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.
When it comes to Honda CB café racers there’s not a lot of people that have built as many as Jay Lossa and his team at Lossa Engineering in Long Beach California. Jay has lost count of the number of CB’s he has brought back to life since starting his shop back in 2007. He usually starts his builds with “rusty hunks of junk” that cost no more than $500. It doesn’t usually matter what condition they are in because he replaces every nut and bolt anyway. This time around he started with a decent donor CB550 that he picked up for $1300 – which makes it the most expensive donor he has ever bought.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
From the time the Café Racer scene had its second coming, the Honda CB750 of the 70’s and 80’s has been one of the bikes of choice for high end builders and backyarders alike. But far too often over looked is its thunderous big brother, with race pedigree and freight train pulling power the CB900 makes a fantastic base for a Café Racer with some extra muscle!
Born just a year ago in Madrid Spain, Nitro Cycles, is a new family run workshop with a passion for the motorcycles of a generation ago and breathing life into bikes that have been long since left to rot. With a fairly wrecked CB900 sitting around it made sense to make it the first Nitro Cycles build and team, led by Antonio, got to work on making the most of what was left of the 1982 model. The CB was taken back to the bare frame, however even this super strong piece of steel was damaged. But the bike was being built in honour of Antonio’s Grandfather and nicknamed the “Fighter” there was no way they were giving up. So with hours of hard graft the twin down-tube steel frame was restored back to original condition before being treated to a new coat of silver paint.
One of the best things about a gig at the House of Burnt Pipes is the fact that you really get to see builders grow and progress in their art. Often, we’ll feature one or two really good builds from someone that we’ll sadly never hear from again. But once in a while, we are lucky enough to get in on the ground floor with a builder who’s clearly headed places and then ride the elevator all the way to the top floor with them. This is one of those times. If there was such a thing as a Custom Bike Master Builder’s Association, this bike would mark Scott Halbleib’s entry submission. Meet his latest build, a.k.a. ‘No. 5’.
Written by Martin Hodgson
Gaige Redd wanted to build himself a café racer with ‘80s race car styling all using a Japanese bike from the Seventies – an idea that could go horribly wrong if it wasn’t designed and executed perfectly. But Gaige had a big advantage, he’s a designer by trade and he knew sticking resolutely to the brief would yield exactly the bike he desired. The finished product is a cracking Honda CB750 that tips its hat to the classic BMW race cars that flew the flag for M Sport.
There any many things in this world that you could class as overdue. Peace in the Middle East, for one. A decent Nicole Kidman film would also be nice. And Nickleback announcing that they are breaking up has been overdue for about twenty years now. But when it comes to us and bikes, there’s been a task on our list that’s been hanging around for ages – and that was to post a bike from one of our first ever sponsors. That company is Brisbane’s Rocker Classic Motorcycles, and this is us crossing that bad boy of our list.