You know it’s going to be a good birthday when your moto-loving better half asks you to close your eyes and leads you out the front door towards the driveway. But there’s always that nagging doubt. What if, in your heart of hearts, you don’t like the surprise bike? There’s no accounting for taste, and that goes double for us know-it-all custom bike ‘experts’. But there’s one thing for sure, if anyone with a skerrick of taste found this red, white and blue bad boy in their driveway come their birthday morn, they’d be one seriously happy camper. And that’s just what happened, thanks to Michael Mundy and his Florida-based Steel Bent Customs.
BMW’s R nineT. Most customised factory bike ever? While we’re pretty sure that the Guinness Book of Records doesn’t have a category for such trainspotting (or bikespotting?) malarkey, there’s nary week that goes by without us seeing another one slide sideways into our inboxes. But apart from two notable attempts by some guy called ‘Roland Sands’, not too many of them are honest to goodness flat trackers. Until now, that is. Brighton, in the south of the UK, is home to a big pier, some very aggressive rockers & mods, and a shop called Pier City Cycles. This is their latest build, simply called the ‘R nineFT’.
Imagine you’ve built the bike that sits before you, pouring your heart and soul into the creation of a classic custom ordered by a meticulous client who collects vintage Porsches. Such is your attention to detail that each machine upon completion is stripped, every bolt re-torqued and over a thousand parts double checked. Then, just as you are ready to deliver your masterpiece, a single clutch plate sticks. Unwavering in his commitment to perfection Axel Budde of Hamburg’s Kaffee Maschine doesn’t try an easy fix with a few heavy dumps of the clutch. Once again he does a full tear down of the machine and you start to appreciate the genius and devotion that emerges in the form of his latest build, KM21 a classic cafe racer from a 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk II.
Time for a frank and truthful admission. This here fancy moto blog, along with all of its ilk, would be nothing without the photographers. How many words would you read about a cool bike without all the pretty pictures? After all, writing about motorcycles is like dancing about architecture, no? One of Europe’s main moto lensmen and someone to who we personally owe a great deal of thanks to is Germany’s Marc Holstein. With a clear and infectious passion for photography and the custom bike scene, we’ve lost count of just how many Pipeburn stories he’s shot for us. Here’s an interview with the man himself, along with the very best of his recent shots.
It’s not often we go to Italy. And it’s not often we feature mopeds, either. Hell, it’s not often that a bike goes largely unnoticed by our crack team of moto-loving freaks. But that’s exactly the perfect storm type scenario that unfolded on our recent trip to the continent. Last month, Marco and Mario from Italy’s talented OMT Garage flashed us a phone photo of his Deus Bike Build-Off winning ‘Silhouette’ Piaggio Ciao. With our focus on the show’s larger capacity offerings, we clearly let this little green gem slip under our radar. But now, many months later, we’re smitten. And not a moment too soon.
While the ’60s and ’70s produced many of the motorcycles that would go on to be part of the custom motorcycle revival we live through now, it was also the golden age of sports car racing. The period is remembered by most for the early dominance of Ferrari and the famous fight back of Ford’s GT40. But for many proud Italians, the short-lived Ferrari 512M holds a special place in their hearts and Christian Moretti of Plan B Motorcycles wanted to pay it a fitting tribute. So when the right customer came along with another special Italian of the era the planets had perfectly aligned. It’s no replica, they prefer resto-racer, a Benelli 354 sport built as a tribute to the 512M with raw Italian pride.
It’s a dream come true for most custom motorcycle workshops; to have a major manufacturer come to you with the offer of a new bike and a request to create a crazy custom. But everything that seems too good to be true usually is and when the list of demands start to roll out the dream can become a nightmare. Never before have so many manufacturers turned to small custom shops and yet so few have got it as right as the pairing of Suzuki and Germany’s Mellow Motorcycles. From a base of a new Suzuki DL1000 XT V-Strom that starts life as a bulky Sport Adventure Tourer. They’ve created a custom carbon flat tracker that’ll do it all, from Dakar to the drag strip, they call it Suzuki-Mellow V-TRACK 1000.
Despite the incredible motorcycles that have been coming out of Italy for more than a hundred years, even the biggest of manufacturers has gone through financial turmoil. Perhaps none more so than Moto Morini, who seem to have had more bankruptcies than Donald Trump. Things got so bad, the company nearly fell into the hands of Silvio Berlusconi’s Brother. But despite all of the financial woes, when the company has been on its feet it’s produced some incredible machines. Which is why fans of all things two wheels, Michael and Tom of Austria’s Titan Motorcycles had a desire to build a custom Morini to do the brand justice. Based on a 2007 Moto Morini Corsaro it’s a stripped down urban racer for the cafe set with a need for speed that earns it the name ‘Superleggera’, or ‘Superlight’.
A headless chicken earning $50,000 a month, a female racer beating up on the boys and an Indian Scout with a 1:1 power to weight ratio. These are not old wives tales, stories from someone three sheets to the wind or plucked from an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. All these things are true and they form the foundation of one incredible machine that took home the top trophy at its first race meeting. Having been selected by Indian to undertake the build Nik, Fabien Ale and Zesi at Switzerland’s Young Guns Speed Shop haven’t let down the big American maker. Delivering a tyre shredding 2016 Indian Scout Sprint Racer known fondly as ‘Miracle Mike’.
Ah, the 70’s – the golden age of motorsport, manliness and lung cancer. That trio sat at the forefront of F1 during an incredible decade that made legends and took lives. Years later a loose collection of individuals in Italy dubbed the Milano Cafe Racers have drawn inspiration from that period to craft Ciaparat – a gorgeous 1995 Ducati Monster built to kick ass at the strangest racing series we’ve ever heard of.