Figaro. You probably know of the word and its operatic connections, but have little or no idea where it’s from. But since you asked and since I’ve just spent 5 minutes on Wikipedia, let me enlighten you. Figaro is the lead character in Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’. It’s the story of an old Spanish scissorman drawn into an romantic comedy of errors. Any good? Well, it’s been popular for 200 years, so it can’t be too bad – but it contains exactly zero motorcycles. Which is why this bike, made for Spanish Barber Rubén by Tamarit Motorcycles, is such a genius idea. Just think of how much better the old opera will be once we convince the Rossini family estate to include it in the official manuscript. Take a read of this while we draft the email.
The last time we visited Dopz & Schizzo from Italy’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, they’d just finished up their Daft Punk tribute bike for Sky TV’s “Lord of the Bikes” show. And while their names might sound more like incidental characters from an episode of Happy Days, they clearly have a little more rebelliousness in them than we may have previously realised. How so? Well, from punks of a musical kind, they have now shifted their focus to some punks of a more mobile nature. Specifically, a Roman skater who’s clearly feeling he has two too many wheels. Here’s the bike they build for him – a Honda Dominator they call ‘Dardo IV’.
Peanut butter and jelly. Moustaches and cops. Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash. When it comes to weird combinations that somehow manage to kick arse, it seems the world has a never-ending supply. Avocado and Vegemite on toast, anyone? No, seriously. It’s amazing. But it’s not often you see the same sort of unexpected genius happening in the world of custom motorcycles. Hell, we can’t think of a new bike genre since Go Takamine invented Brat style. That is until now. So here is Perth’s James Alkins and his revelatory cafe scrambler cross pollination. Genius? Madness? We’ve made up our minds, now you be the judge.
When Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro in Abruzzo, Italy, built a Harley chopper it was a radical departure from his usual creations. Filippo has made a name for himself building some of the most beautifully styled custom Moto Guzzi’s you’re ever likely to see. So when he went down the path of a chopper, based on an Ironhead no less, it sure got tongues wagging. But so good was the uniquely Italian build, it was soon gracing the pages of global magazines. That was until Filippo had an idea. He’d take the fresh chopper known as “Troublehead”, rip it apart and transform his 1977 Harley Davidson Ironhead into an all new breed of bike. From the remains of a perfect custom cruiser comes this go anywhere ’70s scrambler that has a new persona, “SCRhead.”
Ah, the K-series BMWs. What can we say that hasn’t already been said before? Their unique engines. Their incredible second-hand affordability. And then there’s all that get up and go! Even a very tired example of a K100 will deliver you 85hp and 80Nm of torques – and for little more cash than a boozy weekend away with friends. Of course, this isn’t exactly a revelation. The sheer number of them we now see gracing our pages is a testament to this. Hell, we’ve seen less virgins at a Minecraft show. But just when you think you’ve seen them all, along comes Austria’s NCT Motorcycles with something that piques our interests like no other Brick has done in a very long while. Say hallo to ‘Sir Ulrich’.
Go on, admit it. You’ve fantasised about your specific choice of bike for a zombie apocalypse. Naturally you can have anything you want, as you’ll be throwing a brick through the front window of the local deal once the social chaos really takes hold. So what’ll it be? A BMW R1200GS? You’d be able to carry a house on the back, but its weight and size would make avoiding the undead (and keeping it upright) tricky. Then maybe a KTM Enduro bike? You’d be much more nimble and need less fuel, but what about a seat for the loved ones? Who knew a completely hypothetical situation could be so stressful? But don’t fear, as we have the perfect candidate. Meet Royal Enfield’s very own Continental GT survivalist masterstroke. They call it the ‘Dirty Duck’. We call it ‘escape plan A’.
When Yamaha released the bonkers street-naked MT-09 with its lush torquey triple, the promise from the Japanese firm was that a baby brother was soon to follow. It seemed an odd move and out of step with most model line-up launches, where the most exciting stuff is saved for last lest the “lesser” bikes be overshadowed. But as soon as the first journalist cracked the throttle of the twin cylinder MT-07, any fears were quickly allayed. This was one hell of a fun machine! Now entering its fourth year of production, Yamaha Canada decided it was time to show the world that the little street weapon had more than one trick up its sleeve. So having seen the work of Rob Chappell of Origin8or Custom Cycles in Ontario, they brought him in to create another Yard Built beauty. Eagerly ready to take on the mission, Rob promised he’d deliver a bike that anyone at Yamaha would love to own. It was no empty threat, and the result is this go anywhere fun machine known as ‘60/40’.
When Ducati announced it was releasing the latest addition to the Scrambler family, the Sixty2, with just 400cc of displacement, many assumed that the Italian giant had finally rolled over and would produce a crappy bike for the masses. The news didn’t get much better when the launch was to be held in Barcelona – complete with hand painting and other assorted arts and crafts. But the first journalists to pin the throttle found out quickly that not only did it pack some punch, but that the Bologna built bike was no sell out. Not at all. It’s easy to forget that Ducati once built an enormous number of giant killing single cylinder machines and this is not their first rodeo in the small capacity stakes. But to really prove the Sixty2 could cut the mustard, Ducati threw a set of keys to Anvil Motociclette and told them to scramble it.
As with the Sports Utility Vehicle craze of the last few years, it’s easy to write off the current Tracker and Scrambler rage as a triumph of style over substance. After all, where’s the corresponding boom in off-road riding to justify all these knobby tires and high pipes? The answer is that most of the bikes are only being ridden on the road. But what if you lived in a country that wasn’t strangled by parking lots and overpasses? What if instead you lived in a tropical paradise where off-roading was not a hobby but an everyday occurrence? Welcome to Indonesia and the world of Donny Ariyanto. Time to meet his rather elegant solution to the challenge; a wanna-be sporty Yamaha R25 that now couldn’t be better suited to its surrounds.
Being on the receiving end of many custom bike submissions, you tend to get a pretty good idea of just how prolific a bike shop really is. Some we hear from once a year. Some twice. And then there’s France’s Motomax Metz. Believe it or not, this here bike hit our inboxes little more than two weeks after their previous build. At this rate, we’ll be featuring another 26 of their bikes in 2017, and by 2020 France will be nothing but an army of cool Yamaha trackers and a load of fresh mud. But before that happens, please meet the rad-to-the-bone ‘Dirty Smoke’ XSR700 that will have caused it all.