Written by Marlon Slack.
10 years ago, public appreciation was heaped on enormous cruisers that were adorned with novelties and caked in chrome. People loved those things, all 500 kilos of rolling tribute to American ostentatiousness. But as the GFC hit and wallets emptied, tastes shifted and the love of gleaming polish and excess gave way to matte paint, raw steel and clip-ons. Somewhere in between these two extremes sits The Gasbox’s 1944 Harley Davidson Knucklehead. A bike that’s clean, lean and executed with no flourishes except an incredible eye for detail and a masterful understanding of knowing exactly what works.
Written by Marlon Slack.
Most custom bikes are meticulously thought out for months before a spanner is turned or an oxy torch is lit. Parts will be carefully considered and increasingly often many late nights will be spent in front of Photoshop tweaking the colours and lines of a build before any action is taken. Moscow-based Elkabikes bucked this trend by producing this 1972 Harley-Davidson XLH in under a month using parts they begged, borrowed, scrounged or purchased from Ikea. That’s right – Ikea. It’s not a bobber or a café racer – it’s a Harley-Davidson Flat Packer.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
When you’re thrown the keys of a brand new Harley-Davidson Street 750 and asked to build the first custom example in Australia the pressure to deliver is on. But with the first “small” capacity HD in a generation up on the bench the team at The Kustom Kommune have knocked this one out of the park and delivered a perfect homage to the mighty XR750 tracker legend.
The brainchild of Kommune Racer Jimmy Goode the Street 750 is a perfect example of just how to make a new bike look old again while still maintaining all of the 21st century improvements, it’s no easy task. Need some extra pressure? There was just five weeks to build the bike and the Kommune boys had yet to even lay their eyes on a Street 750, but working between 8pm-2am three nights a week they brought this one home first past the post.
It’s been four months an a brand new wall calendar since the last AMD World Championships in Cologne, and yet we’re still turning up some genuinely great bikes that were previously hidden deep within the winning ranks. Here’s one from Belgium that’s been handcrafted in a basement by a Mr. Quentin Vaulet, or as he likes to call his nocturnal garage adventures, “Charging Lion”. “It’s a personal project (and a pretext) for which I completely surrender myself to the creation of motorcycle”. Fitting then that this, his latest bike, is called “The Thief”; by the looks of it, she owes Quentin more that a few hours. Much more.
China is a funny country in a not so funny way. While most countries generally think motorcycles are a viable way to cut traffic congestion and reduce pollution in cities, the Chinese are going the other way. They have started to ban motorcycles in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai (plus another 200 cities across the country). These strict laws by the government are having a huge impact on bike manufacturers like Harley-Davidson who thought the new found wealth of the Chinese would make it an easy market to increase their sales. How wrong they were. There are however a number of small custom shops who are defying logic and opening custom garages because it’s what they love doing. One of these is a freshly opened shop called Mandrill in Beijing. Mandrill is the love child of Lin and a few of his like minded friends, who are determined to keep the motorcycle culture alive and have a place that bike enthusiasts can hang out. Their first build is this compact Harley Sportster café racer which has been built over the last couple of years and given the name ‘Red-Eye Bitch’ because of the many late nights it took to build her in their spare time – they all still have day jobs to pay the bills.
The AMD World Championships for 2104 have come and gone for another year, and as always there’s quite a mixed bag of new bikes to peruse. But what’s good to see is that some of the more traditional Harley builders are embracing new-school influences to move the game one a little. Less billet, more brilliance so to speak. One of those builders is middle Deutschland’s One Way Machine. Starting with a decidedly old-school, mid-ninties HD Softail, they’ve managed to build a boardtracker-inspired custom that is about as close to the original hog as Frankfurters are to sushi. Here’s their ‘La Salle’ Fat Boy bobber.
“Art” is a word thrown around in the presence of many a creative human endeavour. Which is all good and well if your area of interest is music, painting and the like. And that’s because those particular means of expression require you to start with nothing before you have something. But when it comes to custom motorcycles, this is all flipped on its head. Why, you ask? It’s because 99% of all custom bike builds start with a factory-finished product that is subtracted from and tweaked until what’s left is deemed “finished.” But not this bike. This bike has been hewn from raw materials the way an alchemist might create precious metals from base elements. This is the latest bike from Los Angeles’ Hazan Motorworks. This is art.
The Del Prado brothers (Jarrod and Justin) from DP Customs in Arizona have been at it again. These brothers are renowned for building top class custom Harleys, which is why they were approached by a motor enthusiast to build him a Sportster. The customer had seen their last Sportster with Elf livery and briefed them on building something similar. “He wanted to know if we’d be willing to do a Gulf themed bike with Steve McQueen’s #20 on it” says Jarrod. “Of course we said “hell yes!”, and it was on.” This time they started with a 2001 1200cc Harley Sportster and began building what they do best.
When you think about it, basements kind of have a bum rap. For instance, how many movies have you seen where the characters go down into a basement and wonderful things happen? The answer is, of course, not many. The more likely scenarios usually involve people being tied up, power tools being used for things that their user’s manual would definitely not condone and the odd sex dungeon or twelve. But here’s a story that cellar lovers all over the world will be cheering; a basement in Berlin that was used to create art rather than remove body parts. Introducing Van Hai Nguyen and his ‘76 hog Ironhead.
With Harley-Davidson recently unveiling two new models, the Street 750 and Street 500, we were wondering who would be the first to customise one. Well, we don’t have to wonder anymore. The guys from The Speed Merchant were approached by Mike Davis from Born Free on behalf of Harley to see if they were interested in customising one to be showcased at the Born Free show. Of course they said hell yeah. “Having never seen one in person, it was very intriguing” says Brandon from The Speed Merchant. “The new Harley-Davidson Street 500 is what showed up at my shop with about 3 months to get the job done.” They were given an open brief by Harley, but with all the choppers at Born Free, they wanted create something a little different that would stand out from the crowd.