As far back as the time of Babylon and Ancient Rome, public auctions have been held to sell off the spoils of war, great art and some of the world’s most valuable items. In recent years auction houses like Bonhams and Mecum have seen motorcycles sold for insane amounts of money with vintage Brough Superiors, Harleys and Board Trackers fetching up to and over a million dollars. But an auction can also be a great place to buy a much cheaper custom bike with bargains to be had and rare gems offered up. It was at one such auction in Las Vegas where Jesse Basset of The GasBox met Kirk, a future client and owner of this incredible 1960 pre-unit Triumph TR6 sprung bobber. Kirk was there to buy; in fact he was bidding on another of Jesse’s creations, a perfectly timeless Indian. But auctions can be cruel and the excitement can end in sudden disappointment – and that’s just what happened here. And although Kirk missed out on the Indian, his meeting with Jesse would soon yield some delicious spoils all his own.
For all of the custom motorcycle shops that litter the globe there are but a few whose brand recognition truly is industry wide. While some rely on their logo for that acknowledgement others create machines so distinct you instantly know who crafted them. But for Dustin Kott of California’s Kott Motorcycles there is a rare subtlety and artistic vision that is hard to readily define and yet instantly recognisable. It is the work of a man who plies many a trade and expresses his creative side in rolling metal masterpieces. Often from Honda’s CB range they are infused with vintage British styling and customised with pure class. His latest work is based on the short-lived Honda CB400F from the ’70s and it delivers a level of sophistication you’d never expect from the old commuter classic.
Some brands transcend their own industry and become part of a culture so linked that one simply goes hand in hand with the other. If you mention motorcycles and India everyone’s mind is instantly drawn to the name Royal Enfield and their classic designs that have been around for generations. Enfield’s have been the transport of choice for the motorcyclist in India doing it in style, from the Brit’s who stayed behind after Independence, to the Indian Army and Police, Guy Martin on his epic adventure and our own Scott Hopkin’s high into the Himalayas. For Charlie Hallam and the Mid Life Cycles team from Melbourne, Australia, the RE Classic just made perfect sense as the platform for their latest custom and a chance to build a bike that not only looked incredible but could be easily replicated in a cost-effective manner for a limited production run. The result is this brilliant Royal Enfield Classic 350 wearing just enough of India’s most famous alloy to earn the name ‘Brass Rajah.’
Scram Africa is like no other motorcycle ride on the planet. It’s a 2500km trip along some of the most epic roads, trails and sand dunes through the south of Morocco and across the Altas mountains. To make it even more challenging, the ride is only for classic and neoclassic enduro bikes and scramblers. Scram is the brainchild of Karles from Fuel motorcycles in Spain, he wanted to build a classic looking bike that could handle the tough terrain for the recent 2016 ride. This time though, his choice of donor bike wasn’t one of the usual suspects.
Turns out in the 80s, Guzzi saw the success of the BMW R80G/S in the Dakar races, and decided to have a shot at building their own enduro bike. What they created was the Moto Guzzi V65 Tutto Terreno – a plastic coated machine that fit so well into the time period that it didn’t make much of an impression outside of it. Until now. Karles decided the V65 TT would make a good choice, albeit with a flavour of his own.
We were lucky enough to interview the talented guys from Untitled Motorcycles recently. They have been busy building bikes, hanging with Jay Leno and doing a small production run of their HyperScrambler. Adam Kay runs the UMC London workshop while across the Atlantic, Hugo Eccles runs the UMC San Francisco workshop.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What’s your background?
Adam Kay UMC-LON: I come from a fashion and art background. I worked in the design and production departments of a few high street stores helping to make sure that the original design intent was carried through to production. I left that world to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art- even exhibiting some of my work in a few galleries – before building motorcycles.
Hugo Eccles UMC-SF: I’m a career industrial designer of twenty years- almost as long as I’ve been riding bikes. I originally trained at the Royal College of Art and then spend the next decades working for the likes of IDEO, Fitch and Sir Terence Conran. A few years ago I moved to San Francisco and decided to combine my two passions- design and motorcycles- and build custom motorcycles full time.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
Head south-east out of Italy’s motorcycle capital of Bologna on the E45 towards the Adriatic Sea and eventually you arrive in Ravenna where you are transported back in time and you haven’t even had to reach 88mph. This was the capital of the Western Roman Empire, it’s where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon and you don’t have to look far to see a Basilica decorated with the world’s most incredible mosaics. But Ravenna is also home to a small workshop that takes you back to a time when great craftsman and artists worked from their small studios to create pieces that would remain on the lips of admirers for centuries to come; this is the home of Oscar Tasso’s OCGarage. It is here that he has created his latest masterpiece, from the very best materials in the world, a 1992 BMW R100GS with sidecar, it’s the incredible AVVENTURA!
Whatever the sport, the hobby or industry for it to have long-lasting success and be something others are drawn to like a moth to a flame you need big personalities with an unwavering passion and endless enthusiasm to drive it forward. In the custom bike scene of Germany one such man is Rolf Reick, a.k.a. Mr Krautmotors, who is involved at every level and never seems to run out of new ideas. The graduate industrial designer and head of a school for product design and multimedia in Mannheim can be found doing everything from organising events, to printing t-shirts and building bikes, but what truly gets his own heart pumping is the increasingly popular sport of sprint racing. Pitting man and machine against one another over an 1/8th mile drag race, Rolf comes to the party with his Krautmotors No. 5, a 1937 BMW R5 packing bulk Bavarian BHP.
Every industry has its personalities. The leaders. The entrepreneurs. The strong, silent types. The worker bees – and of course the rockstars. When it comes to the world of custom motorcycles, the latter position is more than adequately filled by the two Italians who make up Anvil Motociclette. To say they bring a little Mick Jagger and Steve McQueen to our scene is a gross understatement. San Marco and Phonz may spend their days with greasy hands building cool motorcycles with their own sinister edge, but they’ve also starred on TV, been featured in Italian Vogue and Rolling Stone magazines and collaborated with a fashion house on a line of leather jackets. But let’s not forget that what got them noticed in the first place was their bike building abilities, and it should come as no surprise that on any given Sunday they can be found racing bikes and going fast; something which their latest weapon, the “Rusty Quattroemmezzo”, does in style.
Mighty Motorcycles is the realisation of Josip Bucic’s dream. Nestled deep in the Black Forest of Germany, Josip crafts beautiful pieces of two-wheeled art for a handful of very lucky customers. He has been building bikes for 12 years now and oh boy, does the guy have skills. This CB750 was originally intended as a restoration project, but Josip’s exquisite vision saw the potential to create his dream bike, and so he set out to make this one of the best café racers you are ever likely to see – dream or otherwise.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty keen on the old motorcycles here at the Chateau du Burnt Pipes. So us telling you how we like one particular model of bike over another is tantamount to the chubby kid with chocolate all over his face telling you how he much prefers Mars Bars to Snickers. But with that said, you’ve got to admit that there’s a certain something about Gold Wings. Their unique engine. Their ‘Americanese’ East-meets-West design. Their relative scarcity. It all adds up to something that really pushes our buttons – and those of Retro Bikes Croatia, too. Here’s Zeljko, the shop’s owner, to walk us through just how this chocolate-coloured delight came to be.