From the outside looking in the custom motorcycle culture must appear to be quite confusing for those who don’t have petrol running through their veins. Why do builders the world over take old bikes, that may not have even been that great at the time of their release, and then spend thousands of dollars and hours building crazy contraptions when you could just go into a dealership and buy a brand new superbike for the same price. The reasoning is just not something the average punter will ever understand, the thrill of an old 2-stroke, the character of the best of British or buzz that comes from hearing a 50-year-old engine fire to life again for the first time in decades, it has to be lived. But amongst us is a rare breed that make much more logical decisions, like first time builder Krystian Bednarek from Bull Cafe Racers who chose a 1992 Honda CB750 as his project over the much more fancied early models.
Maybe if JFK hadn’t kept his cool in those crucial thirteen days at the height of the Cold War and a nuclear holocaust had eventuated, this is the sort of post apocalyptic motorcycle the Russian police just might be riding today. Thankfully that scenario never did eventuate, but when a new client approached Los Angeles-based builders Thirteen and Company he had just such a bike in mind. The brief was for an end of the world Mad Max style and the team were happy to deliver. It’s not the type of bike the guys normally build but this 1972 Honda CB750 known as “The Russian” is proof their talent is not limited to just one style.
Whether we’re in the back shed tinkering with our bike or blasting down the road there is a freedom and stress release to motorcycling that cannot be denied. But when your job is literally keeping people alive while they undergo heart surgery the need to relax after work becomes that much more important and so it is that Nicolas Vincent Perna a Cardiovascular Perfusionist from Canada spends his winters building a different bike each year. Nick has a love for low mileage classic Honda’s but having been born in Italy just south of Rome he has a soft spot for the Bologna beasts too. So when he tracked down this 1982 Honda CB750 with just 4000 miles on the clock he saw an opportunity to create one very special Honda with some Ducati sauce and a side of Britain’s best for one hell of a ride.
Though primarily a bike wrecker, Jason Reihing has built his fair share of customs out of his small one man workshop, Charlie James Customs, in Williston, Ohio. ‘Every old car, ATV and motorcycle I’ve restored, rebuilt or modified, I’ve felt them wanting to come back to life,’ Jason explains. ‘But this bike was the opposite. I’ve named it ‘Micky’ after the boxing great Micky Ward as, like him, this bike is a fighter. Throughout the build I had a feeling it would have been happier sitting out the back of someone’s barn and rotting away.’ Thankfully Jason has the tenacity and skill to roll out something as pretty as this CB after just about everything went wrong during the build process.
We all find our way to motorcycles in different ways, for the vast bulk who throw their leg over the two wheeled contraptions it is purely about cheap transport and nothing more. But for the early customisers who had returned from the Second World War to today’s feature bike builder there was a therapeutic aspect to both the riding and the building of their creations. When Tyson lost his parents he needed to find his own form of therapy and picked up a nice Buell to take to the streets. But riding alone just wasn’t doing it, with ideas swirling in his head and wanting to experience the meditative state of spinning spanners he picked up a sweet running 1973 CB750 and his true motorcycle journey began.
A great custom bike is more than just the sum of its parts; it tells a story about the life and times of the machine and its builder, woven together by the dreams and desires of the one who will call the keys their own. While some builders clock on and clock off, others truly live what they do and that is abundantly evident in this café’d Honda CB750 RC42 with more than a little ole school dragster appeal created by Wesley Kim of Rumblesmith in Maryland.
In the last few years news articles beginning with the words ‘Florida man’ have become a running joke. There’s even internet forums devoted to headlines that depict some of the most wonderfully bizarre acts to come out of the Sunshine State. If you get a moment, they’re worth checking out; ‘Florida Man Breaks into House, Poops on Floor and Drinks Contents of Vacuum Cleaner’ is my personal favourite. For me, that best sums up some of the drunken, insane characters that make up the unwashed social fabric of much of the South. Against such inebriated anarchy and swirling head noise stands Florida’s Steel Bent Customs, one of the most professional and consistently clean builders around, who have turned their capable hands to this 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport.
Written by Martin Hodgson
Gaige Redd wanted to build himself a café racer with ‘80s race car styling all using a Japanese bike from the Seventies – an idea that could go horribly wrong if it wasn’t designed and executed perfectly. But Gaige had a big advantage, he’s a designer by trade and he knew sticking resolutely to the brief would yield exactly the bike he desired. The finished product is a cracking Honda CB750 that tips its hat to the classic BMW race cars that flew the flag for M Sport.
There any many things in this world that you could class as overdue. Peace in the Middle East, for one. A decent Nicole Kidman film would also be nice. And Nickleback announcing that they are breaking up has been overdue for about twenty years now. But when it comes to us and bikes, there’s been a task on our list that’s been hanging around for ages – and that was to post a bike from one of our first ever sponsors. That company is Brisbane’s Rocker Classic Motorcycles, and this is us crossing that bad boy of our list.
Tanks and seats. If you had to distill down the art of the custom motorcycle, moonshine-like, to its base elements in a concentrated form I’d argue the toss that tanks and seats is where you’d get to. Sure you’ve got wheels, tyres, bars and a whole cavalcade of other minutia you can tweak to make things look like this or that, but get the seat and tank wrong and it’s goodnight nurse. So when Barcelona-based De Palma Cycles told us they had a build inspired by the Honda RC110, arguable the world’s best ever tank-and-seat combo, we were more than a little excited. And then we saw the bike.