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.
Validation is the feedback from others that you have been seen, heard, recognised and appreciated. But it first requires that you were right in your approach and successful in your endeavour. Killing two birds with one stone is this outrageously incredible machine by Indonesia’s Smoked Garage. Clearly, they were wondering if they could build a world-class custom bike and if a one man scooter shop in paradise could become an international success. The answer is a resounding yes to both, and this 2015 Ducati Street Fighter 848 built in Bali is a Neo-Racer the likes of which has never been seen before.
In his shop in downtown Los Angeles, Max Hazan works harder than your average prisoner of war. And his efforts show – he routinely fabricates some of the cleanest, most distinctive builds you’re ever likely to see. This time around he’s outdone himself with a turbocharged 1978 Ducati 860GT, a bike that got really interesting a few weeks into the build when he received a call from his client.
We’ve all done it. Scrolling through eBay or the classifieds and coming across a bike that was a project, 98% complete. The price seems great and hey, how hard could it be to finish that last 2%? Well Anthony Scott, photographer extraordinaire and man behind Enginethusiast found out that the maths doesn’t always add up. At the time he’d never had a 2-stroke and was looking for a new build to take on. So when a Yamaha RD400 came up for sale that had been treated to the beginnings of an “extensive restoration” in his home city of Portland, Oregon he snapped it up. Turns out extensive has a different meaning to some people, but the end result is a trophy winning tarmac and track warrior that Anthony calls a “Stroke of Luck.”
For something to be reborn first it must die, and this particular ghost who walks lived a very short life before it was resurrected in just eight tumultuous weeks. Whatever perfect product you buy, the end result is a culmination of blood, sweat and tears that the consumer is never likely to see. But prepared to let the masses get a glimpse behind the scenes Australia’s premier custom bike builder, Wenley Andrews has pulled back the curtain and revealed the alter at which he works. Making this process even more special is the collaboration that made it happen; a collective of the Australian industry’s very best. The incredible finished product was finished just hours ago. A Wenley special, this 2016 Triumph Thruxton R racer is known as the one who cannot die; the ‘Phantom’.
The Bultaco Campera Agricultura was about as far as a bike can get from bedroom wall poster material. As you might garner from the name, it was a bike more at home in the fields chasing cows than it was on the racetrack chasing pole position. But that didn’t let France’s Freeride Moto stop them. Taking their inspiration from the altogether more sexy Bultaco TSS, they rolled up their sleeves, scrubbed off the cow cakes and made a little yellow bullet that will inspire the inner kid racer in all of us.
As much as I like the bikes featured on Pipeburn, sometimes I’m left wondering – what are they actually like to ride? They’re always cool as hell but sometimes I try not to think about what they’d be like to throw a leg over. Half an inch of suspension travel on the rear sure makes for a mean looking stance – but how would it fare over a suburban speed hump? That old air-cooled single pot 250 looks lean, but how far would you get on the interstate before your handlebars are being dragged out of the grill of a Scania? Well today we have something that’s meant to be ridden, and ridden hard – a custom Cafe Fighter built around Triumph’s exceptional Speed Triple R, made by Paris’s GB Motors 94.
BMW R-series customs. Go on, say it. You’ve seen more of them than Trump’s seen golf courses. You’ve seen more beefed-up boxers than a New York gym. You’ve seen more loud R’s than an overloaded pirate ship. We get it. But when we saw this little R100RS from France’s JRM Motorcycle, we were intrigued. Knobby tires? Nope. Bobber seat? Nope again. Murdered out? Extra nopes. Contrary to all expectations, this one has a road-racer-meets-motard vibe that we might just be digging. A lot.
Last September a friend’s father contacted me about a commissioned build. He had a 1983 Yamaha XS 650 Special that a previous owner had already modified quite a bit. It needed a little mechanical work, so it hit the Retrowrench side of the shared space first. Chad Francis got the basics working properly. Then I met with the client and he informed me he only had a minimal budget. He just wanted to freshen the bike up and have it repainted with the Gulf color scheme, the number 64 (which his son races under) and the JC3 emblem, which is in memory of his daughter. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.