Here’s a little bobber Inception for you. By definition, a ‘bobber’ is a factory bike that’s been stripped down to decrease weight and improve performance. So this begs the question, if a factory builds a bobber, can you still ‘bob’ it? It seems that France’s FCR Original have gone a few levels deeper to provide us with an answer, and that answer is a resounding ‘oui’.
Within the course of an hour I went from wanting to roll my bike off a cliff to howling like a wolf with overwhelming happiness. Now that I have been racing for a number of years I can tell you that this is completely normal. Racing can bring lows and outright frustrations, but it can also bring you the sweetest joy and sense of accomplishment possible.
The rich and famous certainly live different lives to the rest of us, banking their millions, very little is off-limits to this select crowd. These days they don’t even need to leave home to spend vast sums of money with the most exclusive products just a mouse click away. One such website offers up Yachts, Submarines, an array of incredible Cars and even a bloody Pushbike that’s $50,000. But scroll on over to the Motorcycle section and there is a limited run production motorcycle that won’t break the bank and doesn’t look at all out-of-place amongst the other toys for the 1%. From French design house VIBA comes a machine that combines elegant styling from the coach built era while being crafted using the latest technologies. Based on the all new Triumph Bonneville Bobber she sits resplendent next to Bugatti’s and available only to a select few her name is Qora.
Here’s another gem we discovered on our recent trip to the bike-rich heartland of Malaysia. The Art of Speed show had a whole bunch of killer bikes; this amazing ‘Tryharder’ Triumph Tiger racer from West Malaysia’s Rotten Motorcycles was our clear favourite in the classics category. As a clean pre-unit bike with amazing lines and racing numbers we were more than sold. Then we realised that Rotten’s Wanzamani ‘Zam’ Ahmad and his crack Baganland team had gone and reversed the bike’s head as well.
Walking through the rows of bikes recently at a small regional motorcycle show, I got chatting to a guy who’d just finished a three-year rebuild of a Triumph 6T Thunderbird. She was a beauty, glistening in the sun like the day it had left the factory floor. With great enthusiasm I asked the owner how it was on the open road, the answer sadly is one that’s becoming all too common, “It doesn’t leave the garage!” Thankfully the motorcycle gods have given us Kengo Kimura of Hiroshima’s Heiwa Motorcycles who builds the most incredible old school customs and boy are they built to ride. His latest offering is a ’58 Triumph Tiger T110 that’s original patina earns it the nickname ‘Flavor’.
In our review of the new model Triumph T100, we argued that it was in many respects the better bike when compared to its beefier cousin, the T120. Channelling that thought, Macco Motor’s latest build was for a customer that took a T120 over and above a Thruxton when faced with a similar dilemma. Well, that’s if you can use the phrase ‘dilemma’ when the very same customer calls a bike’s lines and style ‘perfect’. Here’s Macco’s ‘Renegade’ Triumph, a classic-looking bike that forced them to start from zero.
Think the ol’ 865cc Thruxton was too fat, too heavy and too slow to be interesting? Thankfully Parisian workshop ‘Bad Winners’ have something for what ails ya – a bantamweight Thrux that’s so light and sexy you’d think it just eats salad. Here’s the second of five bikes in a similar vein, a 2015 Triumph Thruxton dubbed ‘Zero Gravity’.
The British can rightly lay claim to being the birth place of the cafe racer, the Americans the bobber, but while there is no singular name to describe the style of the incredible custom creations that roll out of Japan; you’re in no doubt when you see one. A true master of the Japanese scene is Kengo Kimura, who embodies everything that is mind-blowing about the machines that appear from nondescript industrial buildings that dot the countries cities. His company, Heiwa, operates from just such a workshop, near the port of Hiroshima where his small team craft beautiful vintage machines they’re proud to ride daily. Now he’s throwing his full skill set at a modern motorcycle, a 2003 Triumph Bonneville that he simply calls 002, we call it perfection.
If on buying a new Triumph Bobber it wheeled itself into your house, drank all your booze, shagged your wife and set fire to your cat, people would still want to buy it. Motorcyclists are frothing over it. It’s the highest selling Triumph of recent years, and the preorders have even outstriped those for the incredible new Thruxton. But such a high demand for the Bobber means press bikes are in short supply and we only had a pair of shiny new cruisers for three days. What could we do in that time? How about we take it into the Australian outback and beat the crap out of it.
Sportsbikes are all but dead. After bikers realised that riding a litre bike on public roads was akin to straightening that crooked picture in your hallway with the USS Nimitz, the bottom fell out of the global market. And while the more switched-on manufacturers have shifted their eggs to other baskets, it seems that the custom builders are again one step ahead. The recent rise of seriously capable machines with cafe racer influences is undeniable. Finally we’ve realised that fast bikes don’t have to rev to 18 grand and look like a reject robot from a Michael Bay film. And here’s a perfect example, via Rob Chappell from Canada’s Origin8or Custom Cycles.