From the outside looking in the custom motorcycle culture must appear to be quite confusing for those who don’t have petrol running through their veins. Why do builders the world over take old bikes, that may not have even been that great at the time of their release, and then spend thousands of dollars and hours building crazy contraptions when you could just go into a dealership and buy a brand new superbike for the same price. The reasoning is just not something the average punter will ever understand, the thrill of an old 2-stroke, the character of the best of British or buzz that comes from hearing a 50-year-old engine fire to life again for the first time in decades, it has to be lived. But amongst us is a rare breed that make much more logical decisions, like first time builder Krystian Bednarek from Bull Cafe Racers who chose a 1992 Honda CB750 as his project over the much more fancied early models.
When you’ve been in the custom bike game as long as we have, you get pretty darn quick at spotting bikes that make the grade. Like some crazed laboratory chimp, we get shown a whole heap of bikes on a daily basis and we often have to make a call as to whether we’d show them or not in a matter of minutes. And ‘show’ is exactly what we agreed to do for this bike. In 2011. Then one thing led to another. Photoshoots were booked. Photos were taken. Photos were lost. Grass grew. The world turned. Then, last week, we received the finished product. In the end, we shrugged our shoulders and said the same thing we say about our love lives. “Better late than never”.
It took two decades, three attempts, and a lot of downtime in between, but when Stephen Bond found Brisbane’s Ellaspede Custom Motorcycles on the net, he knew he had just the builders to complete his brilliant 1977 Honda CB400Four restoration. See, Stephen’s had a love of the Four for a long time. Many years ago, he would buy and sell them for parts to make some extra money. Then, while at Townsville University in 1995, he found this particular example and decided it would be the perfect candidate for a full-on restoration. So naturally he stripped it down to individual components, packaged it up in milk crates and let it sit for 10 long years. Then in 2005, while living in Sydney, it appeared the Honda would finally get the love it deserved. But no sooner had he started when an overseas job offer again put it all hold for 8 more years.
The French Revolution. JFK’s assassination. 911. UFOs. Satanic worship. The Illuminati, that pesky Bavarian secret society that apparently controls the world, gets collared with the rap for a heap of historical events – both good and bad. If you believe the hype, then you’ll know that they are even able to control the weather. But here’s something that I bet you never expected from them – a sweet-assed custom bike. Is there nothing they can’t do? Either that, or there’s a new shop in Thailand that has managed to customise a VRX400 and turn it into an amazing bike to launch their shop and named it the ‘Illuminati’. It’s hard to believe, we know. But just suspend your disbelief and go with it. If we make them happy, I’m going see if they can make sure it doesn’t rain this Sunday.
Maybe if JFK hadn’t kept his cool in those crucial thirteen days at the height of the Cold War and a nuclear holocaust had eventuated, this is the sort of post apocalyptic motorcycle the Russian police just might be riding today. Thankfully that scenario never did eventuate, but when a new client approached Los Angeles-based builders Thirteen and Company he had just such a bike in mind. The brief was for an end of the world Mad Max style and the team were happy to deliver. It’s not the type of bike the guys normally build but this 1972 Honda CB750 known as “The Russian” is proof their talent is not limited to just one style.
Daryl “Dazza” Villanueva of Bandit9 fame is back and once again he has left convention at the door, stepped through a worm hole and pieced together a futuristic master piece that takes its inspiration from an old favourite, a 1967 Honda Supersport 125. “I’m back in Saigon after living in Beijing. The beauty of starting over is you feel like anything is possible, which coincidentally, I feel is lacking in the motorcycle industry. A sense of possibility.” So he has done exactly that; created a new fully functional piece of futuristic riding possibilities known as ‘AVA’ and available in a limited run of just nine, there are already orders from the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Five months ago when the project began Daryl had a very clear vision “I wanted something that didn’t look like it came from this era but from the generation ahead.” Inspiration from the past, a design for the future and all from right now as everything on the bike is brand new.
The Honda CX500 has become a staple of the modern Cafe Racer scene, but very few have gone to the lengths that German Heinz Christmann has to make one very special neo-vintage machine. With a ‘79 Japanese bike, plenty of German know how and a cornucopia of the best parts from around the world he’s been able to create a bike that uses pieces as new as carbon fibre and as old as drum brakes. The end result is hard to classify. It’s a Cafe Racer no doubt, but it’s also high on technology while also paying more than a subtle tribute to the race bikes of old. Whatever you want to call it, it’s bloody brilliant.
The Honda XR600R is hardly the sort of bike you could classify as refined. A big plastic drenched thumper, it’s design aims for function over form. That’s not to say that can’t be changed though, with the big single making a great platform for a custom build. This is exactly what Moto Motivo has done with their latest commissioned build, taking a 1993 XR600R and making it ‘stand out in a sea of XR builds’. Looking very naked, this decluttered XR was built for Greg Hochreiter, the founder of Devolve Moto, a moto lifestyle shop based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Conceived with the idea of using the machine as a daily rider, Moto Motivo has ensured the Honda retains it’s utility, while making it look a whole lot prettier than it did in it’s polyethylene cloaked factory guise.
In 1979, as the first Honda CB900 Bol d’Dors were rolling off the production line in Japan, the legendary American director Martin Scorsese was on set making his masterpiece “Raging Bull”. Staring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, it’s a black and white tale of Boxing and the Mafia in 1940’s America. It had all the subtly of a sledgehammer. So for Bullitt Garage’s heavy hitting, rebellious big block Honda it made for the perfect name and with Gonçalo strapping on the gloves and Luis in his corner, the CB900 Raging Bull was born. Hailing from the beautiful city of Braga, Portugal, the Bullitt Garage team aim to build an exclusive line of custom machines with underground styling and a level of exclusivity for each and every customer.
Whether we’re in the back shed tinkering with our bike or blasting down the road there is a freedom and stress release to motorcycling that cannot be denied. But when your job is literally keeping people alive while they undergo heart surgery the need to relax after work becomes that much more important and so it is that Nicolas Vincent Perna a Cardiovascular Perfusionist from Canada spends his winters building a different bike each year. Nick has a love for low mileage classic Honda’s but having been born in Italy just south of Rome he has a soft spot for the Bologna beasts too. So when he tracked down this 1982 Honda CB750 with just 4000 miles on the clock he saw an opportunity to create one very special Honda with some Ducati sauce and a side of Britain’s best for one hell of a ride.