With 2015 disappearing faster than petrol down the throat of a badly tuned race carb, it’s time to take stock of the past 12 months and see what bikes really floated our collective boats. In this, our sixth year of making a fuss about the world’s best custom beasts, we’re glad to say that the brouhaha surrounding this weighty, exhaust-shaped prize seems to be getting bigger and bigger. But the award itself is nothing without the guys it’s intended to honour; the bike builders that bless us daily with their art and expect pretty much nothing in return. Here’s to you, you big, oily, talented lunatics. As always, we’ve revisited every bike from this year (all 180-odd posts) to count and re-read your comments, tally Facebook likes and whip out our trusty awesome-o-meter to come up with our top 10 bikes for 2015. So, without any further ado…
There’s a famous Australian ad campaign from the early 80s that used the phrase ‘the quiet achiever’ to big up the company it was spruiking. The thought was a simple one – while everyone else went about their business with the maximum amount of bragging and self aggrandisement, they were the ones that worked in the background to make great things happen. In my head, Scott from H Garage is the embodiment of this thought. He’s been a regular on Pipeburn.com since the start, and his builds still get mentions years after their first appearance. He also created his own bike show. Maybe ‘the quiet over-achiever’ would be a more appropriate title.
Shun Miyazawa is the Product Manager at Yamaha Europe and also the man behind Yamaha Yard Built. I had the pleasure of meeting Shun Miyazawa last year at the European launch of the XJR1300. Shun is a great guy and his passion for motorcycles is second to none. He also has one of the best jobs in the world…
When did you start riding motorcycles and what was your first bike?
At 18 years old I had my first bike – a 50cc Honda Shadow 50. When I turned 20, I got my first “real” motorbike, a Yamaha SR400, which then got transformed into rigid frame board tracker bike over the next 3 years.
Being the Japan-o-philes that we are, we’re usually the first ones to put up our hands when the eccentric Japanese bikes are wheeled out of a builder’s shop. Whether it be the Motocompo, the Monkey, or the Dax – if it looks manga, we’re usually gaga. So imagine our reaction when we first laid eyes the very latest build from tré cool builder Karl “Ed” Renoult and his ‘Ed Turner’ Motorcycles. A Honda XLS 500 that’s been customised to look like a Dax? I’d be lying if I told you that we put on giant robot costumes and danced crazily to J-Pop, but I really wished we had.
It’s easy to become jaded working here. Like some biking Roman Emperors, we get all the latest and greatest two-wheeled pleasures lavished upon us on a daily basis. The sweetest cafés, the plumpest brats and the most exotic trackers – all hand peeled and fed to us from a silver platter. Let’s face it, it’d be pretty easy for us to become spoilt. What am I saying? We are spoilt. But just as we find ourselves nodding off into a cool bike-induced coma, this appears in our mail. So, like a proud ruler parading a never-seen-before rhinoceros to a boudoir full of amazed onlookers, we’d like to present to you the ‘Cross’. What is it? It’s Thrive Motorcycles, that’s what.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
Over the last decade we’ve seen the return of the Café Racer, the Tracker, the Bobber, the Scrambler and many of the bikes that dominated the scene in days gone by. Now the renaissance is taking its logical next step, a return of the small motorcycle companies building limited runs of handcrafted motorcycles that mirror the customer’s desire for vintage flare. One such start-up is Indiana-based Janus Motorcycles who, in the spirit of Harley Davidson and Norton, are reviving the small to big approach with an unwavering belief in quality manufacturing.
To celebrate the VMAX 30th anniversary, Yamaha approached JVB Moto to build a bike that would become a fitting tribute to the heritage of this legendary machine. It has even become more fitting because the original Japanese designer Kenji Ekuan passed away recently – who not only designed the VMAX but also the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. We are sure that JVB Moto’s design would have made Kenji proud. We wanted to find out more than the usual Yamaha press release, so we hit Jens vom Brauck with a few questions. He is a man whose work speaks louder than words, but we did try to get a few insights out of him:
Pipeburn: Must be a good feeling to be approached by the mighty Yamaha to build them a bike. How did it come about?
Shun Miyazawa asked me when we met at Wheels & Waves in France last year. I just couldn’t say no.
Hot damn – where’d that year go? So with New Year’s so close you can almost smell the tequila, it’s time to look back at the past 12 months to see what rides really took our fancy. We’ve been doing a top 10 list for the past five years, and for the past two years we have been giving out the very shiny, very weighty Pipeburn trophy you see above to whoever takes the No.1 spot. In an art form with a distinct lack of real-world recognition, we like to think of it as our way of rewarding all the builder’s blood, sweat and tears. So we’ve gone back over every bike from this year to count your comments, tally Facebook likes and scientifically measure ‘woah’ to come up with our top 10 bikes for 2014. Enjoy.
Written by Ian Lee.
With a hot sun beating down, 45 degree Celsius heat just outside my front door, last week my thoughts drifted to the beach and how nice it would be to live near the ocean. Cool breezes, the sound of waves and a sweet ride to experience it all on. Then this bike appeared in my email inbox. Must be a sign. A sweet thumper, built with the surf in mind, this 1985 SR400 has been made over to suit the beach bum lifestyle. With a build brief that appeals to both form and function, this is definitely a bike I would be happy to ride on a sunny day. Or any other day for that matter.
There’s no doubt about it, today’s custom bike scene is a tough nut to crack. It takes seemingly endless amounts of creativity, hard work and time. And once you’ve heaped all that onto the altar of the biking gods, there’s still no promise of success. You could spend the rest of your cold, greasy life toiling away in a dimly lit garage and never sell a single bike. And that’s if you live in America. Now try rising to the top of the heap while living in a country that most people couldn’t point to on a map. Sound tough? Not for Slovenia’s Blaž Šuštaršič and his ER Motorcycles team. How do they do it? We quizzed the man recently to find out more.