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Pipeburn’s 2015 Bike of the Year Award

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Andrew in Other. 68 comments

With 2015 disappearing faster than petrol down the throat of a badly tuned race carb, it’s time to take stock of the past 12 months and see what bikes really floated our collective boats. In this, our sixth year of making a fuss about the world’s best custom beasts, we’re glad to say that the brouhaha surrounding this weighty, exhaust-shaped prize seems to be getting bigger and bigger. But the award itself is nothing without the guys it’s intended to honour; the bike builders that bless us daily with their art and expect pretty much nothing in return. Here’s to you, you big, oily, talented lunatics. As always, we’ve revisited every bike from this year (all 180-odd posts) to count and re-read your comments, tally Facebook likes and whip out our trusty awesome-o-meter to come up with our top 10 bikes for 2015. So, without any further ado…

10. KTM 520 EXC-R – Chad Edwards


We love bikes that make you think. Like great music, it’s the ones that confuse you at first that prove to be the ‘growers’ in the long run. It’s less about the bike itself and more about your ability to connect the new synapses needed to appreciate it. Cue ‘Ol’ Keithy’ by Chad Edwards. Earning a rather amazing 8k in Facebook thumbs, it proved that there is a way to combine flat track looks and motard zip in the same killer package. Anybody from KTM reading this? If so, please make this bike now. More here.

9. Yamaha Scorpio – Thrive Motorcycles

Speaking of connecting new synapses, we’re very happy to welcome Jakarta’s Thrive Motorcycles to the BOTY awards for the second time in three years. This wild, go-anywhere creation draws more than a little inspiration from Star Wars speeder bikes and it looks to have about the same off-road abilities. The only thing it’s doesn’t have is the blasters… at least not yet. More here.

8. Honda CB550 – Old Empire Motorcycles

Old Empire are amongst Pipeburn’s favourite builders. Like an open fire and a good book, they never fail to deliver bikes that impress in both the head and the heart departments. Little wonder that this beauty, named after a famous British Torpedo plane, raked in the clicks and likes. We’re sure the Norfolk lads will be celebrating in their own very English way tonight. Pint of cucumber and corgi sandwiches, anyone? More here.

7. Yamaha XV1000 – Plan B Motorcycles

The first of two Viragos in this year’s awards, Plan B’s XV1000 has enough coolness to fix global warming and give The Fonz a good run for his money with the leftovers. Amazing pipes. Sleek lines. Beautiful details. It’s almost the perfect incarnation of a modern Café. And just when you were thinking that Viragos were yesterday’s news, too. More here.

6. AJS – Young Guns Speed Shop

With an explicit understanding of what makes classic bike design tick and a gentlemanly hat tip to Ian Barry, this masterclass in bike building managed to teach even our jaded, old eyes a thing or two about bi-wheeled beauty. With nary a bolt nor beam out-of-place and near perfect symmetry, this AJS may be the only one of its marque on the site but what it lacks in friends it more than makes up for in sheer, jaw-dropping good looks. More here.

5. The Triumph Salt Racer

April’s biggest hit was this tougher-than-nails Bonneville Thruxton. It was built with a big budget and for the soul purpose of breaking records at South Australia’s Lake Gairdner – Bonneville’s Down Under twin and a place renowned for its fast salt conditions. And fast is just what happened. Make sure you watch the video. More here.

4. Yamaha XT600 – Nick van Woert


Take one part Yamaha XT600, add a big dose of Picasso-esque Cubism, then follow that with a generous serving of A-10 Warthog and you’ll be getting close to understanding what makes Nick van Woert’s killer Yammie so amazing. Have a brutal urban assault mission you need to conduct? Well, here’s your bike – and it’ll do it all while winning awards to boot.  More here.

3. Triumph Bonneville – The Bullitt


‘Modern classic’ is a term that gets chucked about a lot in the bike world. And more often than not, it’s nothing more than meaningless mouth wind. But then there’s Patrick Flynn’s ‘Bullitt’. Our writer Martin called it ‘the best looking Bonnie ever built, bar none.’ Looks like his bold statement has more than a few supporters, too. With enough stance to kill old ladies at 50 paces and lines that makes the word ‘perfection’ seem laughably inadequate, we somehow always knew that this bike would land itself a place in the pointy end of this year’s award proceedings. What a stunner. More here.

