Sunsets. A cold beer. Hearing that Nickleback have split up and been sent to prison. Life’s all about the simple things, and today’s bike is exhibit ‘A’ from the high court of less is more. With a über minimal approach, a slammed stance and a decidedly agrarian look, the latest bike from Michael Mundy and his Steel Bent Customs is one sweet knobbled bobber worthy of a Sunday ride or twelve. Meet the ‘Seven-1’.
Head of Italian workshop Matteucci Garage, Marco Matteucci, is adamant he’s not a mechanic. ‘I’m not even close, I wouldn’t offend the category’ he insists. Instead he comes to motorcycles from a different background, as a graphic designer and advertising photographer with over 20 years experience in the industry. And it shows, with an impressive attention to detail and immaculate fit and finish on his latest build, a Honda XL600LM he’s dubbed ‘True Blood’. While he may not be a mechanic, Marco certainly built one of the most head-turning builds Pipeburn has featured this year.
A great custom bike is more than just the sum of its parts; it tells a story about the life and times of the machine and its builder, woven together by the dreams and desires of the one who will call the keys their own. While some builders clock on and clock off, others truly live what they do and that is abundantly evident in this café’d Honda CB750 RC42 with more than a little ole school dragster appeal created by Wesley Kim of Rumblesmith in Maryland.
There are certain motorcycles of yesteryear that have failed to break through into the new custom culture; some for very good reasons, but others like the Honda CBX750 seem to have been over looked for no good reason at all, well no longer. Kerkus Cycles from Kuala Lumpur have taken the popular police bike in Malaysia and turned out some amazing customs, this time around it’s a Classic Ducati inspired machine for a customer who loves his Hondas.
As anyone who has ever customised a bike will tell you, the unavoidable and omnipresent ‘money versus dreams’ equation is a hard one to crack. There’s what you want to do, and then there’s what you can afford to do. Most mere mortals and their bank accounts would run for the hills at the mention of a customised swingarm and all the expense, fiddling and testing that comes with it. But not Washington’s Alex Sailer. He grabbed his dream by the horns and asked Viginia’s Cognito Moto to spare no expense. The result is a Honda CB350 that spares no coolness, and an owner that now has no spare time thanks to his newfound biking obsession.
Being the Japan-o-philes that we are, we’re usually the first ones to put up our hands when the eccentric Japanese bikes are wheeled out of a builder’s shop. Whether it be the Motocompo, the Monkey, or the Dax – if it looks manga, we’re usually gaga. So imagine our reaction when we first laid eyes the very latest build from tré cool builder Karl “Ed” Renoult and his ‘Ed Turner’ Motorcycles. A Honda XLS 500 that’s been customised to look like a Dax? I’d be lying if I told you that we put on giant robot costumes and danced crazily to J-Pop, but I really wished we had.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
It was once a basic Honda 650 Dominator, now the bike before you is a certifiable scrambler beast, with the smile of a Dakar racer to prove it. If there is a legitimate gripe some motorcyclists have of the custom industry it is that while many of the bikes look great, they in fact ride worse than the standard item, sometimes they’re just downright dangerous. But the truth is, very few custom bikes are ever subjected to the sorts of tests a manufacturer puts their machines through. For a custom bike shop what better way to test your abilities than to build a bike for someone who can push it to its limits, a professional racer. For Estonia’s Renard Speed Shop this was never going to be a problem, the 4th placed bike builders from our 2014 Bike of the Year Award, have a reputation for absolute quality and this scrambler for a professional Dakar racer only raises the bar.
2 Wheels Miklos is a workshop based in Surrey, England who restore, sell and customize everything from leaky old Nortons to leaky new Harley Davidsons. And while some of their work is fairly traditional, with nut-and-bolt stock Japanese super sports and ailing British twins routinely bought back to life, this time around Miklos have wheeled out this curious 1981 CB900F Bol d’Or. Equal parts 80’s tailored cigarette sponsorship, 60’s roadside coffee and with just a hint of the Monster energy drink crowd thrown in, the old Honda has found a new lease on life as a bike designed to turn heads in the summer sun.
In the last few years news articles beginning with the words ‘Florida man’ have become a running joke. There’s even internet forums devoted to headlines that depict some of the most wonderfully bizarre acts to come out of the Sunshine State. If you get a moment, they’re worth checking out; ‘Florida Man Breaks into House, Poops on Floor and Drinks Contents of Vacuum Cleaner’ is my personal favourite. For me, that best sums up some of the drunken, insane characters that make up the unwashed social fabric of much of the South. Against such inebriated anarchy and swirling head noise stands Florida’s Steel Bent Customs, one of the most professional and consistently clean builders around, who have turned their capable hands to this 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport.
The custom bike scene, like any other art form, often finds itself bending to the will of fashion. But there’s no shame in that – music, painting, dance and almost any other genre you care to name have to endure the same challenge. And while in the heat of the moment a certain trend can seem to the viewer to be very ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’, it’s often only a matter of time before the truth becomes apparent. That’s when cool becomes lame, exciting becomes humorous and your wardrobe full of flared trousers becomes an embarrassment. But what happens when time doesn’t weary? When something improves with age? Well, that’s when timeless happens. Classic happens. This happens.