Written by Martin Hodgson
In the post World War II period there were two types of people who rode a motorbike in America, outlaws and the police. But all that would change in 1963 when armed with his small Super Cub model, Soichiro Honda launched his campaign to win over the masses. The 12 year blitz that included sponsoring the Academy Awards convinced the US and the World that motorcycles offered a lifestyle they could aspire to. 50 years on and the success of the marketing campaign is obvious. The Super Cub has surpassed 60 million units and made Honda the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. But never could Mr Honda have envisaged his little Super Cub being converted into an outlaw in such a way as Minority Custom’s “The Eyes”.
Another month and another killer creation from Gelsenkirchen’s Dirk Oehler King and his merry band of men at Kingston Customs. As before, they’ve turned their nimble fingers to a Honda CX500 but this time they’ve taken it in a decidedly different direction. And that direction is mostly a hard left off the bitumen, onto the soft grass and up the nearest embankment. Introducing Kingston’s latest build – an amazing hybrid motorcycle they are calling the CXL500.
If you believe all the TV shows you see, lawyers are an overworked bunch who seem to spend all their waking hours either in court breaking down lying witnesses, helping street kids beat the odds of a system hopelessly against them, and sleeping with each other after hours. But here’s an exception to the rule. Meet French Lawyer Julien Perier the result of his total lack of after-hour office sexual antics, this rather amazing little Honda 650 SLR.
After 35 years the CX500 is continuing its second coming and receiving a lot of love from bike builders across the globe. This time, it’s from our German friends at Kingston Customs. Their last build was a stunning stripped down BMW R75/6; to say it was well received would be an understatement. As for the stock Honda CX500, the visually appealing V-twin engine was the saving grace of a bike that was commonly called the “plastic maggot”. Kingston have obviously lost all the plastic fantastic and in true German fashion, have created one of the cleanest and tastefully modified CX500 café racers we have ever seen.
Two wheels good, four wheels bad. It’s a throw-away line that you’ll see plastered to more than a few jackets, helmets and be-stickered gas tanks. And sure, sometimes cars can suck. Especially if they happen to be the immovable object that brings a grinding halt to you and your bike’s unstoppable force. But they aren’t all bad. Take, for instance, one Calum Pryce Tidd of Croydon in the UK. He’s not only the unstoppable force behind deBolex Engineering, but he’s also a guy who got a shot at customising bikes for a living through his day job as a classic car tuner. And what a shot it turned out to be.
This pretty little thing is named ‘Lucy’ and she is the 15th café racer built by Hot Sake Cycles in Orlando, Florida. We were surprised we hadn’t heard of them before, but that’s probably because ‘they’ are actually a single guy named Shannon Hulcher who builds these professional-looking bikes in his spare time. By day he works as a biology teacher who dissects frogs to show kids how the body works. By night, he dissects motorcycles to show the rest of us how to build a café racer.
“I don’t have a professional shop” says Shannon. “Lucy is a culmination of skills I’ve been developing over the years”. I wanted to build an ultra light weight bike that would be fun to ride. The whole goal was to make it as light as possible” he says. He started the build with no deadline, but then Cafemoto Orlando asked him if he could finish it for the AIM Expo. With the show only one month away, Shannon got to work.
If Santa Claus was to ever ditch the reindeers and sleigh, we could definitely see the old guy riding this stunning little red CB350. Aptly named ‘The Red Rocker’, this bike was built by The Pacific Motorcycle Co. who are based in the city of Nelson on New Zealand’s picturesque South Island. The “Red Rocker” was an idea owner Ron Smith had for some time, as an old battered 1974 Honda CB350 twin had been sitting in the shop for a few months after being given it by one of their customers. As the story goes, one of their customers had broken down on the old black CB about an hour from Nelson. He called Ron and said, “I’ve left it there, she’s given up! If you want to collect her, she’s yours!”
There have obviously been numerous CB350 café racer builds over the years but the guys at Pacific wanted to make sure this one was unique. “Ron didn’t want people sighing at the sight of another one, so this HAD to be different!” says Alan. “It had to be red, so that was to be the main canvas of the project. The other inspiration was the 1950’s Corvette with its distinctive scallops in the wing and doors.” So with a very rough photoshop draught in hand, they got to work.
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Custom bikes are a challenge that many of us have tried and failed. Whether it be a lack of time, money, skills or a combination of all three, there’s many more projects out there that get sold as spare parts than those that make it to the end. So imagine a project involving four different guys in four different US states that decided to build separate bits of a whole bike and then meet up to put it all together. In three days. At Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival. Doomed to fail, you think? Think again.
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The CX500 has had a bit of a resurgence over the last few years. Bike builders have seen their potential as a low cost donor motorcycle that has a great looking, reliable engine. We’ve seen them transformed into café racers, street trackers and even the odd bobber. But they almost always have one thing in common – Comstar wheels. Thanks to their shaft drive, rear drum set up it makes it very difficult to change the wheels, hence the reason they usually have the stock Comstars on them. So when Jerry Swanson was given his brother-in-law’s non running CX500 ‘parts bike’, changing the wheels was one of the many things he wanted to do. But first, he needed to get the weeds off it.
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As anyone who has tried to learn English from scratch will tell you, the language makes about as much sense as a totally blootered Mel Gibson at 2am on a Sunday morning. It’s Raining cats and dogs. Keeping an eye out. Kicking the bucket. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. But you’ll be glad to know that the Anglaises aren’t the only ones with a market share in complete nonsense. The French phrase ‘démarrer sur les chapeaux de roues’ translates literally as ‘to drive on your hubcaps’ and is used in a similar fashion to the English phrase ‘hit the ground running’ or ‘get off to a flying start’. It’s also happens to be the name of the Brittany-based bike shop that is responsible for today’s feature bike, this very beautiful and very hubcap-less Honda CB750.
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