Though primarily a bike wrecker, Jason Reihing has built his fair share of customs out of his small one man workshop, Charlie James Customs, in Williston, Ohio. ‘Every old car, ATV and motorcycle I’ve restored, rebuilt or modified, I’ve felt them wanting to come back to life,’ Jason explains. ‘But this bike was the opposite. I’ve named it ‘Micky’ after the boxing great Micky Ward as, like him, this bike is a fighter. Throughout the build I had a feeling it would have been happier sitting out the back of someone’s barn and rotting away.’ Thankfully Jason has the tenacity and skill to roll out something as pretty as this CB after just about everything went wrong during the build process.
The ever-useful Wikipedia notes that the ‘Ripon’, or ‘Blackburn T.5 Ripon’ to use its correct name, was a ‘British carrier-based torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane which first flew in 1926.’ Naming their creations after Britain’s rich aviation history has become quite the thing with Norfolk’s Old Empire Motorcycles, as has creating bloody amazing custom bikes, and drinking cups of tea. And rest assured, this one is no exception to the rule. You may know it as a Honda CB550, but they know it by another name…
No 8. Wire Motorcycles is named after the thick fencing wire that embodies the ‘can do – make do’ mentality New Zealand was built on. As one of the most far-flung reaches of the British Empire, early settlers in the land of hobbits found themselves having to improvise their way around everyday problems that couldn’t be solved with a ready-made product and stack of cash like back in the mother country. And it’s that innovative attitude that Colin, the Kiwi ex-patriot head of No. 8, aspires to. Heading a one-man shop based in Missoula, Montana, Colin works on all manner of motorcycles. In recent months he’s turned his hand to the diminutive GN125, a R90/6 bobber, KZ550 tracker, a passing Goldwing tourer and even a Polaris snowmobile. But most of his time has been spent lavished on this curious Honda CL350 scrambler.
Less than two years ago Hill Hudson had his first bike featured on Pipeburn.com and it was predicated “we have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from this guy in the not too distant future.” Well it seems that prediction has come to fruition, as Hill is back in a big way and his Café Tracker inspired 1973 Honda CB350 sets the bar more than a few rungs higher. While completing his studies in Illustration at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, Hill submitted the first bike in his Escape Series as his major thesis. That Yamaha XS650 was such a success that the philosophy behind the build has manifested itself into a place that is more than just a workshop. Escape Collective is a team of designers, makers, artists and engineers who use their professional talents to create an array of artistic projects, some of which just happen to be motorcycles.
We all find our way to motorcycles in different ways, for the vast bulk who throw their leg over the two wheeled contraptions it is purely about cheap transport and nothing more. But for the early customisers who had returned from the Second World War to today’s feature bike builder there was a therapeutic aspect to both the riding and the building of their creations. When Tyson lost his parents he needed to find his own form of therapy and picked up a nice Buell to take to the streets. But riding alone just wasn’t doing it, with ideas swirling in his head and wanting to experience the meditative state of spinning spanners he picked up a sweet running 1973 CB750 and his true motorcycle journey began.
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.