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The PIPEBURN 2017 Bike Of The Year Award

Posted on December 30, 2017 by Andrew in Other. 40 comments

“Can we top last year‘s bikes?” We freak ourselves out with the same damn thought every year. And then we begin the judging, only to realise that we’re more spoilt for choice than ever. Welcome to our 8th annual Pipeburn Bike Of The Year Award.

As always, the award’s aim is to honour the world’s best bike builders and all their hard work. So we’ve reviewed every single one of this year’s bikes and your comments, along with their social media performance to get us a top 20 list. We then nut out a final ten bikes in the order we feel best portrays their creativity, build quality and their all-important ‘wow’ factor. Here’s this year’s selection.

10. FNA Custom Cycles’ Kawasaki 750 H2

For those of us ancient enough to remember the ‘Wacky Races‘ cartoon, this bike from July will seem oddly familiar. The longer than long wheelbase. The completely nuts rear tire. The forks raked out at preposterous angle. We can’t think of a cooler, more smile-inducing bike from 2017. Hell, we can’t think of one ever.


9. ER Motorcycles’ BMW R100R

Built for a professional ice hockey player, ER’s ‘Logan’ BMW racer left us guessing for most of the year. After its surprise appearance on our stand at Italy’s Wildays show in May, we assumed the Pipeburn article would be just around the corner. But shop owner and perfectionist Blaž Šuštaršic made us all wait until October. Then, like a puck to the teeth, he revealed this.


8. One-Up Moto’s Yamaha XV500

From an Arkansas shop that clearly likes to do things differently came this early standout. Accepting the challenge of customising the least interesting model in the Virago range (now that’s really saying something), they added a swathe of unique touches and some killer skills to produce a bike that made many of us realise what a diamond in the rough Yamaha’s teeny tiny v-twin really was.


7. Plan B Motorcycles’ Benelli 354 Sport

It’s spaceship-like quad pipes wowed us when we first laid eyes on them at Wheels & Waves; a closer inspection of this magnificent Italian race rep only upped the ante. The sight glass fuel window. The motorised side stand. The doubling of the factory’s horsepower. Did we mention it’s Italian? Molto bello!


6. Wenley Andrews’ Triumph Rocket III

We thought it was probably the toughest custom bike we’d ever bloody seen – and judging by your response, you bloody well agreed. As Australia’s sole representative in the 2017 awards, we couldn’t be more proud that such a unique, ‘why didn’t I think of that’ custom build is flying the Aussie flag. Now if we only had the cojones to fang the damn thing…


5. Lucky Custom’s Turbo Harley Evo

Argentina’s Lucas Layum had us when he said his next bike was going to be a ‘turbo Harley salt racer’. Then we saw the photos. As one of the best builders in South America, the Harley has singlehandedly catapulted the shop into the custom world’s upper echelons, while also earning them a well-deserved 5th place in this year’s awards. Felicitaciones.


4. Ortolani Custom’s Ducati 1199 S Panigale

As we noted in May, if Arnie’s T-800 terminator rode a Harley, then his liquid T-1000 nemesis couldn’t have chosen a better set of wheels than this metalwork masterpiece from France’s Ortolani Customs. Executed almost entirely in aluminium, anyone who’s ever tried to shape the stuff will know just how impressive an accomplishment this bike truly is. Now just imagine it at full tilt on a race track…


3. Hazan Motorwork’s Turbo Ducati 860GT

To be frank, we’re getting a little tired of telling you just how awesome Los Angeles’ Maxwell Hazan is. As our winningest custom bike builder ever, he has a habit of killing it at these awards – probably a lot like this turbo Ducati kills tires. With Hazan’s usual bespoke everything, exactly nothing has been overlooked. The fact that this bike isn’t taking out the first prize in 2017 is only testament to just how next level the final two bikes really are. As always, nice work Max.


2. Diamond Atelier’s BMW RnineT

As last year’s winners and the first shop to knock Max Hazan of his perch, Germany’s Diamond Atelier were close to taking home the trophy for a second time this year. Had it not been for the winning build’s unprecedented performance, you’d now be looking at the Bike Of The Year. And with the curves and stance this Beemer has, it kind of seems a shame it’s not top of the pops. Still, what a ride…


1. Ducati Zentralschweiz & Parts World – Ducati Panigale R

Exploding into the number one position while leaving behind an army of pissed-off purists in its wake is the Swiss Ducati named ‘The Blue Shark’. With amost twice the social media numbers of its nearest competitor and comments for days, this March bike had a virtually unassailable lead just a few short weeks after its first appearance. Boasting a stunning combination of old and new school, it proved (as always) a controversial but stupendously popular bike. It’s success is no big mystery; take one dream bike, add a unique custom idea and the master craftsmen to pull it off. Finish with stunning photography and hey presto, the Ducati Zentralschweiz and Parts World Ducati Panigale R has won Pipeburn‘s 8th annual Bike Of The Year Award.


Lastly, thanks to everyone who helped us make this award, and Pipeburn itself, happen in 2017. Cheers to our writers Martin and Marlon. Massive thanks to Paul McKinnon from Evolution Motorsports in Sydney for the trophies. Hats off to all the builders who let us show their hard work to the world and to the photographers who made the bikes look amazing. And lastly, to all the Pipeburn readers; thanks for stopping by. 2018 is shaping up to be a corker. Catch you on the flip side.

