Yamaha’s poor MT-01. Released in 2005, it looked like it had so much customising potential. A killer engine with more torque than the Titanic on Nitrous. A decent, sporty frame and suspension set-up. Tuning kits straight from the factory. By rights, we should all be complaining about yet another MT-01 custom bike instead of directing it at her Virago grandparents. Yet here we are, all red-faced at having never featured a single MT on these pages. Until now. Direct from (of all places) Corsica, here’s Kekedesign Artkustom with their brutal ‘Bull Gold’ cafe fighter.
In Terminator 2, Arnie sat astride a leather and chrome Harley that was the perfect fit for his T-800 role. But had the studio commissioned a machine for the liquid metal T-1000, even the most creative Hollywood minds couldn’t have envisioned a bike like this. In a 2014 Ducati 1199 S Panigale, you get the same sort of technological leap over the old Fat Boy that the new T-1000 offered up. But where the stock red Ducati gets it all wrong visually, this insane alloy bodywork with its liquid-like flow would have scored a Skynet tick of approval. It’s quite literally a killer custom, and it comes to us from the brilliant minds at France’s Ortolani Customs.
Ever met a genuinely creative person? I’m luck enough to say that I have, and there’s one thing that struck me about them. They were clearly a little bit nuts. Not in a dangerous way, but it was clear to me that they were operating in much more interesting reality than most. They were happy to generate and embrace ideas that many would have dismissed as ridiculous. And then they made them work, too. The moral of the story is that most of us hold ourselves back by thinking that the right way to do something is also the most sensible way. Kbuilt’s Gilles Kergadallan has no such concerns. He embraced the crazy for this ‘Brap One’ Honda Dominator Tracker, and the results speak for themselves. Just like the voices in his head.
Let’s just get it out of the way shall we? C’est magnifique. Because there was simply no way to write about this exquisite French crafted BMW without saying it. This machine is the answer to the question, “Can you build a motorcycle that has it all?” Many say it’s an impossible task; exquisite vintage looks, bulk horsepower with race-winning speed and capable of a reliable Sunday cruise with corners to kill. But Ludwig Ascher wanted everything and as an airhead specialist at his shop St Brooklyn Motorcycles in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, he decided to build a BMW with the lot. It’s a 1955 BMW Sprint Racer with a hefty heart transplant they call “L’Etonnante”.
When you receive an email talking about a man from a small village in Southern France who used old fashion forging techniques, a crucible and sand moulds your mind starts to wander. Is this a 19th century inventor who burned his home down trying to create some delusionary dream? Perhaps a 16th century sword maker working for one of the 4000-odd aristocrats who died in duels during the reign of Henry IV? But no. It is in fact the work of Nicolas Baux, a CAD Designer by trade, who in 2016 revived some of the oldest metal working techniques to produce a staggering one hundred individually handcrafted parts for his custom motorcycle. The result is a modern machine with historic roots, a Royal Enfield Black Bullet from his new company, Motocyclette Certifiée Non Conforme.
Being on the receiving end of many custom bike submissions, you tend to get a pretty good idea of just how prolific a bike shop really is. Some we hear from once a year. Some twice. And then there’s France’s Motomax Metz. Believe it or not, this here bike hit our inboxes little more than two weeks after their previous build. At this rate, we’ll be featuring another 26 of their bikes in 2017, and by 2020 France will be nothing but an army of cool Yamaha trackers and a load of fresh mud. But before that happens, please meet the rad-to-the-bone ‘Dirty Smoke’ XSR700 that will have caused it all.
Today we’ve got the second half of a matched pair of air-cooled Suzuki’s by French workshop Ed Turner. While the previous custom was a bare knuckled, stripped back brute of a GSX1100 for a gentleman client, this is the more feminine half the duo destined for his partner. It’s a little 80’s Suzuki GSX400 dubbed the ‘GS-XX’. Dressed in faux-alligator leather and upholstered to resemble a high-class evening shoe, this highly polished tribute to rolling Eurotrash sensibilities is guaranteed to start some conversations.
Karl Renoult heads the curiously named custom shop Ed Turner Motorcycles, in Nantes, France. We’ve been following his builds for the last few years but nothing has prepared us for his new project. And this only one half of the enterprise, a mid-eighties Suzuki GSX1100 forming the ‘masculine’ part of a matched ‘his and hers’ pair of custom rides. Designed to reflect their owners’ love of high fashion, clubbing, and possibly sadomasochism, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. After a close look, I’m not sure if it has a kill switch or a safe word.
It’s amazing how much the big motorcycle manufacturers have changed in the past ten years. Up until very recently, bike customisers were little more than pariahs to the factories. All their hard engineering work, undone in the fell swoop of an errant oxy torch or angle grinder. You could almost hear the engineers in Japan and Europe weeping in pain. And as for a factory dealer that might dare to try and make a few changes to the merchandise? If they were lucky, they’d find themselves selling second-hand Dneprs in Siberia… in winter. But my, what a difference a decade makes. Suddenly it’s raining factory customs. And for Yamaha, that means throwing money behind their ‘Faster Sons’ custom shop collaboration project. And the latest star of the decidedly successful program is this here XSR700 from French shop Motomax Metz. A French shop that just happens to be a dealer, too.
A polymath is defined as a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. And naturally, if such a person is set a complex task to perform, it would be easy for them to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve the specific problems they might encounter. Turn a mind like that to the act of customising a bike, and you’re bound to get some pretty interesting results. Today’s bike is the result the hard work of just one man – namely Pierre from French shop Freeride Motos. Paint, leather, fibreglass, leatherwork, metalwork, electrics – you name it, he probably did it. And by the looks of it, he did it damn well.