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.
Not every project is a smooth one, they can start and be halted for months at a time, life gets in the way, parts can be hard to find and when you finish you can still be left with doubts as to whether you’ve achieved your goal. So after years of preparation there could be no more intimidating place on the planet to debut your custom Ducati than at the annual World Ducati Week amongst the fanatical Ducatisti. But Marco Graziani needn’t have worried as his CC Racing Garage custom cafe racer took out the top prize in the Ducati Garage Contest at the 2016 WDW and also took home the trophy from the riders’ jury, consisting of Davide Giugliano, Danilo Petrucci and Eugene Laverty, who presented him with the sought-after Ducati riders’ award. It might have started life as a 2001 Ducati 900SSie, but plenty of other Bologna bombshells have donated their parts to bring this trophy winner to life.
They say there is more than one way to skin a cat, which is both true and also a very disturbing thought when you think about it. But hot on the heels of yesterday’s sensational Radical Guzzi project comes another machine from Germany, also with factory backing and built for exactly the same competition. While it’s essentially a design competition in which members of the public vote online, many of the bikes in Essenza also compete at the Glemseck 101 sprints. The rules are simple. Pure bikes. No Dragsters. Two Wheels. Two Cylinders. A maximum of 1200cc. And while BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi and other factories handed over their premium products to builders for the competition, Suzuki Germany chose to give a new entry-level SV650 to the one and only Rolf Reick of Krautmotors. This is what he delivered; it’s a two-in-one machine he calls the “Little Bastard”.
Pedigree and history. They are two buzz words that are often thrown around by marketing departments to sell a new model of a motorcycle that shares perhaps a single bolt with the racing machine that actually earned those titles of honour and respect. But when it comes to Moto Guzzi, they have always remained a company that didn’t need to play with words to sell their bikes; they sell themselves by maintaining the pure essence of 95 years of creation and the sort of respect that comes from dominating motor racing whenever the factory rolled out the big guns. Always looking to reward their fans, whose loyalty is never questioned, the owners of Guzzi decided to team up with one of their very best service partners to create a little something special. From Radical Guzzi in Germany, here’s a whole lot of heritage and horsepower in one stand-out package – the project MGR 1200.
Motorsport has always played a critical role in both the custom car and bike scene; at some point the need for speed gets so extreme the track is the only place to express it. The NHRA might now sanction the F1 equivalent of drag racing but as the name suggests it all started with a bunch of guys and their hot rods. In the custom bike scene everything from the Classic TT at the Isle of Man to the resurgence of Flat Track racing and the modern-day Burt Munro’s at the salt lakes, racing and custom bikes are once again going hand in hand. The latest phenomenon and particularly popular in Europe is sprint racing, run over an 1/8th mile drag strip events like the Glemseck 101 near Stuttgart are creating a hell of a buzz. For Tom Thöring of Schlachtwerk the draw was just too strong to resist and his nitrous slurping 1981 Yamaha TR1 is ripping up the strip and collecting the top prize.
Whatever the sport, the hobby or industry for it to have long-lasting success and be something others are drawn to like a moth to a flame you need big personalities with an unwavering passion and endless enthusiasm to drive it forward. In the custom bike scene of Germany one such man is Rolf Reick, a.k.a. Mr Krautmotors, who is involved at every level and never seems to run out of new ideas. The graduate industrial designer and head of a school for product design and multimedia in Mannheim can be found doing everything from organising events, to printing t-shirts and building bikes, but what truly gets his own heart pumping is the increasingly popular sport of sprint racing. Pitting man and machine against one another over an 1/8th mile drag race, Rolf comes to the party with his Krautmotors No. 5, a 1937 BMW R5 packing bulk Bavarian BHP.
If there’s one shop that has stood head and shoulders above all others in 2016, it would have to be Munich’s Diamond Atelier. Their plethora of 2016 builds, including the jaw dropping ‘DA#4’ we featured in April, have shone bright across the scene. And although they would be well within their right to rest on their laurels, they have yet another brand new bike to show us. So here’s Diamond Atelier’s Tom Konecny to tell us about this, their amazing ‘DA#7’ BMW R100R, in his own words.
When carbon fibre comes up in a motorcycle spec sheet, it’s usually in the accessories section where you can expect to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a pair of carbon fibre mirrors or number plate stays that save just a fraction of a kilogram. But the Dutch built VanderHeide bike is a different animal altogether; this is motorcycle exotica at its finest and perhaps the most revolutionary machine built since the world-renowned Britten that saw its development cut tragically short by the death of its Kiwi creator. So Dutch brothers Rolf and Sjors van der Heide have picked up the baton and run with it, and the result is a full carbon fibre monocoque framed, superbike engined, centre shock sporting “Gentleman’s Racer” that is taking the world by storm and wowing the crowds at the Goodwood Festival, where world-class machinery is simply a requirement for entry.
Automotive engineering is full of ideas that must have seemed great at the time but in the cold, hard light of day can tend to look a little less than inspired. Take Yamaha’s XV750 for instance. An unbreakable engine that not only goes and sounds great, but also serves as a stressed member that the rest of the bike is built on. True innovation, yes? Well hold your horses for a second, because there’s always the bike’s pneumatic suspension and that pesky starter motor to consider. Sure, they probably seemed like pretty good calls at the time, but bake them for 35 odd years and then try them on for size them and you’ll likely find something a little less than the next successful entry into the Motorcycle Engineering Hall of Fame. So you’ll understand the irony when I tell you that the very same engineers who designed that damned XV starter motor were also the ones who created this, the XJ550 SECA. Created for the original cafe racer set from the get-go, it’s turned into somewhat of an engineering classic over the years. And it’s number one fan? Here’s California’s Thirteen and Company to vie for the position.