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’.
We’re guessing you all know what a custom bike is, right? They’re the ones with all the wild and unique modifications. The bright colours and the racing numbers. The flames and chrome skulls with the glowing eyes. And the ones that develop a gazillion horsepowers from their superchargers, nitrous oxide and turbos. But what if you wanted a custom bike that didn’t look like, well, a custom bike? What if your aim was a customised yet classic machine that would look good today and in 2116? If that thought puts a lightbulb above your kopf then you best check out today’s feature bike, a wildly mild Kawasaki W800 from Germany’s very talented Schlachtwerk.
Race replicas have been around for decades now. From Repsol Hondas to Pepsi Suzukis, they’ve largely been a marketing gimmick to boost sales. Of course they’re not all show and no go; some manufacturers have commissioned special editions to add a little race to the replica. From the mild Phil Read TT Formula One Honda CB750s to the wild Ducati Desmosedici RR, it allows weekend warriors to imitate their heroes. The problem is the Seeley built Honda was barely faster than a stocker and the Desmo is so nuts it’s best suited to the track and an absolute pig on the road. So could this be the best race replica ever built, finally striking the right balance? DNA Custom Cycles’ Moriwaki ‘91 Kawasaki Zephyr has the go, the show and will hammer down Gardner Straight while still be being a pleasure on the street.
With the corporate dollars rolling in, the celebrities coming on board and a global fascination with the custom motorcycle culture there has never been a better time to be a bike builder. But for any movement to survive, its indigenous roots must be well fed with a continuous supply of what sprouted that seed in the first place; and nothing serves that purpose like a classic motorcycle, with a timeless appeal, that’s built to a high standard and designed with a purpose. The Harley based chopper scene is dead for not watering those seeds but at Montreal’s Clockwork Motorcycles they make no such error, giving their customers machines that will stand the test of time and be just as good in ten years as they are today. Their latest offering is a perfect example, a 1978 Kawasaki KZ650 that does everything a motorcycle should, just better in every way.
Tick, tick, tick… Boom! Your alarm goes off, it’s 5:30am, your eyes snap open scanning the room, immediately through the sleepy fog that engulfs your brain thoughts of two things race through your mind; more sleep or head to the beach for a surf. Blankets off, the cool morning air hits your body first as you hunt for your board, clothes and keys and then again with more force as you race to the water’s edge. 6am and for the next two hours your mind is free, the waves are yours to carve with speed and exhilaration and the only thing greater than the power of the ocean is the infinite possibilities of your imagination as each wave cleanses you of earthly limitations. How can you find this experience on land? 8am finds you sitting at the steps of a place that makes these dreams a reality, Bali’s Smoked Garage might be closed but in a few hours’ time a Modern Cafe Racer will have been conceived and from there you wait until an incredible 2015 Kawasaki Ninja 650 is delivered into your gaze for the first time; it’s truly sublime.
When your website has a tab for “Investor Relations” it’s safe to say you are playing in the big time, a one man operation it is not. But it wasn’t always that way for Smoked Garage Custom Motorcycles and this successful Indonesian motorcycle powerhouse is a genuine rags to riches tale. Founded in 2004 by Nicko Eigert there really isn’t a start date to his story but the completion of his first custom build twelve years ago has snowballed into a business that fills an entire warehouse and churns out an eclectic mix of incredible machines. Only a short drive from the Smoked Garage HQ is the largest Kawasaki dealership in Indonesia, PT DUTA INTIKA of Denpasar, who wanted a custom bike to show the public what you can do with a Kwaka; thus begun the design and build of Project X, a Kawasaki Ninja Urban Scrambler to wow the masses.
Two years before Triumph relaunched the ‘new’ Bonneville range in 2001, Kawasaki had delivered their W650 to the market. It was a bike that was described years later as being “closer to a ’60s Bonneville than Triumph’s own latter-day replica”. Of course, that line alone will kick off the greatest of debates between purists of the British brand and those who fell in love with the new Kwaka, but what can’t be argued is how good a job Kawasaki did at re-creating a retro machine with plenty of modern-day improvements. While the late ‘90s ushered in the era of the modern race bike for the road with the launch of Superbikes like the Yamaha R1, the W650 gave new bike buyers the option for a much more laid back, classic ride. When German motorcycle enthusiast Uwe Kostrewa first saw one he instantly fell in love and now, years later, he’s been able to create his perfect W650, a ‘99 model come Street Tracker with all the goodies you could ever hope for.
There is something about the Glemseck 101 1/8th mile sprint that brings the best out of so many builders, static competitions are one thing, but when the rubber hits the road everything on the bike is truly tested. The German motorcycle festival draws massive crowds of up to 75,000 people and is billed as “the meeting point for international designers, engineers, developers and their bikes.” For Yann and Manu of Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues in Brittany, North Western France, it was a chance to create a truly unique machine that showed off their full array of skills. But their Project Z Kawasaki is more than just a bike for competition, in the true tradition of Hot Rod Motorcycles it can do it all, win trophies as a static display, give a perfect ride on the beautiful back roads of Brittany and then go to the strip and lay down a great number in competition; our two French friends are simply brilliant at everything they do and this is their creation.
It’s 7pm on a Saturday evening in Portland’s industrial district. The steel train rails glisten in the evening sun and the magic hour is upon us; a perfect time to photograph a perfect bike. The sun is still shining strong as dusk approaches. It’s an unusually quiet time of day in Portland. Normally bustling with people coming and going, the silence is eerie. Even though the location we chose to meet was at the heart of where all the action usually takes place, there’s a sense of calm in the air. Within minutes of talking to Andrew from Little Horse Cycles, I realise that maybe this environment is the perfect setting for him. He is quiet, calm, and collected, but you can tell he is a mastermind that’s really passionate about his work.