Oh the ’80s. It was a decade when the planet got so many things really wrong, including the fashion. Unfortunately, that extended to motorcycle design and history has not been kind to the machines of the period. So despite Cycle Guide predicting that the Honda VF750S Sabre would be the bike of choice for the next ten years to come it proved to be more Video Killed the Radio Star than Jacko’s Thriller. But what those years of dodgy hair and shoulder pads really needed was just the skills of a master craftsman. Today, Thailand has such a man, Eak of K-Speed Customs, who’s taken this ’80s horror show and turned it into the most badass Honda “Sabre Racer” ever created. It’s literally fit for a movie star.
Indonesia has proved quite the powerhouse of late when it comes to custom bikes. With builders that are easily the best in the region and a beautifully original take on things, it’s a country that attracts the interest of the region’s bike fans over and above many of its contemporaries – Australia included. And the Indonesian crème de la crème would have to be Bandung’s White Collar Bikes. Their main man, Ram Ram Januar, has the metalworking skills of sword maker. And here’s very shiny, perfectly brushed proof. It’s his latest build, an all-metal Ducati 795 racer.
Yamaha’s poor MT-01. Released in 2005, it looked like it had so much customising potential. A killer engine with more torque than the Titanic on Nitrous. A decent, sporty frame and suspension set-up. Tuning kits straight from the factory. By rights, we should all be complaining about yet another MT-01 custom bike instead of directing it at her Virago grandparents. Yet here we are, all red-faced at having never featured a single MT on these pages. Until now. Direct from (of all places) Corsica, here’s Kekedesign Artkustom with their brutal ‘Bull Gold’ cafe fighter.
In Terminator 2, Arnie sat astride a leather and chrome Harley that was the perfect fit for his T-800 role. But had the studio commissioned a machine for the liquid metal T-1000, even the most creative Hollywood minds couldn’t have envisioned a bike like this. In a 2014 Ducati 1199 S Panigale, you get the same sort of technological leap over the old Fat Boy that the new T-1000 offered up. But where the stock red Ducati gets it all wrong visually, this insane alloy bodywork with its liquid-like flow would have scored a Skynet tick of approval. It’s quite literally a killer custom, and it comes to us from the brilliant minds at France’s Ortolani Customs.
How do you tell a master bike builder? In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s their ability to transform a bike to the point where, magician-like, you are left scratching your head as how the hell they did it. Sow’s ear into silk purse? Try sow’s ear into deep space probe. Knowing this trick all too well, Spain’s XTR Pepo has clearly decided to see if they couldn’t outdo themselves. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t just go and actually do it, too. The bike you see here was once an embarrassingly uncool ‘97 Honda Shadow. Then abracadabra, it’s now one of the best-looking racers we’ve seen all year. Look out Siegfried & Roy, Pepo Rosell is in town.
Moto Adonis is a curiously named workshop based out of Roosendaal in the Netherlands. They’ve cut their teeth on a few staples of the scene over the last few years, producing a Virago cafe racer and some tidy old airheads. This time around it’s another crouched down, cafe’d up special but built around a rare sight in the custom scene – a late-model 2004 BMW R1100S – the dad jeans of sport bikes.
It’s one of the truly great inventions of the last 200 years. So global is its appeal, it has taken on cult status, put a country on the map and delivers more uses than one could ever possibly need. If the Offiziersmesser has one problem, it’s that nobody but German speakers can pronounce its bloody name; so G.I.’s came up with the moniker that has stuck ever since, the ‘Swiss Army knife.’ As a design it looks brilliant; it serves a purpose for every occasion and in the right hands it’s lethal. So it should come as no surprise that such a tool served as inspiration for this revolutionary retro streetfighter built by California’s Gasser Customs. And just like the little red knife this stunning ‘78 Honda CB750 comes with a much more user-friendly name, ‘Ol’ Red.’
With the circus that is the World Superbike Championship wrapping up for the weekend at the Imola circuit, Ducati asked a few select journalists to stay behind. After a superlative-laden speech by Ducati supremo Claudio Domenicali, they hit the track on the brand new 2016 Ducati Panigale R. To say that they were gobsmacked would be a gross understatement. So it’s probably for the best that a certain bunch of Swiss motorcycle fanatics weren’t on hand. Undoubtedly they would be thinking that there was even more to be had from the bike. Fortunately, their absence did nothing to quell their creativity. And the result is arguably the world’s fastest cafe racer; a unique collaboration of talents that has delivered a freakishly cool animal known simply as ‘The Blue Shark’.
One thousand Percent. It’s what most top-flight bike builders have to give these days to rise to the top and get noticed. They need the best ideas. The best sketches. The best machining and welding skills. And while we’ve seen the skills that Filippo from Pescara’s Officine Rossopuro possesses, we not sure we ever seen him give one thousand percent. Until now, that is. And that’s because tonight’s donor bike wasn’t, as you may have suspected, a Moto Guzzi Griso 8V. No, tonight’s bike started life a little-know ‘Millepercento Alba.’ What the hell is that, you ask? Good question.
You don’t have know Hageman MC to recognise their work. Seen those Virago cafe racers? Greg Hageman helped create that look. Oogled the Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler? That was a shameless riff on his builds. His work is clinically excellent and his influence on the scene is profound – he’s like a motorcycling Bono, but without being an insufferable dickhead. This time around he’s tackled his first BMW, a 1983 K100RS. And he wasn’t confident it would come out looking this good.