Installment three of Italy’s TV series “Lord of the Bikes” is here. Once again, the producers at Sky Uno have chosen more old friends of Pipeburn; this time it’s the turn of the bad boys from Rome’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, the creators of many a stunning ride. But a bike build-off, where impressing the judges to advance to the next round is all that counts, is a much different exercise than designing a bike for a customer. Understated looks, single colours and law-abiding functionality all go out the window with every trick in the book used to fit the theme that has to wow the judges and earn the win. Just as in previous episodes, Emporio was given a 2016 Moto Guzzi V7 as their canvas, but the budget was upped to €4000 and the chance given to Rome’s finest to pick their opponent.
When Sky Uno, the Italian TV Channel, was looking for the 10 best custom bike workshops in the country for their TV show “Lord of the Bikes”, it came as no surprise that our friends at Anvil Motociclette were selected to compete. Each week, two workshops are pitched head to head in a themed build-off. They are given a new bike, a few Euros for accessories and then battle it out to impress the judges. When it came time to throw down, Anvil was pitted against their fellow Milanese builders South Garage, both given a brand new Moto Guzzi V7 II, €3000 for parts and the theme – ‘Quentin Tarantino’. Okay, so that’s a little out of left field Mr TV Producer. So how long do you give the teams to build their machines while your cameras scrutinise every move, 6 months? 3 months? No. Try 15 days.
When you grow up in a city of historical beauty – the setting of a Shakespeare play and where Galileo lectured at the local university – that also happens to be one of the oldest in the world, richness of culture and a passion for creation are in your blood from birth. For brothers Diego and Riki Coppiello, it was the internal combustion engine that become their passion at a very young age. However when they reached university, art and physics became their courses of choice. But the call of the engine brought them back together and they founded North East Custom in Padova, Italy where they combine all their talents to create motorcycles like this 2007 Triumph Bonneville that focus on clean design and highlighting the beauty in mechanical simplicity.
Growing up in the 1980’s with a classic bike rider for a neighbour, I was thumbing through his old brochures that I first set eyes on a Moto Guzzi. I was captivated. When it comes to the old Italian marque and their unique engines and designs, you either get it or you don’t. And one man who gets the Guzzi like no other is builder Filippo Barbacane from Officine Rossopuro in Abruzzo on the exquisite Adriatic coastline of Italy. From his workshop he has built a range of Guzzi’s in every style imaginable and just like this SP1000 they’re all picture perfect and built to standards so high, they’ll take your breath away.
Goddamn Steve McQueen. There – I said it. Am I jealous? A little bit. But mostly I’m confused. Just how does one single, solitary guy amass so much coolness in one lifetime? The stunts, the flying, the racing – but mostly, the bikes. And especially the desert sleds. It’s almost as if he was bored one day and decided to invent his own genre. Talented bastard. Clearly Anvil Motociclette agree. Obviously this isn’t the first time that a build has been influenced by the Big Mac, but we’d wager that it’s never be done quite like this. Here’s the Milano duo’s latest – their sled-inspired BMW R100RS ‘Arsenica’.
Plan B Motorcycles from Northern Italy might describe themselves as being a ‘neo-café’ workshop, but in the grand tradition of Speed Shops around the world they have an in-house racing monster with a quirky name, a mongrel sprinter named ‘Cherry Salt’. Christian the owner of Plan B makes no apologies about being inspired by the all-conquering drag machine built by Lucky Cat’s Garage that took the European scene by storm a few years ago. But the plan was never to simply emulate it, Christian wanted to build his own bike to take to the Glemseck 1/8th mile race in Germany, conquer his competitors and win big.
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.
Japanese Motorcycles make up a large part of the custom scene. CB Hondas of the 70’s are everywhere. 90’s litre bikes built the Street Fighter Scene and the modern machines from the land of the rising sun are turned into everything from modern café bikes to turbocharged drag strip warriors. The gap has largely been in the period of the 1980’s where the bikes were often square in design and down on power. But the SRX was the bike that caught Roby’s eye as a young man so now three decades later as the owner of Dagger Cycles in Biella, Italy, he took the chance to build the bike from his youth. A 1986 Yamaha SRX600 in less than great condition is the basis for this punk machine and Roby wanted it to be a visual smack in the face.
Want a quick and easy way to sort bikers into ‘buyers’ and ‘builders’? It’s easy – just talk about a tragically unpopular model. See, a buyer will judge a bike on its factory form. These are the guys that think showroom looks are somehow hard-wired into a bike’s DNA; the guys who will dismiss an entire model or range because they don’t like the size of the headlight or the shade of red on offer. Then there’s the builders. These are the guys who can see beyond the superficial to appreciate the soul of a bike, no matter how ugly it’s superficial, outward appearance. Italy’s Anvil Motociclette fancied themselves as the latter, and to test the theory they took on the challenge of customising the optimistically named Suzuki GR650 ‘Tempter’. It didn’t tempt us before, but it sure does now.
You have to admit, the global custom motorcycle scene at the moment is anything but boring. While the current generation waxes lyrical about their new-school café racers and brats, the old school revel in their baggers, billet and bobbers. Each to their own, we say. But what if your own isn’t one or the other? Well, here’s a perfect case in point; Bologna’s Inglourious Basterds Cycles. Equally comfortable with classic Americana builds as they are with old-school bobbers and retro racers, they’ve just taken their second AMD trophy in as many years with a bike that couldn’t be more different from their previous builds. Introducing “Madiba.”