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Old Empire Motorcycle’s “Pup” Bobber

Posted on May 26, 2012 by Andrew in Bobber, Classic. 40 comments

We get our fair share of emails here at the House of Pipes. Lots of new bikes for us to ogle, links, images, and more than a few requests for bike builds. Yeah, we’re not sure why they keep asking either; I suggested to Scott that we just take their deposits and then skip the country, but he didn’t seem to be into it. And sometimes we get a tantalising look at a bike build in progress where you can see that the guys doing the wrenching are definitely on to a good thing. In the case of the guys at Old Empire Motorcycles, we had been chatting to them for ages – so long so, in fact, that we’d all but given up on them ever finishing. But just when you think all hope’s lost, blammo – you find yourself looking at one of the coolest pommie custom bikes in recent memory. Tally ho!

Here’s Alec Sharp, Lord Regent at O.E.M. “Old Empire Motorcycles was born through an absolute and enduring passion for everything two-wheeled. Experience gained through working at a similar enterprise only fuelled a desire to put our own stamp and style on the motorcycle world and show people what we can do. Combine this with a vision to draw interest from a broader and more diverse audience, we believe we have something special; something that we want other people to be a part of, and something that we hope other people will want to be part of.”

“The Pup takes takes you back to the fundamentals of motorcycling where handlebars, a seat, some wheels and an engine is all that is needed to enjoy the ‘purity’ of riding a British made, handmade custom motorcycle. A blend of bobber and boardtracker, the Pup is a perfect mixture of old and new.”

“Its namesake is the Sopwith Pup, a world war one biplane flown by the RAF in its infancy. Its small size and manoeuvrability made it a popular choice for young British pilots, which we felt was apt as our Pup seems to share those very same characteristics. It is the resulting product of using modern day engineering and reliability in a combination with the sleek and classic aesthetics of bygone days which really makes this a special and unique motorcycle both to admire and to ride.”

“‘Pure Motorcycle’ sums up how we like to design and create our motorcycles, taking a back to basics, stripped down approach to create rideable motorcycles in their purist form. Times are changing and things have to change. We are tired of ‘British’ companies talking the talk when it comes to a ‘British made’ product, but failing to walk the walk by having their products made exclusively abroad. However, it seems that the tide may finally be turning to the point where businesses are beginning to reinvest in the design and the manufacture of their goods back home here in Great Britain.”

“This is something that we want to be part of, thus our aim is to design and craft as much as we can entirely in Britain. We realise with a little foresight and selflessness that doing this may inspire others to and will eventually be of great benefit to us all as we can begin building a better future for our economy and country.”

Here here! Now if only you guys could just do something about that weather of yours…

  • Leon

    Nice bike. I like it a lot. But, for all the talk of Britannia, it should be mentioned that the donor bike is a late model, Indian manufactured Royal Enfield.

    But kudos, none the less. First time I’ve ever seen anybody make the AVL “lean burn” engine look good.


  • Fastgabe

    what kind of motor?

    • Davidabl2

      Late model Indian-made Enfield motor. AVL model as already mentioned, so post-2000.And notice the 5-speed plaque on the tranny, I believe thats only been an option for
      the past few  years and that maybe there’s a “Made in England” box available. The back half of the frame and some of the other components would appear to be “Made in England.”

      • I never realised it looked so good…

        • Davidabl2

          It is truly A’fn’Mazing what a difference blacking out the AVL engine makes..In the stock finish it really just looks like an industrial compressor of some sort, not an engine.
          Certainly a “note bene”  here for Eichler-Enfield 🙂

  • revdub

    That’s it. Thanks, Pipeburn. You’ve really done it. I want a bobber.

  • MotoTrooper

    Wow, nice work.  On that close up of the motor it looks like they braided the wiring.  If that’s the case great detail!

    • arnold

       Cloth covered wires are commercially available. Nice touch, nice catch.

  • Davidabl2

    This is the finest bullet custom I have ever seen.

  • arnold

    Yup, a lot to like about this spokes model.

  • Davidabl2
    I peek thru the site also reveals that the bike is one of the dual start bikes : electric as well as kick.
    Which,I guess, explains that seemingly odd key plus switch setup in the 4th pic above.

    • Daoud

      It was an electric start engine but the starter motor has been removed. Why two switchs, anybody’s guess.Too bad about the disk brake. a drum would have been more in keeping with the style. 

      • brad

        the on/off switch would be for the headlight. a usual ting done when minimizing the wiring

  • GuitarSlinger

    Now Thats ……. a bike worthy of the term … custom . Well executed – balanced design – pays tribute to M/C heritage without being a pastiche – extremely appropriate paint and leather work …. and best of all …. Timeless in its conception . Was it built 50 years ago ? Was it built yesterday ? – No telling ….but guaranteed fifty years from now this’ll still be looking mighty fine 

    Hell .. even the moniker is completely apposite ( look it up gents ) to the build . 

