Mick Jagger gave us a pretty good life lesson when he said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find, you get what you need.” Which is often the case for professional builders instructed by many clients to create machines that personally don’t blow the wind up their skirt, until one day that right build comes along. But when returning customer Ralph Klerekoper came to Sean Skinner of MotoRelic Custom Cycles in Hamilton, Virginia, he delivered a vision that inspired each man. They’d start with a later model 1992 Honda CB750 and allow Sean to create a killer custom with modern engineering and classic style that earns it the name The Gozen.
Sportsbikes are all but dead. After bikers realised that riding a litre bike on public roads was akin to straightening that crooked picture in your hallway with the USS Nimitz, the bottom fell out of the global market. And while the more switched-on manufacturers have shifted their eggs to other baskets, it seems that the custom builders are again one step ahead. The recent rise of seriously capable machines with cafe racer influences is undeniable. Finally we’ve realised that fast bikes don’t have to rev to 18 grand and look like a reject robot from a Michael Bay film. And here’s a perfect example, via Rob Chappell from Canada’s Origin8or Custom Cycles.
It’s easy to parrot the line ‘I don’t like Harleys’. It’s an simple trap to fall into, until you realise the huge selection of amazing customs that have been crafted out of Milwaukee’s finest. There’s cafe racers, bobbers, choppers and flat trackers aplenty but my personal favourite has to be the rarely seen board tracker style. And here’s the best goddamn one you’ll find – a stunning turbocharged Harley Evo-engined special crafted by Argentina’s Lucky Custom.
Steampunk bikes. Usually, they’re much more steam than they are punk. And more’s the pity. If the thought of a 19th Century Sid Vicious on a bike tearing around the streets of London pushes your buttons as much as it does ours, then we’ve got just the bike for you. Fresh off the bench of Milan’s Rustom workshop, it’s ironically named ‘Just Another Punk’ as a tongue-in-cheek tilt at steampunk builds. And that’s because this Honda CB900 packs a punch that is anything but hot air.
In recent times it has become all too common a cliché to call a custom motorcycle of a certain quality, a rolling piece of art. It’s not that many of these machines don’t deserve the title and I’d personally take a Max Hazan over an Auguste Rodin any day. But where most art is enjoyed as the finished product, custom bikes are often built by or with considerable input from the prospective owner. From Picasso to Pink Floyd they didn’t sit around with their would be consumers of their work and take input, they simply created. But there was a time, many centuries ago, when the well to do would commission works from their favourite artists and wait for the surprise of the great unveiling. This is the story of such a creation, VITALIS 850 by Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro, using a Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans as the canvas.
The name Atelier has been floating around the custom bike scene for the last few years, usually in reference to our brilliant German friends from Diamond Atelier. But the word is French for a workshop or studio where a master craftsman plies his trade in private, away from the gazing eyes of the public. Le French Atelier is just such a place and where else could they be located than in the city of the Louvre, Paris. Now the three young artists behind the name are ready to unveil their latest chef-d’oeuvre. A radical cafe racer that’s back to the future, it’s a 1992 Suzuki DR650 more than capable of 88mph.
Validation is the feedback from others that you have been seen, heard, recognised and appreciated. But it first requires that you were right in your approach and successful in your endeavour. Killing two birds with one stone is this outrageously incredible machine by Indonesia’s Smoked Garage. Clearly, they were wondering if they could build a world-class custom bike and if a one man scooter shop in paradise could become an international success. The answer is a resounding yes to both, and this 2015 Ducati Street Fighter 848 built in Bali is a Neo-Racer the likes of which has never been seen before.
In his shop in downtown Los Angeles, Max Hazan works harder than your average prisoner of war. And his efforts show – he routinely fabricates some of the cleanest, most distinctive builds you’re ever likely to see. This time around he’s outdone himself with a turbocharged 1978 Ducati 860GT, a bike that got really interesting a few weeks into the build when he received a call from his client.
We’ve all done it. Scrolling through eBay or the classifieds and coming across a bike that was a project, 98% complete. The price seems great and hey, how hard could it be to finish that last 2%? Well Anthony Scott, photographer extraordinaire and man behind Enginethusiast found out that the maths doesn’t always add up. At the time he’d never had a 2-stroke and was looking for a new build to take on. So when a Yamaha RD400 came up for sale that had been treated to the beginnings of an “extensive restoration” in his home city of Portland, Oregon he snapped it up. Turns out extensive has a different meaning to some people, but the end result is a trophy winning tarmac and track warrior that Anthony calls a “Stroke of Luck.”
For something to be reborn first it must die, and this particular ghost who walks lived a very short life before it was resurrected in just eight tumultuous weeks. Whatever perfect product you buy, the end result is a culmination of blood, sweat and tears that the consumer is never likely to see. But prepared to let the masses get a glimpse behind the scenes Australia’s premier custom bike builder, Wenley Andrews has pulled back the curtain and revealed the alter at which he works. Making this process even more special is the collaboration that made it happen; a collective of the Australian industry’s very best. The incredible finished product was finished just hours ago. A Wenley special, this 2016 Triumph Thruxton R racer is known as the one who cannot die; the ‘Phantom’.