Think of your perfect desert island bike. For the purposes of the exercise let’s say that this island is blessed with amazing roads; roads that you have to ride indefinitely. Suddenly all those dream rides like the Brough, Moto Guzzi V8 and the Britton look a little painful, yes? They’d be like having to share paradise with a megalomaniac millionaire or a narcissistic supermodel. You’d be better off with something that does a whole bunch of things really well, is super comfy and that will last the distance without breaking down on the first day. A bike a lot like the latest Kawasaki W650 from Germany’s Schlachtwerk.
For years now manufacturers have been offering off the shelf accessories for the vast bulk of their range of motorcycles. On new models, just like at car dealers, a list of optional extras could be yours and all you have to do is tick a box to have them fitted. Since the boom of the custom motorcycle scene, it seems each manufacturer has expanded their list of factory custom parts to almost ridiculous proportions. But is it really the best way to get bang for your buck having just forked over an already large sum for a new machine? One buyer of a brand new BMW R nineT decided there was a better way, by throwing the keys to Spain’s Ad Hoc Cafe Racers and the resulting Scrambler more than proves the point.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that you keep going back to. You buy yourself a new leather jacket, but somehow you end up riding in your old, worn one. You splash out on an expensive watch, and yet you always find yourself wearing your Dad’s old beater. It’s the same with bikes. Something a little understated can mean there’s no stress about it getting stolen or landing you in jail; you can just enjoy the ride. That’s probably why France’s Bad Winners made this; it’s a nimble little Suzuki GN125 that’ll eat up city streets while the big toys can be kept clean for those special Sundays.
Munich’s Diamond Atelier have produced some incredible, high-end motorcycles over the last few years. But lately they’ve decided to take a new approach, making a run of customized motorcycles all based around the same platform. This allows them to nut out the quirks and challenges of each build and offer up a motorcycle that’s cost effective but equally bloody gorgeous. The first to receive this treatment is this gorgeous Ducati Scrambler Sixty2.
Walking through the rows of bikes recently at a small regional motorcycle show, I got chatting to a guy who’d just finished a three-year rebuild of a Triumph 6T Thunderbird. She was a beauty, glistening in the sun like the day it had left the factory floor. With great enthusiasm I asked the owner how it was on the open road, the answer sadly is one that’s becoming all too common, “It doesn’t leave the garage!” Thankfully the motorcycle gods have given us Kengo Kimura of Hiroshima’s Heiwa Motorcycles who builds the most incredible old school customs and boy are they built to ride. His latest offering is a ’58 Triumph Tiger T110 that’s original patina earns it the nickname ‘Flavor’.
Benjie’s Cafe Racers have been selling tanks, seats and sundries for over ten years now. Most of their parts are styled after the more classic, traditional cafe bikes that we all oogle over: all hunkered down, gloss-sheened and highly polished. But this time the team have tackled a plastic-riddled 2014 Ducati Scrambler and trimmed it into this bit of motorcycling perfection.
If motorcycles were animals, they would surely be black. Trace their lineage back to the original bikes tearing around Southern Europe thousands of years ago and bet your bottom dollar they’d be pitch dark, coal dust, moonless night black. It’s the nature of the beast. Hell, you couldn’t buy a bike in any other colour until the 1940s. Black bikes just look so damn right. It’s some weird collective subconscious thing that’s buried deep in our psyches. Maybe that’s why, when we see a bike like tonight’s build from Belarus shop Recast Moto, we can’t help but like it. And boy, do we like it.
Maybe it’s an old school mentality that I should let go, but no one works on my bikes but me. Knowing you tightened that axle bolt yourself gives a little added comfort when speeds start going past the ton. But if he didn’t live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean I’d throw my keys to Greg Hageman in a heartbeat! He’s a master mechanic who never fails when it comes to building incredible customs that ride as perfectly as they appeal to the eye. So it’s easy to see why Rebel Yell Bourbon entrusted the future custom bike hall of famer to knock out a give-away machine for one lucky customer. The prize? A go anywhere 2015 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 that tips its cap to the AMF years.
Much of the criticism levelled at this new generation of custom bikes concerns usability. Whether it be fenders, suspension travel or comfort, the main undercurrent to the comments is that the bikes just aren’t functional in the real world. But if there’s anyone who really cares about how their equipment works, it’s a soldier. Hammered with rules about unwavering trust from day one, most soldier’s tools are nothing but thoroughly, brutally, unforgivingly functional. So what happens when a career warrior builds a custom bike? This happens. Meet Piotr and his newly weaponised Yamaha XJ750 Seca.
Big bikes are cool. You’d be crazy to try and cut it any other way. But as in the world of knives, sometimes a scalpel is preferable to a machete. Just ask your local brain surgeon. And if there was ever a two-wheeled, internally combustible scalpel, this is it. France’s Bad Winners has taken the decidedly meek and mild Suzuki GN125 and turned it into a scrambler that’s always sharp and ready for the job at hand. A cut above? Try a cut above and beyond.