Figaro. You probably know of the word and its operatic connections, but have little or no idea where it’s from. But since you asked and since I’ve just spent 5 minutes on Wikipedia, let me enlighten you. Figaro is the lead character in Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’. It’s the story of an old Spanish scissorman drawn into an romantic comedy of errors. Any good? Well, it’s been popular for 200 years, so it can’t be too bad – but it contains exactly zero motorcycles. Which is why this bike, made for Spanish Barber Rubén by Tamarit Motorcycles, is such a genius idea. Just think of how much better the old opera will be once we convince the Rossini family estate to include it in the official manuscript. Take a read of this while we draft the email.
Some say that his ear wax tastes like Turkish Delight and that if he could be bothered, he could crack the Da Vinci Code in 43 seconds… all we know is, he’s called Wenley. In the space of a week the maestro formerly of Mean Machines, Wenley Andrews, has come out swinging with two incredible Triumphs for the world to enjoy. But always one to set a challenge for himself, he didn’t pick a couple of T100 Bonnies and churn out cafe racers. Instead he first laid down the law with a thunderous triple, a barnstorming bruiser based on a Rocket III. Now to finish off the one-two combo, he’s flooring the competition with another unlikely custom candidate. It’s a brilliant old-school styled bobber based on a 2010 Triumph America. He calls it the ‘Dirty Rascal.’
Custom bike shops come and go. It’s more than a slight understatement to say that running one without going crazy, broke, or both is no mean feat. The late nights. The cold winters laying on greasy concrete floors. The striking a balance between art and profit. It’s nothing short of the challenge of a lifetime. And a lifetime is exactly how long it’s been since we last featured the work of Richard Pollock and his Mule Motorcycles shop in California. Well, eight years if you must know – but in the custom bike game it’s as good as. And now he’s back – back with bike that makes us wish we’d chased him up a lot sooner. Check out this Triumph Thruxton – it’s his latest, and dare we say greatest build.
The morbidly obese and slightly long-in-the-tooth Triumph Rocket III has been a favorite of the morbidly obese, slightly long-in-the-tooth riding sect for the last thirteen years. While a cruiser, many owners don’t really bother going down the custom route for their rides. Modified examples of the 2300cc beast usually just feature a pallet’s worth of matte black paint and around four hundred yards of exhaust wrap. But now Sydney-based builder Wenley Andrews has worked his cafe racer magic on a 2006 Rocket III and given it the looks to match the gigantic torquey engine underneath.
I have no idea what I’m doing. As I reach over and adjust the mirrors on the brand new T100 I catch a glimpse of an ex-superbike world champion riding behind me. He blips the throttle and with a tug of his arms has the nose of the Bonneville pointing towards the sky. In front of me, a seasoned motorcycle journalist and part-time racer weaves from side to side, scraping his pegs at nearly a walking pace.
In between them is me. Bolt upright, hands gripped tight on the bars and riding dead straight. Marlon Slack from Pipeburn – commuter, tourer, sometime weekend scratcher. I’m not a racer. I’m not thinking about stoppies or wheelies or burnouts. What am I thinking? Don’t Drop The Bike.
True creative freedom is a wonderful thing. And while many of us may work in ‘Creative Industries’, it’s actually quite rare to be able to ignore the maddening crowds and do whatever the hell you want, while also getting paid for it. Successful artists do it. Top architects do it. But rarely do bike builders get the chance. Mostly, it’s all about working with the customer to reach a ‘mutually beneficial outcome’ rather than going buck wild. But not for Hutchbilt’s latest, a black and tan ‘07 Triumph Thruxton they call ‘TT13’.
To close out 2016 the Motorcycle industry flocked to Milan, Italy, for the giant EICMA trade show where the manufacturers displayed their latest creations to go on sale in 2017. We might have just ushered in a new year, but what was clear from the show is that the retro revival shows no sign of slowing down. From faithful recreations of old favourites to truly modern machines with vintage styling, there was as much classic candy as tasty tech filled track monsters. Triumph was there in full force and having been in on the retro remake party early there’s never been a better time to pick up a used modern Trumpet at a cheap price and get creative. Which is exactly what our friends Jose and Tito from Spain’s Macco Motors have done, it’s a black steed built for speed, a 2008 Triumph Thruxton known as “Panther”.
Kengo Kimura fronts up Heiwa Motorcycles, a workshop established in Hiroshima in 2005. They specialise in some of the most beautiful chopped, bobbed and slammed customs found anywhere in the world. This time around they’ve turned out this stunning TR6 Trophy dubbed ‘MasterPeace’. Dear readers, I think we have a late contender for bike of the year.
As far back as the time of Babylon and Ancient Rome, public auctions have been held to sell off the spoils of war, great art and some of the world’s most valuable items. In recent years auction houses like Bonhams and Mecum have seen motorcycles sold for insane amounts of money with vintage Brough Superiors, Harleys and Board Trackers fetching up to and over a million dollars. But an auction can also be a great place to buy a much cheaper custom bike with bargains to be had and rare gems offered up. It was at one such auction in Las Vegas where Jesse Basset of The GasBox met Kirk, a future client and owner of this incredible 1960 pre-unit Triumph TR6 sprung bobber. Kirk was there to buy; in fact he was bidding on another of Jesse’s creations, a perfectly timeless Indian. But auctions can be cruel and the excitement can end in sudden disappointment – and that’s just what happened here. And although Kirk missed out on the Indian, his meeting with Jesse would soon yield some delicious spoils all his own.
Cast your mind back. Way back. Back to a time when blogs like Pipeburn were nothing more than a twinkle in their creator’s eye. Back before you’d see cafe racers running around the streets and filling up Youtube videos. Now you’re in the mid noughties. The more lucky ones amongst us had already seen the online images showing the amazing creations that were coming out of Japanese bike shops. If you were smitten with these bikes like us and you wanted to get yourself something similar without spending two years in a cold, greasy garage, you had exactly two factory bikes to choose from. Namely the super expensive Ducati Sport Classic and the much more reasonable (and much more British) Triumph Thruxton 900. While the Thruxton reviews at the time weren’t exactly glowing, I think it’s fair to say that the sportsbike-obsessed journos of the day kind of missed the point. Because here was a bike that was ten years ahead of the cafe racer curve and very ripe for the picking. Now it’s ten years later, and Hinckley have gone and done what everyone was hoping for. They’ve dropped a brand new Thruxton model. Too late to be great, or an instant classic? You’re about to find out.