When your work is recognised to be of such a high standard that you’re asked to build a motorcycle for a major custom show, there are really only two choices a builder has. Either you take the safer path and build a bike in a style you’re known for, it’s what got you there in the first place, or you take a swing for the fences trying something you’ve never done before, willing to risk it all in the pursuit of glory. Luckily for those who attended the 6th Annual Art of Speed Show in Kuala Lumpur and those of us who gather here today, Mat Alip and the other fine folks at The Rusty Factory went for option two. From the Malaysian state of Perak they’ve fashioned a plastic maggot like no other, testing their skills and breaking all the rules along the way. Now with a swag of trophies to its name, the story of ‘Fire Ant’ a 1978 Honda CX500 can finally be told.
This bike came about by accident, really. About two years ago I made arrangements through a friend to have some wheels trued at this old retired guy’s home shop. The wheels were for a CB550 build I was working on, so when I showed up with them in hand we naturally got talking about old Hondas. About half an hour into the conversation, he walks me to a shed behind his main garage and reveals a treasure trove of Honda CB750s. This bike is the result.
Consider the humble Honda CX. If ever the Honda Motor Corporation made a bike that perfectly summed up the company and its ethos, this would be it. Impeccably engineered, virtually indestructible and just a little bit dull. In Germany, they call it a ‘Schlammpumpe’ or ‘Slurry Pump’. In English, ‘The Plastic Maggot’. They say that after a nuclear war, the only creatures to survive will be the cockroaches. Well, we’re here to tell you that they’ll all be riding CXs. And one very, very lucky German Cockroach will be rocking this turbo’d bad boy from Essen’s Kingston Customs.
Hot on the heels of their CB250 from a few weeks ago, Poland’s T. Jasin Motorcycles have just rocked up with another killer Honda – this time it’s an ‘83 CB400 that’s clearly just been to Spain for its summer holidays. Deciding that the Bultaco MX livery was the perfect vibe for this Comstar’d and knobby’d little champ, the Japan-loving Jasin brothers have left the thing co-branded to add a little frisson to the mix. And boy, don’t they mix well?
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.
Of all the major manufacturers, we think it’s fair to say that Honda is the one most unmoved by current trends. Triumph, Ducati and Yamaha have all thrown their hats in the ring when it comes to appealing to a new generation of riders. But Honda has remained steadfastly traditional with their new models. CB1100 anyone? It’s easy to point and laugh, but the real losers are us. Just think of all the bikes that could be in your local Honda showroom. Bikes like this neat little tracker from Poland’s Jasin Motorcycles. With a touch of HRC and a pinch of Evil Knievel, it’s pretty much everything we’ve ever wanted in a Honda weekend warhorse.
There’s pretty much nothing we like better than to be sent an amazing custom bike from a home builder. Wright Brother’s style, the idea of some guy starting with an old beater and emerging from their frosty and/or sweaty single car garage with a minor miracle in moto making is what really floats our, erm, float valves. And here’s a prima facie case in point. Portland’s Lars Topelmann started with a basket case Honda XL250 and somehow ended up with this. It’s not exactly the miracle of powered flight, but it ain’t far off, either.
Clearly, France’s Bad Winners never sleep. Either that, or they have a rather serious amphetamine problem. Why, you ask? Because here you have their third new bike in five weeks. Seriously. This time it’s a superbly timeless Honda CB400T build that looks as good now as it will when cars start flying and mobile phones can out-think you in a chat about French Existentialism. They call it ‘Raw to Raw’. We call it our new addiction.
Life can be a lot like a game of Texas Hold’em, you can’t determine which cards you’ll get dealt, but what you do with them and how you play that hand is down to you. It’s something we instinctively know and why so often we find ourselves cheering for the underdog, knowing their victory was hard-earned. It’s fair to say that Maxime Montaggioni didn’t get dealt Aces, he is missing his right arm; but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a World Champion Snowboarder and winning Gold in Taekwondo. But racing down mountains and kicking people in the face just wasn’t enough adrenaline. So he’s commissioned fellow Frenchman Lionel of Duke Motorcycles to build him a steed of speed based on 1993 Honda XR600, appropriately named Mad Max.
If you’re anything like me, moving house is right up there with wheelieing into the side of a police car or finding out your sleazy prog rock uncle now has a bike and is looking to joining you on your next big group ride. The cleaning. The endless boxes and tape. The sheer amount of time it takes is always straight up nightmarish. Now imagine moving your custom bike shop. Suddenly it’s goodbye income, too. But far from collapsing in a screaming heap, David Gonzalez from Barcelona’s Ad Hoc Cafe Racers managed to find the time make this Honda NX650.