In 100 years time when they write the history of the current custom motorcycle renaissance that we are living through you can be sure that Greg Hageman will be one of the leading names credited for spurring the revival. He can turn out a mean Harley, cafe a Honda and build just about any style of bike but it’s his incredible work with Yamaha Virago’s of the early ’80s that have really won him acclaim around the world; from magazine covers, to TV features and the trophies to match. But not only has Greg inspired a new generation of XV builders keen to tackle the old V-Twin he’s also produced a range of quality parts for his fellow customisers and without him leading the resurgence of the models popularity you have to wonder if the all new Yamaha “XV950” Bolt would ever have eventuated!
In the quiet German city of Oldenburg a highly skilled carpenter whittles away his days designing and crafting the finest furniture from timbers gathered from the local oak forests. But by night a darker side comes out to play, the chisel and mallet swapped for the tools of a blacksmith, here the carpenter turns motorcycle builder creating minimalist machines with the single purpose of carving up those same forests in a totally different way. Meet Marcel Papenberg who’s turned his passion and skill for motorcycle building into a second business, Box-Werk Custombikes, run in his spare time producing purposeful BMW’s from a collection of tired old machines just waiting to be restored.
The Eastern Alps of Austria must be one of the most picturesque places in the world, from the snow-covered alpine region, to the 200 crystal clear lakes and the many castles, museums and breweries to visit there is not shortage of things to do. Everywhere you go the food is as spectacular as the scenery and not only does the beer flow but there is an abundance of wineries and literally a “Cider Trail”. The only thing left to decide is how to get around the perfectly laid mountain roads and it’s hard to think of anything that suits more than two wheels. It’s here that David Widmann and his team Kurt and Manuel operate National Custom Tech (or NCT) and turn out the perfect machines for sweeping through the mountain passes or munching up the flower covered meadows. Although the young guns have built everything from a Ducati Streetfighter to a side-car equipped Moto Guzzi, their passion and pride is in slick old school BMW’s.
As part of the Yamaha’s incredibly successful Yard Built program, JvB-moto was given the honour of being the first workshop to tackle their new XSR700. Described as a machine designed to have a timeless feel, built on historical icons, matched with tomorrow’s technology for a pure and entertaining riding experience, it has a lot to live up to. But the XSR700 is no ordinary new motorcycle; it’s neither a modern bike or retro remake, but a return to the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) that combines a non-era specific look and classic design intellection. Having done such an incredible job with their first XSR700 build, known as the “Super 7”, JvB-moto led by Jens vom Brauck are back with a Scrambler version that delivers a new, raw and rough attitude to what is becoming the ultimate urban warrior.
For most of us, our first bike build is a learning experience. It’s as much a lesson in what not to do as it is discovering the aspects of a build we already have a knack for. But if there is an area most of us fall down on with our first attempt at a custom creation, it’s maintaining continuity throughout the build, particularly in the visual aspects. For Miguel Castro, his day job as a Design Director at Rosetta in San Luis Obispo meant this was one aspect where he was never going to have a problem. So what bike would make sense for a first build? Maybe something that’s mechanically simple and yet fun to ride? Something with vintage styling but still capable of carving up the coast roads of Central California? Sure, the humble Honda CL350 (this is a 1969 example) was released as a factory Scrambler, but it has always made much more sense as a Cafe Racer. And here’s the proof.
When you grow up in a city of historical beauty – the setting of a Shakespeare play and where Galileo lectured at the local university – that also happens to be one of the oldest in the world, richness of culture and a passion for creation are in your blood from birth. For brothers Diego and Riki Coppiello, it was the internal combustion engine that become their passion at a very young age. However when they reached university, art and physics became their courses of choice. But the call of the engine brought them back together and they founded North East Custom in Padova, Italy where they combine all their talents to create motorcycles like this 2007 Triumph Bonneville that focus on clean design and highlighting the beauty in mechanical simplicity.
The relationship between client and creator is always a tricky one. Just ask any designer; their customers always want a game-changing creation for nix, and they usually want it yesterday. But great work always takes time. Time, and the patronage of someone who understands that the bike builder might actually know more about, you know, building bikes. When this happens, art often follows. Art like this, for instance; the latest and dare we say greatest from Kentucky’s best custom bike builder, Scott Halbleib of H Garage.
The small state of Querétaro in Northern Mexico has always been a place of revolution and creation having been the locality of both the early Independence movement and the site of the creation of the modern Mexican constitution and it is with this spirit that comes Vitium Moto from the state’s capital of the same name. They are not so much a workshop as a rebellious bunch of builders who as friends unite around their one common vitium (Latin for vice) and build motorcycles that deliberately buck all the trends and refuse to abide by style or convention. They don’t have customers, they create a bond as new friends with those who come to share the same sinful desire for motorcycle revolt and there latest build, a 2009 KTM 450 SMR is proof positive they refuse to fit any mould.
Moto Adonis head honcho Daan Borsje will tell you that his goal is not just to resurrect near dead motorcycles but to re-purpose them for the exact demands of his customers. This leaves him with the creative freedom to take any old busted bike and turn it into anything he can dream of and design and that’s exactly what he’s done with this 1984 Yamaha TR1. From their digs in an abandoned factory in Roosendaal the team received a call from a customer in Amsterdam who wanted just such a bike, but a Scrambler built for his city streets and not muddy rolling hills. “It’s a hard bike to find in the Netherlands, but we have managed to find one and give this bike a bad ass scrambler style look!” But looks are only surface deep and when you scratch at this TR1 you start to find more than a few quality components and just a touch of Supermotard DNA for good measure.
Bike builders often become known for creating particular styles of motorcycles. Maybe they have an affinity with a particular marque or a signature element to their builds, such as big horsepower or amazing paint. But Jesse Bassett of The GasBox in Ohio has just one simple word that describes every build he has undertaken and continues to create. “Perfection”. If you want a custom bike built with many a corner cut in just a couple of weeks, then Jesse isn’t your man. But if you desire motorcycle nirvana, where your builder ensures every nut, bolt and washer is to the highest of standard and torqued to exact specs then Jesse has you covered. So when a customer from Maine saw this 1970 Ducati 350 Scrambler on the GasBox website advertised as a potential project he knew he had the bike and the man to build his ultimate ride.