There’s precious few motorcycles that manage to make it all the way to the top. And I’m not talking about the top of sales, races or popular culture. I’m talking about bikes that obtain something altogether more legendary. Bikes that are spoken about in hushed tones. Bikes that they build museums to house. The bikes that changed motorcycling. Burt Munroe’s Indian was one. The Brough Superior is another. And without a shadow of a doubt, Giulio Cesare Carcano’s 1955 Moto Guzzi, aka ‘The Otto’ can take its seat at the table, too. Ahead of its time and earning a reputation as a widow-maker, the bike’s moment in the limelight was to be short-lived. But with this injustice squarely in their sights Amsterdam’s Numbnut Motorcycles, in conjunction with Gannet Design in Switzerland and Vanguard Clothing decided it was time for the legend to make a comeback.
If you could go into the future to see which motorcycles would become classics you could make a hell of a fortune; if I had a DeLorean and some Plutonium I’d give it a try. Those who’d picked up Honda CX500s or BMW R series bikes for pocket change are now cleaning up and if you’d mothballed a Z1, a K0 or a CBX you can now add an extra zero to what you paid for it. Of course it’s never that easy or we’d all be rich but with Triumph going from strength to strength the early Hinckley Trumpets could be one of the future classics to keep an eye on. Fresh from their Ducati Scrambler success at World Ducati Week Russell Motorcycles are back with an old friend, a 1998 Triumph Speed Triple, that’s now a retro racer.
There was a time when only two things wore raw shields of smoothed out aluminium, UFO invaders cutting through the sky to attack earth as narrated by Orson Welles and the race bikes of the big manufacturers that were as equally alien to the visuals of a real road bike. It was a time when the imagination was the only limiting factor, rules and regulations not strangling the mind as they do today and allowed the likes of Isaac Asimov to amass a portfolio of more than 500 science fiction works. It was while reading Asimov’s famous Foundation Series that Markus Pintzinger came across the name of a micro food exporting Mycogenian known as ‘Sunmaster 14’ and decided it would make the perfect name for a future build. As the head honcho at Omega Racer in Thailand, Markus finally got a chance to use the name on a build befitting the era as he turned a ‘98 Yamaha SR400 into an aluminium shielded racer ready to descend from the skies and take over the Bangkok streets.
With the Isle of Man TT over for another year the wee little island in the Irish Sea returns to its quiet self once again, but for those new to the sport they may be unaware that the TT was once part of the Grand Prix World Championship. Boycotted in the ’70s by some high-profile riders because of safety concerns the GP circus moved to mainland England, but it wasn’t the only road race to disappear from the GP calendar. As a young lad in Finland, Ville Hänninen used to attend another hay bale lined “circuit”, the famous streets of Imatra and watch the 500cc two-strokes go wild. But one bike and one machine always caught his eye, the American taking it to the almost exclusively European pack, the King Kenny Roberts and his Black and Yellow Yamaha. To bring his childhood back to life Ville has pieced together a stunning Yamaha XV750 that has the wild Imatra road racer look down pat!
The deafening chorus of engines scream by. The crowd collectively gasp, as legendary Grand Prix World Champion, Barry Sheene dangerously cuts up his opponent’s inside but somehow manages to slips back in, just ahead of them into the corner. Sheene cheekily flips his opponent his signature two finger “up yours!” from the hip, then roars on to take the checkered flag. Crossing the finish line, he holds up the same two fingers, this time in a victory sign – men, women and children (not to mention several supermodels) fell in love with the ballsy little “Cockney Rebel”. A rebel who continues to inspire the world of motorcycling today. Petros Chatzirodelis of Jigsaw Customs in Greece is clearly one of the inspired. With the vision of creating a modern-day retro inspired tribute to the legendary rider, Petros took styling cues from Sheene’s iconic 1980 “AKAI” Yamaha YZR 500 to create ‘The Missing Piece’ – a Yamaha XJR Heritage Racer worthy of the great man himself.
Evolution always seems slow for the living. They are blissfully unaware of any new creatures rising up, until a swarm of better beasts takes them down as they are going about their daily business. From the post war Hogs on the interstates in the USA to the Motorway Cafes of a Rockin’ ‘60s Great Britain, the commuter class that was previously afraid of us has grown accustomed to these stalwarts of the custom motorcycle scene, as generations of bike builders have followed their founder’s leads. But in an increasingly urbanised world, a new animal has emerged from the city streets of Munich; two of its favourite sons have joined forces to put their signature touches on Bavaria’s most famous brand and created a revolution, codenamed ‘DA#4’. Prepare to witness first-hand the birth of the ‘Neo-Racer’ genre.
A Renaissance man can do it all, and Curtis Miller from Ardent Motorcycles in Milford, Michigan is practically Da Vinci with a thumping V-Twin between his legs. Forget about riding bikes as a kid, Curtis didn’t own a motorcycle until he was 56 years old but once he’d thrown his leg over a Harley Sportster and hit the road he was hooked and began to discover a new art form. Which is exactly what he has always done, a holder of a Bachelor of Fine Arts he’s been self-employed his whole life, first building furniture, then as a computer animator and a photographer but along the way he’s also built everything from classical guitars to a wooden kayak and even radio controlled gliders. So when the motorcycle bug hit it was only a matter of time before Curtis was building them from scratch and this hand-built machine known as “The Grand Prix” powered by a 2009 Sportster engine is his latest creation.
Hot on the heals of their 1 Show winning, twin turbo’d, controversy stirrin’ R100, Boxer Metal have graced our eyeballs yet again with this, their latest creation. Riding high on the current wave of love for all things boxer, the shop seems like they can do no wrong. And, as if to rub that fact in our appreciative little biker faces, they’ve gone and topped the untoppable. Sure, those two turbos would be a real damn hoot for a while… but what happens when you start to miss carving up the corners? This happens. It’s 70s. It’s orange. It’s fared to within an inch of its 42-year-old life. It’s Boxer Metal’s beautiful R90S.
The custom bike scene is full of builders pumping out café racers, trackers, bobbers, scramblers and just about anything imaginable. Yet Chris Canterbury, founder and owner of Boxer Metal in California, still managed to knock one out of the park with his fantastically unique 1980 BMW R100 twin turbo build. “We were excited to attend the One Moto Show in Portland again, but the bike that would have been perfect for it was already packed up and shipped to Guatemala,” says Chris. It didn’t make things easier that the One Moto Show was merely 7 weeks away. Not afraid of a challenge, Chris set out to not only build a bike for the show, but to build a BMW that would really stir things up. It takes a great deal of engineering and ingenuity to fuse one turbo to any bike, but two is more than any kid could ever wish for.
For a man known as ‘Engineered to Slide’, Nigel Petrie certainly gets how to go seriously fast in a straight line. He also knows a good idea when he sees one. Since 2010, he has used his web presence under the E.T.S. banner to share his ideas, showcase his endless automotive creations and be a place where like-minded creative spirits can push each other to new heights. His latest venture is this Salt Flat Racer based on a 2012 KTM 350 SX-F, but his ground breaking Hilux Drift Ute is perhaps the vehicle that truly put Nigel on the map and spawned a documentary about its build and exploits known as Dream.Build.Drive. So it made perfect sense that as he began this new adventure to concur a land speed record that the cameras would once again be rolling. The results, a movie called Flats, will soon be released. But first, the bike…