Written by Ian Lee.
It must be said that today we take a lot for granted. Go back 80 years and things would be very different. No mobile phones, no internet, and riding a motorcycle was an adventure in itself. This was the era that Triumph deemed automatic engine lubrication to be superfluous, that the riders of their machines could be trusted to manually work the oil pump as the bike needed it. Could you imagine doing that today on your UJM or custom? This was also the era that a small motorcycle firm named Moto Guzzi came to prominence. From their initial launch in 1921 of the ‘Normale’ model, the Guzzi brand thrived and made a name for itself by showing the passion Italians are so well known for. Today’s feature bike comes from the fledgling days of Moto Guzzi, just over a decade after the initial model launch, this V model bike was born. And 80 years on it looks just as good as ever.
Written by Ian Lee.
Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
An apt description for today’s feature bike, except that the latest release from Kott Motorcycles isn’t just built for show. A 1971 Honda CB750 built literally from the frame up, this automotive art piece has been engineered to look good and go hard, with engine power to match an aesthetic that belongs in an art gallery. The almost ubiquitous CB750 making for an excellent platform to build a café racer on, the Kott workshop has taken the build quality to a new high and produced an amazingly clean motorcycle. In Dustin Kott’s own words: “the opportunity arose for the shop to implement some performance and aesthetic enhancements that had not been utilised prior.” Came up pretty good for a first time try, don’t you think?
When you’ve been building custom Vespa’s for most of your life and you decide you want to build something with a bit more power, then a 1953 Triumph 500 hardtail is a pretty good place to start. Built by Marcus Offergeld and Martien Delfgaauw of the relatively new Berham Customs based in Berlin and Hamburg. “I’ve always ridden, raced, tuned and customized Vespa’s” says Martien. “It’s not what you work on, but rather how. Because for a great result you need to be driven by the joy of doing, rather than wishing to finish.”
After happening upon an “ugly looking and pretty run down” 80s chopper with raked front forks, the boys from Berham could see potential not in the bike itself, but certain aspects of it. Most importantly, the Triumph 500cc pre-unit powerplant had the 1957 Triumph race kit with the splayed port aluminium cylinder head kit. A good base for a build, the bike was given the Berham treatment.
It’s sad to say, but we hear a lot of bike build stories and not all of them end with a smiling owner riding off into the sunset with a quality build between their legs. For Italy’s Giuseppe Pizzuto, his dream to own a classic Honda started well, and then took a sudden left turn into Nightmaresville. His solution to the problem was simple; he rebuilt the bike from the ground up. And this time he did it all by himself. Meet the Japanese phoenix called “La Bambina”.
Written by Martin Hodgson
The Norton Commando with its Isle of Man heritage and five times Motor Cycle News “Machine of the Year” award is special enough, but this particular 1971 Fastback Special has a tale that starts with the man who rescued Norton from its British grave. Across the Atlantic Kenny Dreer was the man behind Portland based Vintage Rebuilds who salvaged the Norton name in the 1990’s and commenced work on reviving the brand to its former glory under the Norton America banner.
George Kraus from GEK Restorations tells how his dream of building the ultimate Commando that is now pictured before you first came to mind. “It was an all-night drive back from the San Jose BSA Clubman Show, about 1993 or ’94 with Kenny Dreer. The sleep deprived drive developed a drug-like effect on us two vintage crazed individuals and in our hyperactive minds, we designed the perfect “Manx Commando”. To get his hands on a Commando, George designed Kenny’s original Vintage Rebuilds and Restorations brochure in exchange for a core bike and all the parts and services at cost price.
You know what they say. “It’s the simple things in life that are often the best.” And nothing represents that more perfectly than today’s bike. It’s a beautifully simple, perfectly restrained Moto Guzzi from the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand. With not much more than a new seat and a perfect eye for clean lines, Michael Dobson from Raumati’s Two Cats Garage has helped this rather maxima Italian beast shed more than a few pounds and become the svelte, beautiful bike she somehow always should have been.
Written by Ian Lee.
Motorcyclists sure are a social bunch. Which is weird seeing as the act of riding is a solitary pursuit in itself. However, many a strong friendship has been forged over a rusted bolt or faulty starter motor. And some can lead to greater things. It is thanks to this social aspect that we have today’s feature bike, Vast Moto’s 1975 Kawasaki KZ400. Created in a small Portland workshop, the bike is built on the concept of motorcycles built for the people, by the people. Being the first build completed by a bunch of roustabouts who banded together for a common cause, this little Kwaka is proof of what can happen when you fall in with the right crowd.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Martin is the newest member to the Pipeburn team. When Martin isn’t writing for numerous motorcycle and automotive magazines, he can be found either running his auto parts import business or in his workshop building café racers from bikes that usually have one wheel well and truly in the grave.
It was the era of the wild 2-strokes, from the mid-Sixties to the mid-Seventies; if speed was your thing then you couldn’t beat a screaming oil burner. But Suzuki took a slightly different approach, they combined what they’d learnt at the race track and produced a bike that was bullet fast but also reliable, the perfect street 2-stroke motorcycle, the classic Suzuki T500 Titan. Ralph Spencer had himself a gorgeous original example and motorcycle nirvana was his until…
This pretty little thing is named ‘Lucy’ and she is the 15th café racer built by Hot Sake Cycles in Orlando, Florida. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them before, but that’s probably because ‘they’ are actually a single guy named Shannon Hulcher who builds these professional-looking bikes in his spare time. By day he works as a biology teacher who dissects frogs to show kids how the body works. By night, he dissects motorcycles to show the rest of us how to build a café racer.
“I don’t have a professional shop” says Shannon. “Lucy is a culmination of skills I’ve been developing over the years”. I wanted to build an ultra light weight bike that would be fun to ride. The whole goal was to make it as light as possible” he says. He started the build with no deadline, but then Cafemoto Orlando asked him if he could finish it for the AIM Expo. With the show only one month away, Shannon got to work.
Words by Ian Lee.
There are unique bikes. And there are ‘unique’ bikes. A unique bike will catch your eye in the street. The latter you won’t come across at any show, they are generally relegated to the confines of the computer screen or magazine cover. Today’s feature bike falls into the latter category. Definitely unique, this is a one off aerodynamic-as-hell racer with an Italian heart. Looking as good as it did when it rolled out of the workshop 34 years, this MV Agusta special is the first time a sidecar racer has graced the pages of Pipeburn.