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The Pipeburn 2016 Bike of the Year Award

Posted on December 29, 2016 by Andrew in Other. 56 comments

So here we are, standing at the finish line for 2016. And although we’re out of fuel, tired and more than a little dirty, there’s still one last thing to do. There’s one last thing before we pat this totally crazy year on the back and kick it to the curb, and that’s to give away one more of our exhaust-shaped stainless steel beauties, also known as a Pipeburn Bike of the Year award.

Now in its seventh year, the Pipeburn Bike of the Year Award has just one aim – to honour the world’s best bike builders and all their hard work. It’s important to remember that for every amazing custom bike that appears on our site, there’s someone out there who’s got the skinned knuckles, sore back and empty bank account to show for it. This is our way of giving a little back to the scene and saying thanks. As always, we’ve reviewed every single one of our 2016 bikes and reader comments, along with tallying Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest likes to get us a top 20. We then nut out a final ten bikes in the order we feel best portrays their creativity, build quality and all-round coolness. Here’s the results…

10. ‘Brass Rajah’ Royal Enfield 350 – Mid Life Cycles

In what can only be described as a late dash for the finish line, this 350 Classic was built by Charlie Hallam and the rest of the team at Melbourne’s Mid Life Cycles for an Australian Royal Enfield bike build-off held here in November. It just goes to show that perfection doesn’t always take time. With a design based on the brand’s Isle of Man racers from the 1930s and a look that could only be described as beautifully timeless, the bike is one of those rare builds that simply doesn’t have a single thing out of place, except maybe for the fact that we’re not riding it.


9. Twin Turbo BMW R100 – Boxer Metal

Position number nine is filled by a bike that proved to be one of the year’s earliest BOTY contenders. After a gold-winning performance at Portland’s The One Show, where it took home the prestigious BMW-sponsored ‘Motorrad Award’, were we lucky enough to snag the exclusive. The brainchild of Chris and Rebecca from California’s Boxer Metal, it’s probably the one bike in the list we’d most like to misbehave on. Tyre fry-up anyone? Just imagine that sound! Phwoar…


8. ‘77 Yamaha RD400 – MotoRelic

A classic ‘quite achiever’, this two-stroke from Virginia’s MotoRelic takes the ‘why the hell didn’t they build it like that the first time’ award for its combination of sporty looks, restrained styling and 70s two-stroke smoke nostalgia. Made by MotoRelic’s Sean Skinner for a friend, it racked up some big numbers in early August with its textbook demonstration of what can happen when there’s implicit trust between a builder and their customer.


7. ‘V05’ BMW R80RT – Vagabund

With an approach that reminded us ever so slightly of this year’s overall winner, Austria’s Vagabund seemingly came out of nowhere in early November with this, a (note the trend here) BMW R80RT with some real world-class craftsmanship and a bunch of cool creative ideas to match. But it was the bike’s simplicity that really had us weak at the knees. If we were giving out prizes for minimalism, you’d be looking at this year’s winner right now.


6. ‘Little Bastard’ Suzuki SV650 – Krautmotors

Delivering a twin blow with its innovative looks and jaw-dropping engineering, this was clearly one of Glemseck’s shining lights. Devised as a factory entry by Suzuki Germany, their masterstroke was to hand the keys of a rather innocuous SV650 to local custom meister, Rolf Reick of Krautmotors. The bike’s minimal bodywork is swappable, allowing it to transform from urban scrambler to sporty trackster at the pull of a split pin. And how cool is that through-the-tank air filter? Don’t get us started.


5. ‘AgoTT’ MV Agusta Brutale – Deus Ex Machina

There were plenty of punters who would have been more than happy to pronounce Australia’s Deus ex Machina and their many international incarnations a spent force. Largely responsible for much of the initial fervour in this new wave custom scene, it would be easy to write them off as has-beens. But to underestimate Michael ‘Woolie’ Woolaway and his bike building skills would be a grave error. And his late August reveal of what would have to be one of the nicest MVs we’ve ever seen proves the point perfectly. We couldn’t think of a more fitting Giacomo Agostini tribute if we tried.


4. Yamaha XV750 – Peters Dog Cycles


When it comes to trends in the custom scene, Yamaha Viragos seem to have a never-ending head of steam. Originally pioneered by the now legendary John Ryland and Greg Hageman, their ability to transform themselves into whatever they please is enough to give Optimus Prime a major hissy fit. Straight outta Lithuania, the Peters Dog Cycle’s boys Gediminas and Gytis put their minds to seeing where else the platform could go. And the results? Those David Bowie headlights saw one of the busiest days for the Pipeburn servers all year.


