Evolution always seems slow for the living. They are blissfully unaware of any new creatures rising up, until a swarm of better beasts takes them down as they are going about their daily business. From the post war Hogs on the interstates in the USA to the Motorway Cafes of a Rockin’ ‘60s Great Britain, the commuter class that was previously afraid of us has grown accustomed to these stalwarts of the custom motorcycle scene, as generations of bike builders have followed their founder’s leads. But in an increasingly urbanised world, a new animal has emerged from the city streets of Munich; two of its favourite sons have joined forces to put their signature touches on Bavaria’s most famous brand and created a revolution, codenamed ‘DA#4’. Prepare to witness first-hand the birth of the ‘Neo-Racer’ genre.
With the boom in popularity of the R series BMW’s of late the men who designed and worked on its many incarnations must be sitting back and scratching their heads, this they would say is not what they had in mind; BMW until recently had always been a very conservative manufacturer. That’s even more true of the R100rs that was built with the purpose of slapping on some panniers and cruising the highways of Europe, with the first review by Cycle Magazine describing it as a “Basic long-haul BMW”. But Craig and Thor of Route 62 Customs from Port Elizabeth in South Africa saw in this a 1982 BMW R100rs what so many others have seen, solid engineering, mechanical strength and a sense of unique style that would be perfect for their shops first custom.
If you’ve been building motorcycles for a long time, you will start accumulating parts like a housewife collects Tupperware. My garage, for example, is full of old parts I have taken off, upgraded, bought cheap at swap meets or had thrown in when I’ve purchased a bike – it’s damn hard to say no to free spare parts, right? Like many builds featured on these pages, the Bavarian Knight began as a big pile of metal from a multitude of different bikes. The owner, John Yeosock, initially purchased a stash of old cast-offs from John Landstrom at Blue Moon Cycles. Then, not knowing what to make out of all the random parts, he contacted Bryan Fuller from Fuller Moto in Alanta to see if he could help. Together, they went back to John’s warehouse and rummaged through all his bits and pieces until they had picked up all the parts they felt they could build a modern, yet classic BMW cafe racer.
Hot on the heals of their 1 Show winning, twin turbo’d, controversy stirrin’ R100, Boxer Metal have graced our eyeballs yet again with this, their latest creation. Riding high on the current wave of love for all things boxer, the shop seems like they can do no wrong. And, as if to rub that fact in our appreciative little biker faces, they’ve gone and topped the untoppable. Sure, those two turbos would be a real damn hoot for a while… but what happens when you start to miss carving up the corners? This happens. It’s 70s. It’s orange. It’s fared to within an inch of its 42-year-old life. It’s Boxer Metal’s beautiful R90S.
In the automotive world the basic aesthetics of a motorcycle and car could hardly be more different but they have always followed many of the same trends throughout the decades. What else could explain the sheer number of squared off boxes in the ’80s or the silhouettes of sex appeal that were ’60s cars and bikes. But the inspiration of a beautiful woman has been a constant throughout, we’ll have to blame 1980’s fairings on shoulder pads, so when Arjan van den Boom describes wanting the look of his 1986 BMW R80 to be a “Robust gas tank, big shock, small ass and fat rear tire” it’s fair to say the female form was on his mind.
Sometimes it’s easy to hate the French. The food. The wine. The beautiful women. We’re not quite sure what the country has done to deserve all this mana from heaven, but they must have all been very well-behaved in a past life. And, as if to rub salt into the wounds of the rest of the word, along comes the very attractive Monsieur Fabrice Rude rom La Manufacture. With a name that couldn’t be more French if it tried, he’s here as living proof that life is just plain better in the land of the Française. Deciding he just might pop along to the Wheels & Waves show in Biarritz, he seemingly threw together a build at the last-minute only to become the star of the show and subsequently smothered in beautiful women, fame, fortune and bucketloads of la belle vie. Don’t you just hate him?
To say that Adam Nestor got out of the blocks in his bike building career like Usain Bolt going for Olympic Gold is an understatement. With Adam’s Custom Shop’s first builds including Madame Guzzi and Sporganic this young Swedish bike builder showed at just 20 years of age he was capable of building the sort of bikes most mere mortals require decades of honing their craft to achieve. But for a custom motorcycle workshop to survive financially in the long-term a builder has to be capable of turning out lower cost builds while still retaining their signature quality and style. In these two customer builds, a 1974 Honda CB750 and a BMW R100RT the young Swede proves even his budget builds are brilliant!
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of the most successful automotive titles ever written, having sold more than five million copies and although its author Robert M. Pirsig admits “It’s not very factual on motorcycles” the global success of the work is one of many proofs that our passion for Motorbikes is more than just a hobby. It’s rooted in family and community, fraternity and adventure, it can bring us our greatest highs and for many it’s our therapy at our times of greatest need. For Craig Jones of Warwickshire and his meticulously crafted 1980 BMW R80 this build has been both a way to cope with great loss and the beginning of a bright new journey.
The relationship between client and creator is always a tricky one. Just ask any designer; their customers always want a game-changing creation for nix, and they usually want it yesterday. But great work always takes time. Time, and the patronage of someone who understands that the bike builder might actually know more about, you know, building bikes. When this happens, art often follows. Art like this, for instance; the latest and dare we say greatest from Kentucky’s best custom bike builder, Scott Halbleib of H Garage.
Sit around a table, hang out in a workshop or share a beer with a group of custom bike fanatics and one question is guaranteed to come up every single time, “What if?”. What if we jammed a Triumph engine in a Norton frame, what if we stuck my Gixxer forks on your old CB Honda or what if we, follow me here guys, we turned a Hyosung into a race bike? Ok, so clearly some ideas are best forgotten, others have gone on to become legendary innovations and the vast bulk never see the light of day. But when Craig Marleau of Kick Start Garage in Northern California had such a moment he not only built his “What if” idea, The Taco Truck, he completed it in record time, pulled off a creation the likes of which has never been seen and won an award at the prestigious The One Moto Show.