Written by Martin Hodgson.
Incredible watches, chocolate and cheese so goes the cliché about Switzerland the landlocked mountainous country in the middle of Europe. But a group of young Swiss lads are making their name with a different kind of craftsmanship, one off custom bikes that tip their hat to the days of old and with a blend of bobber and board tracker they’ve turned a Harley Sportster into a beautiful piece of standing art that also rips the street.
The custom bikes builders of Portugal are on fire of late and with the stakes constantly being raised Rock Solid Motorcycles have shown up to the gun fight with a hand crafted weapon with its heart from the mean men of Milwaukee motorcycles, Harley Davidson! It’s an XL1200S Sportster but it could all have been very different; the customer initially arrived at the shop with a Yamaha Vmax asking what could be done to it. The Vmax never returned, but 2 months later the customer did with the only XL1200S on the market in Portugal at the time. Rock Solid could have turned out a nice tracker, scrambler or custom with the usual Harley bolt ons but this is a workshop of craftsman and only a total rebuild into a custom HD Racer would do.
Ever had one of those dreams where you feel like you really need to do something, but somehow you never manage to? Maybe it’s a place you have to be or a task you have to complete. Whatever the case, the harder you try in the dream the more unlikely you’ll be to make any progress. And in the end you’ll wake up with an incredible sense of frustration. Got the idea? Well, now you know how we feel about this bike. It’s one we first laid eyes on in 2012 and we’ve literally spent three years trying to get our hands on it – and now it’s here. Call it lucid dreaming. Call it luck. Hell, call it divine intervention. Presenting a bike that took a biblical one thousand days to get here. It’s Adam Nestor’s ‘Sporganic’ Sportster Harley.
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.