3. ‘78 Honda CX500 – BBCR Engineering

And now for the top three. It’s no exaggeration to say that we receive more Honda CXs submissions that almost any other bike, so you’ll understand that there’s a certain amount of fatigue that sets in. But wow, what a way to clean out the cobwebs. Another giant-killing contender from Eastern Europe, Maldova’s BBCR Engineering has proved that those who still dare to call the CX a ‘Plastic Maggot’ have got rotten flesh where their good taste receptors used to be. Congratulations to Andrei for a well-deserved third place.


2. ‘60 Triumph TR6 – The Gasbox

The proof of a truly great builder is their ability to outpace both our expectations and their own laurels. And from their 3rd place in the 2014 awards, Jesse Basset and the team from Ohio’s The Gasbox have done just that with an honest to goodness genius pre-unit Triumph restomod. It’s simplicity is undeniable, but the levels of polish and attention to detail should rightly see this bike arrested for assault with all those jaws hitting floors. We’re stoked to be able to call this incredible 1960 TR6 our 2016 second place winner.


1. ‘DA#4’ BMW RnineT – Diamond Atelier

If you’ve perused these Bike of the Year posts before, it will come as no surprise to you that a certain Maxwell Hazan from Los Angeles has had quite the run of number ones. In fact, for as long as we’ve been giving out trophies, he’s been winning ’em. To be honest, we were concerned that he would go and do it again in 2016, making the whole thing look rigged. Then Max sent word that his next big build wouldn’t be ready until early 2017. Enter Tom Konecny and Pablo Steigleder, Munich locals and the creative force behind Germany’s supremely talented Diamond Atelier. Without a word of a lie, we knew from the moment we laid eyes on this slammed racer that nothing short of a bike submission from the Gods of Custom Motorcycles themselves would keep them from the top spot. As you’ve probably already guessed, the Gods were a no show. And so we’re proud to announce that the winner of the 7th annual Pipeburn Bike of the Year Award is the ‘DA#4’ from Diamond Atelier.


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. Hats off to Jackson, our coding and WordPress guru. Massive thanks to Paul McKinnon from Evolution Motorsports in Sydney who makes our trophies, and to Standard Motorcycle Co. for the trophy background photo. We’d also like to express our never-ending gratitude to all the builders who supported us in 2016 by letting us show their hard work to the world. And lastly but not leastly, to all the Pipeburn readers; without you guys we’d be nothing. Here’s to an even greater year for custom bikes in 2017. See you there.

  • TruthBringer

    Hazan’s BSA 500 was a 2016 bike, no?

    And a damn fine one at that, at least worthy of placing.

    • Rob

      First thing I thought of too …. as I scrolled down I thought and here it comes, but no

    • Not a bike we featured, unfortunately. For obvious reasons, we can’t include bikes on the weren’t on the site during the year. But from what we’ve seen, his next bike will blow the BSA away… 😉

      • TruthBringer

        Interesting. So he chooses who features it (pipe or exif) & therefore either puts himself in or out of the running for it?

  • Don Arnold

    What a hyperkinetic mess. Someone must have stood off and thrown pidgeon poop at it. What are those things that defeat the knee scallops? The pidgeon roosts? The angels sing as soon as your eye settles on the Gasbox TR6. I don’t want to work so hard to see the positives of a bike.

    • Enormous amounts of our Facebook followers, website traffic and readers would disagree. It’s one of our most viewed bikes ever…

      • Don Arnold

        Sorry to be such an old grump, but the Gasbox is truly inspiring, makes me want to go out an practice tig some more. Such work is its’ own reward, and deeply satisfying. The BMW will be bought by some trustfunder for big $$$, then he’ll look to others to validate his purchase decision. (Where’s Hardley, I’m tired of being the curmudgeon on this one.)

  • browncoat

    I have no complaints. These are all beautiful bikes. Nostalgia tilts me toward the RD400. BMWs look slightly off-balance to me.

  • revdub

    It has been a good year for bikes, even if it has been an otherwise horrible year for everything else. The V05 is my personal favorite of the list, but damn, that Little Bastard is amazing too.

    • At least 2016 will be a fond memory in some respsects. As always, great to have you around, Rev. Season’s Greetings!

  • John in Pollock

    I really dug the CX500…. Best plastic maggot I ever saw.

  • Apoloniusz Musialek

    That CX is sick. After the Sasha Lukic bike i thought nothing will touch it, but this BBCR thing is so sweet.
    Gasbox’s Triumph not good enough IMO.

    • Agreed re: CX. The Gasbox bike isn’t gonna punch you in the nuts for attention. It’s refined, and perfectly understated. IF you like bling and bold statements, you’ll probably miss it’s beauty… but if you take the time, it’s phenomenal.