  • Motomanic

    Great list! Thanks for another year of awesome and take good care in 2018!!!

  • Institute For Applied Despair

    No. 10 is an Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth illustration come to life, sans monster rider.

    • Apparently he was a vampire, and therefore doesn’t appear in the photos.

  • Michael Masouras

    The #9 BMW is underrated – looks gorgeous in its simplicity.

    • We thought so, too. The fact that it was posted in October probably didn’t help, either.

  • AB

    A great bunch of rides. Thanks for the year – looking forward to 2018’s bikes.

  • guvnor67

    Maaaaaaaaan, what a year we’ve had! The custom scene is as diverse as the countries that spawn the bikes, and big thanks to the people who create the machines, and the good folk at Pipeburn for putting in the time to bring them to our screens. Also,thanks to everyone that contributes to the comments section, it really is highly entertaining. Roll on 2018!

    • Guv! If we had an award for best comments, you’d be the clear winner. Thanks for all your positivity and support in 2017. See you next year.

      • guvnor67

        Thank you, and my pleasure! And, yes, you definitely will!

  • Len Farquharson

    Another stellar year of quality customisation; thank you to all the builders and especially to the team at Pipeburn for bringing us all regular servings of their awe inspiring creations!

    • Thanks Len. Always a pleasure to hear from you. Have a killer NYE and a similar 2018.

  • Interesting to note that 8 of the ten bikes on the top 10 are from the first half of the year. And with the digger posted in July, ER’s racer was the only bike to make it from the last 5 months of the year.

    • Marlon

      Huh. I would have thought the opposite would be the case. Fresh in the mind and all that.

  • Guzzto

    Great list and what a good year (despite the bandit 9 hiccup).
    The Kawa H2 wacky racer is sublime to look at as a design exercise but it’s the Benelli i want to own and ride. Keep up the great work.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    The Blue Shark deserves every accolade. Ten months later it still resonates with me as the bike of the year. It is a phenomenal technical achievement to make such a success of the cafe racer style from a modern superbike.

    Happy New year to all.

  • Larry Kahn

    YAAAAYY! NOT ONE FIRESTONE!!!!! (except the drag H2 and that ain’t going around any corners anyway)

    • Marlon

      Holy hell – you’re right!

    • I honestly didn’t even notice. Guess that’s saying something… 😉

      • Larry Kahn

        Says you never tried cornering on big square crappy tires!

  • Ian Thomas

    The kawasaki 750 is the winner. The problem with factory motorcycles these days is now showing up in many of your top 10 bikes – too complex, complicated and cluttered. They are not pleasing to the eye or fun to ride and wrench.

    • Trust us when we say we’ve not the response to the bike and are planning to bring you more just like it soon…

      • guvnor67

        Hope so!!

  • martin hodgson

    You know it’s been an amazing year when a list starts with a bat shit widow maker 2-stroke and ends with a brand new Ducati Panigale given the full cafe treatment. I’m so glad the Kawasaki made the list, such brilliant and crazy machines are the up yours to society that this scene of ours is based on. While the two Panigale’s really do prove that even plastic stock bodywork, miles of wiring and smart boxes can’t stop a true visionary from creating a stunning custom machine with old school style. I love every bike on the list and the thing I take away as a personal lesson from all the great builders is that all ten machines stay absolutely true to theme even down to the the last bolt. Whatever the style, budget, from backyard builder to professional outfit… to succeed in this game you can’t cut corners or get lazy on any detail. Here’s to a ripper 2018 and Happy New Year to all!!!

    • As always, we couldn’t have done it without you, amigo. Have a killer NYE!

  • Marlon

    It warms my overworked smokers heart to see that Hazan duke make the cut.

    It’s interesting to see how trends have shifted over the last few years. This BOTY lineup is very different to something we’d see three or four years ago.

    • How so, do you think?

      • Marlon

        There’s some builds in there (Wes’s Rocket III, for example) that are so clean they’re almost like a stock bike. Years ago I think people wanted something that shouted ‘custom’ more than anything else.

        Bikes like No1, which blend a whole bunch of amazing aesthetic choices on a really capable frame wouldn’t have been around, I think. Genres were more defined a while ago, I guess?

  • Fido Zombie

    An exceptional group of bikes, with a bit of something for everyone.
    It’s been an excellent year and getting that email in the morning gives me something to look forward to on the 6 am bus ride to work.
    There will always be those that in some eyes could/should have made the top 10 – personal favourites – BMW R80 Skyway Boardracer and Moto Guzzi Griso Cafe Fighter for example.
    BTW – what is the selection process?
    Points against categories, tallied up? Or just a vibe thing?
    Anyway boys – well done and keep up the good work in 2018.

    • We review every single one of this year’s bikes and the comments, along with their social media performance to get us a top 20 list. We then nut out a final ten bikes in the order we feel best portrays their creativity, build quality and their all-important ‘wow’ factor.

  • All these are amazing builds. How can any reasonable person choose just one!?

  • Anonymous

    What were the other 10 from the top 20 list?

  • @Pipeburn – the link to see more of #2 doesn’t take you that bike. Would like to see more of it. Thanks