The Snipe. A well camouflaged but otherwise nondescript bird that is native to the old world. But for such a seemingly average little fellow, it has sure inspired a hell of a lot of things to be named in its honour. The dictionary defines a ‘snipe’ as the act of ‘making a sly or petty verbal attack.’ That act is named after the military tactic of ‘sniping’, or shooting at the enemy over a long distance. This in turn took its name from the difficulties involved in hunting the bird with a rifle as its flight patterns are erratic, making it almost impossible to hit ‘on the wing’. But most importantly to this story, the bird also gave its name to the Sopwith Snipe, the replacement aircraft to the now famous Camel. And while it’s service began only a few short weeks before the end of WWI, it was renown for its rate of climb and manoeuvrability. Now fast forward to South Eastern England in 2016, where two likely lads with a fascination for old British aircraft have decided to build themselves a custom motorcycle…
There was a time when only two things wore raw shields of smoothed out aluminium, UFO invaders cutting through the sky to attack earth as narrated by Orson Welles and the race bikes of the big manufacturers that were as equally alien to the visuals of a real road bike. It was a time when the imagination was the only limiting factor, rules and regulations not strangling the mind as they do today and allowed the likes of Isaac Asimov to amass a portfolio of more than 500 science fiction works. It was while reading Asimov’s famous Foundation Series that Markus Pintzinger came across the name of a micro food exporting Mycogenian known as ‘Sunmaster 14’ and decided it would make the perfect name for a future build. As the head honcho at Omega Racer in Thailand, Markus finally got a chance to use the name on a build befitting the era as he turned a ‘98 Yamaha SR400 into an aluminium shielded racer ready to descend from the skies and take over the Bangkok streets.
The custom motorcycle scene can be a competitive game, for all the comradery and sense of community that makes the industry such a wonderful thing to be part of, businesses still have to make a quid. For the workshops that build custom bikes that means selling at least enough of them to pay the rent, it’s fair to say we all take a pay cut for our art, but a man’s got to eat. To achieve this Auto Fabrica from North-East London have created a series of bikes that act as rolling advertisements for the quality of their work and what they can deliver. Based on Yamaha’s SR400 platform their Type 7 series offers customers a versatile machine that’s as comfortable ripping up a rain-soaked field as it is posing for the cameras at the local bike show. Designed with clean lines, executed with quality workmanship and utilising the best parts around it’s easy to see why customers are coming calling!
The back alleys of cities all over Japan have delivered some of the coolest custom cars and bikes from small workshops that punch well above their weight. From the Hyper Lemon tuner cars of JUN to the retro-tech bikes produced by AC Sanctuary – you don’t need millions and a huge facility to produce incredible machines in the land of the rising sun. And nobody exemplifies that spirit more than custom bike building genius Fujita Koichi and his one man operation AN-BU Custom Motors.
Words by Ian Lee.
When it comes to building a bike, an open brief is always a good brief. It’s nice to know someone puts their faith into the fact you will get it right. This is exactly what happened with the latest build to roll out of the Salty Speed Co’s workshop. Starting with a 1988 Yamaha SR400 with only 6500kms on the clock, the whole bike has been stripped back and reworked, giving a fresh new look to this bulletproof thumper.
Utilising the classic single for the build, Matt from Salty Speed Co decided the engine needed no work, and to focus on improving the aesthetics of the machine. The first aspect that needed to be touched up was the stance.
Written by Ian Lee.
With a hot sun beating down, 45 degree Celsius heat just outside my front door, last week my thoughts drifted to the beach and how nice it would be to live near the ocean. Cool breezes, the sound of waves and a sweet ride to experience it all on. Then this bike appeared in my email inbox. Must be a sign. A sweet thumper, built with the surf in mind, this 1985 SR400 has been made over to suit the beach bum lifestyle. With a build brief that appeals to both form and function, this is definitely a bike I would be happy to ride on a sunny day. Or any other day for that matter.
The most recent of Gasoline’s two-wheel custom work, taking the title “Tomahawk”, manages to transform one of the world’s most popular motorcycles into a custom dream machine worthy of any garage. The Yamaha SR400 has been toyed and tampered many times before. It’s an old favorite to work with, being one of Japan’s biggest selling motorcycles for over three decades. So you’d think that the platform might just have been exhausted. If so, it looks like no-one has told these Aussies; they have pushed the boundaries to create a classic thumper with a streamlined, modern edge. At first sight the transformation looks deceptively simple, but peer deeper and you can see the beautiful details that has been included by the team in their East Sydney workshop, Gasoline Custom Motorcycles, run by Jason Gasoline.
Being in a kind of retro mood, I just dug deep into the dusty recesses of my browser’s bookmarks folder. The one I was interested in tonight was the collection marked ‘motorbikes.’ See, contained in this folder are all the bookmarks I have kept from the very earliest days of my addiction, and looking back into it is akin to opening a time capsule that I buried some time in 2005. So what do you suppose the links there lead to? I’ll tell you; Yamaha SRs, and lots of them. And that’s because it’s the SR that we all must thank as the vehicle that reinvented what it meant to say the words ‘custom motorbike’ and ‘café racer,’ in the same way Nirvana reinvented ‘rock’ and Ansel Adams reinvented ‘photography.’ And what better way to illustrate my point than an SR that encapsulates everything that’s right about today’s custom bikes. Please welcome Mr Nick Blaxell and his wonderful Yamaha, ‘The Addict.’
By guest writer Ian Lee.
Here at Pipeburn we have a soft spot for thumpers. The thud-thud-thud of a single cylinder is music to the ears… and when wrapped in a custom motorcycle, it is even better. Based in Sydney, Australia, Zoku Motorcycles are also fond of single cylinder power – especially in the form of the legendary Yamaha SR. These bikes make for an easy starting point for custom builds, easy for any novice to try it, as the boys from Zoku found out when commencing the build. But it was worth it in the end, as they have produced a great build, with that thumping sound to boot.
Isn’t it weird how one little addition to an object can have seemingly untold benefits to it’s aesthetics. Take, for instance, your common, garden-variety Martini. Now you could argue that a Martini is simply a slug of gin (or vodka, if you’re having childish delusions about being a spy) and some vermouth. But I’d argue that what in fact makes the Martini is the garnish. Without that twist of lemon, olive, or whatever new-fangled hoopla they are currently adding to the glass, I’m betting that it would have disappeared without a trace into the ocean of nondescript cocktail wannabes a long time ago. The message you’ll need to take from this, my little pickled pipers? One single inspired touch can make a good bike great. And in the case of Farmer’s Racer, there’s no free drinks for guessing just what twist we are talking about.