  • Duke Fan

    I have them scored like this. Loved the Yamaha but a good pix wasn’t available so it was out. The Triumph is awesome if it’d new newer it would have been my fav! The Royal Enfield was awesome & the CX great sadly tired of BMW’s!

    • Clearly, BMWs were a popular choice for customs in 2016. What really surprised us was that no Scramblers made it in. With such an interest in the category, we had to check our heads when none made it…

  • New Forest Gump

    Far too many Beemers that all look pretty much the same to me.

    The ones that look different largely only do because they are worse.

    To me the winner looks like an ugly bike made less attractive.

    The second place bike is much better. Less is more.

    • Don Arnold

      Agreed. The Gasbox is a simple concept, carefully executed. The BMW is just detail slathered on with a trowel.

      • New Forest Gump

        Well put. I’m certain that I could find plenty of interesting tech stuff on the winner and loads of evidence proving the skill of the creators.

        That doesn’t make it pleasing on the eye.

        • It’s an assult on the senses. I’m not sure it was ever intended to be subtle or ‘pleasing on the eye’…

    • The three Beemers in the list have about as much in common with each other as Donald Trump has in common with Barack Obama. Couldn’t be more different if they tried. And as for the original R nineT being an ugly bike… I’d suggest that maybe you get your eyes tested. 😉

      • New Forest Gump

        There are many bikes these days turned out by the manufacturers that are ugly to me. The custom scene reflects that current trend, particularly when they use one of those “ugly” bikes as the base for their creation.

        Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

  • Giantsfan

    I submit that next year, Pipeburn require videos of each motorcycle running and being ridden. Sure they’re pretty, but some of want to see and hear them in action.

    • Agreed. It’d be a great thing to have, but the logistics would be nightmarish…

      • Giantsfan

        Thanks for the reply. Posting a video on YouTube and linking to it isn’t as tough as it sounds. 😉

        • Many of the bikes will have been passed on to their new owners, so recording the videos would fall on their shoulders and would have to be coordinated by the builders themselves. In both cases, I’m not sure it’d be their highest priority, if you get my drift.

  • Woolie’s MV is number one by a mile.

    • It is an amazing bike, isn’t it?

      • Manesh Karunakaran

        That MV fits the bill for a submission by the Gods, so to speak! And as breathtaking as a Hazan build, albeit with a healthy overdose of performance and evocative red paint. Like Mule said, definitely number one by a mile.

  • Flow

    R9T on first Place?
    Oh gsus…. NEVER!

  • ToeKneeBelowKnee

    I really like 4 and 8. Could switch day by day.
    – tkbk –

  • Michael Kork.

    Woolie’s MV should be No 1. The proportions (and color combination) on the 9t shouldn’t even put it on the top 10. We love you Woolieeeeee

  • guvnor67

    I had the pleasure of seeing Brass Rajah at the Melbourne Moto Expo, and again a couple of weeks later at Mid Life Cycles’ shop, and It’s gorgeous. It’s been a great year for motorcycling, the manufacturers have released some really nice looking machines, and the Custom world is on fire! If I had to pick favourite builders i’d probably run with Max Hazan and Ed Turner, but that’s not meant as any disrespect to all the other talented shops and individuals who have got us excited and fired our imagination!!

    • As always, bikes like Ed Turner’s that happen to be posted in the last few months of the year will always struggle as they don’t have the time to build a following as the bikes posted earlier in the year do. While we considered ‘weighting the data’, we realised that there is no real way to tell if a ‘late’ bike will continue to grow in popularity over the next few months or just remain static. So we took the data at face value.

      • guvnor67

        Weighting the Data is something politicians do!! I’ve judged car shows before and that was a headache, and lusted over dozens of bikes at shows and thought “how the hell do you pick a winner?!” You guys do a fantastic job bringing us 2-wheeled nutz smiling all year! Can’t wait to see what you bring us in 2017. Happy New Year to all!

  • AB

    There are a lot I like in the top 10 – 8/10 rock my socks, I’m pretty happy with that fraction. Looking forward to 2017, please keep up the fine work.

  • Len Farquharson

    Three BMW’s in the top ten! Three wildly different, yet superb interpretations! Spot on Pipeburn! Thank you Andrew and your team for bringing us the creations of some of the best custom bike builders in the world!

    • Yes. As mentioned in the post, Beemers were very popular choices for builds this year. We even had to knock a few back in fear of going overboard. Thanks for the kind words, Len. Positive as always.

  • Luke Hughes

    First and foremost; a most sincere “Thank You” to Andrew and all the gentlemen at Pipeburn. The posts you have provided throughout the year have been thought provoking and inspiring to say the least. What a great platform for all of the custom moto enthusias both viewer and builder alike! In my perspective all the builds listed within the “top ten” are excellent examples of thought, craft and aesthetics. Personally I would have posted a list of the top “11” bikes of 2016 with the Norton Seeley Commando – Worth Motorcycle Company (posted May 19th 2016) as the “winner take all”…….but I am biased. Thanks again Pipeburn and Happy New Year to you all. Cheers!

