Customising bikes is a gargantuan task at the best of times. And unless you’re a rich trust fund kid with zero family ties, no friends or social life, and a garage straight from the MotoGP pit lane, time probably isn’t on your side. So choosing a donor bike that’s almost entirely inappropriate for its intended custom end game is just adding insult to injury. It’d be pretty much a death warrant to the project – unless you’re biking mega clothing brand, ICON 1000. They love death warrants. And death too, apparently. Here’s their dead cool Kawasaki Vulcan 650S.
Custom bike shops come and go. It’s more than a slight understatement to say that running one without going crazy, broke, or both is no mean feat. The late nights. The cold winters laying on greasy concrete floors. The striking a balance between art and profit. It’s nothing short of the challenge of a lifetime. And a lifetime is exactly how long it’s been since we last featured the work of Richard Pollock and his Mule Motorcycles shop in California. Well, eight years if you must know – but in the custom bike game it’s as good as. And now he’s back – back with bike that makes us wish we’d chased him up a lot sooner. Check out this Triumph Thruxton – it’s his latest, and dare we say greatest build.
Being on the receiving end of many custom bike submissions, you tend to get a pretty good idea of just how prolific a bike shop really is. Some we hear from once a year. Some twice. And then there’s France’s Motomax Metz. Believe it or not, this here bike hit our inboxes little more than two weeks after their previous build. At this rate, we’ll be featuring another 26 of their bikes in 2017, and by 2020 France will be nothing but an army of cool Yamaha trackers and a load of fresh mud. But before that happens, please meet the rad-to-the-bone ‘Dirty Smoke’ XSR700 that will have caused it all.
The creator one of the most iconic cars of the Twentieth Century once said “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” Sir Alec Issigonis, the man who designed the Mini Cooper, just might have had a point. But while the saying would have me pretty pissed if I was a camel, I’d be even more angry if I was part of a committee that actually had a clue. A committee made up of, say, motorcycling enthusiasts. Because that’s exactly where this particular bike was designed. And then it was built by Sean from Virginia’s MotoRelic.
Today we’ve got the second half of a matched pair of air-cooled Suzuki’s by French workshop Ed Turner. While the previous custom was a bare knuckled, stripped back brute of a GSX1100 for a gentleman client, this is the more feminine half the duo destined for his partner. It’s a little 80’s Suzuki GSX400 dubbed the ‘GS-XX’. Dressed in faux-alligator leather and upholstered to resemble a high-class evening shoe, this highly polished tribute to rolling Eurotrash sensibilities is guaranteed to start some conversations.
Karl Renoult heads the curiously named custom shop Ed Turner Motorcycles, in Nantes, France. We’ve been following his builds for the last few years but nothing has prepared us for his new project. And this only one half of the enterprise, a mid-eighties Suzuki GSX1100 forming the ‘masculine’ part of a matched ‘his and hers’ pair of custom rides. Designed to reflect their owners’ love of high fashion, clubbing, and possibly sadomasochism, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. After a close look, I’m not sure if it has a kill switch or a safe word.
Headed by racer and motorcycle builder Dirk Oehlerking, Kingston Customs is a small workshop running out of Hanover, Germany. For this build, Dirk decided to take on two surprisingly young starters – a new Yamaha MT-03 and a 12-year-old by the name of Moritz Bree.
NASCAR’s a funny old sport when you think about it. While the whole four wheels thing can be a little bit of a turn-off, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a buzz out of all forms of motor racing – no matter how many wheels are involved. While any form of racing that involves a Toyota Camry painted with a rainbow M&M’s motif should ring alarm bells in any adult who’s not tripping balls, the whole gladiatorial angle really appeals. And clearly, I’m not alone. See, Spain’s Bottpower and their chief engineer David Sánchez have come out in support of the old ring o’ noise with a bike built for NASCAR driver and ex-World Superbike racer Eric De Doncker.
It’s amazing how much the big motorcycle manufacturers have changed in the past ten years. Up until very recently, bike customisers were little more than pariahs to the factories. All their hard engineering work, undone in the fell swoop of an errant oxy torch or angle grinder. You could almost hear the engineers in Japan and Europe weeping in pain. And as for a factory dealer that might dare to try and make a few changes to the merchandise? If they were lucky, they’d find themselves selling second-hand Dneprs in Siberia… in winter. But my, what a difference a decade makes. Suddenly it’s raining factory customs. And for Yamaha, that means throwing money behind their ‘Faster Sons’ custom shop collaboration project. And the latest star of the decidedly successful program is this here XSR700 from French shop Motomax Metz. A French shop that just happens to be a dealer, too.
For a number of decades the AMA Grand National Championship was dominated by Americans riding American machinery from the big two; Harley Davidson and Indian. That was until the late ’60s when in the space of four years the likes of Gary Nixon and Gene Romero led the charge for British manufacturer Triumph to take out three championships. Unlike the Trackers created today, it was a time of big wide bars, tiny tanks and leather padded seats. The way you paid the racing bills was to be like legend Mike Anderson and work at the local dealership during the week. There were no corporates with big sponsor dollars, no millions to be made and some race tracks still displayed the sign “helmets recommended”. But it was a time of raw competition, big personalities and an authenticity that Italy’s Anvil Motociclette have come to love. With that spirit in mind they’ve built a bike named Foxtrot, a 2011 Triumph Bonneville 900, that dances rings around the competition.