If motorcycles have earned the reputation as “widow-makers” then two motorcycles in particular can lay claim to being the most lethal assassins. Both are ’70s Japanese bikes from the golden age of two-strokes; the Kawasaki H2 750 is the Ivan Drago-style killer that will get right in your face and club you to death. But it’s the Yamaha RD400 that takes on the true Assassin’s creed, dispatching of its kill in a millisecond without the prey ever having seen what was coming. In Argentina, the land of bike builder extraordinaire and founder of Lucky Custom, Lucas Layum, the RD400 has been known since its birth as “la Mata Hombre”, quite literally “the Man Killer”. But such is the allure of the RD and its intoxicating two-stroke engine, that men will risk death to ride them and when they look this good it’s easy to see why.
NASCAR’s a funny old sport when you think about it. While the whole four wheels thing can be a little bit of a turn-off, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a buzz out of all forms of motor racing – no matter how many wheels are involved. While any form of racing that involves a Toyota Camry painted with a rainbow M&M’s motif should ring alarm bells in any adult who’s not tripping balls, the whole gladiatorial angle really appeals. And clearly, I’m not alone. See, Spain’s Bottpower and their chief engineer David Sánchez have come out in support of the old ring o’ noise with a bike built for NASCAR driver and ex-World Superbike racer Eric De Doncker.
Some brands transcend their own industry and become part of a culture so linked that one simply goes hand in hand with the other. If you mention motorcycles and India everyone’s mind is instantly drawn to the name Royal Enfield and their classic designs that have been around for generations. Enfield’s have been the transport of choice for the motorcyclist in India doing it in style, from the Brit’s who stayed behind after Independence, to the Indian Army and Police, Guy Martin on his epic adventure and our own Scott Hopkin’s high into the Himalayas. For Charlie Hallam and the Mid Life Cycles team from Melbourne, Australia, the RE Classic just made perfect sense as the platform for their latest custom and a chance to build a bike that not only looked incredible but could be easily replicated in a cost-effective manner for a limited production run. The result is this brilliant Royal Enfield Classic 350 wearing just enough of India’s most famous alloy to earn the name ‘Brass Rajah.’
In many ways, It’s BMW’s eccentricities that make them so interesting. From the air cooling and boxer engines to shaft drive and weird headlights, there’s just something about all that awkward Germanic design that really sets them apart. But of all their unique outside-the-square thinking, there’s nothing more endearing than their flirtation with telelever front suspension. Also known as a Saxon-Motodd front fork, it aims to reduce or remove brake dive – a long-time bugbear of telescopic forks. Of course, nature had solved this problem a millennia ago by allowing the big cats to isolate their heads with near-perfect stillness while their bodies weave and dart beneath them. One such big cat is Thailand’s Black Panther, who’s clearly the inspiration for today’s BMW R1100RS by their country’s very own K-Speed Customs.
Marcus Walz has dedicated his life to racing, designing and building motorcycles from his base in Hockenheim Germany and it’s fair to say he hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s been featured on TV, in Magazines around the globe, won both the European and US Biker Build Offs and raced both on track and on the dirt. So good are his custom creations that men who know a little something about going fast, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard own his bikes and Kimi Raikkonen owns two. Brad Pitt has been a fan for more than a decade, there is a restaurant and bar sporting his name and the likes of Yamaha and Ducati have had him build custom bikes for them. So it should come as no surprise that Triumph has joined the crew and the result is this stunning new WalzWerk 2016 Triumph Thruxton 1200 custom.
There is a famous quote that goes something like this. “No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.” And yet for the vast majority of us, we play it safe all of our lives. We stay at the job we don’t love because it pays the bills. We eat the same foods. We take the same road to work and we go to the same draw of clothes day in and day out. This is where the custom motorcycle scene plays a significant role in the lives of many. It’s where they throw off the shackles, live on the wild side and do things differently with a license for freedom they don’t normally afford themselves. But one man takes that freedom even further; he pushes the limits of motorcycle design so far his inspiration is actually drawn from art, sci-fi films and a desire to reach the ultimate Zen state of mind. Daryl “Dazza” Villanueva of Bandit9 is back and his latest limited production run machine, known as EDEN, is the ultimate expression of not playing it safe.
The word ‘minimalism’ gets thrown around a lot these days. Ever since the rise of the post-WWII art movement of the same name, it seems like every man and his monochromatic dog have become experts on the subject. But I’m here to tell you that despite what you may think, most people don’t really know what minimalism actually is. ‘Less is more!’ the peanut gallery blurts. Well, yes but mostly no. Follow that logic to its, erm, logical conclusion and you’ll end up with nothing at all. A more practical definition of minimalism is to do more with less or to make the most out of as little as possible. Smash cut to a workshop somewhere deep in an Austrian winter. We see two young men as they consider a motorcycle. It’s so stripped back, it’s barely there at all and yet its visual impact and physical presence is enough to stop you in your tracks. They are Vagabund. The bike is a new BMW they call ‘V05’.
That famous line uttered by Catholic Priest Patrick Peyton quickly had a word change when it entered the common vernacular and has become an old adage in the motorsport world, “The family that races together stays together”! There are plenty of legendary racing families across all forms of motorsport who have found a second home at the race track. For the Vuilleumier family it’s a tale that spans three generations and three continents, with each new-born starting as early as four years old working with the race team and getting an education that can only be attained in the endless battle for the winning edge. Today we find them operating as a father and son team, the owners of Switzerland’s JV Performances, a shop that specialises largely in BMW motorcycles and has unveiled their latest track weapon, an early 90’s K1100LT Tourer, come stripped down and boosted drag bike.
In the mid to late 1980s Grand Prix motorcycle racing began to be dominated by multicylinder, high tech machines that left no place to go for many manufacturers who didn’t have such a base model in their line-up. To fill the void the Battle of the Twins was formed to give British, European and American manufacturers a place to race and develop their thunderous two cylinder bikes. But it wasn’t just the major manufacturers who took part, without the category we would never have come to appreciate the work of the late genius, Kiwi, John Britten. Inspired by Britten and other incredible men of the motorcycle business, Race Engineer David Sanchez started Bottpower, an acronym for Battle of the Twins, to express his own ingenuity and unique designs. His latest creation is this incredible BOTT XC1 Carbon Café Racer; an engineering tour de force that would have David’s hero’s giving him a standing ovation.
For as long as there have been motorised vehicles on earth there have been men the world over racing them and trying to find anyway at all to go faster to beat the competition. Harley-Davidson was competing as early as 1904 and Soichiro Honda was a man obsessed by racing in all its forms and his company has gone on to compete in just about every motorsport event. But motorcyclists seem to be the most creative ones of the motorsport fraternity, from racing on ice, to speedway with no brakes and flying through small towns at 200mph in road racing nothing is off limits. So it makes perfect sense that a group of Malaysian motorcycle enthusiasts decided that the beautiful Balok Beach would be as good a place as any to hold a race. Enter Beautiful Machines and their radical supercharged 1993 Yamaha SR400 built for the sole purpose of taking glory on the sand.