    • Thanks to you too, Luke. The Commando was a killer build, wasn’t it? What we’d give to have that one in our own garage… 😉

  • The Brutale knocks me out. Beautiful and outrageous at the same time.

  • For the trainspotters amongst us, here’s the three bikes that just missed out on a top ten place.

    Smoked Garage’s Ninja 650:

    Numbnut’s ‘V8’ Guzzi:

    AutoFabrica’s BMW R80:


    • KD

      They are all great bikes, no doubt about that (and Congratulations to all winners! It’s was a fantastic year for custom bikes on Pipeburn; the best ever IMHO). Like it or not, Vox Populi rules. But it is, in my mind, regretful that LC Fabrications’ bike “Seven” did not make either the top 10 or the “almost made it” list. “Seven” represent everything a great custom bike should be about: originality, ingenuity, skills and, of course, appearance.

  • martin hodgson

    What an incredible list of bikes and when you include the three that just missed out and many that must have been close two things really stand out for me in 2016. Diversity is a beautiful thing! Bikes of all shapes, sizes, eras, styles and most incredibly from all corners of the globe have had a big impact in 2016. And the Top Ten as well as the three that just missed out are all perfectly engineered, you might not like the style or their purpose, but they are all built to the highest of standards whether they be relatively inexpensive street bikes or full blown Deus & DA big dollar master pieces.

    To compete with the best now and in years to come, from concept to completion you can leave no stone un-turned and everything has to be done right. Bikes from the likes of The Gasbox and Vagabund highlight that even in their “simplicity”, automotive masterpieces that could compete with the best and biggest budget Hot Rod builds on the planet. What a difference a decade has made and it means 2017 is sure to be incredible. It’s a privilege to write for Pipeburn and be able to appreciate the amazing work of all the builders that contribute their bikes and hopefully to give all you guys and girls who visit the site everyday articles to enjoy and bikes that inspire your own builds! It’s an incredible community to be a part of, thank you one and all!!

    • BBCR Engineering

      Im really honored to be on this list of truly amazing bikes.
      I want to personally thank Martin Hodgson and the team at Pipeburn for doing such a great job and taking their time to taylor each post to the builder’s bike and the viewers. Thats very inspiring and pushes everyone including myself to fabricate better and bigger things this upcoming year. Thank you guys and a Happy New Year to you and your Families!

      • Thanks Andrei. Happy New Year to you and yours, too. Can’t wait to see what you come up with in 2017.

      • Bultaco Metralla

        Your CX500 was the bike of the year for me. Not the least because when they were new, I had the opinion that they were the ugliest bikes and was sure they would be soon forgotten as anything other that a courier’s workhorse. Now i’m delighted to see them reinvented and am really looking forward to your next one with a single sided rear end and wire wheels.

        • BBCR Engineering

          Thanks-that means a lot to me. I think they were the ugliest bikes to most 🙂 A lot more to come in 2017-lots of cx500’s and quite a few cb750’s as well. Happy New Year! Im at the airport waiting for my flight to go see the family and my 1.5 year old daughter-so im as happy as one can be with a year finish like this!

    • Couldn’t have done it without you, Marty.

  • I like #10… But, perhaps that’s because I ride an Enfield.

  • Tom

    What a list of amazing bikes! The 2016 builds prove, that the level of creativity and craftsmanship is at an all time high in the custom bikes scene.
    I am truly honored to see our own BMW up there in the top ten and taking first place still feels surreal.

    A big ‘Thank You’ goes out to Andrew, Nick and the rest of the Pipeburn crew as well as all the readers and bike enthusiasts, who come back every day to check out the newest creations.

    We’ll make sure to provide the best content possible and make 2017 even bigger – so stay tuned.

    – Tom, Diamond Atelier

  • jlgace

    Nice line-up of bikes this year but there were definitely a couple of surprises for me. There were also a couple of double-takes though where I realized maybe a bike should have been given a little more notice and appreciation the first time around so I had to go back and find it. Anyway, here’s a suggestion for next (this?) year: Can we have a vote button? Onlookers can start right away making a case for their faves. I’m not sure about the rest, but I’m not a fb user nor are many of my less feminine acquaintances so I’m not sure it’s a great means of judgement. Not saying you have to be masculine to appreciate this site or motorcycles in general mind you, just observing that it likely makes up the majority of your readership if the comments section is any indicator. Here’s to another great year for Pipeburn and much thanks for keeping my coffee breaks entertaining.