Pipeburn is full of stories concerning engineering genii who make us all look like drunken monkeys when it comes to customising a bike. Guilty as charged. But for the most part, it’s average Joes and Joannes who build bikes. The trick is knowing when to bring in the big guns. Clearly not one to do things by half measures, Switzerland’s Michael Thalmann pulled the pin on European custom’s equivalent of a nuclear weapon to help him out and the end result is a Ducati Monster cafe racer that’s blowing our minds.
More than a decade ago I watched a team rebuild a 1000+hp Subaru engine in just over 20 mins with the lead mechanic screaming, “just slap it together!” On the very next run it broke its class world record; incredible to observe but not the attitude I hoped the Qantas engineers would adopt for the aircraft flying me home. So when a client with a background in aviation engineering approached KickMoto in Halifax, Nova Scotia, they decided to adopt that meticulous aircraft attitude for the build. The result is KM006 an incredible 1985 Suzuki GS1150 Neo-Racer.
Despite being one of the most enlightened countries in the world, the Netherlands doesn’t have a thriving motorcycle scene. I’ve no idea why this is – they could be all too busy getting ripped, getting drunk or falling off pushbikes to really catch the bug. But for whatever reason, Roosendaal-based Ozz Customs breaks the silence yet again with their latest build, a Ducati ST4S touring bike cut down into a mean cafe fighter.
Here’s a movie idea. A BMW that’s owned by the chief of police gets purchased by a somewhat suspect hemp farmer who uses it for ‘deliveries’. It’s then customised by a bunch of Austrian bike freaks and turned into an endurance racer for a wealthy goldsmith. Too far-fetched to be believable? Think again, because that’s the gospel truth when it comes to the history of Titan Motorcycles’ latest build, a BMW R80RT endurance racer.
Yamaha’s XV750; been there, done that. Am I right? We’ve seen more cafe’d iterations of the good ol’ Coffee Grinder than just about any other bike out there. Hell, if XV cafe racers were actual coffee, the world would be ankle-deep in espresso. But every now and then we come across one that’s different enough to catch our very jaded eyes. No points for guessing that this, the latest bike from Italy’s Kustom Special Components, is just such a one.
If there’s one American bike show that’s really been punching above its weight in the last year or two, it’s the Brooklyn Invitational. You know something’s up when two separate world-class builders recommend the show as the cream of the US crop to you in the same week. Actually, make that three. Why? Because clearly New Hampshire’s Walt Siegl saved his best bike for the show, too. And here it is; a Ducati Monster 1100S that’s got more shine than Terminator 2.
When Malaysia’s Beautiful Machines found themselves working incredibly long hours preparing two spectacular builds for a show, they decided it couldn’t hurt to another yet another bike to the mix. From the remains of a motorcycle that’s been an old friend to the shop comes this trick neo-racer from one of the original middleweight legends; a 1979 Suzuki GS550 they call Kuro.
“Make me a Cafe Racer”. It’s undoubtedly the most fool-proof brief a bike builder can get. Jose Rosell from Spain’s XTR Pepo probably had the bike designed in his head before the sentence had left his customer’s mouth. But the next words to emerge would be akin to someone jamming a broom handle in your wheel at race speeds. “Also, I want to ride it on the beach,” the free-thinking owner added. And no, he wasn’t kidding.
The Scandinavians and beautiful woodworking. They go together like cafes and racers or Trump and super hold hairspray. Any Scandinavian, Norwegian, Danish or Finnish house worth its salt should have some amazing examples. And in the Finnish house of school teacher and bike builder Sami Karvonen, the example is this superb four-pot Honda CB500. Got wood? You have now…
Kyril Dambuleff has no barrow to push. He doesn’t run a workshop or sell parts or posters or scarves or t-shirts. He only builds motorcycles to keep himself happy and make the rest of us plonkers look bad. And he’s doing an admirable job of it with this exceptional 1972 Honda CB500 he’s dubbed ‘Bikini’.