We recently travelled 7,530 miles from Sydney to California to race in the Hell on Wheels MC Rally. It’s a long way to go for a day of dirt bike racing, so we arranged to meet a few of our favourite bike builders along the way. Number one on our list was Mr Shinya Kimura. For motorcycle aficionados, he probably doesn’t need an introduction but for those who haven’t heard of him, he started Zero Engineering back in Tokyo in the early 90’s. He then left Zero and moved out to California and started Chabott Engineering. Shinya has a truly unique style, building stripped back, bare metal, works of rolling art. Each bike he builds takes around 6 months, so usually only builds 2 bikes a year.
When we arrived at Chabott Engineering in the foothills of Azusa, it was like walking into a motorcycle museum. Everywhere you looked, there were jaw dropping machines and motorcycle artifacts. Everything felt like it just belonged, as though some thought had gone into its placement. Like pages torn out of a 1975 Cycle World magazine, sitting next to a vintage trophy and a well used set of old school wrenches.
Maxwell Hazan. If there’s one shining star on the custom bike scene that’s currently at their apex, it’s him. Winner of the Pipeburn 2013 Bike of the Year Award. Ex-New Yorker and nouveau Californian. And, as Scott discovered on his recent sojourn to the Bear State, an incredibly nice guy to boot. We were lucky enough to be able to speak to Max via Skype recently and we are proud to present this extended interview with him. We hope you like it.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
“My name’s Maxwell Hazan. I build custom motorcycles. I started thinking I’d build and sell six or seven a year. Then I kind of fell into making these really unique, one-of-a-kind art pieces. It started off really well – I built a bike, it got an amazing response. You featured it on your site and made it Bike of the Year – it was literally the first custom that I built. I kind of fell into this unique bike build thing and it’s going really well.”
You’ve got to hand it to the Spanish. They are nothing if not risk takers. While America, Australia and England get their jollies from innocuous bat and ball sports, the Spanish get theirs taunting angry bulls. Now, I think it’s fair to say that the number of combined casualties for soccer, cricket and baseball players over the past few hundred years or so would be pretty much zero. Sure, there’s the cricket players that died of boredom and the soccer players that were just pretending to be dead, but overall they’re negligible. But compare that to bullfighting’s 533 deaths in the last 300 years. Serious stuff, but probably what you should expect if you jump into a ring with a beast like that. Or like this. Wave your red capes in honour of the nastiest, most powerful bull that’s ever lived, ‘La Bestia’ from Madrid’s Valtoron.
When it comes to designing a custom bike, everyone has their own way of working. Some like to sketch, others like to use Photoshop, and a brave few will just build from a picture in their head. When Pablo Luzzi from Buenos Aires recently started Utopian Customs he wanted to approach each build in a similar fashion as he does in his day job as an advertising art director. “I prepare a creative brief to serve as a guideline and start developing a concept in accordance to that.” says Pablo. “That’s how I initiated this first project, spending hours making thumbnails and messing with Photoshop until I came up with a comp of the final bike.” Once Pablo had created his perfect ‘comp’ of the finished design, he then had to find the right donor bike to suit the concept – which was made harder by living in Argentina.
Think of the wildest inspiration you possibly can for a custom bike build. Go on – anything at all. Anything. An aircraft? Done. Hot rods? Done to death. Animals? Architecture? iPhones? Done, done and done. So what happens when you get Chicara Nagata, one of the world’s greatest custom bike builders, and give him an open brief to design a security camera? This happens. And no, we can’t quite believe it either…
There’s a reason why Australia is bottom of the pile at the winter Olympics, and it’s mostly because we suck at snow. That’s why we were lucky to have our new arctic expedition team, comprising of the supremely kick-ass Alicia ‘Motolady‘ Elfving on words and all-round top bloke Scott Toepher on lenses, to brave the Portland polar vortex and cover The One Motorcycle Show in person. Enjoy.
This year the One Motorcycle Show became commonly referred to as the One Moto Snow, and once you look through the photos it’s no wonder why. Thursday (the day before the event) an unexpected snowstorm hit Portland and many of it’s southern cousin cities. If you were driving into town that day you would’ve surely been warned of the sheer roadway mania; twenty car pileup on the interstate, general news of the sudden ‘snowmageddon’… every semi-truck pulled over to hook up their chains, smaller SUV’s and their trailers flipped on the side of the highway… cacophony to say the least. Some folks hit even rougher conditions coming in from the East, causing major flight delays and some builders to turn around and head home who were driving with precious cargo.
In case you didn’t get the memo, January 2014 marks Pipeburn’s 5th anniversary. And what better way to celebrate that with a brand new website?
What you are looking at is the culmination of more than 12 months of planning, design, coding, testing and bloody hard work. Not only does this new site make things a lot easier for us, but it’s built on the cutting-edge WordPress platform, ensuring we will be able do what we do for many years to come. And in a first for a major motorcycle blog, we’re now fully responsive, too.
Welcome to Pipeburn 2.0.
Of course, we couldn’t have done it all by ourselves. We’d like to thank Chris from BikeEXIF for his sage-like WordPress advice, the silly talented Jackson Alsop for his front-end dev skills, Brandon Jones from MDNW for his amazing design and last but not least the guys at Media Temple for their patience with our never-ending questions.
We hope you like it.
2013 has been a massive year for Pipeburn. We’ve got six times the eyeballs looking at the site now than we did this time last year. And on top of that, we’ve had an amazing run of great bikes. They were easily our best ever. So to celebrate, we thought we’d end 2013 on a high and introduce something that we’re calling the Pipeburn Bike of the Year Award. See that 2kg trophy of perfectly machined and polished stainless steel in the picture above? That’s our way of giving a little back to the scene and recognising the bike and builder that has defined 2013. So we’ve gone back over every bike to count comments, tally Facebook likes and measure absolute coolness to come up with our top 10 for 2013. The bike in the No. 1 spot takes the trophy. And what a bike it is…
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This project started with a conversation that has probably happened in numerous bike shops around the world, with the half serious words “we should add a turbo to it”. The UK based OORacing specialize in Honda Monkey bikes and thought it was a good challenge to add a turbo to a Monkey bike. Over the years they have had lots of experience turbo charging multi-cylinder engines but have never tried to do it with a single cylinder engine. “Turbos are great things and like tires, every bike should have at least one” says Adrian from OORacing. So with that same attitude they started what would be called ‘Project Napier’ and went about turbo charging a Monkey bike – which soon turned into something far more extraordinary than they had ever dreamed of.
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If you’re anything like me, you usually only wear a suit and tie to weddings, funerals and the odd court appearance – it has been a while since the last one. So it’s great to add another occasion to the list. Yes, it’s that time of year again when the most dapper motorcyclists from around the world dust off their suits, polish their shoes, trim the beard, clean granddad’s smoking pipe, splash on a liberal amount of Old Spice and google the words ‘how to tie a tie’.
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