You know it’s going to be a good birthday when your moto-loving better half asks you to close your eyes and leads you out the front door towards the driveway. But there’s always that nagging doubt. What if, in your heart of hearts, you don’t like the surprise bike? There’s no accounting for taste, and that goes double for us know-it-all custom bike ‘experts’. But there’s one thing for sure, if anyone with a skerrick of taste found this red, white and blue bad boy in their driveway come their birthday morn, they’d be one seriously happy camper. And that’s just what happened, thanks to Michael Mundy and his Florida-based Steel Bent Customs.
We all know the story. Yamaha’s XV series of the late 70s and early 80s scared Harley so much, they successfully lobbied the Reagan government to impose import duties on all ‘large foreign motorcycles’. If only they’d known about those starter motors… But what if the two brands had made love and not war? It’s an idea that led Seattle’s Darrick Bartley to create this little Milwaukee via Shizuoka lovechild, which also happens to be the very first product of his new Blank Slate Cycles shop. Moto baby shower, anyone?
Imagine you’ve built the bike that sits before you, pouring your heart and soul into the creation of a classic custom ordered by a meticulous client who collects vintage Porsches. Such is your attention to detail that each machine upon completion is stripped, every bolt re-torqued and over a thousand parts double checked. Then, just as you are ready to deliver your masterpiece, a single clutch plate sticks. Unwavering in his commitment to perfection Axel Budde of Hamburg’s Kaffee Maschine doesn’t try an easy fix with a few heavy dumps of the clutch. Once again he does a full tear down of the machine and you start to appreciate the genius and devotion that emerges in the form of his latest build, KM21 a classic cafe racer from a 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II.
There was a time when British bikes of the ’60s could be had at a wrecking yard for chump change and the old scallywag behind the cash register was happy to see them go. But those days are over, as all that is old and oily is somehow new again with a steep price tag to match. The task is even more difficult when the object of your desire is a rare factory racer and crashing it first time out at turn two could be the most expensive ten seconds of your life. So Steve Bright from Washington State, USA, has done the smartest thing a man in his position could do. Taken a 1967 BSA B441 Victor Enduro and turned it into a factory works replica racer that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the privateer’s paddock of the day.
While the ’60s and ’70s produced many of the motorcycles that would go on to be part of the custom motorcycle revival we live through now, it was also the golden age of sports car racing. The period is remembered by most for the early dominance of Ferrari and the famous fight back of Ford’s GT40. But for many proud Italians, the short-lived Ferrari 512M holds a special place in their hearts and Christian Moretti of Plan B Motorcycles wanted to pay it a fitting tribute. So when the right customer came along with another special Italian of the era the planets had perfectly aligned. It’s no replica, they prefer resto-racer, a Benelli 354 sport built as a tribute to the 512M with raw Italian pride.
Clearly, France’s Bad Winners never sleep. Either that, or they have a rather serious amphetamine problem. Why, you ask? Because here you have their third new bike in five weeks. Seriously. This time it’s a superbly timeless Honda CB400T build that looks as good now as it will when cars start flying and mobile phones can out-think you in a chat about French Existentialism. They call it ‘Raw to Raw’. We call it our new addiction.
Life can be a lot like a game of Texas Hold’em, you can’t determine which cards you’ll get dealt, but what you do with them and how you play that hand is down to you. It’s something we instinctively know and why so often we find ourselves cheering for the underdog, knowing their victory was hard-earned. It’s fair to say that Maxime Montaggioni didn’t get dealt Aces, he is missing his right arm; but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a World Champion Snowboarder and winning Gold in Taekwondo. But racing down mountains and kicking people in the face just wasn’t enough adrenaline. So he’s commissioned fellow Frenchman Lionel of Duke Motorcycles to build him a steed of speed based on 1993 Honda XR600, appropriately named Mad Max.
Motorcycles have an amazing way of getting under your skin. It seems that no matter how hard you try to forget about them, they’ll always bubble to the surface one way or another. For California’s Fernando Cruz, college and his own business took over from his love of bikes, but sure enough fate stepped in and the result was a slow and steady re-entry in motoland that finished with a racing job, an award from the Quail Motorcycle Gathering and this amazing Yamaha XS750, built with his employer, Meen Motorsports.
For the tiny percentage of road-going vehicles that motorcycles make up, it’s kind of cool just how many different types there are to choose from. You can take your pick of v-twins, singles, flat twos, flat fours, triples and, if classic Japanese bikes float your moto-boats, inline transverse fours. While they all have their own unique feels, between-the-knees width is the dominant vibe that these Nippon beasts impart. Like riding a racehorse or taking a tumble in the hay with a larger lover, these bikes are all about their bountiful girth. And while Tommy from Germany’s Schlachtwerk is kind of new to Japanese fours, he’s liking them more and more. Here’s his ‘Dicke Berta’ or ‘Big Bertha’ Kawasaki Zephyr 750.
Dreams can’t be forced, they evolve and as much as we might hope that the object of our desire appears instantly before us it rarely if ever eventuates. Instead dreams take a series of twists and turns and only time reveals if they will live up to all we had hoped for; too often we awake disappointed. So to ensure total satisfaction Gregg Miner, Co-Founder of Speed Craft Co, decided to control his subconscious trance and lay his hands on mechanical metal. From the bare bones of a 1974 Ducati 860 GT comes this Bologna beautiful cafe racer crafted in Southern California.