Pipeburn is full of stories concerning engineering genii who make us all look like drunken monkeys when it comes to customising a bike. Guilty as charged. But for the most part, it’s average Joes and Joannes who build bikes. The trick is knowing when to bring in the big guns. Clearly not one to do things by half measures, Switzerland’s Michael Thalmann pulled the pin on European custom’s equivalent of a nuclear weapon to help him out and the end result is a Ducati Monster cafe racer that’s blowing our minds.
A headless chicken earning $50,000 a month, a female racer beating up on the boys and an Indian Scout with a 1:1 power to weight ratio. These are not old wives tales, stories from someone three sheets to the wind or plucked from an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. All these things are true and they form the foundation of one incredible machine that took home the top trophy at its first race meeting. Having been selected by Indian to undertake the build Nik, Fabien Ale and Zesi at Switzerland’s Young Guns Speed Shop haven’t let down the big American maker. Delivering a tyre shredding 2016 Indian Scout Sprint Racer known fondly as ‘Miracle Mike’.
It seems that nary week goes by without a clever new custom bike build from an authorised bike dealer appearing in our overworked inboxes. Especially prevalent in Europe, it seems that their in-house access to bikes, mechanics and a shipload of spare and aftermarket parts sets them up for some pretty prime builds. And tonight’s bike is no exception. Made by Switzerland’s Städler Motos, it’s a delicious new Triumph Thruxton R that’s been given just enough warming-up to make all but the fussiest Swiss Triumph fans feel all warm and gooey inside.
Think about American motor racing legend Eddie Lawson for a moment. You’re probably picturing him on the early 80s Kawasaki Z1000 he made famous. Or maybe it’s the mid 80s 500cc World Championship Marlboro Yamaha. Or, at a stretch, it could be his Rothman’s Honda of the late 80s. And unless you’d had one too many disco biscuits, a BMW boxer is probably the last bike that was on your mind. That’d never work. Or would it? Maybe we’ve all had one too many biscuits, because from the moment we laid eyes on this Eddie-inspired No. 21 R1200R, the latest build from Switzerland’s VTR Customs, we were smitten. Eddie on a Beemer? Human sacrifice? Dogs and cats living together? Count us in.
With the circus that is the World Superbike Championship wrapping up for the weekend at the Imola circuit, Ducati asked a few select journalists to stay behind. After a superlative-laden speech by Ducati supremo Claudio Domenicali, they hit the track on the brand new 2016 Ducati Panigale R. To say that they were gobsmacked would be a gross understatement. So it’s probably for the best that a certain bunch of Swiss motorcycle fanatics weren’t on hand. Undoubtedly they would be thinking that there was even more to be had from the bike. Fortunately, their absence did nothing to quell their creativity. And the result is arguably the world’s fastest cafe racer; a unique collaboration of talents that has delivered a freakishly cool animal known simply as ‘The Blue Shark’.
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’.
That famous line uttered by Catholic Priest Patrick Peyton quickly had a word change when it entered the common vernacular and has become an old adage in the motorsport world, “The family that races together stays together”! There are plenty of legendary racing families across all forms of motorsport who have found a second home at the race track. For the Vuilleumier family it’s a tale that spans three generations and three continents, with each new-born starting as early as four years old working with the race team and getting an education that can only be attained in the endless battle for the winning edge. Today we find them operating as a father and son team, the owners of Switzerland’s JV Performances, a shop that specialises largely in BMW motorcycles and has unveiled their latest track weapon, an early 90’s K1100LT Tourer, come stripped down and boosted drag bike.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
Incredible watches, chocolate and cheese so goes the cliché about Switzerland the landlocked mountainous country in the middle of Europe. But a group of young Swiss lads are making their name with a different kind of craftsmanship, one off custom bikes that tip their hat to the days of old and with a blend of bobber and board tracker they’ve turned a Harley Sportster into a beautiful piece of standing art that also rips the street.