The phrase “unfinished project, 95% complete” is one you often see when trawling the internet to find an old car or motorbike to buy. The machine in question often looks like it’s ready to roll, comes at a bargain price and ‘how hard can that last five percent really be to finish?’ you say to yourself. Ah the horror stories. Five percent often turns out to be closer to fifty and then there is the real zinger; those last few parts you need, they’re not available any more, or “only needs a new battery to start” proves to be a full engine rebuild, wiring nightmare or both. Even complete show bikes that appear in magazines are passed off this way – that’s where Kott Motorcycles is different. Dustin spends just as much time restoring his builds to perfection as he does customising them and this slick as black ice ‘75 CB550 is no different.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
What started nearly two decades ago as a group of Aussie men growing Moustaches for the month of November has grown to become one of the biggest charity events in the world. Movember is all about starting the month with a freshly shaved upper lip, growing a Mo and raising money for Men’s health. Now a global phenomenon with over a million lads attempting to look like ’70s pornstars for a good cause, it was only a matter of time before the custom bike industry got involved. When Progressive Insurance went hunting for a shop to build a bike to give away as part of their involvement with The Movember Foundation, they found themselves on the phone to industry heavyweight John Ryland. Now one lucky Mo Bro will ride off at the end of the month on this killer custom from Classified Moto known simply as ‘Movember XL’.
For all of the custom motorcycle shops that litter the globe there are but a few whose brand recognition truly is industry wide. While some rely on their logo for that acknowledgement others create machines so distinct you instantly know who crafted them. But for Dustin Kott of California’s Kott Motorcycles there is a rare subtlety and artistic vision that is hard to readily define and yet instantly recognisable. It is the work of a man who plies many a trade and expresses his creative side in rolling metal masterpieces. Often from Honda’s CB range they are infused with vintage British styling and customised with pure class. His latest work is based on the short-lived Honda CB400F from the ’70s and it delivers a level of sophistication you’d never expect from the old commuter classic.
There is a famous quote that goes something like this. “No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.” And yet for the vast majority of us, we play it safe all of our lives. We stay at the job we don’t love because it pays the bills. We eat the same foods. We take the same road to work and we go to the same draw of clothes day in and day out. This is where the custom motorcycle scene plays a significant role in the lives of many. It’s where they throw off the shackles, live on the wild side and do things differently with a license for freedom they don’t normally afford themselves. But one man takes that freedom even further; he pushes the limits of motorcycle design so far his inspiration is actually drawn from art, sci-fi films and a desire to reach the ultimate Zen state of mind. Daryl “Dazza” Villanueva of Bandit9 is back and his latest limited production run machine, known as EDEN, is the ultimate expression of not playing it safe.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CX500 got a unfairly bad wrap from early reviewers upon its release in the late ’70s but quickly became a hit with tourers, cruisers and dispatch riders. Given the public’s appreciation of the model, Honda sought to give it a freshen up in the form of the CX650 that received more positive reviews, but didn’t get the cult following it’s little brother still attracts to this day. It’s clear we motoring journalist don’t always get it right nor can we always predict the models that are going to be a hit but had Mathieu Renaud been building bikes in the mid 1980’s the CX650 would most certainly have taken off. He’s the mastermind behind this stunning 1984 Honda CX650 Scrambler that finally gives the model a custom creation many thought would come years ago, but the waits been worth it!
This weekend we’ll be heading to Jogjakarta to take part in Indonesia’s biggest custom culture festival called Kustomfest. The custom motorcycle industry in Indonesia seems to be going from strength to strength, and a testament to this is the hundreds of quality builds on display at this years show. One of these bikes that will no doubt be a crowd pleaser at Kustomfest is this super clean ‘Honda CL650’ by the talented guys at Thrive Motorcycles based in Jakarta. Given the name “Balfour” this is a project that Thrive took on for a friend called Anka who happens to be a huge Honda enthusiast but his collection of Honda’s have all been restored to original condition and had never customized one – until now.
Somewhere in Kobe, Japan, a man named Shoichiro Irimajiri is sitting quietly with a satisfied smile on his face and the sort of grin that says “I told you so”! Not only is he the man behind the legendary Honda CBX Six Cylinder that now commands premium prices by collectors he’s also responsible for the CX500, once derided as the “Plastic Maggot” it’s now the base of some of the very best custom motorcycles built to date. It seems even the good folks in the Honda marketing department knew it might be a while for the potential of the CX to catch on “First into the Future!” was the pitch, but after years as a lowly commuter bike some are taking the Honda to the levels it always deserved. One such company is BBCR Engineering and their latest ride, a 1978 Honda CX500 known as BBCR507, shows the enormous potential that’s always lurked under the maggot’s skin.
It’s one of the greatest marketing campaigns in history and certainly the most influential in kick-starting the global motorcycle industry; “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. The idea was bought for Honda by Grey Advertising from a UCLA undergraduate student who’d created it for an assignment, but I don’t think any of those involved envisioned just what it would mean for Philippe Vincent from French-speaking Montreal, Quebec. Exactly a year ago he didn’t even own a motorcycle, didn’t have a motorcycle license and had only just discovered from a friend what a Cafe Racer was. Yet only a year later the proof he’s a faster leaner can be seen in the evidence of his creation, his first bike and build, a 1974 Honda CB750 with plenty of 1950s British inspiration, it takes the name “Majesty”.
Every industry has its personalities. The leaders. The entrepreneurs. The strong, silent types. The worker bees – and of course the rockstars. When it comes to the world of custom motorcycles, the latter position is more than adequately filled by the two Italians who make up Anvil Motociclette. To say they bring a little Mick Jagger and Steve McQueen to our scene is a gross understatement. San Marco and Phonz may spend their days with greasy hands building cool motorcycles with their own sinister edge, but they’ve also starred on TV, been featured in Italian Vogue and Rolling Stone magazines and collaborated with a fashion house on a line of leather jackets. But let’s not forget that what got them noticed in the first place was their bike building abilities, and it should come as no surprise that on any given Sunday they can be found racing bikes and going fast; something which their latest weapon, the “Rusty Quattroemmezzo”, does in style.
In the pocket of Western Europe that includes France, Belgium and Switzerland, endurance racing is a way of life. Small teams and factory-backed giants meet at some of the world’s most famous circuits, like Spa and Magny-Cours, to battle it out for up to 24 hours straight. One such event, the Bol d’Or, holds a special place in the hearts of Belgians where from as early as 1927 the small nation has tasted success. For Deep Creek Cycle Works from Diepenbeek, they don’t only build custom bikes but come the weekend they take their love of racing to the track where they compete in the European Classic Endurance Racing series. So when one of the race crew members was after a new ride for the street, it made perfect sense to build a 1981 Honda CB750 Bol d’Or road rocket, a bike they fittingly called the ‘Bol Noir’.