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.
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’.