For decades, British bikes dominated the market and played the biggest role of all in fuelling the original Cafe Racer revolution. But when the Japanese hit full swing, it wasn’t long before once great companies that were household names went bust. Triumph and Norton are now back in full swing, creating modern machines and retro remakes that pay homage to their most beloved models. So with news Indian giant Mahindra have acquired the license to start producing BSA’s once again, only time will tell if they too will join the modern retro market. Should they need any further convincing that classic BSA’s have stood the test of time, they need only to take a look at this picture perfect example. Hot on the heels of their Triumph build from last week The GasBox of Ohio deliver this stunning 1968 BSA Royal Star, built for an owner who, like us, decided one GasBox bike just wasn’t enough.
Land Speed Racing gets into your blood. Once there, it digs down deep into your veins, stretches its claws and releases its barbs. It stays with you for life. That has to be true if the 100+ years of man and machine racing down abandoned runways, across salt flats and hurtling over hard sand beaches has taught us anything about this sport and those who compete in it. For once they’ve completed that first pass, success or failure, they spend the rest of their lives tinkering, designing and building new parts and machines that will get them even that extra mile per hour faster. Dan Daughenbaugh and his ’51 BSA Star Twin ‘Greasy Gringo’ are no different and he’s the first to admit it – “It sounds like you’re crazy”.
“If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” That’s what my Dad often says. But quite obviously, my Dad has never met Pennsylvania’s Dan Daughenbaugh. And if he had, he would undoubtedly have even more sage-like advice to dispense on exactly how Dan is going about his attempt at a world land speed record. There’s the barbecued third-hand engine. The less-than-perfect welds and the drain pipe exhausts. And let’s not forget the tangled mess of un-aerodynamic cabling right up there where the wind hits the bike. But you know what? If I were to attempt to build and run a land speed bike of my own, this is exactly how I would want it to be. What’s that, Dad? Sorry, I can’t hear you over the roar of the crowd celebrating my amazing victory.
This short film is about the intriguing Frenchman named Bixente. He is the man behind Bixente Moto in Biarritz, France. Bixente Moto isn’t your typical custom bike shop. You see, Bixente collects and sells all sorts of moto memorabilia, vintage furniture, skateboards, BMX bikes and anything else that takes his fancy. Of course, they also build bikes, preferring to work with old english metal – Bixente has a particular passion for BSA’s.
The film was directed and edited by the talented Douglas Guillot who also shot the Southsiders 2013 Wheels & Waves official videos. Just like those, this one will make you want to go for a ride along the French coast.
Like any creative pursuit, it always helps to have some form of inspiration for a bike build. It could be as simple as referencing another bike or builder that you like. Or maybe it’s a particular decade from history that gets your juices flowing. Whatever the case, we’re pretty confident when we say that you’d have a hard time surprising us with your choice. We’ve pretty much seen them all. Or at least that’s what we thought until we met Michael Alton. See, his inspiration was from none other than his grandmother, who also happened to be a World War II roller derby queen and a woman who liked getting around town on a ‘38 Indian Chief. Her name was Agnes; now meet the rather inspirational bike that bears her name.
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It’s a truism of sorts, but in many ways customising bikes is as much about what you remove and where you cut the bike as it is about what you add. Many builds that are hailed as ‘miraculous transformations’ turn out to be mostly about the builder’s skill in seeing past all the external frippery and into the core beauty of the bike’s design. As Michelangelo famously put it, ‘I simply saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’ And if ever there was a bike the personified that approach it would have to be this, the latest build from Spain’s La Raiz (or The Root) Motorcycles.
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There’s a funny feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you first start to customise a classic bike. It must be the same kind of feeling that an architect who is asked to modify a famous building gets, or an audio engineer that has to do a ‘digital remaster’ of a classic rock album feels. The excitement that builds from creating something new and original, mixed with the heavy burden that comes from modifying a classic. But there’s a simple remedy to this that I’d never considered until I laid eyes on this, the latest build from North Carolina’s pre-eminent custom bike shop, Briton Bees. And that’s to build the bike from not one, but ten different donor vehicles… including a VW Bug and a ‘30s Peugeot. Seriously. Please read on as you enjoy the world’s most recycled, um, cycle; the amazing ‘Howlin’ Wolf’ BSA.
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By guest writer Ian Lee.
Everyone should have a hobby. Something removed from everyday employment in order to keep one’s sanity. Today’s feature bike is a result of keeping work and play separate, of escapism of the best kind, that of custom motorcycle building. A civil engineer by trade, Aaron Rubio’s true passion is building and riding custom bikes, which he tries his hardest to be able to do at least once a week. Recent comments about a BSA and electrical wiring prompted Aaron to send pics of his 1972 BSA A65 Lightning bobber into Pipeburn, to show solidarity in not having every little aspect of your bike perfectly tucked away and looking neat. In Aaron’s own words “I do believe clean wiring has it’s place, but exposed wiring helps define the soul of a bike”. True, and we love this bike for all it’s touches, exposed wiring and all.
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Building a custom bike can be one hell of a challenge. And we’re not just talking about the skinned knuckles and cold nights with nothing but a greasy lump of metal to keep you warm. No, what we’re really getting at is the more intellectual aspects of a customisation. The seemingly simple decisions you have to make about what to do with the bike that will successfully take it from ‘hate’ to ‘great’. Having done this ourselves, we are all too familiar with just how infuriating choosing a seat, picking rubber, or routing an exhaust can be. Thoughts race through your head. “Is this a cliché… is it original… will it look cool?” These things can eat you alive if you let them, but then along comes a bike that slaps you right in your navel-gazing, self-important face. Cue the latest build from Rudy Banny’s Tattoo Project Custom Motorcycles. It takes no la-di-da, avanté garde approaches, yet like a simple slice of apple pie and ice cream, it totally manages to hit the spot.
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You may or may not have noticed, but on the odd occasion us Pipeburnian types do tend to hunt out some pretty sweet bikes. And as with anything that’s pleasing to the eye, you often can’t help but feel a little jealous because every time you look in your inbox you are bombarded with a vast array of rides that, save for a massive crime spree, are most definitely not yours. But today I think I can safely say that I’ve taken it to the next level. See, looking over the photos you see before you, I found myself not only jealous of the bike shown in the shots, but also of… well of everything. There’s the polo horses. The garage full of sweet rides. A house that looks to all intents and purposes like a palace, and a guy called Vijay that owns the lot and runs a custom bike shop too boot. And then he’s gone and done the whole thing in Rajasthan, often acknowledged as one of India’s most beautiful spots. Don’t you just hate him?
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