The artist and engineer usually come at their work from completely different ends of the creative continuum and often go together about as well as a bull in a china shop. But on the rare occasion they do mix well, the results are truly spectacular – and this Custom Yamaha Virago known as “GoGo” just happens to be one such example.
Dust off the drafting table, refill the clutch pencil and grab the dividers. Retired Dutch Architect Henk Woltjer has teamed up with local shop Motogadgets to create the perfect motorcycle to relive his youth; it’s a millimetre-exact Yamaha XS650 tracker inspired by the first bike he built some thirty years earlier.
Old world craftsmanship, timeless quality and innovation in design are two things that go hand in hand with both the Yamaha Yard Built Specials and Shinichi Haraki’s Iron Heart Selvedge Denim range. With the all new 20th Anniversary Yamaha XJR1300 part of the Yard Built program and Iron Heart a company dedicated to providing the very best in denim and jean wear to the motorcycling world it made sense the two would team up.
Stereotypes are dangerous things. When you get an artist from New York City send you pictures of his ride, you expect perhaps a Vespa. Or a Segway. Or, god forbid, a fixie. Well Nick van Woert not only owns this radical 1991 Yamaha XT600, he built the thing with his own hands. Stereotype destroyed. And speaking of destruction, a friend has given the bike the nickname “Woert Hog” an homage to both Nick’s name and another close quarter’s machine of demolition, the A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog.
Motorcyclists have a place in their heart forever enamoured with the first bike they loved. It could be an oily Chinese pit bike, a reliable Japanese commuter or a ratty chook* chaser used for chores around a back paddock. But that first bike, no matter how unreliable, common or dangerous, that bike stays with you. For Sheldon, it was the gloriously volatile RD400. Riding around on the back of his fathers’ RD in the late 70’s gave him an itch that could only be scratched years later with a little help from Brisbane-based workshop Ellaspede.
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.
Japanese Motorcycles make up a large part of the custom scene. CB Hondas of the 70’s are everywhere. 90’s litre bikes built the Street Fighter Scene and the modern machines from the land of the rising sun are turned into everything from modern café bikes to turbocharged drag strip warriors. The gap has largely been in the period of the 1980’s where the bikes were often square in design and down on power. But the SRX was the bike that caught Roby’s eye as a young man so now three decades later as the owner of Dagger Cycles in Biella, Italy, he took the chance to build the bike from his youth. A 1986 Yamaha SRX600 in less than great condition is the basis for this punk machine and Roby wanted it to be a visual smack in the face.
It’d be over five years ago that I first saw a café’d Yamaha XV. It was the same British racing green model that you’ve probably all seen by now, planted in a European backstreet across some scattered fallen leaves. Something in the back of my mind clicked, thinking it was a great reshaping of a forgotten middleweight cruiser. That was the last one I saw for a while but now, years later, it seems that they’ve been popping up with increasing regularity and with an increasing level of fit and finish. Heading up this accelerando of quality builds is Hageman MC in Tampa, Florida, who have wheeled out this scrambler-inspired 1981 XV920R.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
I’ve been on a journey with this bike, not one that allowed me to twist the throttle and tip it into a bend, but a journey of discovery as to what makes ‘Fireball’ tick and how it was put together. It’s a journey that started with a love of the custom tank and over many hours grew to an appreciation of how a once failed attempt by a multi-national to do something new became a one off custom by a lone builder that blows away everything a billion dollar company attempted to achieve.
It’s easy to become jaded working here. Like some biking Roman Emperors, we get all the latest and greatest two-wheeled pleasures lavished upon us on a daily basis. The sweetest cafés, the plumpest brats and the most exotic trackers – all hand peeled and fed to us from a silver platter. Let’s face it, it’d be pretty easy for us to become spoilt. What am I saying? We are spoilt. But just as we find ourselves nodding off into a cool bike-induced coma, this appears in our mail. So, like a proud ruler parading a never-seen-before rhinoceros to a boudoir full of amazed onlookers, we’d like to present to you the ‘Cross’. What is it? It’s Thrive Motorcycles, that’s what.