2. Yamaha XV750 – Hageman Motorcycles

Viragos. Is there nothing they can’t do? Once again the killer combination of a shitty old Yamaha and the inimitable Greg Hageman delivers the goods like a shot of racing fuel to the heart. Part hot rod, part café racer and part bobber, the bike seems to defy genres while ticking the ‘cool as hell’ box so hard, it has probably torn through the paper. If there was an award for the bike that came out of nowhere to almost win, this would be our champagne-drenched champ. Bravo Doctor Hageman, bravo! More here.

1. ‘The Musket’ – Hazan Motorworks

We thought. We mulled. We considered and then we thought some more. For the third year in a row, it looked like the powerhouse that is Maxwell Hazan and his magic hands were going to take home the trophy. Was it too much? Should we share the love and give it to someone else? Or maybe re-write the rules to make two-time winners ineligible for the trifecta? But who were we kidding! In 2015, there was simply no other custom bike that came close to the can’t-believe-it’s-real perfection of what has to be Max’s greatest ever creation. So, we’re proud and honoured to make it official. Pipeburn’s Bike of the Year Award for 2015 goes to Max Hazan and his amazing ‘Musket’. Thank you Max for letting us show the world your bike. More here. (And if you’d like to see his past winners, just click here.)

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us make this award and Pipeburn itself happen. Cheers to our writers Martin, Marlon and Ian. Massive thanks to Paul McKinnon from Evolution Motorsports in Sydney who makes our trophies, and to Hewia Motorcycles for the background to the trophy hero photo. We’d also like to express our never-ending gratitude to all the builders and readers who supported us in 2015. Without you guys we’d be nothing. Cheers and beers.


    It was a great year! Beautiful machines and all well deserved of making the list.

  • Fantome_NR

    I wonder if anyone here at Pipeburn has actually seen bike #4 in person. I have, and it is a piece of junk. It is just a rat bike, and nothing like what the photos suggest in terms of finish. A classic case of dramatic
    lighting (and probably a lot of photoshop too) used to obscure what is really there. Cool photos, yes. But you’ve been fooled if you think this bike is anywhere near being in the same league as these others.

    • Jim Stuart

      If selection is based on viewer’s comments and facebook likes far be it for me to question the final selections since I don’t fall into either demographic. There are bikes I like but bike #4 looks like something you would walk past in the bike show parking lot and shield your eyes in horror.

      Bike 9 would feel at home parked in the reserved parking spaces at Lego Headquarters.

      My point isn’t to needlessly pick on either bike but rather bring up the thought that perhaps other more deserving builders should have been picked to celebrate themes that are not only pleasing to the eye but also feature design elements married with talented building techniques. Until then cheers to all that won and those that bring us this wonderful site.

    • Cut the lads running the site some slack. The custom scene is spread across the globe, and it’s physically impossible to see many of these bikes in the flesh.

      • Fantome_NR

        I totally get it, but that is the point. To win a bike of the year spot on the list, a little more due diligence should be done, in my opinion, to ensure that the bike not only looks cool in photos, but that it really is what it purports itself to be in real life. This bike is cool, but not deserving of a top ten spot, not by a long shot. The photos are great as photos. But as far as representing what the bike is in real life, they are deceptive.

        • I’m trying to wrap my head around what you think would be sufficient due dilligence. Travelling to each location to inspect each bike in person? I understand your point, but I think you’re underestimating the logistics that would be involved.

          • Jack Wood

            The builders must owe Fantome some money. That, or they introduced him to his wife and he’s out for revenge.

          • Fantome_NR

            Easy: ask for some well lit photos.

          • Fantome_NR
    • Sounds like the usual rat bike ‘black & white’ split. Some people love them, others hate them. It’s not a subtle genre, I guess…

      • Fantome_NR

        I love rat bikes. But to put this bike int he same category as all the others just seems crazy to me. I think it is being awarded for having cool photos.

        • Showing the bikes at their best is par for the course. If Max had banged off some quick snaps on his iPhone and sent them to us, I guarantee it shouldn’t have made the no.1 spot.

          • Fantome_NR

            bullshit. Max is a top notch craftsman, he doesn’t have to hide his work behind dimly lit photos.

          • Fantome_NR

            Bike of the year awards should be given out for the bike’s actual merits, not the images of the bike. That is what is so disappointing about this site and bike exif. You don’t seem to make the difference between image and reality.

        • swimorsurf

          I shot the photos, no photoshop on the bike what so ever. I can send you raw files if you need.

          • Fantome_NR

            Nice photos, but they are deceptive in that they don’t show the bike as it really is.

  • TruthBringer

    Hazan? Again? wtf. I mean, he rules, but shit.

    • Max Hazan

      Just good old fashioned bribery.

