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.
For some of the most isolated people on the planet, West Australians have a well-earned reputation for punching above their weight. Take Australian music, for instance. You may have heard of such bands as Tame Impala, The Scientists and INXS. Yes, you guessed it. They’re all from the West. Maybe it’s the sublime climate, or the clean water and fresh air. Hell, maybe they’ve discovered the meaning of life and they’re keeping it from the rest of us for shits and giggles. Steve Gernhoefer from Perth’s RAGE Motorcycles is obviously in on it. That’s the only rational explanation for this killer KTM 640 LC4. That and sheer skills.
There must be something in the Virginia air. When you consider the state’s track record for creating great bike builders, their batting average ain’t half bad. With shops like Classified Moto, Cognito Moto and MotoHangar all hailing from the Lover’s state, there seems to be little doubt that they are head and shoulders above most Eastern states when it comes to custom bike coolness. And as if to rub your nose in it, here’s perennial favourites MotoRelic with another killer build. Fresh from their place in our most recent Bike of the Year Award, we’d like you to meet their take on the build platform du jour, the mighty (square) BMW K100.
We think it may be time for an intervention. For Officine Rossopuro’s Filippo Barbacane, barely a week goes by in which he doesn’t send us a ‘bugger-me-sideways-that’s-an-amazing-build’ bike. There can only be a few valid reasons as to the cause of his ceaseless productivity. He’s either possessed, a robot, or he has cloned himself half a dozen times. Unable to decide which scenario is more likely, we’re going for a combo answer; clearly the guy who makes these bikes is some sort of Sextuplet Satanic Cyborg that’s hell-bent on world domination through a never ending stream of totally sweet-ass bikes. Here’s his latest evil effort – a Moto Guzzi Bellagio he calls ‘Terra Moto’.
Red Clouds Collective is the very personification of everything that makes Portland, well, Portland. It’s a small workshop that produces bespoke leather goods like hats, tool rolls and aprons. And a glance through their social media feed features lots of desaturated black and white photos of bearded men in the woods staring into the middle distance. But they also turn their hands to the occasional custom bike. And they do a really neat job of it too, as this paired-back 1989 XR250 shows.
Ever met a genuinely creative person? I’m luck enough to say that I have, and there’s one thing that struck me about them. They were clearly a little bit nuts. Not in a dangerous way, but it was clear to me that they were operating in much more interesting reality than most. They were happy to generate and embrace ideas that many would have dismissed as ridiculous. And then they made them work, too. The moral of the story is that most of us hold ourselves back by thinking that the right way to do something is also the most sensible way. Kbuilt’s Gilles Kergadallan has no such concerns. He embraced the crazy for this ‘Brap One’ Honda Dominator Tracker, and the results speak for themselves. Just like the voices in his head.
You can always tell when a shop reaches the next level. It starts with the outside-the-square thinking and the inspired bike builds that you totally weren’t expecting. Just when you’re thinking they will do ‘X’, they’ll come at you with ‘Y’. And a bloody good ‘Y’ at that. Almost like a guitarist coming back from a midnight meeting with a mysterious stranger at a crossroads on the edge of town, you’ll find that they’re suddenly playing on a whole new level. But the last and most telling trait is their through-put. A shop that’s perfected their skills seemingly has no problems sending you a killer bike every other week. And right now, that shop is Austria’s NCT Motorcycles. Here’s their latest deal with the devil, an amazing BMW R100RS scrambler they call the ‘Buffalo’.