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Written by Martin Hodgson.
What started nearly two decades ago as a group of Aussie men growing Moustaches for the month of November has grown to become one of the biggest charity events in the world. Movember is all about starting the month with a freshly shaved upper lip, growing a Mo and raising money for Men’s health. Now a global phenomenon with over a million lads attempting to look like ’70s pornstars for a good cause, it was only a matter of time before the custom bike industry got involved. When Progressive Insurance went hunting for a shop to build a bike to give away as part of their involvement with The Movember Foundation, they found themselves on the phone to industry heavyweight John Ryland. Now one lucky Mo Bro will ride off at the end of the month on this killer custom from Classified Moto known simply as ‘Movember XL’.
Compromise can be a word you just have to deal with in the custom motorcycle scene, functionality often sacrificed in the name of form or go preferenced ahead of show. Until the ’70s many applied the same logic to the very ownership of a motorcycle in that you could have fast or reliable but you couldn’t have both. That all changed with the arrival of the Kawasaki Z sportsbike, the fastest thing on two wheels and you just couldn’t break ‘em! So when Classified Moto’s main man John Ryland picked out a bike to turn into a custom creation that also had to be capable of taking him on a thousand mile journey he hit the proverbial nail on the head with a 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000. That it also features the unmistakable styling and build quality of all the brilliant Classified Moto bikes is testament to the talent of the Richmond, Virginia team.
It’s crazy to think John Ryland from Classified Moto only bought his first bike seven years ago. Since then he has definitely made up for the late start. By the end of that first year of riding, John had already owned three bikes. This 1979 Triumph Bonneville T140 was the third bike he had ever owned. It holds significant importance to him because he traded a mint ’81 Kawasaki KZ550 for it – unfortunately the Bonnie was a complete basket case.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Custom motorcycles often leave an audience profoundly polarised, while some lavish praise others ridicule and scoff. It seems the further from sedate you go the more divided the opinion, but designers like Terblanche and Tamburini have shown that is not always true and great custom builders can do the same. Create amazing one off motorcycles that receive almost universal acclaim, are anything but bland and always show off that signature style that lets you know the brains behind the build. Enter John Ryland, Classified Moto and a Honda CB750 known as Mr Hyde.
I always eagerly anticipate a new build from the Richmond, Virginia based workshop and this 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk certainly doesn’t disappoint. Customer Jordan had seen a pre-Nighthawk CB750 build of Classifieds called the SuperStrada and wanted something in the same vein. The first thing that hits you in the eyes is the single sided swingarm and this is certainly no bolt on conversion. While the Ducati Multistrada swingarm remains stock the Honda frame required considerable fabrication and welding expertise from Seth and Danik to get the two working in harmony. The Showa shock originally fitted to the Ducati remains in place while just like SuperStrada the rear wheel is from a Ducati 1098.
Many people, us included, will strenuously argue about the artistic merits of custom motorcycles. From the raw materials to the choice of metal finishes right down to the minutiae of headlight placement and visual flow, in the eyes of the faithful anything can be considered a work of art. Be here’s a crazy idea – what if a bike was not only a work of art in itself, but actually included a work of art as part of it’s asthetic. What if you commissioned an artist to create art for your bike? What if the bike you created was actually a kind of rolling art gallery? Sound crazy? Then welcome to the mind of John Ryland and his Classified Moto Team with their latest creation, an artsy Honda CB450T that goes by the nickname of “The Fox”.
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Name the most uncool motorbike you can think of. No, it’s not a lime green Harley chopper. Or a billet-covered Hayabusa with an extended swing arm. Hell, even the humble Honda CT110 has some redeeming features if you think about it. Oh no, if you really want to plumb the depths of icy, frigid lameness you’d be very hard pressed to beat the Honda CB250 NightHawk. In Australia, it’s (in)famous as the bike the public servants brought in their thousands for the government’s Motorbike Learner Schools and, just when you thought there was nothing more you could do to degrade a bike’s reputation, they went and welded giant protective crash frames onto them. Personally, I couldn’t think of a worse bike as a starting point for a custom build. Which makes what you see here all the more amazing. Meet Classified Moto’s “now we’re just showing off” masterpiece, the “MoHawk 250”.
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The saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” couldn’t apply more to what Classified Moto do. First they used old bike parts to make stupid cool lamps. Then they turned the undesirable Virago into a stripped back sexy beast even it’s own mother wouldn’t recognize. Now they have turned a 1978 CM185 into a piece of art. “Like a lot of the bikes we work on, it was not the coolest bike on the block,” say Classified Moto owner John Ryland. The bike was built for ad agency producer Christina Cairo. Aparently she had never ridden a motorcycle before but loved what Classified Moto were doing and wanted one for herself. “We gave her the (unofficial) friends and family discount and she gave us free reign to do what we wanted,” says John. Luckily she wasn’t in a hurry because they have been working on the bike on and off for a year. It got back-burnered repeatedly as other bigger paid projects came in, but as you can see by the photos it’s now finished. And how.
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It’s no secret that loads of custom builders farm out elements of their builds. Often it’s the paintwork, sometimes it’s the wiring or even particularly swear-worthy moments of fabrication. But not Paul Miller. As head honcho of the small shop PanicRev Customs young Paul does everything himself. Everything. And he does a damn fine job of it too, as this XS650-powered, custom-framed street tracker shows.
For a film about jet aircraft, 1986’s Top Gun sure got a lot of new riders onto bikes. Cruise’s Kawasaki Ninja 900 seemed to be the perfect match for his ‘Maverick’ character: fast, slick and more than a little bit rebellious. So when Ohio’s Jason Reihing from Charlie James Customs wanted to build a Yamaha XV750 with these very same attributes, it became clear that his own two-wheeled need for speed could only be called one thing.
Think of your perfect desert island bike. For the purposes of the exercise let’s say that this island is blessed with amazing roads; roads that you have to ride indefinitely. Suddenly all those dream rides like the Brough, Moto Guzzi V8 and the Britton look a little painful, yes? They’d be like having to share paradise with a megalomaniac millionaire or a narcissistic supermodel. You’d be better off with something that does a whole bunch of things really well, is super comfy and that will last the distance without breaking down on the first day. A bike a lot like the latest Kawasaki W650 from Germany’s Schlachtwerk.