Most of you can jump onto Craigslist or eBay, rock up to a darkened car park, meet a stranger and take home a project bike of your choosing. It can be old, it can be Italian, it can be American, it can be British. Living in the West rocks. But we’re not all that lucky….
It’s been a big week for Kawasaki retro remake fans with the release of the Z900rs in Tokyo to pay homage to the legendary Z1 of the ‘70s. But it seems that what one hand giveth the other taketh away, as Team Green hammered home the final nail in the W series retro rides coffin. One of the first modern bikes to be built with a classic look, the twenty-year production run is finally over. But so long as useable items can be found in salvageable condition, then Germany’s Schlachtwerk proprietor Tommy Thöring will make customs of them all. His latest is a 2012 W800 Special Edition that’s blacker than the ace of spades for an owner who is just as lucky.
Think of your perfect desert island bike. For the purposes of the exercise let’s say that this island is blessed with amazing roads; roads that you have to ride indefinitely. Suddenly all those dream rides like the Brough, Moto Guzzi V8 and the Britton look a little painful, yes? They’d be like having to share paradise with a megalomaniac millionaire or a narcissistic supermodel. You’d be better off with something that does a whole bunch of things really well, is super comfy and that will last the distance without breaking down on the first day. A bike a lot like the latest Kawasaki W650 from Germany’s Schlachtwerk.
Lately we’ve been featuring some custom rides that still manage to be clean, practical motorcycles. Bikes you can pillion on, motorcycles you could take shopping – bikes you could take to meet your mum. But just in case you thought us here at Pipeburn HQ were getting sensible here’s a chopper designed by FNA Custom Cycles run by a 1972 Kawasaki 750 H2 two-stroke, a digger so mental we’re going to get it sectioned.
When you’re planning a trip, the most important thing on the list is a few like-minded friends to accompany you on your journey. People who are there for the ride and don’t really care about the destination. So that’s what we did. A four man crew of mates were our riders: Forrest Minchington, Lewie Dunn, Cal Lathrope and Thomas Edwards. We packaged them up with a couple of photographers and sent them off with nowhere in particular as a destination.
For the tiny percentage of road-going vehicles that motorcycles make up, it’s kind of cool just how many different types there are to choose from. You can take your pick of v-twins, singles, flat twos, flat fours, triples and, if classic Japanese bikes float your moto-boats, inline transverse fours. While they all have their own unique feels, between-the-knees width is the dominant vibe that these Nippon beasts impart. Like riding a racehorse or taking a tumble in the hay with a larger lover, these bikes are all about their bountiful girth. And while Tommy from Germany’s Schlachtwerk is kind of new to Japanese fours, he’s liking them more and more. Here’s his ‘Dicke Berta’ or ‘Big Bertha’ Kawasaki Zephyr 750.
Nitrous oxide. Turbos. Superchargers. We’re as guilty as the next guy and or gal for drooling over flashy go-faster parts that make good headlines and get those website clicks a-clicking. But there’s a much more traditional approach to speed that doesn’t involve mega bucks and a team of rocket scientists. It’s what bikers have done since the dawn of time. Drop weight, increase capacity and work on the heads. And for Schlachtwerk’s Tommy Thöring, it’s just this approach that turned out this little gem. Meet his Kawasaki W740 he calls ‘No Fat’.
It’s 2017 and I find myself in a dilemma involving lack of time and money. Questioning how we would build our next custom as well as a new bike to race in the American Flat Track series, a decision was made to kill two birds with one stone. Why not build a custom worthy of the race track and a race bike worthy of being a custom piece of two-wheel art? Why not, indeed!
Customising bikes is a gargantuan task at the best of times. And unless you’re a rich trust fund kid with zero family ties, no friends or social life, and a garage straight from the MotoGP pit lane, time probably isn’t on your side. So choosing a donor bike that’s almost entirely inappropriate for its intended custom end game is just adding insult to injury. It’d be pretty much a death warrant to the project – unless you’re biking mega clothing brand, ICON 1000. They love death warrants. And death too, apparently. Here’s their dead cool Kawasaki Vulcan 650S.
“Three,” as a rather famous three-piece once said, “That’s the magic number.” You’ve heard it before, right? All this hoo-ha about how three has some inherent simplicity, perfection or symmetry. Maybe it has something to do with the Holy Trinity. Or maybe it’s a simple as groups of three looking so pleasing to the eye – a fact celebrated by the famous French term ‘Ménage à trois’ which, as we all know, refers to the joy French people experience upon seeing three pieces of cheese at once. But there’s no better expression of the simplicity of three than this – a bike built for a guy determined to lead a simpler life. Here’s Untitled Motorcycles with their latest creation – a Kawasaki
W300 W400 called ‘3-DOM’.