Sit around a table, hang out in a workshop or share a beer with a group of custom bike fanatics and one question is guaranteed to come up every single time, “What if?”. What if we jammed a Triumph engine in a Norton frame, what if we stuck my Gixxer forks on your old CB Honda or what if we, follow me here guys, we turned a Hyosung into a race bike? Ok, so clearly some ideas are best forgotten, others have gone on to become legendary innovations and the vast bulk never see the light of day. But when Craig Marleau of Kick Start Garage in Northern California had such a moment he not only built his “What if” idea, The Taco Truck, he completed it in record time, pulled off a creation the likes of which has never been seen and won an award at the prestigious The One Moto Show.
During our recent Melbourne sojourn to ride Triumph’s new Bonneville, we caught up with Geoff and Luke from arguably Australia’s best custom bike magazine Tank Moto. After a few beers (OK – it was 8 beers) they told us they had a story we might like to share. We checked it out and were suitably impressed. So here’s Justin Holmes from Queensland’s Popbang Classics and his ridiculously cool ‘Hardache’ ‘74 Honda CB360 in his own words.
The saying “it’s in his blood” gets thrown around a lot when sons follow in their father’s footsteps. But Jeremy Cupp of LC Fabrications must have the blood of a thousand men, because to single-handedly create this masterpiece and do it from scratch takes skills surely not possible for one man to possess in a life time. But that is exactly what he has done in creating this Harley Davidson CAC factory speedway inspired machine from entirely handcrafted components and a drivetrain that is part Buell, part Ducati and with cog swapping courtesy of Triumph. Yes, really. Coming from a separated family, Jeremy had one father a welder and the other a machinist and from an early age he was building his own bikes.“Taking a pile of raw materials and turning it into something that can take you where you want to go… it doubled the spiritual act of riding a motorcycle and really got me hooked.”
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.