The Royal Enfield motorcycle has long occupied the imagination of millions of Indian motorcyclists, and the company has earned a cult-like following around the world. The motorcycles earn their popularity because of their old school designs, the thumping engine, and a real hand built feel. But more than anything, it’s the bike’s ability to be customised that makes us love it so much. It has served as the chassis to build dream motorbikes for thousands of custom bike builders just like me. So here’s my story.
At a chaotic moment in history, it’s worth reflecting on the words of Bertrand Russell “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Russell’s logic is born out in the back story to today’s incredible Cafe Racer. One look at the catalogue of builds by California’s Kott Motorcycles and you know they can spin a spanner. But brilliant builder Dustin Kott was apprehensive about taking on the project having never worked on a BMW before. He needn’t have had any doubt, as he’s turned a once bulky 1977 BMW R100/7 Tourer into a sleek and slick Cafe Racer.
Picture the Audi logo in your head. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing something along the lines of the Olympic rings. Being a company that was formed by a conglomeration of four different pre-existing entities, these circles were designed to indicate a union. And one of those circles was the German NSU Motorenwerke AG. While they produced cars for much of their life and helped to make the rotary engine famous, motorcycles were their stock-in-trade. And some would argue that the WWII 601 NSL was their finest hour. Here’s a mint example from Russia’s Mortorworld.
In his shop in downtown Los Angeles, Max Hazan works harder than your average prisoner of war. And his efforts show – he routinely fabricates some of the cleanest, most distinctive builds you’re ever likely to see. This time around he’s outdone himself with a turbocharged 1978 Ducati 860GT, a bike that got really interesting a few weeks into the build when he received a call from his client.
We’ve all done it. Scrolling through eBay or the classifieds and coming across a bike that was a project, 98% complete. The price seems great and hey, how hard could it be to finish that last 2%? Well Anthony Scott, photographer extraordinaire and man behind Enginethusiast found out that the maths doesn’t always add up. At the time he’d never had a 2-stroke and was looking for a new build to take on. So when a Yamaha RD400 came up for sale that had been treated to the beginnings of an “extensive restoration” in his home city of Portland, Oregon he snapped it up. Turns out extensive has a different meaning to some people, but the end result is a trophy winning tarmac and track warrior that Anthony calls a “Stroke of Luck.”
The International Six Days Trial is a true giant amongst motorcycle races. Celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2013, it claims the prize for the world’s oldest off-road motorcycle race. Originally held in Carlisle in the north of England, in the Seventies it held its first race outside Europe. BMW put their brand where their mouth was and entered a four man factory team, including the renown Herbert Schek, in the race. To celebrate the event, France’s Lucky Cat Garage have come up with an amazing R80/7 that pays homage to BMW’s bold, muddy efforts during those six long days in 1973.
The more you ride and the more bikes you own, the more you realise that pretty much every bike is a compromise. If it goes fast, chances are it’ll be uncomfortable. If it’s great on the highway, it’ll suck on the twisties. And if it’s old, it’ll be totally unreliable. But the beauty of bike customising is that you don’t have to blindly take what you’re given. On the contrary, you can pretty much have it all. Which is just what the Boxer Metal client who now owns this ‘Weiss & Grun’ BMW 1982 R100T asked for. You name it, this cafe can pretty much do it.
The modern retro market is booming and where once it was a niche for a few manufacturers, it is now a profitable sector across the board. There are an endless number of machines to choose from. And while they retain much of their classic styling to appease the retro loving eye, there is nothing old school about their functionality. A Royal Enfield is really the only modern machine that gives that true vintage bike feel; chunky gearbox clicks and a bike that you ride and doesn’t ride you. Santiago García of Corb Motorcycles in the beautiful Catalonia region of Spain craved just such a machine. So he created a 2003 Royal Enfield Bullet known as “The Raven 500” – a fitting doff of the cap to classic British engineering.
The Bultaco Campera Agricultura was about as far as a bike can get from bedroom wall poster material. As you might garner from the name, it was a bike more at home in the fields chasing cows than it was on the racetrack chasing pole position. But that didn’t let France’s Freeride Moto stop them. Taking their inspiration from the altogether more sexy Bultaco TSS, they rolled up their sleeves, scrubbed off the cow cakes and made a little yellow bullet that will inspire the inner kid racer in all of us.
We’ve been told more than once by keyboard warriors that our taste in bikes sucks. But in a welcome twist of fate, that comment is absolutely correct for tonight’s ride. Why? Because this beautiful bike was manufactured by the industrial powerhouse of Fisker & Nielsen in Copenhagen; better known to you and I as the Nilfisk vacuum company. And if there’s ever a motorcycle we’d like to see brought back to life by its modern patent owners, it’d be this one. So direct from Russia’s Motorworld by V. Sheyanov, here’s a mint condition, cherry red 1938 Nimbus 750.