Throttle Roll feature – Words and photos by Pete Cagnacci.
If you cut Mick, we do not doubt that he would bleed oil. Bikes, racing, wrenching – he’s done it all and continues to do so. It’s a passion he shared with his son Josh, who the motorcycle community sadly lost in 2015, but the wheels still spin as Mick builds and rides in his honour.
Mick’s been riding since he was around 10 years old, after his father got him a Honda QA50 Mini bike to learn on. It was from here that Mick would also go to Castlereagh and Nepean short circuit tracks to watch his older cousin race. Mick naturally fell in love with motorbikes, and hanging off them sideways. “My Dad used to ride as well, he had a Matchless BSA and an Austin A7 single seat car – which I wish he bloody kept! He used to ride around with his brothers and army buddies.”
Last year was a busy year for Dustin from Kott Motorcycles in LA. He built a shed load of bikes – around 12 to be exact. We thought we would ask him a few questions about his love of old Honda’s, what the future holds and showcase some of the immaculate café racers he has built in the last 12 months. Enjoy…
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What’s your background?
My name is Dustin Kott of Kott Motorcycles. I am thirty seven years old and I am the owner and operator of a relatively small motorcycle shop just outside of downtown Los Angeles. My personal background is that of a Jack of all trades and master of none. I say that because I have had my hand in multiple trades, jobs and hobbies throughout my life and as I progress and grow in any one of them the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to learn. As far as the motorcycles go however, I was very fortunate to have been around them at a young age. Even more so, I believe the real privilege was to be around older men who loved machines and committed themselves to either keeping them alive, restoring or improving them and passing that knowledge and passion along. I recall being captivated by the artistry of motorcycles which seemed to be innate in them due to the exposure and visibility of their design. Also, equally as important was the mechanical truth that one has to align with in order to achieve the end goal of being able to ride and bring life into a machine. Simply put, a combination of creativity and subjectivity along with mechanical guidelines and parameters.
The theory of Six Degrees of Separation supposes that everyone is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world. In the motorcycle industry, it is fair to say the same is true of every model ever made by every manufacture to ever exist; but which motorcycle is separated by the least steps? Which one sits right smack-bang in the centre? Surprisingly, the Answer is the Rikuo Type 97; an American-powered bike produced in Japan by a conglomerate of many small companies that would later become the automotive kings of Asia. And all as a result of protectionist policies designed to assist British Manufacturers with technology passed to German and Italian companies through the War Alliances of the time. It is no wonder, then, that this 1938 Type 97 belongs to our bike-and-battle-obsessed friends at Motos of War.
Bike builders often become known for creating particular styles of motorcycles. Maybe they have an affinity with a particular marque or a signature element to their builds, such as big horsepower or amazing paint. But Jesse Bassett of The GasBox in Ohio has just one simple word that describes every build he has undertaken and continues to create. “Perfection”. If you want a custom bike built with many a corner cut in just a couple of weeks, then Jesse isn’t your man. But if you desire motorcycle nirvana, where your builder ensures every nut, bolt and washer is to the highest of standard and torqued to exact specs then Jesse has you covered. So when a customer from Maine saw this 1970 Ducati 350 Scrambler on the GasBox website advertised as a potential project he knew he had the bike and the man to build his ultimate ride.
When the custom bike revival began in earnest a few years ago, the bulk of builds were Cafe Racers based on the best of British from the ’60s and the Japanese legends of the ’70s. But as the scene grows, many builders have looked back decades earlier for both inspiration and donor bikes. For Pip Davidson, it started by joining the BSMC and with a few builds under his belt picked up an imitation Board Tracker, a bicycle really, with a 60cc mini bike engine. But it gave him an idea. What about the real thing, built from a small capacity machine, girder front end, vintage and rare? So after a long search and a winning auction bid, he found himself the perfect donor for his very own take on a Board Track Racer, a French 1948 Monet & Goyon S4J.
The name may sound like a ‘special’ Amsterdam lollipop, but it is in fact that of a truly innovative pre-war motorcycle company. Zündapp, the now defunct German motorcycle makers based in Nuremberg, had two very distinct types of motorbikes they produced. Largely defined by the periods pre and post World War II, their post war motorcycles like the Sport Combinette have been featured on these pages before. They were a small capacity 2-stroke with just 2.6hp – basically a lightweight urban transport vehicle. But before the war, Zündapp produced “Heavy” motorbikes that came under the K classification, standing for “Kardanantrieb”. What does that mean? We’re glad you asked.
Land Speed Racing gets into your blood. Once there, it digs down deep into your veins, stretches its claws and releases its barbs. It stays with you for life. That has to be true if the 100+ years of man and machine racing down abandoned runways, across salt flats and hurtling over hard sand beaches has taught us anything about this sport and those who compete in it. For once they’ve completed that first pass, success or failure, they spend the rest of their lives tinkering, designing and building new parts and machines that will get them even that extra mile per hour faster. Dan Daughenbaugh and his ’51 BSA Star Twin ‘Greasy Gringo’ are no different and he’s the first to admit it – “It sounds like you’re crazy”.
It took two decades, three attempts, and a lot of downtime in between, but when Stephen Bond found Brisbane’s Ellaspede Custom Motorcycles on the net, he knew he had just the builders to complete his brilliant 1977 Honda CB400Four restoration. See, Stephen’s had a love of the Four for a long time. Many years ago, he would buy and sell them for parts to make some extra money. Then, while at Townsville University in 1995, he found this particular example and decided it would be the perfect candidate for a full-on restoration. So naturally he stripped it down to individual components, packaged it up in milk crates and let it sit for 10 long years. Then in 2005, while living in Sydney, it appeared the Honda would finally get the love it deserved. But no sooner had he started when an overseas job offer again put it all hold for 8 more years.
Growing up in the 1980’s with a classic bike rider for a neighbour, I was thumbing through his old brochures that I first set eyes on a Moto Guzzi. I was captivated. When it comes to the old Italian marque and their unique engines and designs, you either get it or you don’t. And one man who gets the Guzzi like no other is builder Filippo Barbacane from Officine Rossopuro in Abruzzo on the exquisite Adriatic coastline of Italy. From his workshop he has built a range of Guzzi’s in every style imaginable and just like this SP1000 they’re all picture perfect and built to standards so high, they’ll take your breath away.
In 2016 Brough Superior are probably best known for being the motorcycle company of choice of the legendary Lawrence of Arabia (T.E. Lawrence) and the record-breaking prices these machines now fetch at auction. To the vintage motorcycle enthusiast they are the holy grail, the companies run of motorcycle production from 1919 to 1940 producing two of the most sought after bikes in history and a legacy that lives on in Brough Superior Clubs, an endless array of hard cover books and the spectacle that occurs when any Brough comes up for auction. But all that has been said before, what is rarely discussed is the role George Brough and his motorcycles had on the custom scene and the lessons he left for future builders. So from the collection of The Motorworld by V.Sheyanov, let’s take this rare 1940 Brough Superior SS80 Special around the block and see what we can learn.