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.
You may remember recently when we teamed up with Cam at Stories of Bike to create a video called ROADS WE RIDE for Transport for NSW’s motorcycling safety initiative. Here’s the third one in the series, and we’re thinking that it’s the best so far.
The rise and rise of eighth mile sprint racing in Europe has proved a real goldmine for those of us interested in custom drag bikes. Shops from all across Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy are now feverishly building bigger and better bikes while drafting increasingly skilled riders to see if they can’t make it to the top of this new league. One such hive of speed is South German shop Kraftstoffschmiede, owned and run by Philipp Ludwig. And this lower-than-low Beemer beast is his latest masterful creation.
The Northern Italians are nothing if not industrious. With a veritable army of famous brands to their name, there’s nary a person on the planet that wouldn’t have heard of them. But while names life Ferrari and Ducati steal the limelight, there’s also plenty of smaller companies that you may not have heard of. One such operation is Milan’s Vertemati. Started in 1993 by brothers Alvaro and Guido, they quickly gained mythical status in Motocross circles. OMT’s Marco Troiano, who raced the bikes in the ‘99 Italian Supermoto Championships, decided to pay tribute to the brand with a Vertemati custom bike he calls ‘Super Light’.
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.