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.
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.