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.
There’s something undeniably cool about a bike that can go anywhere. Whether it’s secretly stroking your zombie apocalypse fantasies or it’s just a reminder that life shouldn’t just be about your job and mortgage, every rider should have at least one mountain eater in their garage. But until recently, there was pretty much zero chance of ever finding a cool one – unless 80s fluoro graphics and wall-to-wall plastics spins your wheels. But thanks to shops like Italy’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, we now have options like this Transalp they call ‘Cobra’. Who needs to move mountains when you can just ride over them?
Ever since we first laid our sweaty little hands on Triumph’s new Bonneville range, we’ve been itching to see what customisers would do with them. And while there’s been a few shots fired already, we’re still holding our breath for something that really shows off the platform’s true custom capabilities. Imagine the collective sigh of relief when we sighted this, the latest bike from Chicago’s Analog Motorcycles. Built for the Rebel Yell Bourbon “Rebels Uncaged” competition, it also appeared at this year’s Handbuilt Show. And now it’s here.
Could any landscape be better suited to scrambling than Mexico’s? With its mountains, coastal sands, desert and forests all within easy access, the country almost seems as if it was designed by the gods as a reward for good motorcyclists. Add that relaxed Mexican approach to life, great beer and some of the world’s most delicious food, and you’d be nuts if you weren’t already on the phone to the travel agent. Except if you already happened to live there. This enviable situation is one that Ricardo and the team from Guadalajara’s Catrina Motosurf have to endure every day and to celebrate it, here’s their idea of a perfect local Mexican scrambler.
BMW’s Telelever suspension is a strange and magical beast. It’s just the sort of outside-the-square thinking that you’d expect bike builders to go for like nerds go for Axe deodorant. Created to fix a problem that no one but BMW’s designers seemed to care about, you’d think it would grab the eye of a whole heap of creative minds looking to build something really unique. But we almost never see them – until now, that is. Here’s Austria’s very talented and prodigious NCT Motorcycles with a Telelever treat they call the ‘Red Rooster’.
All or nothing. It’s a phrase you’d probably take to mean ‘no middle ground’. But it seems more and more builders are using it as a yard stick to define new genres for custom bikes. All of the popular styles rolled into one, or maybe none of them at all. What would a cafe scrambler tracker look like? Or an enduro street fighter? Conversely, how would a bike built purely to suit personal needs rather than a pre-existing category or style look? It seems that the cafe racer’s rule might just be coming to an end, and builders like California’s Sam Kao and his ‘Cobalt Storm’ Harley look to be on the crest of something very new.
The International Six Days Trial is a true giant amongst motorcycle races. Celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2013, it claims the prize for the world’s oldest off-road motorcycle race. Originally held in Carlisle in the north of England, in the Seventies it held its first race outside Europe. BMW put their brand where their mouth was and entered a four man factory team, including the renown Herbert Schek, in the race. To celebrate the event, France’s Lucky Cat Garage have come up with an amazing R80/7 that pays homage to BMW’s bold, muddy efforts during those six long days in 1973.
Nitrous oxide. Turbos. Superchargers. We’re as guilty as the next guy and or gal for drooling over flashy go-faster parts that make good headlines and get those website clicks a-clicking. But there’s a much more traditional approach to speed that doesn’t involve mega bucks and a team of rocket scientists. It’s what bikers have done since the dawn of time. Drop weight, increase capacity and work on the heads. And for Schlachtwerk’s Tommy Thöring, it’s just this approach that turned out this little gem. Meet his Kawasaki W740 he calls ‘No Fat’.
New tools customising old bikes. If you had to be blunt about it, that’s probably how you’d surmise the current custom bike scene. You need only to look at the old guard with their thinly veiled cries denigrating the beards and beanies to see that a ‘new tool’ generation has taken over from the old one. But today’s bike flips that equation on its coiffured head. With tools that date back to New York in the 1880s and a bike that’s barely out of diapers, today’s Honda XR650L from Hill Moto, still ticks all the cool custom boxes.