By guest writer Ian Lee.
By guest writer Ian Lee.
Too often it's the more wild creations of the custom bike scene that get all the attention. Like cheeky kids, they play the crowd and manage to get all eyes on them. Which is all good and well, unless you aren't looking to be king of the hill and would rather travel with a certain understated style and grace. For those times, you'll be wanting a bike that is cleaner than clean with nothing at all more than the absolute minimum required. Everything it its right place. That bike is this bike. This bike is Devin Henriques' Honda CB550 café racer.
If you’re anything like me, you usually only wear a suit and tie to weddings, funerals and the odd court appearance – it has been a while since the last one. So it’s great to add another occasion to the list. Yes, it's that time of year again when the most dapper motorcyclists from around the world dust off their suits, polish their shoes, trim the beard, clean granddad’s smoking pipe, splash on a liberal amount of Old Spice and google the words ‘how to tie a tie’.
It's that time of year. A time when our Northern Hemisphere friends are enduring the slow, steady descent into winter. And while they sadly put away their bikes and hunker down for many months of snowy oblivion, we here on the bottom the of planet are doing just the opposite. That's right - summer is coming. You can smell it in the air, and unless you haven't cleaned your leathers from last year, it's probably the sweet perfume of spring flowers. That's why this bike instantly caught our attention. There's something about it that screams summer like a Tourette's surfer with a loud hailer. The only thing missing from the shots is a case of cerveza, a beach, and a few surfboards. Like a warm breeze, here's the latest from Spain's La Raíz Motorcycles.
What's the opposite of a motorcycle? Have a think about it. Bikes are small, nimble, rebellious, noisy, spiritual and exciting. Now think of something monolithically large, very conservative, whisper quiet, painfully intellectual and about as exciting as a book by Martin Heidegger. That's right, i'm talking about Universities. Naturally, you'd think that the two would have absolutely nothing in common. But you'd be wrong. The bike you see before you exists because of a university. Namely, Madrid's Instituto Católico de Artes e Industrias, which accepted a request from one of its students to build a bike for a final year project. That student was Manuel Ayllón, and the bike is probably the most amazing Ducati you'll see all year.
It seems weird to say it, but there are actually riders out there who spend their whole life on non-customised bikes. Riders who are perfectly happy using a factory-prepared bike in exactly the same state that it left the maker's premises. Stock pipes. Stock rubber. Hell, even the air in the tires probably has the whiff of aftershave from the factory worker who inflated them. Yes - such people do exist. Juan Manuel, the owner of this bike, was actually one of them. But through luck or through fate, he stumbled across the rather bitchin' custom work of José and Tito from Maccomotors and the rest, as they say, is historia.
Sometimes, life can really throw nasty shit at you. But one of the nastiest things it can throw is cancer. Jay Lossa from Lossa Engineering has been dealt this card not only once, but twice. So when cancer reared its ugly head again the second time, he knew what the best therapy for it was. Build a bike. “I haven't built a bike for myself in over 3 years” says Jay. “So after a horrible 2012 getting cancer again, doing chemotherapy, full body radiation and having a bone marrow transplant I was aching to build something. I'd had a bike in my head for years and I was keen to use the build as therapy while I was recovering to get back into the swing of things. Everyone knows me for building café bikes. Well, I actually will build any brand and any model - just as long as they are from the 60’s or 70’s. I wanted to build something I could take off-road or jump off a curb and actually carry stuff with me when I ride.” Jumping off a curb? By the looks of it, Jay has built a bike that could take on just about anything - including cancer.
One of the nicest things about the hungry beast that's Pipeburn.com is that you get to meet new people. We literally make contact with half a dozen new builders every week who all keen to show us their wares. What's more, we end up getting to know them quite well. Here's a builder I have been shooting the poop with on and off for two years now, and even through I've never actually met him, I'm sure that we'd get on like a house on fire. This is his fifth bike to be featured on the site. Around here we know him as ‘Dazza’, but you'll should probably call him by his real name - Daryl Villanueva, head of Beijing's Bandit9 Motorcycle Design.
They call them ‘parts bin specials.’ They're the bikes that have been thrown together from all the leftovers that the other bike builders didn't need. That old second tank. The spare rear shock. Your mate's unused set of rims. The very thought of something built this way conjures mental pictures of a franken-bike; something that looks more like the result of a welder gone postal in a bike wreckers than anything that been done with any forethought or planning. But here's a bike that goes a long way to prove that assumption wrong. So far, in fact, that the results look more like something you hope Ducati would build rather than something they'd run from in fright. Meet engineer John Grainge and his Monster SR2 Café Racer.
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