After five long years in the motorcycle blogging game, we’d like to think that there’s pretty much nothing we haven’t done. Electric bikes? Been there. Drag racing? Done that. Borrow a new bike from a large Japanese manufacturer and then total it? Um, we totally have no idea what you are talking about… But after all those shenanigans, there’s still one thing that we’ve never done, and that’s feature a build from Colombia. Until now. Here’s an amazing BMW from Bogotá’s brothers Esteban and Gustavo Pasquale and their shop, Garaje 57.
Great Britain and the United States of America have a proud history of building on each other’s innovations to move the whole of Western Civilisation along. While English minds may have created the industrial revolution, it took Henry Ford to crystallise the whole thing in mass production for the people. And while (arguably) it was Elvis who recorded the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song, it was clearly The Beatles and the Stones who perfected it ten years later. Then along comes New Jersey’s Kyril Dambuleff and his associates, who have managed to create ‘Blacksquare’ – one of the most beautiful, and one of the most British-looking bikes we’ve seen in a month of high tea Sundays. Philip Vincent, eat your jolly heart out.
What a renaissance the good ol’ BMW K-Series is having of late. From humble beginnings as the laughing-stock of the second-hand bike scene, the model has enjoyed a slow and steady rise in popularity over the past few years. And why wouldn’t it? Terminally underpriced second-hand examples can still be had for a little as US$2,500 in most countries. And, if you take your time, you’ll land a low mileage German-engineered motorcycle to have your wicked way with. What’s not to love? Which is exactly the attitude Herr Marc Robrock from Nuremberg’s Motofication took when he began this, his second ‘K-Fé’ K100 build.
Tanks and seats. If you had to distill down the art of the custom motorcycle, moonshine-like, to its base elements in a concentrated form I’d argue the toss that tanks and seats is where you’d get to. Sure you’ve got wheels, tyres, bars and a whole cavalcade of other minutia you can tweak to make things look like this or that, but get the seat and tank wrong and it’s goodnight nurse. So when Barcelona-based De Palma Cycles told us they had a build inspired by the Honda RC110, arguable the world’s best ever tank-and-seat combo, we were more than a little excited. And then we saw the bike.
Hurricanes. Typhoons. Comets. Tempests. If you need any more evidence that the world’s weather is going to hell in a carbon-based handbasket, look no further than poor old Blighty and her Old Empire Motorcycles. The Pipeburn Bike of the Year runners-up in 2014, they’ve been suffering the worst luck weather-wise since their inception. And to make matters worse the catastrophes look set tho continue with this, their Yamaha SR-based ‘Lightning Mk. I’. Hang tight, boys. Hang tight and ride like the wind.
What’s the most common item to be modded first on a custom bike, would you say? The seat? The rubber? Maybe the ‘bars? Now consider what the most unlikely first thing to sink your teeth into might be. Actually, don’t bother, because Peter Boggia and the crew at Brooklyn’s Moto Borgotaro already have it figured out. It’s the tacho. And while the rest of us would be wrestling with greasy engines and skinned knuckles, Peter got all Swiss watchmaker on this Guzzi LeMans and followed the look right on through to the rest of this rather sweet-looking bike.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
When you build GT40’s that are the only replicas licensed to officially carry the full Gulf Oil livery it’s clear you can build a serious automobile. When you can also build some of the best custom Ducati’s on the planet it’s clear two wheels or four you’ve got it covered. So when a customer told Johann Keyser it was impossible to create a stunning CX500 the man behind Moto Motivo took on the challenge with justified confidence.
The donor bike was no ordinary CX500 it was the deluxe model, ‘The Plastic Maggot’, made even worse with a full set of Vetter fairings and panniers. Many builders see the CX500 as a challenge to be conquered; Johann was keen to make that challenge even harder. The 1978 CX had only seen a few years of service when the original owner put it into storage in 1982 after a small incident with a dog on a highway. Having sat for 32 years with oil and fuel still on board it’s a testament to the Honda engineers that it required Johann to fit only a new battery to get the old girl ticking over, but that’s when the real fun started.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Moto Guzzi is one of Continental Europe’s classic brands and even more so when you think of Café Racers, making it one of the perfect manufacturers to choose when deciding what bike to base a custom build. But then you go and pick one of their heaviest bikes, all covered in plastic, weighing a gargantuan 500lbs and with an enormously long wheelbase. It seems you like a challenge, one that the boys of Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche in Rome were more than up for!
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots.
Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!
Written by Marlon Slack.
Incredibly, in stock trim the Suzuki TL1000R is as ugly as it is torquey. With its rounded, fat fairing and ungainly looking seat, in the bike symbolizes much of what was wrong with the late 90s – along with Balkan ethnic cleansing, mass flooding deaths in China and the rise of ska music. Nick O’Kane – powersports sales manager at K&N air filters – saw the potential hidden underneath all the bulbous plastic of a 2002 model TL and put together this gorgeous custom that looks great, handles beautifully and has the powerplant to match.