Motorcycles are more than just moving pieces of metal or basic transportation, for those of us who truly love the two-wheeled world, each bike becomes a chapter in our life’s tale. And so it goes that from the land of the long white cloud one man experienced the best and worst of life as he built his dream machine. The result is this low and lean beast that started life as a 1997 CB1300 X4.
I tried flat tracking a few months ago. I blitzed the first-timer’s field until someone pointed out that I was riding a bike with a front brake and using it. So I switched to the rear brake, went for broke on the last lap and promptly ate more dirt than a stoned earthworm with poor self-control. The bike was cactus and my left knee has only just recovered. The lesson was simple; learning to go fast on dirt can be a painful exercise. Which is probably why France’s BCKustoms has called this, their gorgeous new ‘87 Honda XLR 600 flat tracker, the ‘Bone Destroyer’.
“Make me a Cafe Racer”. It’s undoubtedly the most fool-proof brief a bike builder can get. Jose Rosell from Spain’s XTR Pepo probably had the bike designed in his head before the sentence had left his customer’s mouth. But the next words to emerge would be akin to someone jamming a broom handle in your wheel at race speeds. “Also, I want to ride it on the beach,” the free-thinking owner added. And no, he wasn’t kidding.
It’s a well-known fact that 1970s drag racing was pretty much the coolest thing that has ever graced God’s earth. And Blind Freddy could tell you that the French are as cool as all hell. And what about the Honda Dax? That thing’s cooler than James Brown doing shots of liquid nitrogen. So what happens when you combine all three? You get coolness levels approaching that of Absolute Zero. Just ask French bike builders Duke Motorcycles; after getting their hands dirty on this little Honda Dax drag bike build, they’ve probably got a case of terminal frostbite.
The Scandinavians and beautiful woodworking. They go together like cafes and racers or Trump and super hold hairspray. Any Scandinavian, Norwegian, Danish or Finnish house worth its salt should have some amazing examples. And in the Finnish house of school teacher and bike builder Sami Karvonen, the example is this superb four-pot Honda CB500. Got wood? You have now…
Kyril Dambuleff has no barrow to push. He doesn’t run a workshop or sell parts or posters or scarves or t-shirts. He only builds motorcycles to keep himself happy and make the rest of us plonkers look bad. And he’s doing an admirable job of it with this exceptional 1972 Honda CB500 he’s dubbed ‘Bikini’.
When champion British thoroughbred Jardine’s Lookout climbed aboard a flight bound for Australia to take on the world’s best race horses in the Melbourne Cup he brought along a buddy. Joining him on the ride was his tiny mate, 14-year-old Shetland Pony Henry; it seems even the most powerful amongst us often need a little friend. Which is exactly why when ‘Monster’ a brutish supercharged Harley Davidson by Malaysia’s Beautiful Machines was heading for the Art of Speed show they decided their high horsepower steed needed a companion too. Based on a Comel minibike ‘LIL Monster’ is all about fun times and fairy floss and ensures the big fire breathing beast is never alone in her stable.
It’s no coincidence that pilots and bikes go together like jets and turbines. After all, the perfect bike on the perfect road is about a close to flying as you can get without a pilot’s licence. And for Canada’s Nic Kirschner, who’s an airline pilot by trade, there’s nothing better than taking a break from his day job of screaming through the air at high-speed to speed all weekend doing the very same thing, albeit with less hostesses and in-flight movies.
Despite what your over-active imagination may be telling you, the Vampire Squadron was actually an American Airforce group based in Guadalcanal during WWII. Their plane of choice was the unique Lockheed P-38 Lightning. A ‘twin boom and a central nacelle’ design, the aircraft stood out amongst its contemporaries like the dog’s proverbials. Cue Honda’s similarly unique flat four Goldwing. A little BMW, a little Moto Guzzi and a whole lot of engine capacity, it’s a bike that still occupies the outer fringes of the custom scene. But not if Kentucky’s Scott Halbleib has his way.
As the old cliché goes, “Restraint is the better part of beauty”. I prefer to think of it like this; there’s nothing more unattractive than someone who’s trying too hard. Be it popularity, personal appearance or 2-for-1 cocktails, the end result is usually always a disaster. Understanding this implicitly, Ironwood’s Arjan Van Den Boom (how cool is that name?) chose a subtle yet beautiful plan of attack when it came time to build this cool little ‘75 Honda CB360 tracker.