In the global movement that is the custom bike scene you don’t win Best Cafe Racer at the VVMC Rally and be a stand out as an invited builder to the One Motorcycle Show unless you not only build incredible machines but understand the ethos behind the movement. Ask Ken from Spirit Lake Cycles what the mantra was when designing this exquisite 1992 BMW R100r and he responds with “Anything that it does not require, it does not have!”. But to take a clunky German retro tourer and turn it into a masterpiece also requires a fabricator who can build show winning form with traditional cafe racer function and Brian the other half of the SLC team knows exactly what that means “The ultimate goal was to have something that looked vintage but at the same time road like a modern bike”. It’s little wonder then that two men with such abilities and understanding of their goal achieved such an incredible result in this LA built Bavarian beauty known as Miss Thriller.
When long time upholsterer for DP Customs, Uniqueaz.com, dropped by the workshop for a cold beer and a chat with owners, Justin and Jarrod Del Prado he revealed he hadn’t come to discuss the latest needs of a shared customer but to place an order for a bike of his own. Having carefully studied the quality of the brothers workmanship having worked on many of their bikes, he wanted one of his own. With that some ribs were thrown on the smoker and the beer kept flowing as they began an impromptu design session. The brief from Unique Upholstery was simple, it had to feel comfortable to sit on; With only the barest of constraints they thought up a Street Tracker named “W” based on a 2002 Harley Davidson Sportster that’s big on power, low on weight and rips up the streets in as brilliant a fashion as it appears when standing still.
The small state of Querétaro in Northern Mexico has always been a place of revolution and creation having been the locality of both the early Independence movement and the site of the creation of the modern Mexican constitution and it is with this spirit that comes Vitium Moto from the state’s capital of the same name. They are not so much a workshop as a rebellious bunch of builders who as friends unite around their one common vitium (Latin for vice) and build motorcycles that deliberately buck all the trends and refuse to abide by style or convention. They don’t have customers, they create a bond as new friends with those who come to share the same sinful desire for motorcycle revolt and there latest build, a 2009 KTM 450 SMR is proof positive they refuse to fit any mould.
In the space of less than a year in the late 1960s two Japanese heavyweights released motorcycles that would go on to be hugely popular in the modern custom bike scene. First Yamaha with its XS650 and then Honda with the CB750; while the Honda is considered the first Superbike and was designed to seek and destroy its British rivals, the Yamaha was based on classic styling and an engine as Brit as Big Ben. Whereas the evolution of the CB range has progressed to the most modern of motorcycles, the XS650 remained true to its classic styling for its entire production run. One man who truly understands classic design and builds a mean Yamaha is Christian Condo of Melbourne’s Modern Motor Cycle Company and this 1981 XS650 Heritage Special is his latest masterpiece.
For 2016, the Triumph Bonneville has finally shed its air-cooled status and embraced a raft of new technologies that brings the engine of the retro-styled machine truly into the 21st century. It’s a brilliant machine that will no doubt sell like hot cakes, but with such a change there is also a chance for a new bike to become a modern classic. That very well could be steeds like this “new” 2004 Triumph Bonneville. With no electronic aids, no fly by wire and carbies for induction it is perhaps the true bridge between the old classics and the new retro-tech masterpieces. Either way, Macco Motors in Spain sure know how to turn out a brilliant Bonnie of any vintage and this little lady known as ‘Wayra’ sure likes her hair in the wind.
When you’ve been in the custom bike game as long as we have, you get pretty darn quick at spotting bikes that make the grade. Like some crazed laboratory chimp, we get shown a whole heap of bikes on a daily basis and we often have to make a call as to whether we’d show them or not in a matter of minutes. And ‘show’ is exactly what we agreed to do for this bike. In 2011. Then one thing led to another. Photoshoots were booked. Photos were taken. Photos were lost. Grass grew. The world turned. Then, last week, we received the finished product. In the end, we shrugged our shoulders and said the same thing we say about our love lives. “Better late than never”.
The Father and Son relationship may just be the biggest reason many young men find their way into the world of motorcycling. For Jared Morris and his Dad Bob that relationship extended even further and they shared this Yamaha RD400 not just as a bike to ride but as a bike they would slowly build together. The RD could be heard screaming through the neighbourhood as Jared tested out the latest changes and modifications they’d made before ripping it back apart and making it that little bit better. When Bob fell ill Jared continued the build but with the pressures of life there just wasn’t the time to give the RD the attention it deserved. When Bob, a former Flat Track Racer, sadly passed away, Jared thought of the best way he knew to honour his Dad.
In the modern custom motorcycle scene, the name Bultaco is probably best known for its logo that often adorns many a T-shirt. But the company’s real success is its domination of dirt racing from the very founding of the company, when the lightweight Spanish 2 strokes took the challenge up to the heavy British 4’s and dominated the Trials world for more than a decade. But this 1976 Bultaco Astro 360, built by Pierre Dehr from France’s Freeride Motos, brings together a variety of Bultaco models components to tell the story of when a small Spanish start-up took on the world, driven by a singular love for racing, and won.
Colombia’s Garaje 57 is growing an impressive reputation for hand crafted machines that have been ordered by clients from around the world. But with the new KTM 390 Duke landing on their shores, there were two very good reasons why Bogota brothers Esteban and Gustavo Pasquale decided to apply their old school fabrication skills to a brand new machine. “The first one is that the Duke here in our Country is beginning to be popular, and at first sight it was a real challenge to take that bike and make it our own.” The second reason; popular Colombian footwear brand BOSI had entered the Motorcycle apparel game and commissioned the pair to build a machine to catch eyes at trade shows and in window displays. Two big challenges could be taken one at a time, but the brave men from Bogota combined them both to build a truly one-off Duke known as the “Silver Arrow”.
There’s something that always intrigues me about taking a Harley off-road. Like the James Bond Lotus that goes under water, or the Space Battleship Yamoto, there’s something unexpected yet just so very cool about the out-of-context-ness of the situation. For a bike that seems so much a part of America’s road culture, it’s off-road history is undeniable and despite the company’s current dirt shyness, it seems that the brand can do nothing to escape the call of the dust. In that spirit, he’s a man who really needs no introduction with a bike that probably does. It’s Hageman’s brand new Harley XL 1200 scrambler.