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.
Marcus Walz has dedicated his life to racing, designing and building motorcycles from his base in Hockenheim Germany and it’s fair to say he hasn’t gone unnoticed. He’s been featured on TV, in Magazines around the globe, won both the European and US Biker Build Offs and raced both on track and on the dirt. So good are his custom creations that men who know a little something about going fast, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard own his bikes and Kimi Raikkonen owns two. Brad Pitt has been a fan for more than a decade, there is a restaurant and bar sporting his name and the likes of Yamaha and Ducati have had him build custom bikes for them. So it should come as no surprise that Triumph has joined the crew and the result is this stunning new WalzWerk 2016 Triumph Thruxton 1200 custom.
If there’s one thing in life that’s more prone to emotional obsession than a cool motorcycle, it’s an honest to goodness Hollywood star. Exhibit A – pretty much any teenager’s room. Show me a kid with hormones raging and I’ll show you enough posters of famous faces and cool vehicles to sink the Titanic – James Cameron’s balsa wood recreation or otherwise. So when Spain’s Macco Motors took one of their dreamy creations and added Hollywood dreamboat Antonio Banderas, the results were predictably amorous. So be still your beating corazóns and check out this, the Triumph Bonneville that made Spain’s biggest movie star fall in love.
For a number of decades the AMA Grand National Championship was dominated by Americans riding American machinery from the big two; Harley Davidson and Indian. That was until the late ’60s when in the space of four years the likes of Gary Nixon and Gene Romero led the charge for British manufacturer Triumph to take out three championships. Unlike the Trackers created today, it was a time of big wide bars, tiny tanks and leather padded seats. The way you paid the racing bills was to be like legend Mike Anderson and work at the local dealership during the week. There were no corporates with big sponsor dollars, no millions to be made and some race tracks still displayed the sign “helmets recommended”. But it was a time of raw competition, big personalities and an authenticity that Italy’s Anvil Motociclette have come to love. With that spirit in mind they’ve built a bike named Foxtrot, a 2011 Triumph Bonneville 900, that dances rings around the competition.
I watched the latest film about Steve Jobs the other week. Directed by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame, it was unfortunately a fairly average flick. Despite this, it did have a few memorable moments. The one that sticks in my head is the scene where Jobs is asked what he actually does by Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak. “I play the orchestra,” he somewhat pretentiously exclaims. The idea is a simply one. Some of us are good at playing an instrument, but unless someone is taking care of the whole she-bang, all you end up with is a big cacophony. And while it might be a bit of a stretch to compare today’s builder to Jobs, it’s clear he approached building the Bonneville you see here in the same way. Some creators use their hands, while others use their head. Poland’s Wojtek Borecki is clearly all about the latter.