Written by Martin Hodgson.
I’ve been on a journey with this bike, not one that allowed me to twist the throttle and tip it into a bend, but a journey of discovery as to what makes ‘Fireball’ tick and how it was put together. It’s a journey that started with a love of the custom tank and over many hours grew to an appreciation of how a once failed attempt by a multi-national to do something new became a one off custom by a lone builder that blows away everything a billion dollar company attempted to achieve.
“Hailed by Purists. Loved by Rockers. The most fun you’ll ever have on a motorcycle,” gushed the press release when Royal Enfield debuted their new Continental GT in 2013. Motorcycle journalists lauded its lighter flywheel, its tighter Harris-designed frame, Brembo brakes and Paioli shocks. But I was left completely unmoved by the ‘café racer in a box’ style aesthetics. For me, the styling was a little too lairy, a little too cheap-looking and a little too easy to really warrant the praise. And since its release, I haven’t really given the bike any thought. That was until I saw this gorgeous custom dubbed ‘Dirty Girl’, built by the dedicated team at Rewind MC from Wollongong, Australia. With a perfect mix of matte paint, ¾ fairing and brown leather, to my eye this bike has got me as excited about the Continental GT as the Deus Grievous Angel did with the Yamaha SR400. I think it’s just about perfect.
2 Wheels Miklos is a workshop based in Surrey, England who restore, sell and customize everything from leaky old Nortons to leaky new Harley Davidsons. And while some of their work is fairly traditional, with nut-and-bolt stock Japanese super sports and ailing British twins routinely bought back to life, this time around Miklos have wheeled out this curious 1981 CB900F Bol d’Or. Equal parts 80’s tailored cigarette sponsorship, 60’s roadside coffee and with just a hint of the Monster energy drink crowd thrown in, the old Honda has found a new lease on life as a bike designed to turn heads in the summer sun.
The custom bike scene, like any other art form, often finds itself bending to the will of fashion. But there’s no shame in that – music, painting, dance and almost any other genre you care to name have to endure the same challenge. And while in the heat of the moment a certain trend can seem to the viewer to be very ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’, it’s often only a matter of time before the truth becomes apparent. That’s when cool becomes lame, exciting becomes humorous and your wardrobe full of flared trousers becomes an embarrassment. But what happens when time doesn’t weary? When something improves with age? Well, that’s when timeless happens. Classic happens. This happens.
When it comes to Honda CB café racers there’s not a lot of people that have built as many as Jay Lossa and his team at Lossa Engineering in Long Beach California. Jay has lost count of the number of CB’s he has brought back to life since starting his shop back in 2007. He usually starts his builds with “rusty hunks of junk” that cost no more than $500. It doesn’t usually matter what condition they are in because he replaces every nut and bolt anyway. This time around he started with a decent donor CB550 that he picked up for $1300 – which makes it the most expensive donor he has ever bought.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the Bayou, only this son of a gun is the offspring of the legendary Kawasaki Z1 and the Bayou is replaced by the historic streets of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Built by Krakenhead Customs this is a daily rider that pays homage to the golden years of Kawasaki’s Z bikes that along with Honda’s CB series introduced the world to 4 cylinders across the frame, big disc front ends and became the inspiration for all modern sports bikes.
Barn finds are good and well, providing you actually have barns where you live. But as long as you have old geezers who love to horde, you’re going to find old bikes hidden away. Here in Australia we usually find them in sheds or garages. And clearly barns are the preferred storage method for the forgetful oldies in the US. But what about Germany? Apparently carpenter’s shops are all the rage over there. And if Jochen Guske and his find are anything to go by, the common inhabitants of the average Deutsche woodworkhaus are none other than the ‘Kawikus Kaffeus’ – also known as the Green-Breasted Kawasaki KZ400.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
When you’re a Frenchman who desires a German BMW to carve through the streets of London England then who better to turn to than Portugal’s Ton-Up Garage. This cross-continental custom BMW R80 is both a testament to its builders and the great state in which the custom motorcycle scene finds itself. Borders disappear, there are no limits other than your imagination and the skill of your builder; the language of cool customs is universal. Ton-Up’s Daniel and Pedro have proven themselves master builders and their BMW’s are some of the best in the world.
Written by Marlon Slack
The little two-stroke Yamaha RX135 is a mainstay of India and South East Asia. It’s often the bike you’ll see buzzing away underneath a mountain of groceries, kids and terrified-looking livestock as it picks its way through traffic. It’s simple, reliable and isn’t the kind of bike that gets much attention – beyond the occasional replacement of a blown shock or collapsed fork. But this time the brave little Yamaha has been sculptured into a gorgeous backstreet café racer by Bull City Customs – a New Delhi based workshop that specializes in good looking custom bikes that are also fun and practical to ride.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
From the time the Café Racer scene had its second coming, the Honda CB750 of the 70’s and 80’s has been one of the bikes of choice for high end builders and backyarders alike. But far too often over looked is its thunderous big brother, with race pedigree and freight train pulling power the CB900 makes a fantastic base for a Café Racer with some extra muscle!
Born just a year ago in Madrid Spain, Nitro Cycles, is a new family run workshop with a passion for the motorcycles of a generation ago and breathing life into bikes that have been long since left to rot. With a fairly wrecked CB900 sitting around it made sense to make it the first Nitro Cycles build and team, led by Antonio, got to work on making the most of what was left of the 1982 model. The CB was taken back to the bare frame, however even this super strong piece of steel was damaged. But the bike was being built in honour of Antonio’s Grandfather and nicknamed the “Fighter” there was no way they were giving up. So with hours of hard graft the twin down-tube steel frame was restored back to original condition before being treated to a new coat of silver paint.