We’re just adding a new entry to our ‘2016’s most obvious facts’ list. Right below the lines that say “American elections go for too long,” and “David Bowie was pretty good,” we’ve just added a fresh entry. It reads “Triumph Motorcycles is having an amazing year.” Even if we disregard their triple cylinder and off-road offerings and just focus on their Bonnevilles, barely a month seems to go by without us receiving an invite for another big launch. The Street Twin. The T120. And now, little more than a week or four after their big Thruxton R launch, comes the global reveal of their top-secret Bobber project. We were there. We went to the launch. We visited the factory. And then we pushed our luck and asked to ride the thing. What was it like? Read on, dear bobberphiles, read on.
Stuck in an office cubical with phones ringing, people yelling and a boss standing over your shoulder it seems a strange time to daydream. But it takes you away to a different place, a once abandoned warehouse in the industrial part of town where the enormous doors and the shop truck both sport the logo of your custom bike shop. Here you wrench on the kind of machines that fuel your passion, share a bourbon or beer with a customer to discuss their next project before picking up the tools again to finish off your latest creation. This is the world of Daan Borsje, the main man at Moto Adonis in the Dutch city of Roosendaal, that bizarrely enough is also home to the official ABBA fan club and hosts an annual festival in honour of the Swedish super group. But there’s no Fernando, Mamma Mia or White jumpsuits here, just quality custom creations and Daan’s latest is a red-hot 1982 Yamaha XV920.
There’s nothing better than getting an open brief from a client – especially when the brief is a challenge to do something different. So when a good customer, Dan Smith, came into MotoRelic with a completely stock ‘83 Virago XV500 and said “what can you do with this?”, Sean from MotoRelic’s mind immediately went into overdrive with the endless possibilities. Obviously the challenge was accepted. “Dan had only a few requests from me,” says Sean. “He wanted me to fabricate a small floating style seat and install the ‘05 GSX-R 1000 front end he scored off of Craigslist. With these two requests taken into account, Sean designed what has been given the name ‘Snubnosed Revolver’ – and never has a name fitted a bike so perfectly.
If you’ve ever visited outback Australia, you’ll realise just how a movie like Mad Max could come about. With nature’s brutal extremes an always-present reality, and dusty old Australian cars the only real means of transport, things tend to get rather apocalyptic very quickly. Now Sicily may seem a world away from this brutality, but remember that Palermo, Sicily’s capital, is actually closer to African desert than it is to Rome, and that the island has been subjected to thousands of years of invasions from many unruly southern hordes. Add this to the fact that the last Mad Max movie was actually filmed in Africa, and the parallels between Australian and Sicily start to make real sense. Channelling this, and adding a large dose of wine, women and food for good measure is Delux Motorcycles. Here’s their latest, a BMW R65 they call ‘Mad Max’.
Amsterdam-based Ironwood Customs create some of the finest and most unique ‘brat style’ bikes you are likely to see. ‘Heartbreaker’, or IWC27 – to give it its formal name – is the latest creation to be born from Ironwood and man, this is a wild child that makes Hunter S. Thompson look like your Aunt Shirley on a Sunday afternoon. Rebellious, challenging and unrestrained, this stripped back BMW strikes hard and fast and leaves a lasting impression. And some decent emotional scars, too. Like most heartbreakers, you commit four of the seven deadly sins just looking at it. And to ride it? Well…
For the first half of the 20th century, the Indian motorcycle company was flying high. They took all three podium spots at the 1911 Isle of Man TT, won the very first Daytona 200 in 1937 and so good was the handling of the Scout 101 that it was used everywhere from hill climbs to dirt track and is still the bike of choice for wall of death riders the world over. But when the company went bust in 1953, the only achievement of note for the next half century was Burt Munro’s famous 20’s Scout breaking land speed records. But when the giant automotive company Polaris acquired Indian in 2011, fans of the marque could smile; finally Indian’s would be built right again and when Adam of Gasser Customs was called upon by Rebel Yell to build them a custom bike he picked a 2015 Indian Scout, nicknamed it ‘The Outlaw’ and has knocked this build out of the park.
Even if you’re not a basketball fan, everyone old enough to remember the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 will have memories of the Dream Team. Arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled, Jordan, Magic and Bird amongst them they won Gold and dominated international headlines. But the Bronze went to “The Other Dream Team”, the newly independent country of Lithuania whose star basketballers united to bring the nation out of the Cold War and became symbols of hope and liberation. The stakes might not be as high in this little tale but the Baltic States motorcycle scene is largely dominated by heavy Harleys and two men are on a journey to bring the diverse culture of custom motorcycles to their nation and they’re doing it one great build at a time. Gediminas and Gytis combine to form Peters Dog Cycles and their latest build is a tricked out Yamaha XV750, perfect for showing the old Hogs what time it is.
Ah, Denmark! A beautiful nation with friendly folk who have given the world such gifts as Lego, the Pastry and the Vikings. Have fun, eat well and die! Maybe the lads from Relic Motorcycles eat pastries for their breakfast, of that I can’t be sure, but when it comes to building things from pieces and murdering them out, they never let their heritage down! Based in Aarhus, Denmark the team of builders are forging a reputation for creating low and lean machines with a dark attitude. In steel we trust is their motto and there’s no plastic here, just the best old school bikes infused with a new beating black heart. When it came time for team member Kristian Bech to build himself a new ride he’d always “liked and admired the look, performance and history of these old boxer twins” so why not go straight for the top, take one legendary 1977 BMW R 100RS and give it a full Relic Motorcycles make over.
The Red Baron, a.k.a. Manfred von Richthofen, was a German fighter pilot with a reputation that seems to have well and truly outlived the man himself. A legend in his own lifetime, he and his red Fokker Dr.I. triplane became synonymous with dashing heroism, chivalry and a decidedly old-school approach to battle in a time when gentleman were still gentleman. But imagine for a moment if, instead of the all the codes of honour and valour, the guy was just plain bad. No mercy or code of conduct, just an evil bastard with a cold, dead heart. Got that pictured in your head? Great. Now can you guess what bike he rides to the airfield? Why, this one of course. Meet the latest magnificent machine from Denmark’s Relic Motorcycles – their BMW ‘Black Baron’.
For a custom motorcycle workshop, to be selected to compete in a bike build off on National Television with backing from a major manufacturer sounds like a dream come true. A free motorcycle, cash to spend and instant fame for your business; unless of course you make a hash of it all and that dream turns into a horrible nightmare with an unfinished wreck of a machine. Thankfully, the ten teams selected to compete on Italian TV’s ‘Lord of the Bikes’ show all knocked it out of the park, but there could only be one winner and the king has just been crowned, step forward “Silver Knight”. Built by OMT Garage from Origgio, just North of Milan, it is a stunning take on the all new Moto Guzzi V9, a bike for the Aristocrat in us all but customised on a working man’s budget.