Written by Martin Hodgson
Motorcycles have played an important role in the life of war veterans since the very beginning of the custom culture and many of the greatest builders and trend-setters have seen action. For anyone who hasn’t seen the horrors of war it’s impossible to imagine the process of re-integrating back into society but clearly the therapeutic nature of the build, the creative outlet to express and the freedom of the ride play an important role. For Ryan Gist after serving a decade in the Army and returning from Iraq to a corporate job he needed something else, a food for the soul, bike building and has instantly shown a natural flair! It was while riding the fire-roads of Washington State that an encounter with a blasting banged up airhead inspired Ryan’s love for BMW’s and this sleek 1970 R60/5 Scrambler is the result of his desire to create a rapid go-anywhere machine with the look to match.
Something strange has been going on in the Province of Cordoba, Argentina, at the highest point of the nearby Sierras Chicas mountain range. On the hill known as Uritorco people have been claiming to see UFOs and there are rumours of an underground city. Things got so strange that when the 21st December 2012, the supposed end date of the Mayan Calendar, drew near the mountain was closed as fears of a mass suicide emerged. Needless to say this is not a place you want to break down but the Sierras Chicas also happen to be an incredible place to explore with amazing landscapes, beautiful suspension bridges and vistas fit for a movie scene. So who better to create a crazy custom to venture into this unknown domain than Cordoba’s own Lucas Layum and his creative crew at Lucky Custom. It’s a 2002 BMW 1150GS that’ll go absolutely anywhere and still look the goods should you need to impress a fit green gal from outer space.
Father and son duos can be a hit and miss combination, Jerry and Ben Stiller have made millions making the world laugh and even with Jerry at 89 they’re still working together. On the other hand Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great not only became bitter rivals, the folks they encountered along their journeys hardly had smiles on their faces. Luckily for the father and son team behind FrenchMonkeys, Lionel and Florian, they not only get on like a house on fire but their love for customising motorcycles has become a very successful business venture. Based in Lyon, France, their builds have become so popular there is now a waiting list for their services and their parts business is doing a roaring trade. But after fifteen straight client builds it was time to create a bike for themselves and the BMW specialists have turned this 1978 R60/7 into a long and lean custom with plenty of classic style.
If you’ve ever visited outback Australia, you’ll realise just how a movie like Mad Max could come about. With nature’s brutal extremes an always-present reality, and dusty old Australian cars the only real means of transport, things tend to get rather apocalyptic very quickly. Now Sicily may seem a world away from this brutality, but remember that Palermo, Sicily’s capital, is actually closer to African desert than it is to Rome, and that the island has been subjected to thousands of years of invasions from many unruly southern hordes. Add this to the fact that the last Mad Max movie was actually filmed in Africa, and the parallels between Australian and Sicily start to make real sense. Channelling this, and adding a large dose of wine, women and food for good measure is Delux Motorcycles. Here’s their latest, a BMW R65 they call ‘Mad Max’.
Amsterdam-based Ironwood Customs create some of the finest and most unique ‘brat style’ bikes you are likely to see. ‘Heartbreaker’, or IWC27 – to give it its formal name – is the latest creation to be born from Ironwood and man, this is a wild child that makes Hunter S. Thompson look like your Aunt Shirley on a Sunday afternoon. Rebellious, challenging and unrestrained, this stripped back BMW strikes hard and fast and leaves a lasting impression. And some decent emotional scars, too. Like most heartbreakers, you commit four of the seven deadly sins just looking at it. And to ride it? Well…
When Confucius said “all good things are difficult to achieve and bad things are very easy to get,” he might not have been talking about motorcyclists, but I’m sure he’d agree Stuart’s story fits the bill. Having pieced together a very tasty Triumph Thruxton, Stuart, a Sydneysider originally from Switzerland, was minding his own business when cruising the CBD on his bike when a tourist in the harbourside city came straight through a red light and took him out. Both man and machine were in a mess and although Stuart would ride again, his number one steed had to be put down. Six weeks in a wheelchair and three months out of action to recover gave him a lot of time to think. And rather than waste drinking beer and playing Xbox, Stuart used his recovery to imagine his motorcycling resurrection, a raging BMW R nineT.
Love, like motorcycling, is a many splendoured thing. The buzz. The feelings of invincibility. The brisk winter rides while completely naked. What? So, it’s just me who does that? Whatever the case, the two really do go hand in hand – like Romeo and Juliet. So when California’s Boxer Metal got an order from a young Guatemalan couple named Rudolpho and Stephanie for a two-up BMW that could handle the ‘charismatic’ roads of this ancient Central American paradise, the team’s very own lovebirds, Chris and Rebecca, got to work. And the result truly is a match made in heaven.
Last week we lost one of the most renowned Heavyweight Champions of the World. He called himself “The Greatest.” The whole world knew him as “The Champ.” Muhammad Ali’s technique and speed set him apart from all other fighters. His shadowboxing was the stuff of legend. So after talking to EAK of K-Speed customs in Bangkok, there could be no second guessing as to how he came up with the name of his latest creation, a brawny BMW RnineT cafe racer called ‘Shadow Boxer.’ The bike had to be named after the Champ, right? Guess again. EAK insists the name was inspired by the “boxer” engine format, coupled with the bike’s color palette. EAK explains his passion for bikes as being “born out of a nagging need to feel free and the belief that motorcycles can take you anywhere.” He describes his build approach as outside the box with a love and focus on timeless design and creating unique machines.
The Paris-Dakar Rally is one of the truly great motorsport events, known around the world the winning vehicles often go on to achieve legendary status and large sales success. The epitome of that notion is the BMW GS series which launched in 1980 and would go on to win the Rally four times in five years. By 2009 that winning formula had resulted in the sale of more than half a million road going versions and the legend of the GS lives on today. But with the Wheels & Waves Festival kicking off today in Biarritz on the French Atlantic coast, BMW Motorrad decided to pay homage to the desert killer of the ’80s by transforming their latest show room success into this, the BMW Motorrad Concept Lac Rose.
Genres are something that the human mind seems to crave. Show our primitive brains something that isn’t easily classifiable, categorised or catalogued and we get nervous. But when it comes to bikes, it seems that it’s always the customs that defy the genres that are the ones that outlast them, too. Whether it’s Hazan and his yachting bobbers, or Diamond Atelier and their stanced racing brats, the harder the bikes are to pigeonhole, the better we all seem to like them. So when it came time to post tonight’s bike, we took the fact that we had to stop and think about what to call it as golden mana from heaven. With its not-quite-cafe looks mixed up with a dash of brat and even a smidgen of modern sports bike, we reckon that this, the latest and arguable the best build from London’s Auto Fabrica, is destined for great things. We spoke to Bujar Muharremi, the shop’s co-founder and Creative Director to find out more.