The financial centre of Brazil, Sao Paulo, is one of the world’s great cities, but on the surface it can appear to be just like any other sprawling metropolis. With an enormous population the biggest city in South America can be a tough and intimidating place to the uninitiated. But amongst the mix of high-rise buildings and historic architecture is a maze to be explored, filled with incredible bars, gourmet restaurants, art-house theatres and a 24/7 night life. To properly explore this urban jungle and find the hidden gems takes a special machine, it’s no place for a Sportbike and Cruisers are just too big. So local Carlos Eduardo Manso has built a go anywhere urban assault motorcycle that can squeeze through the tight spaces, handle the potholed back alleys and look the goods while doing so. It’s a 1984 Honda XL 250 that’s been given a custom make over with tip of the cap to the VMX scene and it’s ready to take to the streets.
The majority of the world was largely ignorant of the passion for motorcycles that exists in Argentina until a small film called The Motorcycle Diaries was released in 2004. It tells the story of the legendary Che Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado riding their 1939 Norton 500 as they adventure throughout South America. Not only do you begin to realise the importance of a motorcycle to young Argentinian men as a rite of passage but discover that little repair shops dot the landscape. So nine years ago to feed this appetite for motorcycles, Lucas Layum founded Lucky Custom to serve up tasty two-wheel treats to the populace. But the Cordoba based shop doesn’t just tweak bikes here and there, they take everything from new Harley’s to old BMW’s and create one-off masterpieces. And so it is that a little 2011 Honda CBX250 Twister has become their latest creation with a build that’ll blow your mind.
You’d think somewhere in Bavaria would be a workshop producing the best custom BMW R series bikes around, no doubt there are some great ones, but from a seaside town in Devon, England, Kevil’s Speed Shop could lay claim to being the best out there. Headed up by Kevin Hill who has been in the game since the 1980’s, the steady supply of stunning BMW customs coming from the shop is incredible; we’ve featured six of them here on Pipeburn. But there is more to the Devon outfit than Bavarian brilliance “we are also turning out well polished and well-priced custom smaller capacity Japanese bikes,” explains Kevin. So to show just how good they are at doing that they’ve picked one of the most bland and vanilla commuter bikes of the last twenty years, a 2000 Honda FX650 Vigor and turned into a gorgeous custom, Kevils MOTO #8, that has all of the shop’s magic and has been given a complete new lease on life.
The historic walled port city of Saint Malo set on the French side of the English Channel can lay claim to hosting many important events in world history. But as the port of choice for the swashbuckling French buccaneers of the 17th century it’s hard to argue had they still been coming to shore today this wouldn’t have been their ride of choice. Quick and nibble, capable both on and off-road with the ability to out run and out manoeuvre local law enforcement and angry traders this 1994 XR600R Street Tracker is definitely the moto du jour. Built by a new workshop from the port city, Escapade Custom Motorcycles is the brainchild of good friends and business partners Allan & Jérôme. Not interested in the glitz and glamour of over the top builds and acres of chrome, they craft bikes that are all about a single purpose, the simple joy of riding a motorcycle.
If you tell a small child not to touch something, the chances are the very moment you turn your back they’ll not only touch it, but bash it around and probably break it. Maybe they’ll even set it on fire. So when Jeremy Hutch’s parents kept saying no to motorcycles it was inevitable that he’d find a way to get his hands on one. But this is more than childhood rebellion, Jeremy’s passion for two wheels clearly runs deep and his skills as an Industrial Designer have taken he and his 2000 Honda NX650 Dominator known as ‘Death Crusher’ all the way to the highs of a personal invite to the Handbuilt Show in Texas. But you don’t go from childhood dreams to invitational builder under the Hutchbilt banner at one of the world’s premier shows overnight and this journey in motorcycle madness has literally taken Jeremy around the world.
With the big manufacturers, corporates and TV shows dedicating large sums of money to the custom motorcycle scene it is easy to forget that its foundation has and always will be home builders on tiny budgets scrummaging through scrap yards for that must have part. We can all dream of our ultimate ride, a $100k to spend and the skills of the words great fabricators at our disposal but the reality for most of us mere mortals is a few grand for both bike and bits. As a 21 year old student from Liège in Belgium, Jordan Froidmont found himself in this very predicament but has found a way to make his dreams come true with a little left field thinking and a lot of hard graft. After three years of work he’s turned Honda’s forgotten FT 500 Ascot into a stunning street bike and is now filling the Belgian air with the sound of a screaming single.
For decades the world has been told some very silly myths about Australia, everyone rides a Kangaroo to work and there is a blood thirsty, sharped clawed Drop Bear in every tree that takes the appearance of a placid Koala. But what isn’t a myth is the strength of the motorcycle scene in Australia. Luke Doyle’s 1981 Honda XL500 combines two great Aussie loves, the ability to spend fun time on the sand and hit the waves for a surf. Having owned a number of mint vintage RV-90 & 125 Suzuki Sandbikes in his 20’s Luke teamed up with Brisbane’s BikeBuilders to bring to life his ultimate dune shredding, weekend adventure machine.
There was a point in time when the bike before you could have been a Yamaha XS650, but this 1974 Honda CB750 had a destiny with Analog Motorcycles from Gurnee, Illinois that couldn’t be broken. When owner Arne Dinse brought his partially customised CB750 to Analog he had an idea for what he was after but was worried about some creepy noises coming from the engine. Proprietor Tony Prust explained they had an XS650 they could do in a similar theme to that Arne was after and with a handshake and a deposit laid down it was set. With Analog Motorcycles churning out brilliant streetable customs there is understandably a wait for their services so by the time it was Arne’s turn in the schedule he’d decided he wanted to stick with the CB, but it wasn’t just the engine that was not quite right, beware the dodgy mod.
When it comes time to give credit to which Japanese bikes began the rise and reign of the machines from the Land of the Rising Sun the countries first superbikes, the Honda CB750 and the Kawasaki Z1, often receive the praise. But before they arrived on the scene the first strike in the four-stroke wars was delivered by a motorcycle known simply as the Black Bomber. Released in 1965 the Honda CB450 came packed with technology that defied its very classic chrome and black aesthetic. The first full production bike to feature dual overhead cams, it produced more than 100hp/litre, enjoyed reliable electrics and was described at the time as “engineered with passion and styled with restraint, an embodiment of all the qualities a motorcycle should posses”. It’s with exactly that in mind that KickMoto pay homage to the original with their own take on a classic icon, a 1972 CB450 done just right.
A good custom bike build is a big ask from just about anybody. The time, effort, thought and skills required are a challenge that has bettered the best of us. Starting custom shop is another step above that. Suddenly there are things like rent and customers to think about, let alone building cool bikes. Adding restorations into the mix means you’ll have to have an understanding of just how the bikes came out of the factory. Add cars to the mix and you’ve now got vast expanses of metal bodywork to consider. Seems like your climbing Everest already, yes? Well what if, just for good measure, we now make the shop both a clothing store and a brewery? Mission completely freakin’ impossible? Not for the keen proprietors of Italy’s Apache Custom Motorcycles. And as if to boast, here’s their out-of-the-box take on a Honda CB350F brat.