There was a time when the only way to see the very best custom motorcycles from around the globe was to duck into your local newsagent hoping the latest edition of your favourite magazine was on the stands. But the internet has changed all that, the moment a new cool custom is completed anywhere on earth you can see it almost immediately online. With such an overload of brilliant bikes it’s easy to take a blasé attitude to just how amazing some of these builds are. But even if you look at bikes all day long the latest custom creation by Dirk Oehlerking of Germany’s Kingston Customs will leave you captivated. Strap yourself in, because this blown 1986 BMW R80RT known as White Phantom is like nothing you see every day and deserves your full attention.
Customers come in all shapes and sizes. The easy ones. The difficult ones. The ones that trust you and the ones that want to tell you how it’s done. But when you’re building a custom bike, surely there could be not more difficult a client than a Director of Photography. Charged with making shots look great on big budget films or TV, there’s probably no one in the world more focused on the details, colours and structure of a creative job. So while the builder is talking to them about choosing a seat colour, the ‘DOP’ is probably playing cinematic images of the finished bike through his over-active head. Images that are probably very similar to the ones you see here. And that’s because the DOP in this instance is also the Untitled Motorcycles customer who ordered this BMW and the guy who shot it. Check out Chris Steven’s beautiful ‘79 ‘Mile Muncher’ R80/7
For most mere mortals the taller they are, the better life is. Tall people are statistically proven to be more likely to land jobs, attract a suitable mate and impose their will on others. But as a biker, I see things quite differently. I see a really tall person in public and I think quietly to myself, “I’m glad I’m not that tall. Riding a bike would be impossible…” Or maybe that’s just me. Whatever the case, it just so happens that today’s feature build grew out of just such a thought. Take one very tall guy called ‘Bobeus’, add a BMW R1100GS and the Netherland’s Moto Adonis, and you can bet the end result will be sky-high.
There is a symbiotic relationship with surfing and motorcycles that is hard to ignore, and it’s one that has existed for decades. When it’s just you and your board or bike, the rhythmic flow of the next corner becomes just like the turn at the bottom of a glassy wave. You’re alone, just you and a handcrafted creation doing your best to become one with nature. In areas around the world the two have become inextricably linked, from Bali, to the Bay of Biscay, Bondi Beach and the entire West Coast of the Americas. It’s here we find Mexico’s Catrina Motosurf, who build incredible machines, influenced by their environment and the ’70s surf culture. So what better way to get to the waves from their base in Guadalajara than on a brand new cafe’d BMW R nineT that shreds the sealed roads and the sand, too.
In many ways, It’s BMW’s eccentricities that make them so interesting. From the air cooling and boxer engines to shaft drive and weird headlights, there’s just something about all that awkward Germanic design that really sets them apart. But of all their unique outside-the-square thinking, there’s nothing more endearing than their flirtation with telelever front suspension. Also known as a Saxon-Motodd front fork, it aims to reduce or remove brake dive – a long-time bugbear of telescopic forks. Of course, nature had solved this problem a millennia ago by allowing the big cats to isolate their heads with near-perfect stillness while their bodies weave and dart beneath them. One such big cat is Thailand’s Black Panther, who’s clearly the inspiration for today’s BMW R1100RS by their country’s very own K-Speed Customs.
Black is white. Dogs are cats. Bike dealer are customisers. If there was ever a gauge of just how far the custom bike scene has come on its decade-long world domination tour, it’s this. Bike dealers busting top customising chops. And there’s no accessories catalogue or wallet-driven pretence here. This is an honest-to-goodness home run by a shop that’s so trad they even sell BMW cars. Colour us impressed, and colour our feature bike purple(ish) for a second night in row. Here’s Brighton’s Chandlers Bikes and their retail masterpiece, the ‘One.Sixteen’ RnineT.
What’s the biggest change you’ve ever undergone when buying a new bike? For many of us, it’s simply the newer, bigger, better model of whatever it was we were already riding. The more daring of us might jump ship to another brand or, if they are getting old and all complain-y like me, something with a bit more comfort that’s easier on the wrists. But have you ever thought about making a really big leap of faith and choosing something that’s just totally and utterly different in almost every single way? Austria’s Titan Motorcycles faced something along these lines with their latest build. In the end, the customer rode out on this, one of the nicest, most original Beemer Bricks we seen all year. But can you guess what he rode in on?
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not a technical instruction book but the tale of a journey punctuated with philosophical insights. The Motorcycle Diaries too has a title that requires further exploration and is in fact about one Norton, two young men and the journey that sparked the world’s most famous revolutionary’s deep thinking. From T.E. Lawrence to the modern-day adventures of Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor, motorcycles are as much about the adventures they take us on as they are about the machines themselves. For Blaž Šuštaršič the founder of Slovenia’s ER Motorcycles such an epic trip on two wheels has played on his mind for years, so when a client worked in the door looking for someone to build a bike fit to travel the world Blaž knew it was a project that was meant to be. Using a 1989 BMW R100GS Paris Dakar as the base he’s created a machine called “Glober” that’s ready to write a legendary new tale.
The word ‘minimalism’ gets thrown around a lot these days. Ever since the rise of the post-WWII art movement of the same name, it seems like every man and his monochromatic dog have become experts on the subject. But I’m here to tell you that despite what you may think, most people don’t really know what minimalism actually is. ‘Less is more!’ the peanut gallery blurts. Well, yes but mostly no. Follow that logic to its, erm, logical conclusion and you’ll end up with nothing at all. A more practical definition of minimalism is to do more with less or to make the most out of as little as possible. Smash cut to a workshop somewhere deep in an Austrian winter. We see two young men as they consider a motorcycle. It’s so stripped back, it’s barely there at all and yet its visual impact and physical presence is enough to stop you in your tracks. They are Vagabund. The bike is a new BMW they call ‘V05’.
You’re a fly on the wall of a BMW Motorrad meeting in Germany in 1977. Much to your horror, you witness what looks to be the end of the company happening right before your very eyes. Faced with the massive challenges of Japanese dominance, the ‘death’ of the boxer twin and big new emissions regulations, the company’s Kaisers are about to sign off what looks to be a train wreck on two wheels. They are all in agreement; they will put a four-cylinder Peugeot engine sideways into a new BMW bike. Surely this idea is so comical and misguided, it’s the last bike the company will ever make. Fast forward 40 years to the present day and somehow we’re in the middle of a BMW K-series resurgence. Up is down. Black is white. Square is cool. There are bricks everywhere and here’s the latest one to be thrown; it’s the Wrench Kings’ very black, very cool BMW K100.