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.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Custom motorcycles often leave an audience profoundly polarised, while some lavish praise others ridicule and scoff. It seems the further from sedate you go the more divided the opinion, but designers like Terblanche and Tamburini have shown that is not always true and great custom builders can do the same. Create amazing one off motorcycles that receive almost universal acclaim, are anything but bland and always show off that signature style that lets you know the brains behind the build. Enter John Ryland, Classified Moto and a Honda CB750 known as Mr Hyde.
I always eagerly anticipate a new build from the Richmond, Virginia based workshop and this 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk certainly doesn’t disappoint. Customer Jordan had seen a pre-Nighthawk CB750 build of Classifieds called the SuperStrada and wanted something in the same vein. The first thing that hits you in the eyes is the single sided swingarm and this is certainly no bolt on conversion. While the Ducati Multistrada swingarm remains stock the Honda frame required considerable fabrication and welding expertise from Seth and Danik to get the two working in harmony. The Showa shock originally fitted to the Ducati remains in place while just like SuperStrada the rear wheel is from a Ducati 1098.
It’s not every day you ride past Jay Leno and your freshly built bike catches his eye. So much so that he then tracks you down to appear in an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Well, that’s what happened to Adam Gaspic from Gasser Customs. It also helped that Gasser Customs is located in North Hollywood, just down the road from Jay’s garage – so it wasn’t very hard to find him. The concept of this project started when Adam decided he wanted to build something in the spirit of the Hot Rods and Gassers of the 1950s and 60s but with some modern technology. So in between clients builds, Adam has built this mean looking Honda frankenstein named ‘Titan’.
It’s not every day you get stalked by a Hollywood actor to build you a bike. But that’s exactly what happened to Mike LaFountain from Raccia Motorcycles. One day he receives a phone call from motorcycle nut and actor Ryan Reynolds asking to build him his dream bike. Ryan has a nice collection of motorcycles, but the bike that started it all when he was a teenager was a 1976 CB750. We were lucky enough to ask Ryan a few questions about this project and his passion for old CB’s…
How did you discover Mike from Raccia Motorcycles? Did you see a certain bike he built?
I found Mike through countless hours of Internet stalking. I’ve always been a little obsessed with 70’s Honda CB’s. Admittedly, even more so as they rose in popularity yet again these past 10 years. Mike had done a couple of builds which stopped me in my tracks. It never occurred to me I could probably just email him through his website and inquire about a project. But I did just that and we jumped into this thing together.
“I had to cut the tree down that was growing through the old bike I found.” It reads like some kind of urban legend or biking folk law, right up there with the story of the guy who wheelied all the way home after he punctured the front. That and the one about loud pipes saving lives… but we’re here to tell you that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. And the guy with the saw? Introducing Wes York from Indianapolis, Indiana and his rather sawdusty Honda CB750 brat.
Written by Ian Lee.
Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
An apt description for today’s feature bike, except that the latest release from Kott Motorcycles isn’t just built for show. A 1971 Honda CB750 built literally from the frame up, this automotive art piece has been engineered to look good and go hard, with engine power to match an aesthetic that belongs in an art gallery. The almost ubiquitous CB750 making for an excellent platform to build a café racer on, the Kott workshop has taken the build quality to a new high and produced an amazingly clean motorcycle. In Dustin Kott’s own words: “the opportunity arose for the shop to implement some performance and aesthetic enhancements that had not been utilised prior.” Came up pretty good for a first time try, don’t you think?
Two wheels good, four wheels bad. It’s a throw-away line that you’ll see plastered to more than a few jackets, helmets and be-stickered gas tanks. And sure, sometimes cars can suck. Especially if they happen to be the immovable object that brings a grinding halt to you and your bike’s unstoppable force. But they aren’t all bad. Take, for instance, one Calum Pryce Tidd of Croydon in the UK. He’s not only the unstoppable force behind deBolex Engineering, but he’s also a guy who got a shot at customising bikes for a living through his day job as a classic car tuner. And what a shot it turned out to be.
As anyone who has tried to learn English from scratch will tell you, the language makes about as much sense as a totally blootered Mel Gibson at 2am on a Sunday morning. It’s Raining cats and dogs. Keeping an eye out. Kicking the bucket. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. But you’ll be glad to know that the Anglaises aren’t the only ones with a market share in complete nonsense. The French phrase ‘démarrer sur les chapeaux de roues’ translates literally as ‘to drive on your hubcaps’ and is used in a similar fashion to the English phrase ‘hit the ground running’ or ‘get off to a flying start’. It’s also happens to be the name of the Brittany-based bike shop that is responsible for today’s feature bike, this very beautiful and very hubcap-less Honda CB750.
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It’s no secret that Mad Max is one of our all-time favourite films. Sure, bikers the world over rave on and on about Easy Rider, On Any Sunday, Girl on a Motorcycle and The Wild One; they’re great films and they deserve all the praise they can muster. But for a film that’s supposedly about a cop and the last of the V8 interceptors, Mad Max is nigh-on impossible to beat for balls-to-the-wall, badass motorcycle riding. If you’ve never seen it, we’re not quite sure how you can live with yourself. In the mean time, maybe you’d like to fill the void with Vincent Franco’s MFP-inspired fuel-injected suicide machine, this rather mad CB750.
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By guest writer Phil Guy.
Cypriot Alexandros Hadjicostas got the itch for bikes while tinkering on his humble Honda Chaly in his early teens. It wasn’t until years later though, after he saw Henrik Hansen’s short film on Shinya Kimura, that Alexandros caught the full-blown café racer bug. One problem though: “One thing I had to deal with was that whenever I said the name ‘café racer’ in Cyprus nobody had the slightest idea what I was talking about” he says. Not one to be deterred, he cast around for a build candidate. It took him a year, but eventually he found the right bike. A 1969 Honda CB750. The bike that last year Motor Cyclist magazine named ‘Motor Cycle of the Century’. He didn’t exactly snag a mint example, though. “When I found the bike it was in a terrible condition after being unused for more than 10 years and missing most of its parts. I had the chassis, engine, carburettors, exhaust and wheels…and that’s all I needed. I bought the bike for 500 euro and had a budget of 2000 euro to work with.”
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