Nazis. Jewels. A large family inheritance. Bombing raids. The Great Depression. The history of Germany’s Tornax Fahrzeug und Apparatebau reads like the plot of a big budget WWII thriller. But far from it being a work of fiction, the story of the Wuppertal-based Western German motorcycle manufacturer is as real as it gets. And the bike you see here is arguably the best that they got. Meet the world-beating 1000cc III-30.
In the late 1950s Lucas, a large Birmingham UK-based manufacturer who built electrical components for the automotive industry, made a drastic change that would send waves across the industry. The days of the dynamo/magneto were over and coil ignition was in; sixty odd years later they’re still going strong. So while many would succumb and fail, the good gentleman down the road at Birmingham Small Arms embraced the challenge. What they produced all those years ago provides the heart of this brilliant Oregon-based Bobber. Forged from the hands of David Bright, it’s a 1965 BSA A50 that takes its name from your first unfiltered reaction, “Uhh Yeah Dude”.
This bike came about by accident, really. About two years ago I made arrangements through a friend to have some wheels trued at this old retired guy’s home shop. The wheels were for a CB550 build I was working on, so when I showed up with them in hand we naturally got talking about old Hondas. About half an hour into the conversation, he walks me to a shed behind his main garage and reveals a treasure trove of Honda CB750s. This bike is the result.
Walking through the rows of bikes recently at a small regional motorcycle show, I got chatting to a guy who’d just finished a three-year rebuild of a Triumph 6T Thunderbird. She was a beauty, glistening in the sun like the day it had left the factory floor. With great enthusiasm I asked the owner how it was on the open road, the answer sadly is one that’s becoming all too common, “It doesn’t leave the garage!” Thankfully the motorcycle gods have given us Kengo Kimura of Hiroshima’s Heiwa Motorcycles who builds the most incredible old school customs and boy are they built to ride. His latest offering is a ’58 Triumph Tiger T110 that’s original patina earns it the nickname ‘Flavor’.
Lately we’ve been featuring some custom rides that still manage to be clean, practical motorcycles. Bikes you can pillion on, motorcycles you could take shopping – bikes you could take to meet your mum. But just in case you thought us here at Pipeburn HQ were getting sensible here’s a chopper designed by FNA Custom Cycles run by a 1972 Kawasaki 750 H2 two-stroke, a digger so mental we’re going to get it sectioned.
Ever thought about why you like bikes? I have. And I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, the BMX craze of the late 70s and early 80s probably has a lot to do with it. As we all know, cool bicycles are a gateway drug to full motos and as I’m ‘of a certain age’, most of my pre-teens was spent drooling over CroMoly Diamondbacks and Mongooses. Jeremy from Hutchbilt knows what I’m talking about, even if you young scallywags don’t. Here’s his BMX-lovin’ ‘Skyway’ R80 Boardracer.
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.