer (like #1 pretends to be)  is to be improved version of a stocker from time that purpose built race bikes didn’t exist. #1 will have rear wheel scrubbing the frame on one bump – an bike wasn’t even running – not sure if it is now.
        2,4,5 all have super low bars with stock pegs which give you a ‘no control’ hunchback posture. And each one of them will take a turn slower than a stock bike. Sure you can ride them – but worse than stock is a weird philosophy and when it goes to 9 out of 10 of the top 10 bikes it speaks volumes of a trend I question.
        Modern sports bikes are crowded and a lot of weight is on the wrists but it is a position of control. Not maybe comfortable for long rides but serves a purpose other than a “style”.

        • I’ve seen Bonita being ridden on a very bumpy surface. There was no scrubbing. The rest of yr comments fall into the “my idea of a cool bike is better than yr idea of a cool bike” category, which is a circular argument that has no end.

          The bikes here are simply the ones that have garnered most interest in the last 12 months; we made no claims about their speed through corners or their ergonomics. I see the point that yr trying to make, though. I respect yr intentions and do understand what you are saying but follow them to their logical conclusion and we’d all be riding stock BMW R1200GSs. And no one wants a world like that, do they?

          • GuitarSlinger

            No we do not as a matter of fact . To Quote Big Sid ;

            ” Stock is a can of beans on a shelf ” 

            Fine and dandy for daily use , but every once and awhile ya needs a bit of Caviar , Champers and a Single Malt to make life interesting . Which these customs do . Very well thank you 

          • Kerosene351

             You are missing my point grandly. I like custom bikes as much as the next guy – but if you make a bike to look like it is faster than stock around the track but actually performs worse then the point is questionable (in my books). While I appreciate that you replied to my pots it is a cheap shot to hide behind “then we would all be riding stock” argument. Strawman.

            And as to wheels scrubbing – was he leaned in tight turn suspension compressed? I am sure you can ride the #1 but again I claim that it is not functionally built bike but pure aesthetics driving the design. I prefer it the other way round = function drives aesthetics.

          • Paul

            My Mum always said, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!”
            Those days are gone……some bloke can write…..just bad motorcycles, and rip apart the blokes that put all their time and effort into building their dream bike,
            How do you know they are slower? How do you know what they ride like? How do you know his tyre rubs the frame? The fact is….YOU DON’T!
            My bike #3, has double the horse power it had in its hay day and actually handles a hell of a lot better than it did. I know because I ride it as much as I can and I have ridden a genuine stock version. Both versions are hard tail bikes.
            What if for arguments sake, the bike “#1” had bump stops or very short stroke rear shocks fitted….? Whats the difference between a road bike and a race bike….stiffer supension. Same with a car. It gives the tyre a bigger foot print by loading it more, therefore, using more of the tyres available traction. You don’t have to like the bikes, you also don’t have to write them off.
            Build your own bike, get Pipeburn to feature it and then let the public comment on it.

          • VonYinzer

            Just as a heads up, I know Troy very well and know for a fact that “Willow” gets ridden a good bit. And it gets ridden hard too, on back woods country roads. I guess you have a need to spout off for some reason, but really… You know not what you speak of (at least in the instance of bike #9).

  • Great list. Might not be my top 10 but all of them would have been on my shortlist. Bring on 2012

  • GreenGuzzi

    What’s with the lack of front mudguards? No plans to ride any of them in the rain I guess, plus makes the bikes look unfinished.
    Notwithstanding that, I do like number 8. But the Editor’s choice is my favourite.

  • Paddymcwilliams

    Pipeboys!  Let us vote!! 

    • It’s on the things to do list, as is an official award to go along with it…

  • Scott

    I think these are all beautiful, slaved over builds and they are all built with a different end result in mind from the builder. Some do look to be more object d’art than super functional bike but what’s wrong with that? As long as if they are sold on they aren’t misrepresented then to each his own. I’m striving to reach this level of detail with my own builds and have tremendous respect for all 11 of these bikes. even though I really only like a couple of them myself. 

  • Jackwilliamsnowdon

    Great list, more to the point keep up the good work, I hope there are many more end of year lists in the future. Pipburn is number 1 on my list, parf, but true!

  • Den

    “…tell us you wouldn’t like to find that in the garage every Sunday morning”. OK I will; I wouldn’t like to find that in my garage every Sunday morning, unless it was free and I got paid. It deserves a place though as it was so controversial, the rest of the offerings are great!

  • Liam

    Such a good list full of awesome bikes. Thanks again Pipeburn for keeping the real!

  • Always fun to see the year in review. I like them all but I have to say it…The Bonita is still my favorite.

  • Maros Vrbovsky

    number 4 is the best… Because is from Slovakia and there are not huge possibilities to build a bike like this….

  • Jello

    My top two are Bonita and Willow! Great bikes and great builders!

  • Assholewelder

    I totally agree and disagree with all the comments…..

  • Djo61161

    willow is awesome. bonita is good too

  • Rmyers104

    I’ve seen Willow in person (and even sat on it at Mods vs Rockers in Pittsburgh). I can assure you, that bike gets ridden. Troy has a couple videos on Youtube (search for Willow CL360). Last one I watched it was him riding it in the rain……..

    Great list guys!

  • Troy

    Thanks fella’s, it is an honor to make the list
    with so many great builds out there. To
    everyone with the kind comments, I thank you. I’m truly humbled.

  • thruxtonman

    awesome, sans website on net

  • SpeedDealer

    all nice builds!!

  • Pepe

    Botina is for sale.. Stay tuned for updates

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