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.
If you’re anything like me, moving house is right up there with wheelieing into the side of a police car or finding out your sleazy prog rock uncle now has a bike and is looking to joining you on your next big group ride. The cleaning. The endless boxes and tape. The sheer amount of time it takes is always straight up nightmarish. Now imagine moving your custom bike shop. Suddenly it’s goodbye income, too. But far from collapsing in a screaming heap, David Gonzalez from Barcelona’s Ad Hoc Cafe Racers managed to find the time make this Honda NX650.
There are plenty of ways to get addicted to speed and the two-wheeled variety sinks its hooks in hard. But when your first day at the local flat track involves getting thrown the keys to one of the world’s greatest builders own personal thrill machines you never had a chance. That’s exactly what happened to Brent Giesbrecht of MotoVida Cycle in Kelowna, Canada; when AMD winning superstar Roger Goldammer sent Brent out on his tricked out YZ400. Now a Moto Guzzi dealer Brent decided it was time to take a life’s worth of inspiration and pack it all into one sideways sensation, a 2017 Moto Guzzi V9 Flat Track bullet.
Over the past eight years, Pipeburn has brought you bikes from all over the world and from every manufacturer you care to name. There’s even some I’d never even heard of. But as it happens, a custom Cagiva had never landed in our net. They are an Italian manufacturer with quite an important story to tell. Thankfully we’ve snagged a big one, and it comes from a man with a rare gift of taking any bike at all and building an absolute beast. From the incredible Pepo Rosell of XTR Pepo, here’s an ’86 Cagiva Elefant 350 Dirt Tracker that goes by the name ‘Chico Malo.’
I recently pulled my old turntable out of the garage and got it up and running again. A new needle and belt, some dust removal and a few solders here and there and suddenly I’m rediscovering a wall of vinyl that hasn’t been played in many, many years. It’s easy to forget just how much great music was recorded in the 70s and 80s. You could dismiss the era as wall-to-wall makeup and silly hair, but a closer inspection will reveal some amazingly inspired, and beautifully timeless work. Sam from Canada’s Clockwork Motorcycles has taken a similar approach with his latest build – a retro Harley Sportster with all the right influences.
It seems that BMW’s R nineT has become the modern equivalent of Yamaha’s SR500 in its never-ending ability to look good customised. Whether it be a cafe racer, enduro, bobber, or some other beautiful creation, the boxer from Bavaria seems to have a genetic resistance to looking bad. It’s also become a rite of passage for shops looking to hit the big time; if you can take on a 9T and make a splash, it seems like your going places. And needless to say that tonight’s bike is just that. Here’s Argentina’s Vida Bandida with their new R nineT tracker they call ‘The Bandit’.
All or nothing. It’s a phrase you’d probably take to mean ‘no middle ground’. But it seems more and more builders are using it as a yard stick to define new genres for custom bikes. All of the popular styles rolled into one, or maybe none of them at all. What would a cafe scrambler tracker look like? Or an enduro street fighter? Conversely, how would a bike built purely to suit personal needs rather than a pre-existing category or style look? It seems that the cafe racer’s rule might just be coming to an end, and builders like California’s Sam Kao and his ‘Cobalt Storm’ Harley look to be on the crest of something very new.
I hate to admit it, but I was there in the now legendary video game arcades of the 80s. I actually played all the original machines the geeks of today froth over. Space Invaders. Donkey Kong. Nibbler. You name ‘em, I played ‘em. Yes, I’m that old. Taylor from Arkansas’ One-Up Moto Garage isn’t quite as decrepit as me, but he too is a fan. And there’s one game he loves above all else. Atari’s Asteroids. He loves it so much, he’s gone and customised a 1984 Honda Ascot VT500 to honour it.
Nitrous oxide. Turbos. Superchargers. We’re as guilty as the next guy and or gal for drooling over flashy go-faster parts that make good headlines and get those website clicks a-clicking. But there’s a much more traditional approach to speed that doesn’t involve mega bucks and a team of rocket scientists. It’s what bikers have done since the dawn of time. Drop weight, increase capacity and work on the heads. And for Schlachtwerk’s Tommy Thöring, it’s just this approach that turned out this little gem. Meet his Kawasaki W740 he calls ‘No Fat’.
It’s 2017 and I find myself in a dilemma involving lack of time and money. Questioning how we would build our next custom as well as a new bike to race in the American Flat Track series, a decision was made to kill two birds with one stone. Why not build a custom worthy of the race track and a race bike worthy of being a custom piece of two-wheel art? Why not, indeed!