    This’n depending on what else appears over the course of 2012 …… just might make it into the top ten …. we’ll see …..

  • Drunkandgreasy

    That’s a tasteful badass little bike. Love the leather insets in the tank, and it looks like bicycle levers. Lot of little bicycle influence I see….damn near perfect to me!

    Cheers and beers

  • A new genre of build. The Bobber with clip-ons and forward pegs? I do like the switch location though. Be sure not to fumble around with your left hand though. Might lose a digit.

    OK, now that I have that stuff out of the way, I really like the Brooks saddle and brass wire ties. Those items should both be copied by other builders. Very nice touches.

    • GuitarSlinger

      Not quite so new . Shinya Kimura’s done a few already …… still though…….. mighty fine this one 

    • GuitarSlinger

      Almost forgot . Falcon’s done it as well 

  • Davidabl2

    re brass wire ties..Cool indeed Probably suggested by the real trad brit “old school’  way to do it, which was to tightly wrap copper wire everywhere we now use hose clamps. Check out TheVintagent(Paul d’0rleans) archives re.You see it on racers etc back to the turn of the 20th century. I’ve done it by using copper wire and a safety wire tool. And it IS strange that we don’t see more Brooks saddles on customs..
    since they’re so much cooler looking to contemporary eyes than the actually ‘period correct” Lycette saddles. On bicycles anyways Brooks are plenty comfortable..after a few thousand hours of break in time:-)

    • I’m glad you added the “After a few thousand hours of break-in” part. I’ve had a couple and NEVER did get them broke in to my satisfaction. That was for bicycle riding though with lots of “Movement”. Stationary on a motorcycle might be better

      • Davidabl2

        They had quite a rep with bicyclists in the day; the only saddles that got more comfortable with age. People would sell a bicycle, keep the old Brooks..put a new one on to sell it.
        Break in was to soak it for a couple  of days (in what I don’t remember) and then ride it until it dried out. Eventually they became “anatomically correct.”Kind of like tractor seats…

  • For some strange reason, I’m really digging the exhaust. Minimal yet funky. Love the gold near the engine and the deep red inside the ends…

  • I would have liked a few more details about the bike instead of the whole write up sounding like a J. Peterman ad.

    • It’s their first bike – I think we can forgive them for being a little self promo-ish. And I think it’s fair to say they aren’t just talking’ the talk…

      • GuitarSlinger

        Heck ! As long as they’re building bikes like this they can blather on in any style or fashion  they damn well please as far as I’m concerned 

        First bike you say ? And based on an Enfield motor ? 5 extra bonus points !!!

    • GuitarSlinger

      Too funny ….. J. Peterman . Thats a good one ! 😮 

    • KrookStreetRacing

      Mohaahaha. I wasn’t even aware that J. Peterman was an actual company:-) 

      • Davidabl2

        You couldn’t make up something like that..with a name like that. So Seinfeld didn’t 🙂

        • GuitarSlinger

          Too true .. too true . BTW guilty as charged . I’ve purchased more than a few items from the J. Peterman catalogue over the decades  . Been doing business with them long before Seinfeld ever caught on and included them in his scripts . Oh some of the catalogue  stories are OTT and a bit pretentious … and they do sell some extravagantly over priced items … but the fact is there’s a lot of good stuff worth the $$ in there as well 

  • Derp

    It's "Hear hear". As in, "Hear his person speaking, it's important".

  • It’s really nice & helpful article, i’m share this post to with my friends. thanks a lot

  • That’s a sweet ride. I’ve always liked the over-exposed full-size rear tire.

  • Mgmue mgmu

    My pants were not this tight 5 minutes ago.  

  • Simonjdgrey

    This pisses me off, mostly cos I moved away from Diss a couple of years ago! Lovely sickle, I@m off to their website now!

  • barney fife

    “The Pup takes takes you back to the fundamentals of motorcycling where handlebars, a seat, some wheels and an engine is all that is needed to enjoy the ‘purity’ of riding a British made, handmade motorcycle”.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if the mocos would take a page out of your book, ….there’s a dire need for more ‘standard’ bikes that meet your criteria. Think Bonneville, Thruxton, Kawi W800 and the Royal Enfield (particularly as I understand a new ‘Interceptor’ is in the works.)
    I’d include the new Honda CB1100 but they aren’t exporting them (B’stards). I’d love to include the new Norton but alas it looks more like a Japanese sport bike than a British sporting ‘standard’, more’s the pity!

  • Eric Henderson


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