      • When will the gold bullion be arriving, Maxwell?

      • bjparker

        Congrats on another awesome build/year.

  • Eduardo Miotto

    Hazan rules! State of art! #2, 6, 7, 9

  • Max Hazan

    Thank you guys for the support, truly honored to be here amongst the other builders featured. Looking forward to more in 2016, Happy New year.

    • John Andrew Schmanek

      Can we see some footage of this bike in action? Pretty please?

      • Max Hazan

        Coming soon, we filmed the whole build start to finish, I haven’t seen it yet but it should be a cool short film

    • You definitely deserve the win. The workmanship is positively unreal; I am confident that none of the design choices were rooted in what was expedient, or limited by what was within your fabrication skills. Speaking for myself, this bike also enjoys an extra boost of goodwill simply because of the awe and respect I have for Aniket Vardhan. I will admit that there are a couple of things that genuinely bug me about your Musket — things I dearly wish you would have done differently — but since I cannot create anything approaching this, my opinion means diddly squat. You constructed exactly what your customer envisioned with fantastic skill, creativity, and a thorough understanding of motorcycle dynamics.

  • guvnor67

    Max Hazan’s The Musket is a worthy winner, and my other faves would be Old Empire’s Honda, Mr Hageman’s XV, Young Guns AJS and Plan B’s XV. However kids, I’m sorry, It’s Reindeer steaks for lunch and tea, I asked Santa for The Musket for Xmas and Nooooooo, he didn’t. Granted, it wouldn’t have fitted down the chimney, but hell, he could’ve snuck it into the garage!!! Dammit!!! Thanx Mr Hazan for building such an awe inspiring machine, thanx Pipeburn for bringing us Motorcycle Nutz so much moto goodness throughout the year, and thanx to all who have commented, raved, applauded and abused- its been entertaining!!!! Again, well done Sir Max Hazan!!! Don’t suppose you’d trade for a well used custom Honda Shadow and a couple of annoying teenagers …. ???!!!

  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    Customs ? The only bike here worthy of the name ‘ custom ‘ is in fact Max Hazan’s ” The Musket ” . Everything else is either ‘ customized ‘ , bolt ons , take off’s , hot rodded or resto mods including the lunch box on wheels . So a great year ? More like the year the custom M/C scene slowly begins its descent into banality and inaneness . The only positive thing being the Antipode competitions year end Best Of is even worse

    • There’s always that one guy…

    • foiled again

      You’d know ‘inaneness’- better known as inanity.
      I think you wrote the damn book.


    • Racing Enthusiast

      I find insults (no matter how affectedly puctuated) from HTW III (aka TJ Martin, Guitar Slinger, etc…) rather complementary.

    • guvnor67

      Good sir, seeing as the year is almost over, and It’s better to follow a negative with a positive, what sort of machinery would you like to see gracing these pages in 2016? What innovations and ideas to bring 2016 alive like Mike Hailwood coming back to life (if only)! What trends would you like to go away? What really floats your boat? What would you like to see more, or less of here at Pipeburn? Personally I think 2015 was a great year, with countries like Indonesia and India knockin out some great bikes. Not everyone can have say, Max Hazan’s visions and skill, but variety is the spice of life, and we need that to show that as well as the mega buck, mega hours builds, the dude in the garage, or basement, can put together a hot package with ideas he or she may see on sites like this, or in their favourite magazine!! we need to see show bikes, but also bikes that can be a daily rider and inspire (especially the younger set) to tweak and personalize their bikes, whether it started life as a GS550 or a BSA Gold Star!

      • Motomanic

        I would like to see more contemporary interpretations of classic styles. Like, Bott Power’s XR1. They should do kits like that for KTMs (ugly as sin), Sportsters and Bonnies. And then post them here!
        Less chrome and less 80’s welding, and more CNC routered aircraft grade aluminium!

    • bjparker

      One of my go to recommendations: post your creation for comparison.

    • should be Sir Hardley T Whipsnade III, i will speak to the Queen, next time we have tea

  • sdkljs

    oh, readers are rushing to order after pipeburn announcement….

  • Sorry but the Hageman XV isn’t even in the same league as the Plan B XV. Honestly I think the Hageman XV is my least favorite bike that he’s ever built. The wheel inserts are lame, like slapping chrome bolt-on parts to your Harley. Was there really not another single bike that you featured throughout the year that was better?

    • Our winners aren’t just chosen on a whim. We look at comments, FB likes, site traffic, shares and gut feeling. The Hageman XV killed it in all those categories, hence it’s runner up position. You may not appreciate it personally, but you can’t deny the stats.

