When the Yamaha engineers put pencil to paper and created the XS650 with its classic looking parallel twin they could never have imagined that so many decades later it would continue to be a cult classic. But when Heath Reed owner of River Rat Cycle Fab from Davenport Iowa was commissioned to build this 1977 example he didn’t want to simply run with the pack and do the standard modifications. Instead the brilliant fabricator spent hours in deep thought working out how he could create more than just another XS650 tracker. In the end he came up with a hybrid; a tracker with a touch of café racer, street fighter styling cues and a little inspiration from the greatest guitar ever made! With the design finalised Heath set about giving the ’77 XS a second birth that when finished would be known as “The Rattler”.
The Honda XR600R is hardly the sort of bike you could classify as refined. A big plastic drenched thumper, it’s design aims for function over form. That’s not to say that can’t be changed though, with the big single making a great platform for a custom build. This is exactly what Moto Motivo has done with their latest commissioned build, taking a 1993 XR600R and making it ‘stand out in a sea of XR builds’. Looking very naked, this decluttered XR was built for Greg Hochreiter, the founder of Devolve Moto, a moto lifestyle shop based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Conceived with the idea of using the machine as a daily rider, Moto Motivo has ensured the Honda retains it’s utility, while making it look a whole lot prettier than it did in it’s polyethylene cloaked factory guise.
Approaching one of the most enigmatic builders in the world with your idea for a custom build can be a nerve-racking experience, when you bring a limited budget and a quirky bike to the party you might want a stiff drink first. But for Karl “Ed” Renoult of France’s Ed Turner Motorcycles every new challenge is a chance to test his building skills and in this case give some attitude to a bike in its original fair he describes as a “Norman Wardrobe”. Hugo the owner of this BMW K100 really only had two requests, he wanted a blue tank and a tracker build the rest would be in Karl’s more than capable hands. Only one other thing, Hugo is a student and as Karl found out that meant “no dosh”, but that hasn’t stopped Ed Turner Motorcycles turning out another first class build proving yet again a great builder doesn’t need a blank cheque to create a masterpiece.
The Dutch lads from Wrench Kings are back with another Honda, this time around it’s a barnstorming 1982 CB900 Bol d’Or designed and built to be as tough as its owner. But long before the Wrench Kings team of Joost, Bram & Laurens were spinning the spanners on this CB they were living corporate lives in the giant playground that is Dubai. Cheap fuel and a host of toys had the guys playing with roadbikes, jet skis, cool cars, quads and just about everything that had an engine. But after years of living abroad they decided to return to their native Netherlands and establish Wrench Kings. It’s a brand that is growing rapidly and when big Dutchman Bob, a tattooist at Bunker Tattoo shop in Breda saw what the guys were doing he had to have his own Wrench Kings custom creation.
When Macco Motors built their No. 3 Triumph Bonneville named “Dusty Pearl”, they created a machine that would inspire customers from around the world to send the Spanish workshop orders for a Macco Bonnie just like it. Each bike has been created with a twist here and turn there to suit the visual tastes and the type of riding each client desires. But when a big German by the name of Martin made the call for a Macco Bonneville of his own, the guys convinced him that it was worth taking his 2008 Triumph Bonneville for a walk on the wild side. It was time to create “Apache”.
Spain’s Macco Motors are building a large following with their clean and classic builds of everything from Harley V-Twins to little European 2 Stroke smokeys. But it is there Triumph Bonneville builds that are gaining fans from all corners of the globe and it was this that brought to them Jarlath, a customer from Belfast in Northern Ireland who’d seen the Macco Bonneville’s and had to have one of his own. Who could blame him, Macco Motors build many of the parts themselves, they do everything in-house and all of their builds are first class. Road racing is arguably the national sport in Northern Ireland but with its iffy weather Jarlath wanted a machine that was more than capable in all conditions; Macco delivered exactly that and more, a 2010 Triumph Bonneville delivered across the Irish sea sporting the most fitting of names, “Pilgrim”.
Less than two years ago Hill Hudson had his first bike featured on Pipeburn.com and it was predicated “we have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from this guy in the not too distant future.” Well it seems that prediction has come to fruition, as Hill is back in a big way and his Café Tracker inspired 1973 Honda CB350 sets the bar more than a few rungs higher. While completing his studies in Illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, Hill submitted the first bike in his Escape Series as his major thesis. That Yamaha XS650 was such a success that the philosophy behind the build has manifested itself into a place that is more than just a workshop. Escape Collective is a team of designers, makers, artists and engineers who use their professional talents to create an array of artistic projects, some of which just happen to be motorcycles.
Chris and Rob Chappell of Chappell Customs are two brothers that have been building a variety of streetable custom motorcycles for a long time now. With Rob in Ontario and Chris in Los Angeles, they don’t build many bikes together the way they used to. But for Chris, this Harley Davidson project took on a challenge much harder than just pure geographical separation. This 1997 HD 883 was owned by L.A. based Chappell Customs worker Chris Hensley, who tinkered on the bike when he had a little spare time. Along the way head honcho Chris Chappell bought the 883 but just two days before it was completed Hensley was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on the way to work. Following his passing the bike sat once more until Chappell did what he does best and finished the bike in a fitting tribute to his friend.
The kids are alright; 26-year-old Sander Ilves from Estonia took a crashed ’84 BMW R80 and created a mean and clean street tracker for his own amusement. The budget? Pretty much zero. The team? Just him. And the shop? Nothing but his cold, Estonian garage.
Dust off the drafting table, refill the clutch pencil and grab the dividers. Retired Dutch Architect Henk Woltjer has teamed up with local shop Motogadgets to create the perfect motorcycle to relive his youth; it’s a millimetre-exact Yamaha XS650 tracker inspired by the first bike he built some thirty years earlier.