Motorcycles have an amazing way of getting under your skin. It seems that no matter how hard you try to forget about them, they’ll always bubble to the surface one way or another. For California’s Fernando Cruz, college and his own business took over from his love of bikes, but sure enough fate stepped in and the result was a slow and steady re-entry in motoland that finished with a racing job, an award from the Quail Motorcycle Gathering and this amazing Yamaha XS750, built with his employer, Meen Motorsports.
Dreams can’t be forced, they evolve and as much as we might hope that the object of our desire appears instantly before us it rarely if ever eventuates. Instead dreams take a series of twists and turns and only time reveals if they will live up to all we had hoped for; too often we awake disappointed. So to ensure total satisfaction Gregg Miner, Co-Founder of Speed Craft Co, decided to control his subconscious trance and lay his hands on mechanical metal. From the bare bones of a 1974 Ducati 860 GT comes this Bologna beautiful cafe racer crafted in Southern California.
If you’ve been flicking through Pipeburn over the last few years you’ll have noticed a change – everyone is shifting away from traditional retro-styled builds. Tight, fast, water-cooled, turn-and-stop on a dime bikes are becoming more popular as more people are actually riding their custom machines and the zeitgeist finds it’s niche in everyday life. Thankfully for grumpy old bastards like me people are still building traditional, honest-to-god specials. And damn well, as Gasser Custom’s 1974 Ironhead Sportster shows.
At a chaotic moment in history, it’s worth reflecting on the words of Bertrand Russell “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Russell’s logic is born out in the back story to today’s incredible Cafe Racer. One look at the catalogue of builds by California’s Kott Motorcycles and you know they can spin a spanner. But brilliant builder Dustin Kott was apprehensive about taking on the project having never worked on a BMW before. He needn’t have had any doubt, as he’s turned a once bulky 1977 BMW R100/7 Tourer into a sleek and slick Cafe Racer.
All or nothing. It’s a phrase you’d probably take to mean ‘no middle ground’. But it seems more and more builders are using it as a yard stick to define new genres for custom bikes. All of the popular styles rolled into one, or maybe none of them at all. What would a cafe scrambler tracker look like? Or an enduro street fighter? Conversely, how would a bike built purely to suit personal needs rather than a pre-existing category or style look? It seems that the cafe racer’s rule might just be coming to an end, and builders like California’s Sam Kao and his ‘Cobalt Storm’ Harley look to be on the crest of something very new.
In his shop in downtown Los Angeles, Max Hazan works harder than your average prisoner of war. And his efforts show – he routinely fabricates some of the cleanest, most distinctive builds you’re ever likely to see. This time around he’s outdone himself with a turbocharged 1978 Ducati 860GT, a bike that got really interesting a few weeks into the build when he received a call from his client.
It’s the fourth month of 2017 and we’re calling it. Mash-ups. Hybrids. Cross genre. Call them what you will, but it’s pretty clear to us that less and less builders are interested in conforming to typical bike categories. Our case in point? When we interview builders, more and more are refusing to classify what they’ve built, or they’re telling us, ‘It’s whatever you want it to be.’ Well, tonight it looks like we wanted it to be an enduro Yamaharley brat with a bumblebee paint job and more fork travel than a 12 foot man on a spaghetti binge. Meet Kickstart Moto’s very random, very cool ‘Plan B’ Yamaha XT500.
The more you ride and the more bikes you own, the more you realise that pretty much every bike is a compromise. If it goes fast, chances are it’ll be uncomfortable. If it’s great on the highway, it’ll suck on the twisties. And if it’s old, it’ll be totally unreliable. But the beauty of bike customising is that you don’t have to blindly take what you’re given. On the contrary, you can pretty much have it all. Which is just what the Boxer Metal client who now owns this ‘Weiss & Grun’ BMW 1982 R100T asked for. You name it, this cafe can pretty much do it.
It’s one of the truly great inventions of the last 200 years. So global is its appeal, it has taken on cult status, put a country on the map and delivers more uses than one could ever possibly need. If the Offiziersmesser has one problem, it’s that nobody but German speakers can pronounce its bloody name; so G.I.’s came up with the moniker that has stuck ever since, the ‘Swiss Army knife.’ As a design it looks brilliant; it serves a purpose for every occasion and in the right hands it’s lethal. So it should come as no surprise that such a tool served as inspiration for this revolutionary retro streetfighter built by California’s Gasser Customs. And just like the little red knife this stunning ‘78 Honda CB750 comes with a much more user-friendly name, ‘Ol’ Red.’
Good lord, you Northern Hemispherians have it tough. The lucky ones get to ride for six months of the year and spend the rest trying to wrench on their bikes while avoiding frostbite. And the not so lucky? Norwegian Axel Mustad gets his time to shine only three months of the year. So for his 2017 window of opportunity, he decided he was going to treat himself. Enter Richard Pollock and his trusty Mule Motorcycles with a Triumph street tracker that clearly made ol’ ‘Colonel’ Mustard feel like all his Christmases had come at once.