In the quiet German city of Oldenburg a highly skilled carpenter whittles away his days designing and crafting the finest furniture from timbers gathered from the local oak forests. But by night a darker side comes out to play, the chisel and mallet swapped for the tools of a blacksmith, here the carpenter turns motorcycle builder creating minimalist machines with the single purpose of carving up those same forests in a totally different way. Meet Marcel Papenberg who’s turned his passion and skill for motorcycle building into a second business, Box-Werk Custombikes, run in his spare time producing purposeful BMW’s from a collection of tired old machines just waiting to be restored.
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.
In the modern custom motorcycle scene, the name Bultaco is probably best known for its logo that often adorns many a T-shirt. But the company’s real success is its domination of dirt racing from the very founding of the company, when the lightweight Spanish 2 strokes took the challenge up to the heavy British 4’s and dominated the Trials world for more than a decade. But this 1976 Bultaco Astro 360, built by Pierre Dehr from France’s Freeride Motos, brings together a variety of Bultaco models components to tell the story of when a small Spanish start-up took on the world, driven by a singular love for racing, and won.
Sure, café racers are great. But you can’t deny that they are also very, well, they are very British. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; some of our best friends are English. But what if you wanted to build a bike that was true to your own roots, and not those of some leather-clad Pommies who lived a world away and an age ago? What if you wanted to take the essence of the scene and then put your own spin on things? If you were from sunny España, you’d start with a Bultaco, add a cup of café solo and maybe go for a little raza around the autopista. Which coincidentally is exactly what Bacelona’s Gas Department has just done. And they’ve also created a bike which we think is probably the best-looking Bultaco we’ve ever seen. Here’s their ‘Summer Night’ café racer.