You may remember back in September, when we teamed up with Cam at Stories of Bike to create a little video called ROADS WE RIDE for Transport for NSW’s motorcycling safety initiative. Well guess what? It went gangbusters, so they asked us to make another one.
Italian designs are regarded globally across many industries as things of beauty and their designer’s trendsetters around the world. Many companies might produce a product where labour is cheap but are sure to include “Designed in Italy” on the label. Asked about this phenomenon Italian Architect and designer Luigi Caccia Dominioni stated “Quite simply, we are the best” and that “We have more imagination, more culture, and are better mediators between the past and the future.” Ok then, but clearly Luigi didn’t ever see an early ’80s Moto Guzzi ride by, horrific then and even worse today. So when a lover of the marque bought a 1982 1000 SP he was quick to call on Macco Motors to let the Spanish lads turn out this beautiful cafe racer from the bones of a machine were the Italian’s had quite clearly dropped the ball.
Peanut butter and jelly. Moustaches and cops. Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash. When it comes to weird combinations that somehow manage to kick arse, it seems the world has a never-ending supply. Avocado and Vegemite on toast, anyone? No, seriously. It’s amazing. But it’s not often you see the same sort of unexpected genius happening in the world of custom motorcycles. Hell, we can’t think of a new bike genre since Go Takamine invented Brat style. That is until now. So here is Perth’s James Alkins and his revelatory cafe scrambler cross pollination. Genius? Madness? We’ve made up our minds, now you be the judge.
Whenever I think of big Honda tourers I think of the hulking modern ones. You’ve probably seen them – they’re hard to miss. They have stereos, airbags, a reverse gear, heated seats and air conditioning. Honda call it the ‘Gold Wing’ but I usually refer to it as ‘Just go buy a goddamn car’. But the earlier 70’s models are something else. They were still monstrous bikes for their time, but they were simpler, mile-munching naked cruisers. And that’s what Poland’s Cardsharper Customs have tackled – a 1975 Honda GL1000 dubbed ‘Cestus’.
When you receive an email talking about a man from a small village in Southern France who used old fashion forging techniques, a crucible and sand moulds your mind starts to wander. Is this a 19th century inventor who burned his home down trying to create some delusionary dream? Perhaps a 16th century sword maker working for one of the 4000-odd aristocrats who died in duels during the reign of Henry IV? But no. It is in fact the work of Nicolas Baux, a CAD Designer by trade, who in 2016 revived some of the oldest metal working techniques to produce a staggering one hundred individually handcrafted parts for his custom motorcycle. The result is a modern machine with historic roots, a Royal Enfield Black Bullet from his new company, Motocyclette Certifiée Non Conforme.
Cleveland’s The GasBox have a distinctive style of build. They’re quiet and understated and usually built around a classic vintage motorcycle. They make simple, textured machines you not only want to look at but touch, like a fluffy cat or that type of redhead that doesn’t have freckles. This time around they’ve produced another veteran motorcycle, a 1974 Norton Commando that’s certain to please both the custom bike crowd and bed-wetting, rivet-counting British bike aficionados.
It was the result of three great forces combining to build a beloved motorcycle that tugged at the heart-strings of the Ducatisti around the globe. The legendary feats of Mike “the Bike” Hailwood, the brilliance of head Ducati designer Pierre Terblanche and the global power of a relatively new communications tool for the masses, the internet. The result was the limited run Ducati MH900e of which only 2000 were built over a period of two years. Special edition Ducati’s have always held their value and leaving them standard is just what you’re meant to do. But Roland Sands got Italian blood boiling when he chopped up a Desmosedici and created a 200hp tracker. Now it’s Germany’s superstar builder Marcus Walz’s turn to improve on perfection, it’s the WalzWerk Racing MH900e.
The morbidly obese and slightly long-in-the-tooth Triumph Rocket III has been a favorite of the morbidly obese, slightly long-in-the-tooth riding sect for the last thirteen years. While a cruiser, many owners don’t really bother going down the custom route for their rides. Modified examples of the 2300cc beast usually just feature a pallet’s worth of matte black paint and around four hundred yards of exhaust wrap. But now Sydney-based builder Wenley Andrews has worked his cafe racer magic on a 2006 Rocket III and given it the looks to match the gigantic torquey engine underneath.
I have no idea what I’m doing. As I reach over and adjust the mirrors on the brand new T100 I catch a glimpse of an ex-superbike world champion riding behind me. He blips the throttle and with a tug of his arms has the nose of the Bonneville pointing towards the sky. In front of me, a seasoned motorcycle journalist and part-time racer weaves from side to side, scraping his pegs at nearly a walking pace.
In between them is me. Bolt upright, hands gripped tight on the bars and riding dead straight. Marlon Slack from Pipeburn – commuter, tourer, sometime weekend scratcher. I’m not a racer. I’m not thinking about stoppies or wheelies or burnouts. What am I thinking? Don’t Drop The Bike.
In ancient feudal Japan, a rōnin (or in Japanese, 浪人 – literally meaning ‘wave man’) was a samurai warrior with no master. A samurai usually became ‘masterless’ from the death of his master, or after the loss of his master’s trust. Thus he would be condemned to wander like a wave wanders the ocean. And while the noun has become the stuff of adolescent male fantasy over the past 30 years with visions of mercenary assassins who answer only to themselves, the truth is far more mundane. Rōnin were wanders with no particular place to go; just like how you feel on a great bike ride. So with that thought in mind, Indonesia’s Minority Custom Motorcycles have created their own little wandering soldier; this very Japanese, very sharp ‘76 Honda CB200.