      • I understand that the list isn’t just a purely subjective and that many things factor into the selections. Just don’t understand what the appeal of this particular moto was with the purveyors of the site. Keep up the good work btw. Always enjoy the posts whether or not the bikes are to my liking.

  • TeamObsolete

    That AJS, pure and simple. The nonessentials replaced by class, lovely!
    That sleeping box of BSA M20 bits in my garage is awake now whispering VINTAGE BOARDTRACKER with some urge… Oh well, why resist?

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Where’s the Guzzi?

  • martin hodgson

    Ten brilliant bikes, something for everyone and the fact that there are so many worthy bikes that missed out just shows what an incredible year 2015 was for the custom scene. Every week Pipeburn featured bikes that could easily have made the list in my opinion but you can’t squeeze more than 10 into 10. All the builders featured this year should be very proud of their achievements, there will always be a big peanut gallery of knockers but the great news is there is an often silent majority who appreciate the hard work, craftsmanship and design that goes into making a bike worthy of a feature machine.

    For me the Top 3 are just a perfect balance of the Ultimate Daily, the Ultimate Weekender and The Ultimate! As someone who built eight bikes this year I am always blown away by the likes of Hageman, Plan B and of course Max Hazan. What Max does is truly incredible, he takes every component to perfection and then goes beyond. Like every bike ever built, nothing will suit 100% of peoples tastes, but you simply cannot deny how well his bikes are built and the skill it takes to design and build them.

    I think we should all be grateful for another terrific year of custom builds from all over the globe, in so many styles, with bikes from almost every manufacturer. Whether you’re in your back shed getting stuck into your first build or one of the zen masters of our industry I hope 2016 sees your building and riding your best bike yet!

  • KD

    How exactly Pipeburn’s editors determine the top 10 is, unfortunately, not
    known. Here is what the statistics say:

    Top 10 ranked by Facebook “likes”:

    1. Musket, M. Hazan (1) – 11000
    2. Yamaha XV750, Hageman (2) – 10000
    3. Yamaha XT600, van Woert (4) – 9500
    4. Triumph Bonneville – The Bullitt (3) – 9400
    5. ‘98 Suzuki DR650 – Yellowood – 9100
    6. Triumph salt racer (5) – 8700
    7. KTM 520 EXC-R, Ol’ Keithy (10) – 8000
    7. Honda Dominator by Renard Speed Shop – 8000
    8. Honda Cb550, Old Empire (8) – 6900
    9. BMW R80 ‘Indira’ by Ton-Up Garage – 6200
    10. 79 Yamaha XS650 – Analog Motorcycles – 5800

    The numbers in parenthesis in the list above show the 2015 Pipeburn ranking. By the facebook-likes criterion, the AJS by The Young Guns ranks 17th with 4400 facebook likes. The Yamaha XV 1000 by Plan B ranks 20th with 4300 (sharing the same ranking with Yamaha XS500 – Relic Motorcycles, KTM 390 Duke – Garaje 57 and Triumph Bonneville – Maria MC). Pipeburn’s #9 choice, the Yamaha Scorpio by Thrive Motorcycles, ranks 86th with 1900 facebook likes.

    Top 10 ranked by “Pin It”:

    1. Suzuki GN400, Old Empire Motorcycles – 5000+
    2. Harley Sportster, Adam’s Custom – 4000+
    3. Honda CB750, Tyson Carver – 3000+
    4. Honda CB550K ‘Logan’ by KickMoto – 3000+
    5. Yamaha XV750, Hageman (2) – 2,000+
    6. Yamaha XV920R – Hageman MC – 2,000+
    7. Honda Cb550, Old Empire (8) – 1,000
    7. BMW R80 ‘Indira’ by Ton-Up Garage – 1,000
    7. Triumph Bonneville, MaccoMotors – 1,000
    7. Triumph Bonneville, Maria MC – 1,000
    7. Honda CB350, Escape Collective – 1,000
    7. Yamaha xv1000, Plan B (7) – 1,000
    7. BMW R100RS by Cytech – 1,000
    7. Triumph Bonneville, Clockwork MC – 1,000
    7. Honda CB750, Rumblesmith – 1,000
    7. Honda CB450, Steel Bent Customs – 1,000
    7. 79 Kawasaki Z400, Klassik Kustoms – 1,000
    7. Honda CB750, Charlie James Customs – 1,000
    7. BMW R100RS, The Bike Lab – 1,000
    8. Suzuki GR650 – Anvil Motociclette – 994
    9. Honda CL350 – Christian Laws – 978
    10. Honda CL350 – No. 8 Wire Motorcycles – 973

