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California’s Kott Motorcycles mostly do one thing – build exceptional cafe racers based around late 1970’s Hondas. They’ve wrenched on a few side projects, a few Triumph’s and BMW’s, but the best work Dustin and his team produce is a steady flow of wonderfully perfect Hondas. Like this one…
For any artist there is a fine line between allowing yourself enough creative space to fulfil your passion and doing the work that puts food on the table. For Dustin Kott that involves the delicate balancing act of working at the major Hollywood studios while still giving time to his artistic endeavour, Kott Motorcycles. There is also the small fact that he’s a perfectionist, a time-consuming trait. But that hasn’t stopped him from proving you can in fact improve on perfection; four years since the completion of a Honda he called Ruby Red, Dustin’s back with an homage that raises the bar to all new heights. An elite level Cafe Racer, Ruby Gold is a 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport that’s flawless in fit and finish.
At a chaotic moment in history, it’s worth reflecting on the words of Bertrand Russell “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Russell’s logic is born out in the back story to today’s incredible Cafe Racer. One look at the catalogue of builds by California’s Kott Motorcycles and you know they can spin a spanner. But brilliant builder Dustin Kott was apprehensive about taking on the project having never worked on a BMW before. He needn’t have had any doubt, as he’s turned a once bulky 1977 BMW R100/7 Tourer into a sleek and slick Cafe Racer.
The phrase “unfinished project, 95% complete” is one you often see when trawling the internet to find an old car or motorbike to buy. The machine in question often looks like it’s ready to roll, comes at a bargain price and ‘how hard can that last five percent really be to finish?’ you say to yourself. Ah the horror stories. Five percent often turns out to be closer to fifty and then there is the real zinger; those last few parts you need, they’re not available any more, or “only needs a new battery to start” proves to be a full engine rebuild, wiring nightmare or both. Even complete show bikes that appear in magazines are passed off this way – that’s where Kott Motorcycles is different. Dustin spends just as much time restoring his builds to perfection as he does customising them and this slick as black ice ‘75 CB550 is no different.
For all of the custom motorcycle shops that litter the globe there are but a few whose brand recognition truly is industry wide. While some rely on their logo for that acknowledgement others create machines so distinct you instantly know who crafted them. But for Dustin Kott of California’s Kott Motorcycles there is a rare subtlety and artistic vision that is hard to readily define and yet instantly recognisable. It is the work of a man who plies many a trade and expresses his creative side in rolling metal masterpieces. Often from Honda’s CB range they are infused with vintage British styling and customised with pure class. His latest work is based on the short-lived Honda CB400F from the ’70s and it delivers a level of sophistication you’d never expect from the old commuter classic.
Last year was a busy year for Dustin from Kott Motorcycles in LA. He built a shed load of bikes – around 12 to be exact. We thought we would ask him a few questions about his love of old Honda’s, what the future holds and showcase some of the immaculate café racers he has built in the last 12 months. Enjoy…
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What’s your background?
My name is Dustin Kott of Kott Motorcycles. I am thirty seven years old and I am the owner and operator of a relatively small motorcycle shop just outside of downtown Los Angeles. My personal background is that of a Jack of all trades and master of none. I say that because I have had my hand in multiple trades, jobs and hobbies throughout my life and as I progress and grow in any one of them the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to learn. As far as the motorcycles go however, I was very fortunate to have been around them at a young age. Even more so, I believe the real privilege was to be around older men who loved machines and committed themselves to either keeping them alive, restoring or improving them and passing that knowledge and passion along. I recall being captivated by the artistry of motorcycles which seemed to be innate in them due to the exposure and visibility of their design. Also, equally as important was the mechanical truth that one has to align with in order to achieve the end goal of being able to ride and bring life into a machine. Simply put, a combination of creativity and subjectivity along with mechanical guidelines and parameters.
Written by Ian Lee.
Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
An apt description for today’s feature bike, except that the latest release from Kott Motorcycles isn’t just built for show. A 1971 Honda CB750 built literally from the frame up, this automotive art piece has been engineered to look good and go hard, with engine power to match an aesthetic that belongs in an art gallery. The almost ubiquitous CB750 making for an excellent platform to build a café racer on, the Kott workshop has taken the build quality to a new high and produced an amazingly clean motorcycle. In Dustin Kott’s own words: “the opportunity arose for the shop to implement some performance and aesthetic enhancements that had not been utilised prior.” Came up pretty good for a first time try, don’t you think?
Written by the builder, Dustin Kott from Kott Motorcycles.
Years ago I rode a 1972 XS650, also known as the XS2 from Los Angeles, California to Sturgis, South Dakota. I was wearing a cheap rain suit from Walmart in the pouring rain going at least 100 MPH to dodge the inclement weather. When I stopped at a gas station some locals took one look at me and said “you were going so fast that your damn clothes are tearing off! You passed us like we were standing still!” These are my memories of the infamous XS650 made famous by the legendary Kenny Roberts
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In the 2017 world of custom bikes there is an enormous number of styles of motorcycles being built with new names like Neo Racer and Cafe Fighter emerging over time. But for all of the custom builders around the world there are a handful who simply create, the style takes care of itself…
Written by Ian Lee.
“We all know the thrill of the hunt, scouring around for neglected machines in backyards and toolsheds. Peeking under windswept tarps, and the skip of a heartbeat when you see the outline of the infamous CB750 Supersport fuel tank in some dimly lit shed”. Dustin Kott describes it in such illuminated terms, and he should know because he has done it. Many of us have stolen glances into an open shed/garage door, hoping to find some forgotten beauty, but it’s only a lucky few who actually stumble across anything of note. Dustin Kott is one of the few, and this is his latest build: the 76 Ruby Red Supersport.
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