If there’s one thing about this whole moto blogging malarkey that really warms the hemispherical cockles of our big old hearts, it’s seeing new builders go from strength to strength. When it happens, it never fails to put a smile on our faces…
Kyril Dambuleff has no barrow to push. He doesn’t run a workshop or sell parts or posters or scarves or t-shirts. He only builds motorcycles to keep himself happy and make the rest of us plonkers look bad. And he’s doing an admirable job of it with this exceptional 1972 Honda CB500 he’s dubbed ‘Bikini’.
It’s easy to underestimate just how big motocross was in Europe in the 70s and 80s. In Italy, it seems you’d be more likely to find someone who didn’t like their Nonna’s food than find a custom bike shop without some connection to the off-road art. For the Soiatti family, it was a seat on a factory bike that marked the peak of their motocross addictions. And after they kicked that habit in the 80s, father Daniele started the Soiatti Moto Classics workshop. Thirty six years later and with his son now in the picture, here’s their latest build.
For a professional furniture maker like Monnom’s Mike Gustafson, using wood on a daily basis is a necessity. But when he swaps hats to his role as a custom bike builder, the exact opposite is true. That’s because using wood on custom bikes is damn tricky at the best of times and in many cases it can look downright nasty. But with his designer’s eye, Mike took the wooden bull by the horns and created this terrifically timbered Honda CB550 he calls the ‘M3’.
I was flicking through my old record collection over the Holiday break. I’ve been seriously thinking about getting my turntable working again and dusting off a few of the many pieces of vinyl I haven’t heard in over a decade. Going through the records that had convinced me to part with my hard-earned dollars, I had one very clear thought, “Gee, I was easily amused in my teens.” There we just so many bands that seemed amazing at the time that now seem really damn gimmicky. It’s funny how age and maturity bring such clarity. It made me wonder about Pipeburn, and what we’ll all think of the bikes we post in ten years. Now I may be wrong, but I’d happily bet a crisp new $50 on the fact that this one will still wow us… and then some. Meet the very mature, and very elegant ‘Amber’ CB550 from California’s Thirteen and Company.
The phrase “unfinished project, 95% complete” is one you often see when trawling the internet to find an old car or motorbike to buy. The machine in question often looks like it’s ready to roll, comes at a bargain price and ‘how hard can that last five percent really be to finish?’ you say to yourself. Ah the horror stories. Five percent often turns out to be closer to fifty and then there is the real zinger; those last few parts you need, they’re not available any more, or “only needs a new battery to start” proves to be a full engine rebuild, wiring nightmare or both. Even complete show bikes that appear in magazines are passed off this way – that’s where Kott Motorcycles is different. Dustin spends just as much time restoring his builds to perfection as he does customising them and this slick as black ice ‘75 CB550 is no different.
“That bike’s a classic!” It’s a phrase we hear all the time, and often it’s used far too flippantly for its own good. But if we were to use a, erm, classic definition of the word ‘classic’ it would mean that for any bike to truly deserve the title, it has to be ‘of an exemplary standard within a traditional and long-established form or style.’ Of course, many of the bikes that grace our pages are far from being traditional in form. Hell, some are the exact opposite of that. But for the lucky few who do live up to the title, adoration of a bike that we know will look as good in 100 years as it does right now awaits. And the latest candidate for the title? Meet Monnom Custom’s latest, a classic Honda CB550 cafe racer if ever we saw one.
The ever-useful Wikipedia notes that the ‘Ripon’, or ‘Blackburn T.5 Ripon’ to use its correct name, was a ‘British carrier-based torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane which first flew in 1926.’ Naming their creations after Britain’s rich aviation history has become quite the thing with Norfolk’s Old Empire Motorcycles, as has creating bloody amazing custom bikes, and drinking cups of tea. And rest assured, this one is no exception to the rule. You may know it as a Honda CB550, but they know it by another name…
When it comes to Honda CB café racers there’s not a lot of people that have built as many as Jay Lossa and his team at Lossa Engineering in Long Beach California. Jay has lost count of the number of CB’s he has brought back to life since starting his shop back in 2007. He usually starts his builds with “rusty hunks of junk” that cost no more than $500. It doesn’t usually matter what condition they are in because he replaces every nut and bolt anyway. This time around he started with a decent donor CB550 that he picked up for $1300 – which makes it the most expensive donor he has ever bought.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots.
Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!