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.
Never fear, Hageman is here! Needing no introduction, Greg Hageman AKA “Doc’s Chops” of Hageman Cycles is one of the leading hands and pioneers of the custom motorcycle renaissance. He’s also one of those guys who is a builders builder, I know I’m not the only one who before attempting a new build sees what Greg has done with that make and model, both for inspiration and to see how it’s done right. It’s no surprise really, motorcycles are in his veins having grown up on a farm in Rural Iowa in a family where trips to the dealerships had him dreaming of those sweet rides before he was old enough to reach the handlebars. But it’s a lucky rider who gets to throw their leg over his latest build, a 2005 Harley Davidson XL883 Custom that brings more than a little racer to its new cafe look.
Perth’s Mean Machines are one of Australia’s leading custom bike builders. As a workshop that once built a Triumph Bonneville with a 200 section rear tyre, you always expect big things when they unleash a new machine. Well, Wenley Andrews and his crew haven’t let us down with a ‘04 Harley Davidson 883 Sportster that’s stripped at the waist, packing plenty of punch and showing off one hell of a rear end. Even for Wenley, categorising the build is difficult “The word racer was brewing in my head, I decided to make the bike’s theme into a drag/race bike, but I’ll let you guys decide what it is…” The truth is it’s all that and more, with Cafe Racer influences and old school Bobber touches that mix with the drag racing look. Nicknamed ‘Furiosa’, it’s fair to say this HD is every bit the fearsome, fiery warrior as Charlize Theron’s character in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Ever had one of those dreams where you feel like you really need to do something, but somehow you never manage to? Maybe it’s a place you have to be or a task you have to complete. Whatever the case, the harder you try in the dream the more unlikely you’ll be to make any progress. And in the end you’ll wake up with an incredible sense of frustration. Got the idea? Well, now you know how we feel about this bike. It’s one we first laid eyes on in 2012 and we’ve literally spent three years trying to get our hands on it – and now it’s here. Call it lucid dreaming. Call it luck. Hell, call it divine intervention. Presenting a bike that took a biblical one thousand days to get here. It’s Adam Nestor’s ‘Sporganic’ Sportster Harley.