Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots.
Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!
Words by Marlon Slack.
I admire the Canadians. They’re a resilient, resourceful people with a long and proud reputation of overcoming adversity. Whether it be thriving in the barren wilderness of the North, co-existing with man-eating bears or having to live alongside French Canadians, they always seem to make the best of the difficult circumstances the Gods have dealt them. KickMoto in Halifax, Nova Scotia continue this long trend of Canuck determination by producing this tidy little café racer. It’s their first commissioned build and if the quality of this 1978 Honda CB550K is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be their last.
We are happy to introduce a new writer at the ‘House of Burning Pipes’. Marlon Slack is our latest recruit and we’re happy to have him on board for the ride.
Tattoo Custom Motorcycles have taken this 1972 R75/5 – a traditional, commuter-style bike – and turned it into a neat scrambler with a few particularly nice, subtle touches. There’s quite a few boxer engine custom bikes kicking around these days, but it wasn’t always the case. Eight years ago I sat in the café attached to Deus Ex Machina and between bites of breakfast and the occasional superior scowl I tried to throw at the Deus clientele, the side doors opened and a mechanic wheeled in a BMW R65, propping it up in a window display that overlooks the cafe. Behind me an older guy looked up at the motorcycle with a scowl. ‘Please,’ he groaned, ‘we’re trying to eat.’
In the Nineties Ducati brought back the Super Sport SS range that had been such a success for the marque in the seventies with the now enormously popular classics the 750ss and 900ss. But while there was nothing particular wrong with the 1990’s version the Monster and top of the line superbikes were dominating Ducati’s sale, perhaps if they’d built their SS like Moto Studio built “Racer 5” sales success would never have been a problem.
‘英’ is the Japanese Kanji character for ‘great.’ It also happens to be the character that the Japanese use for ‘England’. See, when Japan first properly met the British, the poms were in the midst of creating the modern world with their fancy Industrial Revolution. And for a country that had closed itself off to the outside world for over two centuries, Japan-san was clearly impressed. To Japanese eyes, British steam trains were technology from 200 years in the future; similar to you or I seeing a motorcycle from 2214. So what better name than ‘Great’ for a country that could do that? Kind of how we feel when we see the latest creation from dear ol’ Blighty. Introducing Old Empire Motorcycles’s latest revolution, ‘Typhoon’.
Let’s face it; the whole car-to-bike custom crossover thing isn’t exactly hot news. We’ve all seen the evidence. The Gulf Oil paint jobs. The Ayrton Senna tribute builds. The hotrod-inspired Harleys. But for the more inquisitive builders out there, there’s still many untapped sources of four-wheel inspiration left if you look hard enough. And for Alan Stulberg from the renown Revival Cycles in Texas, the style for his latest build was obvious. “Sure, it’s not a 80’s Ferrari and Moto Morini never built a GTS model, but it’s what we wanted – a bike with a little 80’s Ferrari passion.” Here’s the bike Magnum P.I. would have ridden if he had better taste – Revival’s Moto Morini “GTS”.
“Art” is a word thrown around in the presence of many a creative human endeavour. Which is all good and well if your area of interest is music, painting and the like. And that’s because those particular means of expression require you to start with nothing before you have something. But when it comes to custom motorcycles, this is all flipped on its head. Why, you ask? It’s because 99% of all custom bike builds start with a factory-finished product that is subtracted from and tweaked until what’s left is deemed “finished.” But not this bike. This bike has been hewn from raw materials the way an alchemist might create precious metals from base elements. This is the latest bike from Los Angeles’ Hazan Motorworks. This is art.
When it comes to modern production bikes, it’d be hard to deny that Ducati have put some serious runs on the eye candy scoreboard. Whether it be in GT, Paul Smart, or even faired ‘S’ version, the Ducati Sport Classic is oft-cited as being the pinnacle of modern-meets-retro bike design. But let us remind you of another Pierre Terblanche Ducati design. This one’s a much rarer bird than the Sport Classic, but what it lacks in multitude it more than makes up for with the sheer boldness of its 70s-inspired design. It’s the limited edition Ducati MH900E. And as if that wasn’t enough, this example has been tweaked to produce what we think is one of the best-looking bikes we’ve seen all year.
Written by Martin Hodgson
Building a custom motorcycle that does one thing well is an achievement in of itself, building a custom motorcycle that is capable of being three different bikes is exceptional, from a first time builder it is a Herculean effort. This Guzzi is an automotive piece of sculpture, built for breaking records on the salt flats and registered for the road, it’s three bikes in one and it completes each task with flawless perfection.
“If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” That’s what my Dad often says. But quite obviously, my Dad has never met Pennsylvania’s Dan Daughenbaugh. And if he had, he would undoubtedly have even more sage-like advice to dispense on exactly how Dan is going about his attempt at a world land speed record. There’s the barbecued third-hand engine. The less-than-perfect welds and the drain pipe exhausts. And let’s not forget the tangled mess of un-aerodynamic cabling right up there where the wind hits the bike. But you know what? If I were to attempt to build and run a land speed bike of my own, this is exactly how I would want it to be. What’s that, Dad? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the roar of the crowd celebrating my amazing victory.