You hear a lot about ‘barn finds’ in the custom bike game. In case you’ve been living at the bottom of an oily sump for the last 50 years, a barn find is exactly what it says on the tin; a bike you find abandoned in somebody’s barn and then rescue. But in a first for us, we’re happy to inform you that we think we’ve found something that will revolutionised the genre. Thanks to Wyoming’s Reed Merschat and his persistence, we’d like to introduce to the the ‘Freezer Find’. What is it, you ask? Why, it’s a bike you pick up when it’s owner takes a little trip to cool off in the state penitentiary.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
When you’re a workshop that specialises in Ironhead Harley-Davidson’s and a customer asks you to build them a custom 2001 Triumph Bonneville, there is only one way to prepare, boil the kettle and start watching Guy Ritchie films. And that is exactly what Brothers Jarrod and Justin Del Prado of DP Custom Cycles did when they were approached to build their first British bike. The customer request was clear; a simple and clean looking bike, dark in colour and fun to ride but the spanners they were swinging would have to change.
When Verve Moto were approached by a customer to build a tall, light and powerful enduro bike with a 250cc engine that could handle all the different roads Bali has to offer, they knew the Kawasaki D-Tracker would be the perfect donor. The stock bike is called a D-Tracker in Indonesia (KLX250S in most countries) and is a very popular model given the countries rugged terrain. Verve found a lot of inspiration from the many custom enduro builds coming out of Europe, but they also wanted to put their own ‘Bali style’ into the build.
If you are a BMW purist, then you should probably stop reading this now. You see, most of the time we start these stories with “the donor bike was a complete wreck when they found it, you could hardly tell what make of motorcycle it was, it looked like it had been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for the last 30 years”, or something to that effect. Not this time. When the guys at Anvil Motociclette went searching for an airhead donor they eventually found the perfect BMW R100. Maybe a bit too perfect. So perfect that the customer who commissioned the build was hesitant to use it for the project – thinking it might be better to preserve it for history’s sake. After a little bit of persuasion and a detailed sketch of the proposed build, he quickly changed his mind and gave them the green light to get started.
It’s the worst possible scenario for any bike builder. A project for someone ‘in the industry’. What chance have you got to satisfy a customer who’s seen it all? Someone who knows exactly what they want and isn’t afraid to micro-manage you to make sure they get it; someone who is about a likely to say ‘it’s up to you’ as Miley Cyrus is likely to keep her tongue in her mouth. Yet that’s just what Shaun and Carl from Down & Out Café Racers were up against when they took on their latest build. And who was this client, we hear you ask?
A little while back Yamaha gave one of their fresh off the factory floor Star Bolt’s to 10 custom bike builders. The brief was pretty simple, do whatever you want with it. Jeff Palhegyi from JPD Customs was one of the chosen builders. Over the years Jeff has created more than 60 individual custom Stars for Yamaha, but this was his first Star Bolt. After throwing around a few concepts, Jeff decided to turn the Bolt into a retro styled dirt tracker. “I have always been a fan of Dirt Track Racing and the Star Bolt ‘Dirt Track Concept’ was a natural fit” he says. The bike may not have won the Bolt Build Off – that was awarded to Doc’s Chops – but it did receive a lot of attention and is still one of our favourite Bolt builds.
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Like it or not, but I have a theory that goes kind of like this – anyone who rides a motorbike has a fair amount of kid in them. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling anyone immature here; it’s not about that at all. What I’m getting at is that fact that there’s a certain wide-eyed enthusiasm that motorcyclists have that says that they still have some degree of that beautiful, open-minded and untarnished approach to living that is usually leached out of adults as they swallow the bitter pill of ‘responsibility’ and slowly fade to grey. For me, I’ll always be part kid. Which probably explains why this bike rocks every bone in my body. To me it’s look takes the best of Battlestar Galactica, Evel Kenievel, and Megaforce all rolls it into one big 1970s TV show wet dream. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my pyjamas playing with my wind-up Kenievel Stunt Cycle on the living room floor.
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There’s a saying that goes, “old Harleys never die, they just get faster.” Which, of course, is utter rubbish. Most of the Harleys I’ve known barely work fresh out of the box, let alone when they get old. Find and old HD in a barn and you’ll have about as much chance of getting it running there and then as you’d have finding someone with good taste at a Nickleback gig. But the same is definitely not true for the works of one Honda Giken Kogyo Kabushiki-gaisha. We’re not sure what dark, samurai magic the man possessed but it seems from where we stand, just about anything Soichiro Honda touched somehow gained the strength to never, ever, EVER die. Just ask Josh from Boise, Idaho’s JMR Racing.
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Of all the inventors that have taken their place in the annals of history, few have had quite the impact that Nikola Tesla has. Along with the many real-life inventions he patented or designed for others, Westinghouse and Thomas Edison included, there’s a slew of wild rumours that have become associated with the man. Some say that he invented a machine that could display thoughts like a mental movie projector. Others say he mastered the technology to transmit electricity wirelessly like radio waves. All we can safely say now is that the man understood and saw things on a level us mere mortals could only dream of. Which brings us to the latest creation of Jeff Yarrington’s Saint Motor Company. Now, we’re not saying that Jeff’s a mad genius or anything, but let’s face it, anyone who can conceive of and build a bike like this has to be more than a little Dr. Emmet Brown upstairs, yes?
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When it comes to creative Italian bike builders, the guys at Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche always bring something original to the table. For their latest build, they decided against using a local bike like a Guzzi or a Ducati and chose the humble Honda CX500. “We suggested this cheap bike to work with the customers request to have a cool but inexpensive custom” says Andrea. Back in 1978 when Honda first released the Honda CX500, they used the advertising tag line “First into the Future!” to launch this motorcycle – referring to it being the first water-cooled, shaft-driven V-twin. Now 30 years into the future, these clever guys from Rome have reshaped this Honda into a street tracker the Japanese would be proud of.
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