Written by Martin Hodgson
Fast approaching 100 custom builds the Wrenchmonkees of Copenhagen, Denmark know a thing or two about turning factory machinery into one off specials. But where many rely on a multitude of bolt on parts and big dollar components WM use their vast expertise to bring to life the often hidden soul of factory bikes, make them bullet proof street warriors and then offer the parts developed along the build to their ever growing customer base. It’s not only a smart business strategy but it also results in bikes like build #74, a brilliant retro tech Ducati 900 café racer with all the charm of the 70’s and the high tech of today!
Most custom bike shops would gnaw off an arm to build a ride for biking royalty like Billy Joel. It’s the kind of job that can really put a shop on the map. So it says a lot about a builder when they not only complete such a feat, but then set themselves the task of going one better – just because they can. Welcome to the mind of Greg Hageman; one of the world’s greatest Yamaha customisers and builder of today’s gobsmackingly classy XV920R.
After five long years in the motorcycle blogging game, we’d like to think that there’s pretty much nothing we haven’t done. Electric bikes? Been there. Drag racing? Done that. Borrow a new bike from a large Japanese manufacturer and then total it? Um, we totally have no idea what you are talking about… But after all those shenanigans, there’s still one thing that we’ve never done, and that’s feature a build from Colombia. Until now. Here’s an amazing BMW from Bogotá’s brothers Esteban and Gustavo Pasquale and their shop, Garaje 57.
Great Britain and the United States of America have a proud history of building on each other’s innovations to move the whole of Western Civilisation along. While English minds may have created the industrial revolution, it took Henry Ford to crystallise the whole thing in mass production for the people. And while (arguably) it was Elvis who recorded the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song, it was clearly The Beatles and the Stones who perfected it ten years later. Then along comes New Jersey’s Kyril Dambuleff and his associates, who have managed to create ‘BLACKSQUARE’ – one of the most beautiful, and one of the most British-looking bikes we’ve seen in a month of high tea Sundays. Philip Vincent, eat your jolly heart out.
Hurricanes. Typhoons. Comets. Tempests. If you need any more evidence that the world’s weather is going to hell in a carbon-based handbasket, look no further than poor old Blighty and her Old Empire Motorcycles. The Pipeburn Bike of the Year runners-up in 2014, they’ve been suffering the worst luck weather-wise since their inception. And to make matters worse the catastrophes look set tho continue with this, their Yamaha SR-based ‘Lightning Mk. I’. Hang tight, boys. Hang tight and ride like the wind.
What’s the most common item to be modded first on a custom bike, would you say? The seat? The rubber? Maybe the ‘bars? Now consider what the most unlikely first thing to sink your teeth into might be. Actually, don’t bother, because Peter Boggia and the crew at Brooklyn’s Moto Borgotaro already have it figured out. It’s the tacho. And while the rest of us would be wrestling with greasy engines and skinned knuckles, Peter got all Swiss watchmaker on this Guzzi LeMans and followed the look right on through to the rest of this rather sweet-looking bike.
Written by Marlon Slack.
Most custom bikes are meticulously thought out for months before a spanner is turned or an oxy torch is lit. Parts will be carefully considered and increasingly often many late nights will be spent in front of Photoshop tweaking the colours and lines of a build before any action is taken. Moscow-based Elkabikes bucked this trend by producing this 1972 Harley-Davidson XLH in under a month using parts they begged, borrowed, scrounged or purchased from Ikea. That’s right – Ikea. It’s not a bobber or a café racer – it’s a Harley-Davidson Flat Packer.
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.’