Great Britain and the United States of America have a proud history of building on each other’s innovations to move the whole of Western Civilisation along. While English minds may have created the industrial revolution, it took Henry Ford to crystallise the whole thing in mass production for the people. And while (arguably) it was Elvis who recorded the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song, it was clearly The Beatles and the Stones who perfected it ten years later. Then along comes New Jersey’s Kyril Dambuleff and his associates, who have managed to create ‘Blacksquare’ – one of the most beautiful, and one of the most British-looking bikes we’ve seen in a month of high tea Sundays. Philip Vincent, eat your jolly heart out.
Tanks and seats. If you had to distill down the art of the custom motorcycle, moonshine-like, to its base elements in a concentrated form I’d argue the toss that tanks and seats is where you’d get to. Sure you’ve got wheels, tyres, bars and a whole cavalcade of other minutia you can tweak to make things look like this or that, but get the seat and tank wrong and it’s goodnight nurse. So when Barcelona-based De Palma Cycles told us they had a build inspired by the Honda RC110, arguable the world’s best ever tank-and-seat combo, we were more than a little excited. And then we saw the bike.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
With the world of small custom bikes booming globally and being far more affordable than the outlandish choppers that were so popular 10 years ago, it’s no wonder small companies are using custom bikes as promotional tools. When you’re a surf store that focuses on the vintage look, a tough street tracker is the perfect choice. One 1994 Honda XR600 with extra black and bad ass please!
Just the second custom build by Jeroen Potters of Ozz Customs he was commissioned to have the tracker done in just 7 months. Normally you wonder who would commission a new builder and place a time limit on them, but Jeroen (Ozzy to his friends) is no stranger to speed. He lost a leg many years ago in a serious motorcycle accident, so rather than sit on the couch he built a trike and then for more than a decade has been a champion kite buggy racer and designer. And with the sort of behaviour that gets your friends branding you Ozzy of the Osbourne variety, the design for a blacked out, bad ass, urban assault, street tracker starts to seem like it was always in Jeroen’s head!
Written by Marlon Slack.
I’m sure all Pipeburn readers were caught up in the outpouring of emotion that swept the community when Honda discontinued the XR400R. I personally remember lighting a candle and settling into bed early, listening to the radio address from the Pope lamenting the passing of one the tidiest mid-range enduro bikes to be manufactured. No? You didn’t hear about it? Well, you wouldn’t be the only ones who missed the mid-range trailbike’s departure. With its relatively light weight and moderately powerful air cooled single-cylinder engine the Honda XR400 is probably the kind of bike that would suit most people’s riding, but is usually overlooked – but not by the guys at Benjie’s Café Racer, who have spent no small amount of time turning this 2005 model into a beautiful, but practical on and off-road commuter.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
When you build GT40’s that are the only replicas licensed to officially carry the full Gulf Oil livery it’s clear you can build a serious automobile. When you can also build some of the best custom Ducati’s on the planet it’s clear two wheels or four you’ve got it covered. So when a customer told Johann Keyser it was impossible to create a stunning CX500 the man behind Moto Motivo took on the challenge with justified confidence.
The donor bike was no ordinary CX500 it was the deluxe model, ‘The Plastic Maggot’, made even worse with a full set of Vetter fairings and panniers. Many builders see the CX500 as a challenge to be conquered; Johann was keen to make that challenge even harder. The 1978 CX had only seen a few years of service when the original owner put it into storage in 1982 after a small incident with a dog on a highway. Having sat for 32 years with oil and fuel still on board it’s a testament to the Honda engineers that it required Johann to fit only a new battery to get the old girl ticking over, but that’s when the real fun started.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots.
Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Custom motorcycles often leave an audience profoundly polarised, while some lavish praise others ridicule and scoff. It seems the further from sedate you go the more divided the opinion, but designers like Terblanche and Tamburini have shown that is not always true and great custom builders can do the same. Create amazing one off motorcycles that receive almost universal acclaim, are anything but bland and always show off that signature style that lets you know the brains behind the build. Enter John Ryland, Classified Moto and a Honda CB750 known as Mr Hyde.
I always eagerly anticipate a new build from the Richmond, Virginia based workshop and this 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk certainly doesn’t disappoint. Customer Jordan had seen a pre-Nighthawk CB750 build of Classifieds called the SuperStrada and wanted something in the same vein. The first thing that hits you in the eyes is the single sided swingarm and this is certainly no bolt on conversion. While the Ducati Multistrada swingarm remains stock the Honda frame required considerable fabrication and welding expertise from Seth and Danik to get the two working in harmony. The Showa shock originally fitted to the Ducati remains in place while just like SuperStrada the rear wheel is from a Ducati 1098.
Copper is a deceptively difficult colour to pull off on a custom bike. For all the wins we’ve spotted over the years, we also see a hell of a lot of gaudy, steam punk train wrecks that succeed in being beautiful the same way an unwashed, Victorian-era guttersnipe succeeds in being British royalty. But prepare yourself for a masterclass in metal patina. Using the transparent powder coating, Chappell Customs have managed to make a finished product that takes the look to another level. Queen Vic herself would be proud.
According to the internets, ‘Renaissance man’ is a term applied to the gifted people who have highly developed abilities in all areas of human accomplishment. Now call us crazy but we’re kind of thinking that Scott Di Lalla, builder of this bike, is getting dangerously close to achieving the title. See, not only has he built this brat named ‘Skyler,’ but he’s also a photographer and an award-winning director of a few killer bike films Including ‘Choppertown’ and ‘Brittown.’ And he works on bikes in his spare time out of his ‘Prospect Shop’ in California. What’s more, he even took the time to pen his own Pipeburn post. Wow. Now if anyone wants me, I’ll just be over here feeling inadequate…
Another day, another great custom from Portugal. We’re not sure what they are putting in the Peri-Peri but whatever it is, we’re more than little keen to get our hands on some. This graffitied gob-smacker is from Dream Wheels Heritage, a shop straight out of Porto, north of Lisbon. Hélder Moura and his team of merry metallurgists have created the best small capacity Honda we’ve seen in a month of Sundays. And it’s got a rack for your skateboard, to boot. What’s not to love?