We all know that trackers are tools, right? Simply a very fast way to get from A to A in a big, dusty circle and nothing more. Making them look beautiful would serve no logical purpose. You may as well decorate a shovel or bedazzle a hammer. Except no. See, Utah’s Tyler White obviously didn’t get the memo and he’s gone about creating a Harley XL1200R tracker that’s pretty damn easy on the eyes, too.
Think of your perfect desert island bike. For the purposes of the exercise let’s say that this island is blessed with amazing roads; roads that you have to ride indefinitely. Suddenly all those dream rides like the Brough, Moto Guzzi V8 and the Britton look a little painful, yes? They’d be like having to share paradise with a megalomaniac millionaire or a narcissistic supermodel. You’d be better off with something that does a whole bunch of things really well, is super comfy and that will last the distance without breaking down on the first day. A bike a lot like the latest Kawasaki W650 from Germany’s Schlachtwerk.
Hot on the heels of their CB250 from a few weeks ago, Poland’s T. Jasin Motorcycles have just rocked up with another killer Honda – this time it’s an ‘83 CB400 that’s clearly just been to Spain for its summer holidays. Deciding that the Bultaco MX livery was the perfect vibe for this Comstar’d and knobby’d little champ, the Japan-loving Jasin brothers have left the thing co-branded to add a little frisson to the mix. And boy, don’t they mix well?
BMW’s R nineT. Most customised factory bike ever? While we’re pretty sure that the Guinness Book of Records doesn’t have a category for such trainspotting (or bikespotting?) malarkey, there’s nary week that goes by without us seeing another one slide sideways into our inboxes. But apart from two notable attempts by some guy called ‘Roland Sands’, not too many of them are honest to goodness flat trackers. Until now, that is. Brighton, in the south of the UK, is home to a big pier, some very aggressive rockers & mods, and a shop called Pier City Cycles. This is their latest build, simply called the ‘R nineFT’.
Of all the major manufacturers, we think it’s fair to say that Honda is the one most unmoved by current trends. Triumph, Ducati and Yamaha have all thrown their hats in the ring when it comes to appealing to a new generation of riders. But Honda has remained steadfastly traditional with their new models. CB1100 anyone? It’s easy to point and laugh, but the real losers are us. Just think of all the bikes that could be in your local Honda showroom. Bikes like this neat little tracker from Poland’s Jasin Motorcycles. With a touch of HRC and a pinch of Evil Knievel, it’s pretty much everything we’ve ever wanted in a Honda weekend warhorse.
A few years ago, it would have been easy to dismiss Yamaha’s ‘Faster Sons’ and Yard Built campaigns as mere marketing exercises. But the bikes that have been created as a direct result of the program are as plentiful as they are cool. And just when you think that it might have run its course, there always seems to be yet more moto goodness to come. Germany’s WalzWerk Racing is the latest shop to team up with the Japanese giant, and their ‘Apex Ruler’ XSR700 Tracker seems to suggest that the Yard Built campaign still has plenty of go.
Our recent expedition to Northern Italy for the inaugural Wildays show gave us more than just ham-induced consumption, some sunburn and a flat track-related bung knee. It also provided us a chance meeting with Germany’s Hookie Co., who had set up shop right alongside the Pipeburn display area. Bumming their shade, we got to talking over this, their latest build. It’s a 1993 Harley XL883 that’s been given a new lease of life as one of 2017’s coolest trackers yet.
For those not in the know, Yamaha’s ‘M-Slaz’ is a naked version of its popular YZF-R15 single cylinder sports bike first launched in Asia and India in 2008. And yes, we had to look that up. As reliable as it is underwhelming, it’s a bike that in normal guise most of us would instantly overlook in favour of an MT or XSR. But when they just aren’t on the menu, how do you take what’s available locally and turn it into something you’d die to ride? This is how. Here’s Thailand’s K-Speed with their Yamaha ‘Monkey Slaz’ Tracker.
We all know that without getting kids into motorcycling the sport will go the way of the dinosaurs, Morris Dancing and Tiger Wood’s reputation. But what have you done about it lately? For Eduardo and Dani from Spain’s Russell Motorcycles, they’ve introduced their kids to the sideways glory that is flat tracking by building them a bike to do it on. It’s a Sanglas/Puch/BMW mash-up that makes us want to get some dust in our faces.
I always have an internal debate when considering commissioned custom works. Even when – like in this case – the owner says, “feel free to do what you like, but…” Bam! There’s always a ”but”. That “but” can mean so much more than you really planned for. Logically, the owner comes to you because he or she likes your work. But he or she probably also wants “a kind of bike” and – more importantly – has a specific amount of money to spend. Put simply, it’s all about balance.