Americans don’t know how lucky they are. It seems to us outsiders that you could weld a set of wheels to an Exocet missile and it would still be considered a roadworthy bike in all 50 states. But for the rest of us – especially those in the EU – there’s an army of engineering bureaucrats…
In the 2017 world of custom bikes there is an enormous number of styles of motorcycles being built with new names like Neo Racer and Cafe Fighter emerging over time. But for all of the custom builders around the world there are a handful who simply create, the style takes care of itself…
For any artist there is a fine line between allowing yourself enough creative space to fulfil your passion and doing the work that puts food on the table. For Dustin Kott that involves the delicate balancing act of working at the major Hollywood studios while still giving time to his artistic endeavour, Kott Motorcycles. There is also the small fact that he’s a perfectionist, a time-consuming trait. But that hasn’t stopped him from proving you can in fact improve on perfection; four years since the completion of a Honda he called Ruby Red, Dustin’s back with an homage that raises the bar to all new heights. An elite level Cafe Racer, Ruby Gold is a 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport that’s flawless in fit and finish.
This bike came about by accident, really. About two years ago I made arrangements through a friend to have some wheels trued at this old retired guy’s home shop. The wheels were for a CB550 build I was working on, so when I showed up with them in hand we naturally got talking about old Hondas. About half an hour into the conversation, he walks me to a shed behind his main garage and reveals a treasure trove of Honda CB750s. This bike is the result.
Mick Jagger gave us a pretty good life lesson when he said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find, you get what you need.” Which is often the case for professional builders instructed by many clients to create machines that personally don’t blow the wind up their skirt, until one day that right build comes along. But when returning customer Ralph Klerekoper came to Sean Skinner of MotoRelic Custom Cycles in Hamilton, Virginia, he delivered a vision that inspired each man. They’d start with a later model 1992 Honda CB750 and allow Sean to create a killer custom with modern engineering and classic style that earns it the name The Gozen.
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.’
The lumbering, all-consuming beast that is cafe racer culture has stretched its tentacles all over the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than with today’s bike, a 1980 Honda CB750 produced by Ace Custom Shop in Colombia. Built by a small, three-man operation nestled in the hills of Bucaramanga, it’s easily the best thing to come out of the Colombia that doesn’t need a credit card and a mirror to enjoy.
It’s one of the greatest marketing campaigns in history and certainly the most influential in kick-starting the global motorcycle industry; “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. The idea was bought for Honda by Grey Advertising from a UCLA undergraduate student who’d created it for an assignment, but I don’t think any of those involved envisioned just what it would mean for Philippe Vincent from French-speaking Montreal, Quebec. Exactly a year ago he didn’t even own a motorcycle, didn’t have a motorcycle license and had only just discovered from a friend what a Cafe Racer was. Yet only a year later the proof he’s a faster leaner can be seen in the evidence of his creation, his first bike and build, a 1974 Honda CB750 with plenty of 1950s British inspiration, it takes the name “Majesty”.
In the pocket of Western Europe that includes France, Belgium and Switzerland, endurance racing is a way of life. Small teams and factory-backed giants meet at some of the world’s most famous circuits, like Spa and Magny-Cours, to battle it out for up to 24 hours straight. One such event, the Bol d’Or, holds a special place in the hearts of Belgians where from as early as 1927 the small nation has tasted success. For Deep Creek Cycle Works from Diepenbeek, they don’t only build custom bikes but come the weekend they take their love of racing to the track where they compete in the European Classic Endurance Racing series. So when one of the race crew members was after a new ride for the street, it made perfect sense to build a 1981 Honda CB750 Bol d’Or road rocket, a bike they fittingly called the ‘Bol Noir’.
Mighty Motorcycles is the realisation of Josip Bucic’s dream. Nestled deep in the Black Forest of Germany, Josip crafts beautiful pieces of two-wheeled art for a handful of very lucky customers. He has been building bikes for 12 years now and oh boy, does the guy have skills. This CB750 was originally intended as a restoration project, but Josip’s exquisite vision saw the potential to create his dream bike, and so he set out to make this one of the best café racers you are ever likely to see – dream or otherwise.