TW Steel is a Dutch watch manufacturer that builds quality timepieces large enough to beat a man to death with. Recently they’ve been dabbling in the custom motorcycle scene, commissioning a series of bikes based around Yamaha’s incredible, unique-looking lineup. The latest builder to throw their sizeable hat into the ring on behalf of TW Steel is Spain’s Macco Motors, with their brand spanking new XSR900 cafe racer dubbed ‘The Desperado’.
We all know that without getting kids into motorcycling the sport will go the way of the dinosaurs, Morris Dancing and Tiger Wood’s reputation. But what have you done about it lately? For Eduardo and Dani from Spain’s Russell Motorcycles, they’ve introduced their kids to the sideways glory that is flat tracking by building them a bike to do it on. It’s a Sanglas/Puch/BMW mash-up that makes us want to get some dust in our faces.
I always have an internal debate when considering commissioned custom works. Even when – like in this case – the owner says, “feel free to do what you like, but…” Bam! There’s always a ”but”. That “but” can mean so much more than you really planned for. Logically, the owner comes to you because he or she likes your work. But he or she probably also wants “a kind of bike” and – more importantly – has a specific amount of money to spend. Put simply, it’s all about balance.
If you’re anything like me, moving house is right up there with wheelieing into the side of a police car or finding out your sleazy prog rock uncle now has a bike and is looking to joining you on your next big group ride. The cleaning. The endless boxes and tape. The sheer amount of time it takes is always straight up nightmarish. Now imagine moving your custom bike shop. Suddenly it’s goodbye income, too. But far from collapsing in a screaming heap, David Gonzalez from Barcelona’s Ad Hoc Cafe Racers managed to find the time make this Honda NX650.
Over the past eight years, Pipeburn has brought you bikes from all over the world and from every manufacturer you care to name. There’s even some I’d never even heard of. But as it happens, a custom Cagiva had never landed in our net. They are an Italian manufacturer with quite an important story to tell. Thankfully we’ve snagged a big one, and it comes from a man with a rare gift of taking any bike at all and building an absolute beast. From the incredible Pepo Rosell of XTR Pepo, here’s an ’86 Cagiva Elefant 350 Dirt Tracker that goes by the name ‘Chico Malo.’
The modern retro market is booming and where once it was a niche for a few manufacturers, it is now a profitable sector across the board. There are an endless number of machines to choose from. And while they retain much of their classic styling to appease the retro loving eye, there is nothing old school about their functionality. A Royal Enfield is really the only modern machine that gives that true vintage bike feel; chunky gearbox clicks and a bike that you ride and doesn’t ride you. Santiago García of Corb Motorcycles in the beautiful Catalonia region of Spain craved just such a machine. So he created a 2003 Royal Enfield Bullet known as “The Raven 500” – a fitting doff of the cap to classic British engineering.
When does a custom bike shop become a fully fledged bike manufacturer? While some successful shops are happy with their two or three bikes a year, others like Spain’s Macco Motors take things a little more seriously. Eminently comfortable in their own stylistic skins, they’ve now developed quite the global business. With a waiting list as long as Stretch Armstrong’s arm and customers from as far a field as the UK and Miami, we’re beginning to wonder how long it’ll be before Hinckley starts to get worried. Here’s their latest build, a Triumph T100 they are calling ‘Seagull’.
How do you tell a master bike builder? In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s their ability to transform a bike to the point where, magician-like, you are left scratching your head as how the hell they did it. Sow’s ear into silk purse? Try sow’s ear into deep space probe. Knowing this trick all too well, Spain’s XTR Pepo has clearly decided to see if they couldn’t outdo themselves. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t just go and actually do it, too. The bike you see here was once an embarrassingly uncool ‘97 Honda Shadow. Then abracadabra, it’s now one of the best-looking racers we’ve seen all year. Look out Siegfried & Roy, Pepo Rosell is in town.
Well, well. Isn’t Yamaha’s XSR range doing it well for itself? It seems like we can’t go for a ride these days with seeing one, or one of their MT brethren, riding the other way. We’re not afraid to admit that, although they are a thoroughly high tech machine in stock trim, they do look damn good. And it’s become pretty clear to us that they don’t mind a bit of customisation, either. We’ve had a slew of great lookers from all the top European builders, and here’s the latest of them. It’s Spain’s Ad Hoc Cafe Racer with an XSR700 that’s a kind of a version 2.0 build based on their ‘Otokomae’ XSR700 from 2016. They call this one ‘Hansamu’.
The journey through adult life we’re told is a relatively straight forward process. Work, breed, sleep – there’s even a rough guide to follow. Family and society steer many of us into careers we’re not really sure we want to follow, but before you know it the show’s over and the pension cheques start to arrive. But some restless souls are meant for more than one path and despite walking the same road for many decades, they decide it’s never too late to change. For Spain’s Carlos Ormazabal, a near lifetime’s career at camera giant Nikon would come to an end when a thirst for something new took hold. It’s been quenched by the opening of his own custom bike shop called The Foundry MC. And with just his second drink, he’s ready to serve a barnstorming 1991 BMW K75 street tracker inspired by one of the industry’s best.