It’s 2011 and the custom bike world is beside itself with the Yamaha-based creations of one Greg Hageman, a.k.a. ‘Doc’s Chops’. From what was previously a laughably bad Yamaha Virago, Greg had built a custom that seemed to have somehow made the bike look very, very cool. At around the same time, a young New Yorker called Maxwell Hazan wheeled his very first custom bike out of a small Brooklyn shop and we all know how that turned out – mainly due to the fact that a certain photographer had the wherewithal to recognise genius when they saw it. And the person responsible for taking the photos of these bikes that changed the custom scene for ever? Meet Florida’s Erick Runyon.
Lately we’ve been featuring some custom rides that still manage to be clean, practical motorcycles. Bikes you can pillion on, motorcycles you could take shopping – bikes you could take to meet your mum. But just in case you thought us here at Pipeburn HQ were getting sensible here’s a chopper designed by FNA Custom Cycles run by a 1972 Kawasaki 750 H2 two-stroke, a digger so mental we’re going to get it sectioned.
You know it’s going to be a good birthday when your moto-loving better half asks you to close your eyes and leads you out the front door towards the driveway. But there’s always that nagging doubt. What if, in your heart of hearts, you don’t like the surprise bike? There’s no accounting for taste, and that goes double for us know-it-all custom bike ‘experts’. But there’s one thing for sure, if anyone with a skerrick of taste found this red, white and blue bad boy in their driveway come their birthday morn, they’d be one seriously happy camper. And that’s just what happened, thanks to Michael Mundy and his Florida-based Steel Bent Customs.
Maybe it’s an old school mentality that I should let go, but no one works on my bikes but me. Knowing you tightened that axle bolt yourself gives a little added comfort when speeds start going past the ton. But if he didn’t live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean I’d throw my keys to Greg Hageman in a heartbeat! He’s a master mechanic who never fails when it comes to building incredible customs that ride as perfectly as they appeal to the eye. So it’s easy to see why Rebel Yell Bourbon entrusted the future custom bike hall of famer to knock out a give-away machine for one lucky customer. The prize? A go anywhere 2015 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 that tips its cap to the AMF years.
You don’t have know Hageman MC to recognise their work. Seen those Virago cafe racers? Greg Hageman helped create that look. Oogled the Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler? That was a shameless riff on his builds. His work is clinically excellent and his influence on the scene is profound – he’s like a motorcycling Bono, but without being an insufferable dickhead. This time around he’s tackled his first BMW, a 1983 K100RS. And he wasn’t confident it would come out looking this good.
“Roughly seven years ago my two sons turned sixteen, and not only had they far outgrown their XR-50’s, but they had reached the legal age where they could begin riding the backroads of Maine with me. I’m partial to newer Triumphs (I ride a Scrambler), but I wanted this step in their lives to be a learning experience. I hoped to teach them how to find a decent used bike, what to look for in terms of wear and tear, and ultimately how to take a Craigslist cast-off and turn it into a labor of love. Both boys seemed on-board with the idea, and we settled on early 70’s Honda twins due to cost, simplicity and availability.”
Humans have been living with earthquakes since time immemorial. And seeing as though 21st Century technology is only just beginning to understand them, you can probably understand why pretty much every culture on earth has their own ancient explanation as to what causes them. According to ancient Japanese mythology, earthquakes were cause by a giant underground catfish named ‘Namazu’. And in Siberia, they believed quakes were caused by the giant mythical sled dogs that pulled the earth stopping to scratch. And while the Romans believed that their god Neptune caused earthquakes, their very cool name for them – ‘Terremoto’ or ‘Earth Mover’ – just happens to be the moto-esque name of today’s feature bike. It’s a killer Moto Guzzi from Miami’s Moto Studio, and if you’re into scramblers we’re pretty sure it will rock your world.
In 100 years time when they write the history of the current custom motorcycle renaissance that we are living through you can be sure that Greg Hageman will be one of the leading names credited for spurring the revival. He can turn out a mean Harley, cafe a Honda and build just about any style of bike but it’s his incredible work with Yamaha Virago’s of the early ’80s that have really won him acclaim around the world; from magazine covers, to TV features and the trophies to match. But not only has Greg inspired a new generation of XV builders keen to tackle the old V-Twin he’s also produced a range of quality parts for his fellow customisers and without him leading the resurgence of the models popularity you have to wonder if the all new Yamaha “XV950” Bolt would ever have eventuated!
Ever noticed how great musicians or bands are able to write songs in their own unique style, yet each of their tracks is completely different from the others? How separate tracks on an album can work as individuals, yet still make up an overall narrative that ties together the whole work? How they can be so damn perfect, yet so damn unique all at the same time? Well if you wanted a custom bike shop equivalent, you need look no further than Miami’s legendary Moto Studio and their frontman, Maximiliano Medina. And here they are with yet another hit; this time it’s a Guzzi with looks that’ll be sure to give it some time in the limelight – especially with those headlights.
Never fear, Hageman is here! Needing no introduction, Greg Hageman AKA “Doc’s Chops” of Hageman Cycles is one of the leading hands and pioneers of the custom motorcycle renaissance. He’s also one of those guys who is a builders builder, I know I’m not the only one who before attempting a new build sees what Greg has done with that make and model, both for inspiration and to see how it’s done right. It’s no surprise really, motorcycles are in his veins having grown up on a farm in Rural Iowa in a family where trips to the dealerships had him dreaming of those sweet rides before he was old enough to reach the handlebars. But it’s a lucky rider who gets to throw their leg over his latest build, a 2005 Harley Davidson XL883 Custom that brings more than a little racer to its new cafe look.