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.
As with the Sports Utility Vehicle craze of the last few years, it’s easy to write off the current Tracker and Scrambler rage as a triumph of style over substance. After all, where’s the corresponding boom in off-road riding to justify all these knobby tires and high pipes? The answer is that most of the bikes are only being ridden on the road. But what if you lived in a country that wasn’t strangled by parking lots and overpasses? What if instead you lived in a tropical paradise where off-roading was not a hobby but an everyday occurrence? Welcome to Indonesia and the world of Donny Ariyanto. Time to meet his rather elegant solution to the challenge; a wanna-be sporty Yamaha R25 that now couldn’t be better suited to its surrounds.
In ancient feudal Japan, a rōnin (or in Japanese, 浪人 – literally meaning ‘wave man’) was a samurai warrior with no master. A samurai usually became ‘masterless’ from the death of his master, or after the loss of his master’s trust. Thus he would be condemned to wander like a wave wanders the ocean. And while the noun has become the stuff of adolescent male fantasy over the past 30 years with visions of mercenary assassins who answer only to themselves, the truth is far more mundane. Rōnin were wanders with no particular place to go; just like how you feel on a great bike ride. So with that thought in mind, Indonesia’s Minority Custom Motorcycles have created their own little wandering soldier; this very Japanese, very sharp ‘76 Honda CB200.
The 80’s yielded more horrors than just Thatcher, the Iran-Iraq war and permed hair – it also introduced Yamaha’s Virago line of motorcycles. Porky, uninspiring to ride and with styling verging on the offensive, they’ve become a favourite of the custom scene over the last ten years. And now Arkansas’ One-Up Moto Garage have turned their hand to the most forgettable of the forgettable line up, the little known Virago 500.
When you’ve plied your trade in the paddock of the Italian Superbike Championship you’d expect your garage would house one of the litre bikes that call the grid home. From the glorious Ducati Panigale to the technology tour de force that is the new Yamaha R1 there is no shortage of choice. But for 25-year-old Dario Denichilo of Milan, Italy, he’s gone in the complete opposite direction. A Moto Guzzi fan he chose to ignore their modern stable of steeds that start at a minimum of 750cc and 200kg in weight and instead chose the little Guzzi that could. But after an accident on his 1983 Moto Guzzi V35 he decided not only to keep the ugly duckling of the marque but transform it into the custom creation laid out before your eyes as the very first build of his new venture, Ireful Motorcycles.
There are roughly 6500 unique languages spoken around the globe today. More than a billion people speak Mandarin, while many others languages have just a thousand native speakers. But wherever you go in the world, the language of Moto Guzzi fans is universal. While Ducati might be the king of Italian bike makers these days, Guzzi is arguably more important to the nation’s two wheeled history. Just ask any Guzzi fan and whatever the language they speak, their hand gestures will leave you in no doubt. The V configured engine, the unique engineering and the mechanical beauty of indestructibility sings a sweet song to many an admirer. But for all those who love Guzzi’s, very few can build a custom from a Lake Como creation like Filippo Barbacane of Officine Rossopuro in Abruzzo. This, his latest masterpiece, is known simply as the Ritmo Veloce 850.
Being on the receiving end of many custom bike submissions, you tend to get a pretty good idea of just how prolific a bike shop really is. Some we hear from once a year. Some twice. And then there’s France’s Motomax Metz. Believe it or not, this here bike hit our inboxes little more than two weeks after their previous build. At this rate, we’ll be featuring another 26 of their bikes in 2017, and by 2020 France will be nothing but an army of cool Yamaha trackers and a load of fresh mud. But before that happens, please meet the rad-to-the-bone ‘Dirty Smoke’ XSR700 that will have caused it all.
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”.
The creator one of the most iconic cars of the Twentieth Century once said “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” Sir Alec Issigonis, the man who designed the Mini Cooper, just might have had a point. But while the saying would have me pretty pissed if I was a camel, I’d be even more angry if I was part of a committee that actually had a clue. A committee made up of, say, motorcycling enthusiasts. Because that’s exactly where this particular bike was designed. And then it was built by Sean from Virginia’s MotoRelic.