Written by Martin Hodgson
Motorcycles have played an important role in the life of war veterans since the very beginning of the custom culture and many of the greatest builders and trend-setters have seen action. For anyone who hasn’t seen the horrors of war it’s impossible to imagine the process of re-integrating back into society but clearly the therapeutic nature of the build, the creative outlet to express and the freedom of the ride play an important role. For Ryan Gist after serving a decade in the Army and returning from Iraq to a corporate job he needed something else, a food for the soul, bike building and has instantly shown a natural flair! It was while riding the fire-roads of Washington State that an encounter with a blasting banged up airhead inspired Ryan’s love for BMW’s and this sleek 1970 R60/5 Scrambler is the result of his desire to create a rapid go-anywhere machine with the look to match.
When your website has a tab for “Investor Relations” it’s safe to say you are playing in the big time, a one man operation it is not. But it wasn’t always that way for Smoked Garage Custom Motorcycles and this successful Indonesian motorcycle powerhouse is a genuine rags to riches tale. Founded in 2004 by Nicko Eigert there really isn’t a start date to his story but the completion of his first custom build twelve years ago has snowballed into a business that fills an entire warehouse and churns out an eclectic mix of incredible machines. Only a short drive from the Smoked Garage HQ is the largest Kawasaki dealership in Indonesia, PT DUTA INTIKA of Denpasar, who wanted a custom bike to show the public what you can do with a Kwaka; thus begun the design and build of Project X, a Kawasaki Ninja Urban Scrambler to wow the masses.
Something strange has been going on in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, at the highest point of the nearby Sierras Chicas mountain range. On the hill known as Uritorco people have been claiming to see UFOs and there are rumours of an underground city. Things got so strange that when the 21st December 2012, the supposed end date of the Mayan Calendar, drew near the mountain was closed as fears of a mass suicide emerged. Needless to say this is not a place you want to break down but the Sierras Chicas also happen to be an incredible place to explore with amazing landscapes, beautiful suspension bridges and vistas fit for a movie scene. So who better to create a crazy custom to venture into this unknown domain than Cordoba’s own Lucas Layum and his creative crew at Lucky Custom. It’s a 2002 BMW 1150GS that’ll go absolutely anywhere and still look the goods should you need to impress a fit green gal from outer space.
There are certain artists, designers and builders whose work is instantly recognisable in their field and often even into the broader community: A Hendrix riff, a Pollock painting or a Scorsese film. In the world of custom bikes few builders’ creations are more instantly recognisable than those of David González from Spain’s Ad Hoc Café Racers. Twelve miles outside of Barcelona along the C58 Highway, with mechanics apron on, David operates out of his small workshop that is equal parts artist’s studio and motorcycle garage. It is here that his unique creations are realised and while some may consider them quirky, David in fact is sticking to the true Latin meaning of the name Ad Hoc – or for this – a solution designed to solve a specific problem. In this case it’s a 1991 Yamaha XT600 known as “Rising”, a flat tracker that’s built to shred the wildly varying street surfaces of Greece.
The financial centre of Brazil, Sao Paulo, is one of the world’s great cities, but on the surface it can appear to be just like any other sprawling metropolis. With an enormous population the biggest city in South America can be a tough and intimidating place to the uninitiated. But amongst the mix of high-rise buildings and historic architecture is a maze to be explored, filled with incredible bars, gourmet restaurants, art-house theatres and a 24/7 night life. To properly explore this urban jungle and find the hidden gems takes a special machine, it’s no place for a Sportbike and Cruisers are just too big. So local Carlos Eduardo Manso has built a go anywhere urban assault motorcycle that can squeeze through the tight spaces, handle the potholed back alleys and look the goods while doing so. It’s a 1984 Honda XL 250 that’s been given a custom make over with tip of the cap to the VMX scene and it’s ready to take to the streets.
To say the Italian’s know how to enjoy themselves and throw a party is one of the great understatements you can make, so when the 90th anniversary of the much beloved Ducati Motorcycle Company rolled around you knew the annual World Ducati Week was going to be something special. A 90 minute drive from the Bologna factory finds you in the Province of Rimini, where right next to the Adriatic Sea is the Misano World Circuit that hosts the Ducatisti from all over the world for a week of all things Ducati. From new model launches, to the endless track action with past and present GP stars ripping it up to the joys of the new Scrambler Land, just attending the event is a dream come true. But for Eduardo Iglesias of Spain’s Russell Motorcycles and his team not only were they invited by Ducati to attend the event but given a brand new Scrambler and asked to make something special to wow the crowds.
It may not have a local motorcycle industry to call its own but if one country could lay claim to be the kings of the home-built motorbike it is the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand. I tender two pieces of evidence, the World’s Fastest Indian, built at home over a 20 year period by Kiwi Burt Munro whose near 50-year-old record set on the Bonneville Salt Flats still stands to this day. Second, John Britten, the greatest motorcycle builder of all time, who not only designed and built his incredible V1000 at home but even made things like the engine cases himself, cooled from his wife’s pottery kiln with water from his swimming pool. So beloved are his creations that decades later they still feature on the covers of the world’s biggest magazines and riders like Valentino Rossi and Guy Martin consider them the greatest machines ever built. So it should come as no surprise to find out that this Kiwi custom, a stunning Scrambler themed 1981 Yamaha TR1 was built entirely at home in.
Love, like motorcycling, is a many splendoured thing. The buzz. The feelings of invincibility. The brisk winter rides while completely naked. What? So, it’s just me who does that? Whatever the case, the two really do go hand in hand – like Romeo and Juliet. So when California’s Boxer Metal got an order from a young Guatemalan couple named Rudolpho and Stephanie for a two-up BMW that could handle the ‘charismatic’ roads of this ancient Central American paradise, the team’s very own lovebirds, Chris and Rebecca, got to work. And the result truly is a match made in heaven.
You can tell a lot about a country by what motorcycle marque the police ride. The German Polizei obviously hit the autobahn on BMW’s. The Italian Polizia stylishly chase down the mafia on their Guzzi’s. But when it comes to Colombia, the police ride the reliable dual sport Suzuki DR650 – it probably says a lot about Colombia’s mix of city and country roads. So when the guys at Garaje57 got their greasy hands on a DR650 police bike they wanted to do something completely different with it. The Pasquale brothers have been building bikes for a few years and their Dad has been working more and more with them. So because it’s a family affair, they have decided to change their name from Garaje57 to Pasquale Motors. So this DR650 is the first build under Pasquale Motors and they’ve given this thumper the name ‘Mamba’ because the pipe resembles the snake of the same name.
The Paris-Dakar Rally is one of the truly great motorsport events, known around the world the winning vehicles often go on to achieve legendary status and large sales success. The epitome of that notion is the BMW GS series which launched in 1980 and would go on to win the Rally four times in five years. By 2009 that winning formula had resulted in the sale of more than half a million road going versions and the legend of the GS lives on today. But with the Wheels & Waves Festival kicking off today in Biarritz on the French Atlantic coast, BMW Motorrad decided to pay homage to the desert killer of the ’80s by transforming their latest show room success into this, the BMW Motorrad Concept Lac Rose.