The journey through adult life we’re told is a relatively straight forward process. Work, breed, sleep – there’s even a rough guide to follow. Family and society steer many of us into careers we’re not really sure we want to follow, but before you know it the show’s over and the pension cheques start to arrive. But some restless souls are meant for more than one path and despite walking the same road for many decades, they decide it’s never too late to change. For Spain’s Carlos Ormazabal, a near lifetime’s career at camera giant Nikon would come to an end when a thirst for something new took hold. It’s been quenched by the opening of his own custom bike shop called The Foundry MC. And with just his second drink, he’s ready to serve a barnstorming 1991 BMW K75 street tracker inspired by one of the industry’s best.
Remember that scene from Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum says “life, uh… finds a way”? His logic is simple – if something in nature has got even the most remote chance of happening, given enough time it probably will. A group of all female dinosaurs will eventually reproduce. Nickelback will, given enough time, write a song the doesn’t suck. And two custom bike genres which may seem mutually exclusive will eventually merge to form a whole new subspecies. Take this little Yamaha XT600 beastie, for instance. Half cafe and half tracker, it’s the latest creation from Portugal’s Redonda Motors. And while science may have never intended it to be so, we’re kind of glad nature took its course.
It will come as no surprise to Pipeburn readers, the general public or even your garden-variety buddhist hermit that there’s a real flood of ‘70s-era BMW customs at the moment. Hell, there might even be more of them than Kardashians; but I digress. It’s clearly a trend that has jumped the shark; more often than not we’re politely declining them en masse. And with so many floating around, it’s easy to get jaded. Or so we thought until we saw this, the latest BMW build from northern Chicago’s Analog Motorcycles. It’s a stark testament to the fact that no matter how loud the background noise is, quality work and classic looks never grow old.
The last time we visited Dopz & Schizzo from Italy’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, they’d just finished up their Daft Punk tribute bike for Sky TV’s “Lord of the Bikes” show. And while their names might sound more like incidental characters from an episode of Happy Days, they clearly have a little more rebelliousness in them than we may have previously realised. How so? Well, from punks of a musical kind, they have now shifted their focus to some punks of a more mobile nature. Specifically, a Roman skater who’s clearly feeling he has two too many wheels. Here’s the bike they build for him – a Honda Dominator they call ‘Dardo IV’.
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.