Ah, Denmark! A beautiful nation with friendly folk who have given the world such gifts as Lego, the Pastry and the Vikings. Have fun, eat well and die! Maybe the lads from Relic Motorcycles eat pastries for their breakfast, of that I can’t be sure, but when it comes to building things from pieces and murdering them out, they never let their heritage down! Based in Aarhus, Denmark the team of builders are forging a reputation for creating low and lean machines with a dark attitude. In steel we trust is their motto and there’s no plastic here, just the best old school bikes infused with a new beating black heart. When it came time for team member Kristian Bech to build himself a new ride he’d always “liked and admired the look, performance and history of these old boxer twins” so why not go straight for the top, take one legendary 1977 BMW R 100RS and give it a full Relic Motorcycles make over.
The Eastern Alps of Austria must be one of the most picturesque places in the world, from the snow-covered alpine region, to the 200 crystal clear lakes and the many castles, museums and breweries to visit there is not shortage of things to do. Everywhere you go the food is as spectacular as the scenery and not only does the beer flow but there is an abundance of wineries and literally a “Cider Trail”. The only thing left to decide is how to get around the perfectly laid mountain roads and it’s hard to think of anything that suits more than two wheels. It’s here that David Widmann and his team Kurt and Manuel operate National Custom Tech (or NCT) and turn out the perfect machines for sweeping through the mountain passes or munching up the flower covered meadows. Although the young guns have built everything from a Ducati Streetfighter to a side-car equipped Moto Guzzi, their passion and pride is in slick old school BMW’s.
The Red Baron, a.k.a. Manfred von Richthofen, was a German fighter pilot with a reputation that seems to have well and truly outlived the man himself. A legend in his own lifetime, he and his red Fokker Dr.I. triplane became synonymous with dashing heroism, chivalry and a decidedly old-school approach to battle in a time when gentleman were still gentleman. But imagine for a moment if, instead of the all the codes of honour and valour, the guy was just plain bad. No mercy or code of conduct, just an evil bastard with a cold, dead heart. Got that pictured in your head? Great. Now can you guess what bike he rides to the airfield? Why, this one of course. Meet the latest magnificent machine from Denmark’s Relic Motorcycles – their BMW ‘Black Baron’.
Sometimes it’s easy to hate the French. The food. The wine. The beautiful women. We’re not quite sure what the country has done to deserve all this mana from heaven, but they must have all been very well-behaved in a past life. And, as if to rub salt into the wounds of the rest of the word, along comes the very attractive Monsieur Fabrice Rude rom La Manufacture. With a name that couldn’t be more French if it tried, he’s here as living proof that life is just plain better in the land of the Française. Deciding he just might pop along to the Wheels & Waves show in Biarritz, he seemingly threw together a build at the last-minute only to become the star of the show and subsequently smothered in beautiful women, fame, fortune and bucketloads of la belle vie. Don’t you just hate him?
In the global movement that is the custom bike scene you don’t win Best Cafe Racer at the VVMC Rally and be a stand out as an invited builder to the One Motorcycle Show unless you not only build incredible machines but understand the ethos behind the movement. Ask Ken from Spirit Lake Cycles what the mantra was when designing this exquisite 1992 BMW R100r and he responds with “Anything that it does not require, it does not have!”. But to take a clunky German retro tourer and turn it into a masterpiece also requires a fabricator who can build show winning form with traditional cafe racer function and Brian the other half of the SLC team knows exactly what that means “The ultimate goal was to have something that looked vintage but at the same time road like a modern bike”. It’s little wonder then that two men with such abilities and understanding of their goal achieved such an incredible result in this LA built Bavarian beauty known as Miss Thriller.
The custom bike scene is full of builders pumping out café racers, trackers, bobbers, scramblers and just about anything imaginable. Yet Chris Canterbury, founder and owner of Boxer Metal in California, still managed to knock one out of the park with his fantastically unique 1980 BMW R100 twin turbo build. “We were excited to attend the One Moto Show in Portland again, but the bike that would have been perfect for it was already packed up and shipped to Guatemala,” says Chris. It didn’t make things easier that the One Moto Show was merely 7 weeks away. Not afraid of a challenge, Chris set out to not only build a bike for the show, but to build a BMW that would really stir things up. It takes a great deal of engineering and ingenuity to fuse one turbo to any bike, but two is more than any kid could ever wish for.
Imagine you work at a motorcycle dealership that sells only the most exclusive of brands from Italy and Germany. You also own the latest and greatest BMW Sportsbike on the planet. Do you really need another bike that was also built for the road and is nearly 30 years old? Of course you do! And that’s why Joe DeMoss built this stunning 1988 BMW R100RS over a period of nine months. Because motorcycling runs in his veins. Because working everyday at Florida’s Eurocycles of Tampa Bay has made him a hands-on kind of guy. And because his fondest memories are of he and his father sharing time in the garage working on just about anything with wheels.
Kevil’s Speed Shop describe themselves as “The UK’s premier custom BMW builder, producing top quality, one-off commissioned BMWs.” It’s a bold statement, but with bikes as perfect as this 1981 BMW R100 just one example of what rolls out of their workshop they have plenty of evidence to back it up. Founded by Kevin Hill, a man with decades of experience, the team operate out of the seaside town of Paignton in Devon. Having seen one of their past builds Andrea, who is an IT consultant from Prague, knew exactly what he wanted. With that past build in mind he gave the team free rein to build him the ultimate BMW R Café Racer and boy, did they deliver.
You won’t find two more different styles of motorcycle, than to compare a BMW to a Ducati. The Bavarian cycle is reliable and sensible like your grandpa, whereas the Italian machine is like your crazy cousin who keeps getting you in trouble in the pursuit of a good time. Somehow, Moto Motivo has managed to strike a healthy balance between the two, producing a cafe racer featuring the best parts of each. Starting with a busted ass 1972 R75/5, Johann and the MM crew have brought this bike back to life, repowered it, and produced a magnificent multicultural machine that even the builder himself wasn’t sure he could achieve.
It sounds like an outtake from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or an idea for a Karate Kid road movie. It goes like this – you muster everything you’ve learnt to build your dream bike and enter it in one of the world’s biggest custom bike shows. Then you crash and destroy it after two weeks. You are injured, but you pick yourself up and completely rebuild the bike just in time to enter it into the show, where’s it’s a great success. Along the way you learn about the futility of material possessions and the value of perseverance. Is it a script we’ve been working on around the office while drunk? Or maybe the fevered dream of a bike-obsessed lunatic? Nope. In fact, it’s all in a day’s work for Hugo and the boys from France’s Blitz Motorcycles.