They say there is more than one way to skin a cat, which is both true and also a very disturbing thought when you think about it. But hot on the heels of yesterday’s sensational Radical Guzzi project comes another machine from Germany, also with factory backing and built for exactly the same competition. While it’s essentially a design competition in which members of the public vote online, many of the bikes in Essenza also compete at the Glemseck 101 sprints. The rules are simple. Pure bikes. No Dragsters. Two Wheels. Two Cylinders. A maximum of 1200cc. And while BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi and other factories handed over their premium products to builders for the competition, Suzuki Germany chose to give a new entry-level SV650 to the one and only Rolf Reick of Krautmotors. This is what he delivered; it’s a two-in-one machine he calls the “Little Bastard”.
Pedigree and history. They are two buzz words that are often thrown around by marketing departments to sell a new model of a motorcycle that shares perhaps a single bolt with the racing machine that actually earned those titles of honour and respect. But when it comes to Moto Guzzi, they have always remained a company that didn’t need to play with words to sell their bikes; they sell themselves by maintaining the pure essence of 95 years of creation and the sort of respect that comes from dominating motor racing whenever the factory rolled out the big guns. Always looking to reward their fans, whose loyalty is never questioned, the owners of Guzzi decided to team up with one of their very best service partners to create a little something special. From Radical Guzzi in Germany, here’s a whole lot of heritage and horsepower in one stand-out package – the project MGR 1200.
Motorsport has always played a critical role in both the custom car and bike scene; at some point the need for speed gets so extreme the track is the only place to express it. The NHRA might now sanction the F1 equivalent of drag racing but as the name suggests it all started with a bunch of guys and their hot rods. In the custom bike scene everything from the Classic TT at the Isle of Man to the resurgence of Flat Track racing and the modern-day Burt Munro’s at the salt lakes, racing and custom bikes are once again going hand in hand. The latest phenomenon and particularly popular in Europe is sprint racing, run over an 1/8th mile drag strip events like the Glemseck 101 near Stuttgart are creating a hell of a buzz. For Tom Thöring of Schlachtwerk the draw was just too strong to resist and his nitrous slurping 1981 Yamaha TR1 is ripping up the strip and collecting the top prize.
Whatever the sport, the hobby or industry for it to have long-lasting success and be something others are drawn to like a moth to a flame you need big personalities with an unwavering passion and endless enthusiasm to drive it forward. In the custom bike scene of Germany one such man is Rolf Reick, a.k.a. Mr Krautmotors, who is involved at every level and never seems to run out of new ideas. The graduate industrial designer and head of a school for product design and multimedia in Mannheim can be found doing everything from organising events, to printing t-shirts and building bikes, but what truly gets his own heart pumping is the increasingly popular sport of sprint racing. Pitting man and machine against one another over an 1/8th mile drag race, Rolf comes to the party with his Krautmotors No. 5, a 1937 BMW R5 packing bulk Bavarian BHP.
If there’s one shop that has stood head and shoulders above all others in 2016, it would have to be Munich’s Diamond Atelier. Their plethora of 2016 builds, including the jaw dropping ‘DA#4’ we featured in April, have shone bright across the scene. And although they would be well within their right to rest on their laurels, they have yet another brand new bike to show us. So here’s Diamond Atelier’s Tom Konecny to tell us about this, their amazing ‘DA#7’ BMW R100R, in his own words.
When carbon fibre comes up in a motorcycle spec sheet, it’s usually in the accessories section where you can expect to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a pair of carbon fibre mirrors or number plate stays that save just a fraction of a kilogram. But the Dutch built VanderHeide bike is a different animal altogether; this is motorcycle exotica at its finest and perhaps the most revolutionary machine built since the world-renowned Britten that saw its development cut tragically short by the death of its Kiwi creator. So Dutch brothers Rolf and Sjors van der Heide have picked up the baton and run with it, and the result is a full carbon fibre monocoque framed, superbike engined, centre shock sporting “Gentleman’s Racer” that is taking the world by storm and wowing the crowds at the Goodwood Festival, where world-class machinery is simply a requirement for entry.
Automotive engineering is full of ideas that must have seemed great at the time but in the cold, hard light of day can tend to look a little less than inspired. Take Yamaha’s XV750 for instance. An unbreakable engine that not only goes and sounds great, but also serves as a stressed member that the rest of the bike is built on. True innovation, yes? Well hold your horses for a second, because there’s always the bike’s pneumatic suspension and that pesky starter motor to consider. Sure, they probably seemed like pretty good calls at the time, but bake them for 35 odd years and then try them on for size them and you’ll likely find something a little less than the next successful entry into the Motorcycle Engineering Hall of Fame. So you’ll understand the irony when I tell you that the very same engineers who designed that damned XV starter motor were also the ones who created this, the XJ550 SECA. Created for the original cafe racer set from the get-go, it’s turned into somewhat of an engineering classic over the years. And it’s number one fan? Here’s California’s Thirteen and Company to vie for the position.
In the pocket of Western Europe that includes France, Belgium and Switzerland, endurance racing is a way of life. Small teams and factory-backed giants meet at some of the world’s most famous circuits, like Spa and Magny-Cours, to battle it out for up to 24 hours straight. One such event, the Bol d’Or, holds a special place in the hearts of Belgians where from as early as 1927 the small nation has tasted success. For Deep Creek Cycle Works from Diepenbeek, they don’t only build custom bikes but come the weekend they take their love of racing to the track where they compete in the European Classic Endurance Racing series. So when one of the race crew members was after a new ride for the street, it made perfect sense to build a 1981 Honda CB750 Bol d’Or road rocket, a bike they fittingly called the ‘Bol Noir’.
The rule of three, or “omne trium perfectum” as it was first written in Latin, supposes that everything that comes in threes is perfect. As to whether it’s an old wives tale or a rule to bank on you’ll have to be your own judge – but when it comes to this devilishly delicious, race-inspired MV Agusta Brutale RR – also known as the ‘AgoTT’ – the threes just keep piling up. Built at The Deus Emporium of Postmodern Activities in Venice, California by design director Michael “Woolie” Woolaway, the build was commissioned by MV Agusta as a homage to the marque’s rich racing heritage to really capture the spirit of Tourist Trophy racing of the 60’s and 70’s. So from a man who’s built bikes for Orlando Bloom, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, comes a bike in honour of the greatest motorcycle racer of all time, Giacomo Agostini. As you can see, the number three represents more than just the triple cylinder engine that powers this red-hot ride. Much more.
There’s precious few motorcycles that manage to make it all the way to the top. And I’m not talking about the top of sales, races or popular culture. I’m talking about bikes that obtain something altogether more legendary. Bikes that are spoken about in hushed tones. Bikes that they build museums to house. The bikes that changed motorcycling. Burt Munroe’s Indian was one. The Brough Superior is another. And without a shadow of a doubt, Giulio Cesare Carcano’s 1955 Moto Guzzi, aka ‘The Otto’ can take its seat at the table, too. Ahead of its time and earning a reputation as a widow-maker, the bike’s moment in the limelight was to be short-lived. But with this injustice squarely in their sights Amsterdam’s Numbnut Motorcycles, in conjunction with Gannet Design in Switzerland and Vanguard Clothing decided it was time for the legend to make a comeback.