Our recent expedition to Northern Italy for the inaugural Wildays show gave us more than just ham-induced consumption, some sunburn and a flat track-related bung knee. It also provided us a chance meeting with Germany’s Hookie Co., who had set up shop right alongside the Pipeburn display area. Bumming their shade, we got to talking over this, their latest build. It’s a 1993 Harley XL883 that’s been given a new lease of life as one of 2017’s coolest trackers yet.
Maybe it’s an old school mentality that I should let go, but no one works on my bikes but me. Knowing you tightened that axle bolt yourself gives a little added comfort when speeds start going past the ton. But if he didn’t live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean I’d throw my keys to Greg Hageman in a heartbeat! He’s a master mechanic who never fails when it comes to building incredible customs that ride as perfectly as they appeal to the eye. So it’s easy to see why Rebel Yell Bourbon entrusted the future custom bike hall of famer to knock out a give-away machine for one lucky customer. The prize? A go anywhere 2015 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 that tips its cap to the AMF years.
If you’ve been flicking through Pipeburn over the last few years you’ll have noticed a change – everyone is shifting away from traditional retro-styled builds. Tight, fast, water-cooled, turn-and-stop on a dime bikes are becoming more popular as more people are actually riding their custom machines and the zeitgeist finds it’s niche in everyday life. Thankfully for grumpy old bastards like me people are still building traditional, honest-to-god specials. And damn well, as Gasser Custom’s 1974 Ironhead Sportster shows.
I recently pulled my old turntable out of the garage and got it up and running again. A new needle and belt, some dust removal and a few solders here and there and suddenly I’m rediscovering a wall of vinyl that hasn’t been played in many, many years. It’s easy to forget just how much great music was recorded in the 70s and 80s. You could dismiss the era as wall-to-wall makeup and silly hair, but a closer inspection will reveal some amazingly inspired, and beautifully timeless work. Sam from Canada’s Clockwork Motorcycles has taken a similar approach with his latest build – a retro Harley Sportster with all the right influences.
All or nothing. It’s a phrase you’d probably take to mean ‘no middle ground’. But it seems more and more builders are using it as a yard stick to define new genres for custom bikes. All of the popular styles rolled into one, or maybe none of them at all. What would a cafe scrambler tracker look like? Or an enduro street fighter? Conversely, how would a bike built purely to suit personal needs rather than a pre-existing category or style look? It seems that the cafe racer’s rule might just be coming to an end, and builders like California’s Sam Kao and his ‘Cobalt Storm’ Harley look to be on the crest of something very new.
Harley’s original XR750s are the stuff of legend. With a winning streak that started in 1972 and is still being felt in flat tracking today, many argue that it’s the world’s most winningest motorcycle. Which is a pretty amazing claim to fame, when you think about it. The Netherland’s Bart Verstijnen knew he could build his own XR750 if he really put his mind to it. And once you see the twin Mikuni’s, you know this isn’t just a tepid homage. Oh no. This is the real deal.
It can take years. Each second feels like an eternity. From the moment you spot ‘the one’ crossing the road in front of you until the day you finally get up close and personal. But when we spotted this sporty shorty in the workshop corner of Malaysia’s Beautiful Machines, we knew we had to have her. That was when they were preparing their incredible ‘Monster’ for the Yokohama MoonEyes Hot Rod & Custom Show. But we couldn’t just show her off to you in any old state, so we took one for the team and waited until we could get just the right shots. Now for her big debut we can finally present ‘Puting Beliung’; it means ‘Tornado’ and she’s a Harley Davidson Sportster XL1200N Nightster that’ll literally sweep you off your feet.
When you’re young, brash and at the top of your game you can push a lot of buttons and get away with it. Just ask the great Muhammad Ali who once said, “I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail!” The motorcycle equivalent to this level of smack talk is like standing in front of a pack of grey bearded Harley Davidson enthusiasts having defiled the purity of some fine Milwaukee Muscle. The reaction will come quick; bottles may fly, F-bombs will rain down and a chase worthy of the Blues Brothers will ensue. It’s not that the Young Guns Speed Shop lads set out to upset those who cry, “why?” – it’s that they simply answer, “why not!” Their latest bike is yet another badass build with an exclamation point, a 1999 Husky Harley Sportster known simply as ‘DK’.
The explosion of the custom bike seen means there are literally millions of aftermarket parts on the market to fit to your bike. The only problem is the temptation can be to order half the catalogue, have no design plan and throw it all on your bike and end up with a squashed fruit salad like mess. That’s never been a problem for DP Customs of Arizona, USA, who build some of the cleanest customs you’re ever likely to see and never seem to stray from that path. Over the last six years they’ve refined their style to such a point that you only have to see a single photo of one of their bikes to know exactly who built it. Owners Jarrod and Justin Del Prado are no-nonsense guys; they like a good BBQ, a cold beer and having plenty of fun on motorbikes. So you can see why their customers love the bikes and the experience of being part of the DP Customs family and their latest build is a low slung bruiser, a 2001 Harley Davidson Sportster known as c88.
When long time upholsterer for DP Customs, Uniqueaz.com, dropped by the workshop for a cold beer and a chat with owners, Justin and Jarrod Del Prado he revealed he hadn’t come to discuss the latest needs of a shared customer but to place an order for a bike of his own. Having carefully studied the quality of the brothers workmanship having worked on many of their bikes, he wanted one of his own. With that some ribs were thrown on the smoker and the beer kept flowing as they began an impromptu design session. The brief from Unique Upholstery was simple, it had to feel comfortable to sit on; With only the barest of constraints they thought up a Street Tracker named “W” based on a 2002 Harley Davidson Sportster that’s big on power, low on weight and rips up the streets in as brilliant a fashion as it appears when standing still.