Words by Martin Hodgson.
It was once a basic Honda 650 Dominator, now the bike before you is a certifiable scrambler beast, with the smile of a Dakar racer to prove it. If there is a legitimate gripe some motorcyclists have of the custom industry it is that while many of the bikes look great, they in fact ride worse than the standard item, sometimes they’re just downright dangerous. But the truth is, very few custom bikes are ever subjected to the sorts of tests a manufacturer puts their machines through. For a custom bike shop what better way to test your abilities than to build a bike for someone who can push it to its limits, a professional racer. For Estonia’s Renard Speed Shop this was never going to be a problem, the 4th placed bike builders from our 2014 Bike of the Year Award, have a reputation for absolute quality and this scrambler for a professional Dakar racer only raises the bar.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s two big trends currently taking the custom bike scene by storm: the re-emergence of the scrambler and limited-run customs by well respected workshops. Ducati and Triumph both offer off-the-shelf scramblers that do the style great justice, but simply don’t offer a great deal of performance. Icon Sheene and NCR, along with many others, offer limited-run machines that are truly remarkable, but you’ll need to sell your mother-in-law to afford one. Now French company Viba Motor has entered the fray with an incredible one-off scrambler that has performance to burn and a mother-in-law friendly price to boot.
It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers that we sometimes feature bikes that incorporate elements from other subcultures. Be it surfing, camping, or in today’s case skating, some of the most inspiring and original builds we’ve seen happen when two unexpected yet cool pastimes collide. In the past, we’ve seen bikes with boards attached to them, seats built on decks and even chain tensioners made from their wheels. But we think it’s fair to say that today’s Suzuki takes it to a whole new level, or ramp, as the case may be. So please get righteously gnarly for Portugal’s Yellowood and their DR650 ‘Skate Goat’.
The custom bike scene, like any other art form, often finds itself bending to the will of fashion. But there’s no shame in that – music, painting, dance and almost any other genre you care to name have to endure the same challenge. And while in the heat of the moment a certain trend can seem to the viewer to be very ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’, it’s often only a matter of time before the truth becomes apparent. That’s when cool becomes lame, exciting becomes humorous and your wardrobe full of flared trousers becomes an embarrassment. But what happens when time doesn’t weary? When something improves with age? Well, that’s when timeless happens. Classic happens. This happens.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The name Rickman carries a pedigree like few others in the motorcycle industry, when it is followed by Metisse you are dealing with royalty, the king of custom frames built by two genius brothers with racing in their DNA. But what you have before you is no off road scrambler, but a 100% street legal urban tracker that can be easily returned to its roots in no time at all. An original classic or a ball tearing street weapon, it’s a 1974 Rickman Metisse with Triumph power built by Australia’s 66 Motorcycles and is simply known as “The Brit”.
Written by Marlon Slack.
Under the guidance of engineer João Barranca, Portuguese motorcycle company Redonda is split into three divisions. The first is Redonda racing, specializing in road and off-road race bikes, Eco-Redonda, which concentrates on customizing electric cycles and Redonda motors – heavily modified motorcycles that can be ridden every day. The last collection produced this Ducati Indiana scrambler – a distinctively beautiful take on an often forgotten Italian cruiser.
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of the Ducati Indiana – not many people have. In many ways it was a Cagiva rebranded in a spectacularly unsuccessful tilt at the American market. It can all be linked back to the late 1970’s when Ducati was haemorrhaging cash, partially due to the inaccessibility of their marque bikes and partially due to their production line alternating between ‘artisanal’ and ‘sheltered workshop’. The majority shareholder in the company, the Italian government, was keen to offload the brand and failing that, more than willing to shut it down completely. And there’s no better way to know you’re stuffed financially when even the Italian government is ready to pull the pin.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
In the Summer of ’69 a young Jim Walsh of Maryland farewelled his cousin Tom, a strapping man with long blonde hair, who was heading off to the West to start a new life. But it was the machine his older cousin rode, resplendent in the summer sun a Triumph Bonneville Twin, that captured his attention and would live on in Jim’s memory for a lifetime. It’s a memory that has become a passion when nearly 50 years later Jim learned of Tom’s death and in this most recent Northern Winter commissioned the boys at Vintage Steele in Vermont to build a Triumph of his own.
There are few marques that have had the impact on motorcycle culture as has British maker Triumph. For more than 100 years Triumph motorcycles have been surrounded by owners absolutely passionate about anything and everything the brand does and with good reason. From powering Steve McQueen in the Great Escape with a TR6 Trophy, to the 6T Thunderbird playing a starring role in the original biker film “The Wild One” alongside Marlon Brando and on the track being the first manufacturer to do a 100mph lap at the famed Isle of Man TT there is plenty to be proud of.
Written by Marlon Slack
Klassik Kustoms is a small workshop run out of a barn in Hagen, Germany. Specializing in Yamahas and Hondas under 750cc the owner, Jan, aims to make affordable, cool specials that are fun to ride and affordable to own. Since 2010 he’s put together several tidy café racers based on old air-cooled bikes but this time around Jan has taken a tilt at something a little more upright with this 1979 Kawasaki Z400 tracker.
Where’d that year go? Suddenly ‘tis the season to be jolly and we’re on our last bike of the year. Damn. So, what better way to say ‘season’s greetings’ than with the latest build from Spain’s Macco Motors? Forget your three wise men; we’ve got a much more efficient package. They’re called Jose and Tito and here’s their latest miraculous build – a heavenly Triumph called ‘Bonebreaker’.
We are happy to introduce a new writer at the ‘House of Burning Pipes’. Marlon Slack is our latest recruit and we’re happy to have him on board for the ride.
Tattoo Custom Motorcycles have taken this 1972 R75/5 – a traditional, commuter-style bike – and turned it into a neat scrambler with a few particularly nice, subtle touches. There’s quite a few boxer engine custom bikes kicking around these days, but it wasn’t always the case. Eight years ago I sat in the café attached to Deus Ex Machina and between bites of breakfast and the occasional superior scowl I tried to throw at the Deus clientele, the side doors opened and a mechanic wheeled in a BMW R65, propping it up in a window display that overlooks the cafe. Behind me an older guy looked up at the motorcycle with a scowl. ‘Please,’ he groaned, ‘we’re trying to eat.’