There’s a whole lot of customs out there that fly pretty close to the definition of cheating. You can do up a SR500 to look like an old school cafe racer easily enough and bikes like the W650 come as a pre-packaged halfway point to a great looking custom…
What have Pikes Peak racers and WWII fighter planes got in common? Well believe it or not, they both face the same challenges when it comes to making engines work at higher altitudes. As with the old fighters, the internal combustion engine on a racing bike might be fine at sea level, but will rapidly lose power as the air gets thinner…
Mellow Motorcycles are anything but. They don’t do partial restorations or touch ups and they’re refreshingly forward about charging a premium for the work they do. Work which is consistently clean and clearly belies the name they’ve given themselves. And nowhere is their dedication and incredible craftsmanship more apparent than on their latest bike, a Ducati-Honda sprint racer named FRKNSTN.
Yesterday we had an 80s endurance cafe racer and today it’s rally cars that are setting the scene. But not just any rally car; it’s arguably the rally car. The Lancia Stratos HF with its Ferrari V6. Argentina’s Vida Bandida are, like many of their country folk, huge rally fans. And to pay tribute to the Lancia and rally’s Group B golden age of the 70s and 80s, they’ve built an perfectly Italian tribute in the form of this dirt-eating Ducati Monster.
Here’s a movie idea. A BMW that’s owned by the chief of police gets purchased by a somewhat suspect hemp farmer who uses it for ‘deliveries’. It’s then customised by a bunch of Austrian bike freaks and turned into an endurance racer for a wealthy goldsmith. Too far-fetched to be believable? Think again, because that’s the gospel truth when it comes to the history of Titan Motorcycles’ latest build, a BMW R80RT endurance racer.
Yamaha’s XV750; been there, done that. Am I right? We’ve seen more cafe’d iterations of the good ol’ Coffee Grinder than just about any other bike out there. Hell, if XV cafe racers were actual coffee, the world would be ankle-deep in espresso. But every now and then we come across one that’s different enough to catch our very jaded eyes. No points for guessing that this, the latest bike from Italy’s Kustom Special Components, is just such a one.
I tried flat tracking a few months ago. I blitzed the first-timer’s field until someone pointed out that I was riding a bike with a front brake and using it. So I switched to the rear brake, went for broke on the last lap and promptly ate more dirt than a stoned earthworm with poor self-control. The bike was cactus and my left knee has only just recovered. The lesson was simple; learning to go fast on dirt can be a painful exercise. Which is probably why France’s BCKustoms has called this, their gorgeous new ‘87 Honda XLR 600 flat tracker, the ‘Bone Destroyer’.
When Malaysia’s Beautiful Machines found themselves working incredibly long hours preparing two spectacular builds for a show, they decided it couldn’t hurt to another yet another bike to the mix. From the remains of a motorcycle that’s been an old friend to the shop comes this trick neo-racer from one of the original middleweight legends; a 1979 Suzuki GS550 they call Kuro.
The European ‘Sultans of Sprint’ race series is open to anyone with an air-cooled European twin and a penchant for insanity. Rather than just awarding points for running the quickest time down the short-range drag strip, extra marks are given for bike presentation, hair-raising moments on the track and how much the support crew drinks the night before the race meet. Having another crack at the title is France’s Lucky Cat Garage with their incredible Boxer-powered custom dubbed ‘The Bombinette’.
“Make me a Cafe Racer”. It’s undoubtedly the most fool-proof brief a bike builder can get. Jose Rosell from Spain’s XTR Pepo probably had the bike designed in his head before the sentence had left his customer’s mouth. But the next words to emerge would be akin to someone jamming a broom handle in your wheel at race speeds. “Also, I want to ride it on the beach,” the free-thinking owner added. And no, he wasn’t kidding.