    The top 10 ranked by “Share”:

    1. Honda CB550K ‘Logan’ by KickMoto – 667
    2. Honda CX50 by Moto Motivo – 588
    3. Puch Magnum by Rogue Builds – 549
    4. Yamaha XV920R, Hageman Motorcycles – 524
    5. Triumph salt racer (5) – 500
    6. Honda Goldwing, H Garage – 485
    7. Honda CB750 ‘Mr Hyde’ by Classified Moto – 481
    8. Suzuki GN400, Old Empire Motorcycles – 473
    9. Yamaha XS650, Analog Motorcycles – 471
    10. BMW R100, Skrunkwerks – 430

    • Very impressive stats. Your abacus must be smoking right now…

  • Aniket Vardhan

    I’m much too emotional right now to say anything other than God Bless all ye builders and may the New Year bring you your most glorious ideas yet.

  • 1957 Panhead

    Congratulations Mr. Hazan. Another incredible custom and deserving of the number one spot. With that being said, I’m not entirely on board with the way Pipeburn picks it’s winners. It seems if your bike gets on this site early-ish in the year you will have more traffic (likes, pins, tweets, re-posts, etc.) than builders like 46 Works, City of Hate or Bandit 9 which were all posted in December. Also, at this point in the year Mr Hazan’s bike is buried in the Pipeburn basement, but if you look at the right side of this page, there it is touting the Pipeburn likes on Facebook. So, every day it is being advertised and most likely getting clicks for anyone new to the site. Maybe this photo should be switched out to give others a chance? Or, it should’ve been Mr. Hazan’s 2014 winner – not a contender for 2015. I’m sure internet traffic needs to be taken into consideration, but the winners need to be judged on form, function, originality, design and construction by Pipeburn alone and not judged on popularity.
    And one more thought: No airheads?? I’m shocked since we were inundated with so many this year I figured there be one in the top 10 by default. Looking forward to 2016…

    • Yes, you’re right re: the December timings. Such is life, I guess. And judging in the way you suggest (not including popularity) would make for a very insular and ultimately rather dull list. Call us crazy, but we like the fact that our readers and fans have a say in who makes the list.

      • 1957 Panhead

        I understand where you’re coming from, but it still seems unfair to builders who are shown later in the year and those with lots of likes. Just because something has a lot of likes doesn’t make it good. It just becomes a popularity contest. Hell, I could build a piece of crap and have all my friends “like” it – still doesn’t make it good. Maybe, instead of including likes and traffic, you assemble a group of “experts” from different fields of design, art, fabricating, etc. to give unbiased votes to the bikes that deserve it, not to the popular ones. For example, a lot of people like pipe wrap and others don’t. If Mr. Hazan’s bike had pipe wrap on it do you think the number of likes would be as high? I would think not. Just my 2cents. Like I said before, looking forward to 2016.

  • Nick perna

    i just wanted to take a moment to get down on bended knee and say to mr hazan,,, “we are not worthy, we are not worthy”… and also to andrew thanks again , it was a real honour for me to be included this year in any small way , i took great honour in the fact that my bike was included ( november 4th) , that was reward enough for me …. so to all … keep up the good work…. can’t wait to see what this year brings… nvp

  • #7 does it for me…

  • Motomanic

    OK I say it: a year in which a Mule build isn’t featured in the top ten is a lost year for me. To 2016. And to a superb Pipeburn crew that is really putting in the hours and the thinking to make this a rather enjoyable read every day. Merry Christmas and Guten Rutsch into 2016!

  • no pipe wrap in the top ten so at least there is some hope

  • Nick


  • Zundap

    Sorry Andrew, I know #9 is the builders treasure and that is cool, but the top ten list for 15? I think you should look at more bikes before you make your choices. ..Z

  • The Bullitt

    Very honored to be chosen as #3 on the list and a big congrats to you @maxhazan:disqus for taking the top spot. Nice to be in such good company.
    Thanks again @Pipeburn_Andrew:disqus for the feature in the first place! Cheers.

  • duh

    Andrew…love your ghost writer name…..Hardley T Whipsnade III. How did you come up wit that?

  • Well Trained Chimp

    Does the Minecraft inspired motorcycle really deserve a spot? Perhaps should have a separate top 3 of most controversial motorcycles.
    Personally, it hurts my eyes. Like this BSA made this beauty.