I had a dream last night in which I was a gun bike builder. I was living and working in a small, picturesque American town where it snowed in winter and the streets were lined with beautiful old trees. In the surrounding mountains, there were great riding roads that seemed to go on forever. My shop was in an old stone mill; I had a real eye for great-looking bikes and a set of hands that were able to create pretty much whatever I wanted. Except that this wasn’t just a dream. It’s everyday life for New England’s Walt Siegl. Here’s his latest dream bike, this amazingly cool MV Agusta F3 endurance racer.
In Terminator 2, Arnie sat astride a leather and chrome Harley that was the perfect fit for his T-800 role. But had the studio commissioned a machine for the liquid metal T-1000, even the most creative Hollywood minds couldn’t have envisioned a bike like this. In a 2014 Ducati 1199 S Panigale, you get the same sort of technological leap over the old Fat Boy that the new T-1000 offered up. But where the stock red Ducati gets it all wrong visually, this insane alloy bodywork with its liquid-like flow would have scored a Skynet tick of approval. It’s quite literally a killer custom, and it comes to us from the brilliant minds at France’s Ortolani Customs.
It all started in the last ten minutes of a Saturday afternoon showing of Little Fauss and big Halsy. The sound of a 2-stroke road bike and that bubbly vintage road race fairing. Then a quick glance at Airtech streamlining for some more inspiration. Yes. A well-timed search on Craigslist and there it was; a rough 1975 Suzuki T500. At first it was going to be a fun little bike build, and then I would sell it for a couple of bucks. But the deeper it got, the more I realized I was building my dream vintage road race bike. The Enginethusiast ‘No.7.’
When you think about it, there’s some strange parallels between drifting a car and flat tracking a bike. First and foremost, there’s the complete disregard for traction. Then there’s the loose rear end. Hell, we’ve been to drunken college parties with less swinging rears than these two genres. So it should come as zero surprise to you that there’s quite a few drift builders out there who are also trying trackers. Our mate Nigel Petrie from Engineered to Slide is one. And here’s another – New Zealand’s Adam Hedges. With his C’s Garage drift shop, he’s teamed up with his brother at Earnest Co. to try his hand at a custom tracker build. And what a build it is.
How do you tell a master bike builder? In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s their ability to transform a bike to the point where, magician-like, you are left scratching your head as how the hell they did it. Sow’s ear into silk purse? Try sow’s ear into deep space probe. Knowing this trick all too well, Spain’s XTR Pepo has clearly decided to see if they couldn’t outdo themselves. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t just go and actually do it, too. The bike you see here was once an embarrassingly uncool ‘97 Honda Shadow. Then abracadabra, it’s now one of the best-looking racers we’ve seen all year. Look out Siegfried & Roy, Pepo Rosell is in town.
It’s the mid 1950s in Russia. As the country sunk deeper into its Cold War with the West, Soviet military minds began to realise that if push ever came to shove, they would probably need a replacement for their current army motorcycle, the Ural (or more correctly, the Irbit) M-72. Based on a brash reproduction of the BMW R71, its 20-year-old days were numbered. The replacement? Well, if pinching ideas from Deutschland worked once… So they acquired themselves an R51/3 and got to work removing the pork knuckle and adding a little beef stroganoff of their own. And then they took it racing. The result? Meet the Ural M-52S from Motorworld by V. Sheyanov.
Imagine, if you will, a nightmarish, post apocalyptic world in the future. Mad Max. Kurt Russell in Escape from New York. Planet of the Apes, but with bikes instead of horses. Now somehow in this dusty, rusty future they are still running the TT. It’s nothing more than a motley gaggle of bike freaks who clear the road of debris and dead cows once a year to try and relive the glory days the race once knew The bikes they ride? Well, we think they’d look an awful lot like this amazing Triumph Speed Triple from Italy’s Iron Pirate Garage. All it needs is a shotgun, a mohawked rider and a few more spikes.
With the circus that is the World Superbike Championship wrapping up for the weekend at the Imola circuit, Ducati asked a few select journalists to stay behind. After a superlative-laden speech by Ducati supremo Claudio Domenicali, they hit the track on the brand new 2016 Ducati Panigale R. To say that they were gobsmacked would be a gross understatement. So it’s probably for the best that a certain bunch of Swiss motorcycle fanatics weren’t on hand. Undoubtedly they would be thinking that there was even more to be had from the bike. Fortunately, their absence did nothing to quell their creativity. And the result is arguably the world’s fastest cafe racer; a unique collaboration of talents that has delivered a freakishly cool animal known simply as ‘The Blue Shark’.
Let’s just get it out of the way shall we? C’est magnifique. Because there was simply no way to write about this exquisite French crafted BMW without saying it. This machine is the answer to the question, “Can you build a motorcycle that has it all?” Many say it’s an impossible task; exquisite vintage looks, bulk horsepower with race-winning speed and capable of a reliable Sunday cruise with corners to kill. But Ludwig Ascher wanted everything and as an airhead specialist at his shop St Brooklyn Motorcycles in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, he decided to build a BMW with the lot. It’s a 1955 BMW Sprint Racer with a hefty heart transplant they call “L’Etonnante”.
Good lord, you Northern Hemispherians have it tough. The lucky ones get to ride for six months of the year and spend the rest trying to wrench on their bikes while avoiding frostbite. And the not so lucky? Norwegian Axel Mustad gets his time to shine only three months of the year. So for his 2017 window of opportunity, he decided he was going to treat himself. Enter Richard Pollock and his trusty Mule Motorcycles with a Triumph street tracker that clearly made ol’ ‘Colonel’ Mustard feel like all his Christmases had come at once.