“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’.
It’s no coincidence that pilots and bikes go together like jets and turbines. After all, the perfect bike on the perfect road is about a close to flying as you can get without a pilot’s licence. And for Canada’s Nic Kirschner, who’s an airline pilot by trade, there’s nothing better than taking a break from his day job of screaming through the air at high-speed to speed all weekend doing the very same thing, albeit with less hostesses and in-flight movies.
Business seems good for Dutch builders Ironwood Motorcycles. Last week it was their sweet restomod Honda that garnered a great response. This week, it’s a Flying Brick that’s reminded us how no serious custom garage collection is complete without at least one example of Bavaria’s take on the inline four. And if we had to choose one right now to add to the collection, it’d be this cafe’d ’86 K100 that would get the nod.
If you’re a learner rider or like small capacity machines then it’s never been a better time to buy a new bike. With the market absolutely jammed packed each unit has to be competitively priced and stocked with features if it’s any hope of selling. But apart from a few notable exceptions this is a category almost completely devoid of soul, half the bikes look like they’ve rolled off the same production line and been slapped with a different sticker. So to truly give his client the best of both worlds, One-Up Moto Garage’s Taylor Art Henschell spent time with just such a machine until she finally revealed her spirit. From this instinctive feels he’s crafted a 2015 KTM RC390 that’s shed the boy racer image for a more exclusive design he calls “Angulár”.
Despite what your over-active imagination may be telling you, the Vampire Squadron was actually an American Airforce group based in Guadalcanal during WWII. Their plane of choice was the unique Lockheed P-38 Lightning. A ‘twin boom and a central nacelle’ design, the aircraft stood out amongst its contemporaries like the dog’s proverbials. Cue Honda’s similarly unique flat four Goldwing. A little BMW, a little Moto Guzzi and a whole lot of engine capacity, it’s a bike that still occupies the outer fringes of the custom scene. But not if Kentucky’s Scott Halbleib has his way.
Giving you new custom bike a Mafia-related name requires a certain amount of bravado. After all, portraying something that’s got your life in its hands as a violent, vindictive and possibly unhinged criminal doesn’t bode so well for your future personal safety. Open the garage door one sunny Sunday to find it in a bad mood and you could well end up riding with the fishes. Luckily for us, the Netherlands‘ Wrench Kings are still healthy enough to tell us about this, their brand new Ducati Monster cafe they’ve named ‘Mobster’.
It’s easy to underestimate just how big motocross was in Europe in the 70s and 80s. In Italy, it seems you’d be more likely to find someone who didn’t like their Nonna’s food than find a custom bike shop without some connection to the off-road art. For the Soiatti family, it was a seat on a factory bike that marked the peak of their motocross addictions. And after they kicked that habit in the 80s, father Daniele started the Soiatti Moto Classics workshop. Thirty six years later and with his son now in the picture, here’s their latest build.
For any artist there is a fine line between allowing yourself enough creative space to fulfil your passion and doing the work that puts food on the table. For Dustin Kott that involves the delicate balancing act of working at the major Hollywood studios while still giving time to his artistic endeavour, Kott Motorcycles. There is also the small fact that he’s a perfectionist, a time-consuming trait. But that hasn’t stopped him from proving you can in fact improve on perfection; four years since the completion of a Honda he called Ruby Red, Dustin’s back with an homage that raises the bar to all new heights. An elite level Cafe Racer, Ruby Gold is a 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport that’s flawless in fit and finish.