I watched the latest film about Steve Jobs the other week. Directed by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame, it was unfortunately a fairly average flick. Despite this, it did have a few memorable moments. The one that sticks in my head is the scene where Jobs is asked what he actually does by Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak. “I play the orchestra,” he somewhat pretentiously exclaims. The idea is a simply one. Some of us are good at playing an instrument, but unless someone is taking care of the whole she-bang, all you end up with is a big cacophony. And while it might be a bit of a stretch to compare today’s builder to Jobs, it’s clear he approached building the Bonneville you see here in the same way. Some creators use their hands, while others use their head. Poland’s Wojtek Borecki is clearly all about the latter.
You’re a fly on the wall of a BMW Motorrad meeting in Germany in 1977. Much to your horror, you witness what looks to be the end of the company happening right before your very eyes. Faced with the massive challenges of Japanese dominance, the ‘death’ of the boxer twin and big new emissions regulations, the company’s Kaisers are about to sign off what looks to be a train wreck on two wheels. They are all in agreement; they will put a four-cylinder Peugeot engine sideways into a new BMW bike. Surely this idea is so comical and misguided, it’s the last bike the company will ever make. Fast forward 40 years to the present day and somehow we’re in the middle of a BMW K-series resurgence. Up is down. Black is white. Square is cool. There are bricks everywhere and here’s the latest one to be thrown; it’s the Wrench Kings’ very black, very cool BMW K100.
We were lucky enough to interview the talented guys from Untitled Motorcycles recently. They have been busy building bikes, hanging with Jay Leno and doing a small production run of their HyperScrambler. Adam Kay runs the UMC London workshop while across the Atlantic, Hugo Eccles runs the UMC San Francisco workshop.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What’s your background?
Adam Kay UMC-LON: I come from a fashion and art background. I worked in the design and production departments of a few high street stores helping to make sure that the original design intent was carried through to production. I left that world to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art- even exhibiting some of my work in a few galleries – before building motorcycles.
Hugo Eccles UMC-SF: I’m a career industrial designer of twenty years- almost as long as I’ve been riding bikes. I originally trained at the Royal College of Art and then spend the next decades working for the likes of IDEO, Fitch and Sir Terence Conran. A few years ago I moved to San Francisco and decided to combine my two passions- design and motorcycles- and build custom motorcycles full time.
In the mid to late 1980s Grand Prix motorcycle racing began to be dominated by multicylinder, high tech machines that left no place to go for many manufacturers who didn’t have such a base model in their line-up. To fill the void the Battle of the Twins was formed to give British, European and American manufacturers a place to race and develop their thunderous two cylinder bikes. But it wasn’t just the major manufacturers who took part, without the category we would never have come to appreciate the work of the late genius, Kiwi, John Britten. Inspired by Britten and other incredible men of the motorcycle business, Race Engineer David Sanchez started Bottpower, an acronym for Battle of the Twins, to express his own ingenuity and unique designs. His latest creation is this incredible BOTT XC1 Carbon Café Racer; an engineering tour de force that would have David’s hero’s giving him a standing ovation.
If you’re putting together a basic rock band it’s not too hard to work out the pieces to the puzzle; at a minimum you need a singer with a sick set of pipes, an axe man to rock out and someone to swing the sticks on the skins. So if you’re following the same minimalist formula what do you need to form a small custom workshop to create brilliant builds and still have the talent on deck to make some incredible merchandise and branding to get the company exposure? From the USA’s east coast, Real Moto Co. have found the perfect formula in two guys who can spin the spanners and bring very specifics skills to the floor. Dan Stabbings is the metal man and his partner in crime Jacob Speis a brilliant graphic designer, together they’ve produced the companies debut build – a stunning 1981 Yamaha XS400 that is the perfect opening track.
Not every project is a smooth one, they can start and be halted for months at a time, life gets in the way, parts can be hard to find and when you finish you can still be left with doubts as to whether you’ve achieved your goal. So after years of preparation there could be no more intimidating place on the planet to debut your custom Ducati than at the annual World Ducati Week amongst the fanatical Ducatisti. But Marco Graziani needn’t have worried as his CC Racing Garage custom cafe racer took out the top prize in the Ducati Garage Contest at the 2016 WDW and also took home the trophy from the riders’ jury, consisting of Davide Giugliano, Danilo Petrucci and Eugene Laverty, who presented him with the sought-after Ducati riders’ award. It might have started life as a 2001 Ducati 900SSie, but plenty of other Bologna bombshells have donated their parts to bring this trophy winner to life.
If you happen to be lucky enough to own multi motorcycles and ride everyday then the chances are you have a more “sensible” bike, maybe even a stock modern machine, to get you around on weekdays. But when you run a custom bike shop even your everyday ride is going to be something different, you might use it for the commute to work or the lunch time dash to the bakery, but it’s still going to be something a little special. For Tommy Rand, Co-Founder of Relic Motorcycles from Aarhus, Denmark, he wanted his own daily machine to be something timeless, a bike that would survive every fad and trend and still be able to ride it in his old age. With a love for the bikes and everything that was motorcycling in the 1970’s and Relic describing themselves as “experienced bike-builders who favour and restore Japanese bikes from the 70’s & 80’s,” a classic cafe racer based on a 1980 Yamaha XS650 made perfect sense.
They say there is more than one way to skin a cat, which is both true and also a very disturbing thought when you think about it. But hot on the heels of yesterday’s sensational Radical Guzzi project comes another machine from Germany, also with factory backing and built for exactly the same competition. While it’s essentially a design competition in which members of the public vote online, many of the bikes in Essenza also compete at the Glemseck 101 sprints. The rules are simple. Pure bikes. No Dragsters. Two Wheels. Two Cylinders. A maximum of 1200cc. And while BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi and other factories handed over their premium products to builders for the competition, Suzuki Germany chose to give a new entry-level SV650 to the one and only Rolf Reick of Krautmotors. This is what he delivered; it’s a two-in-one machine he calls the “Little Bastard”.
Pedigree and history. They are two buzz words that are often thrown around by marketing departments to sell a new model of a motorcycle that shares perhaps a single bolt with the racing machine that actually earned those titles of honour and respect. But when it comes to Moto Guzzi, they have always remained a company that didn’t need to play with words to sell their bikes; they sell themselves by maintaining the pure essence of 95 years of creation and the sort of respect that comes from dominating motor racing whenever the factory rolled out the big guns. Always looking to reward their fans, whose loyalty is never questioned, the owners of Guzzi decided to team up with one of their very best service partners to create a little something special. From Radical Guzzi in Germany, here’s a whole lot of heritage and horsepower in one stand-out package – the project MGR 1200.
Somewhere in Kobe, Japan, a man named Shoichiro Irimajiri is sitting quietly with a satisfied smile on his face and the sort of grin that says “I told you so”! Not only is he the man behind the legendary Honda CBX Six Cylinder that now commands premium prices by collectors he’s also responsible for the CX500, once derided as the “Plastic Maggot” it’s now the base of some of the very best custom motorcycles built to date. It seems even the good folks in the Honda marketing department knew it might be a while for the potential of the CX to catch on “First into the Future!” was the pitch, but after years as a lowly commuter bike some are taking the Honda to the levels it always deserved. One such company is BBCR Engineering and their latest ride, a 1978 Honda CX500 known as BBCR507, shows the enormous potential that’s always lurked under the maggot’s skin.