To say the Yamaha XT500 is a legendary bike would be an understatement. More than 40 years later, it is still one of the best thumpers in motorcycle history. After winning the Paris to Dakar rally shortly after its release in 1976, it paved the way for future enduro and off-road bikes. But what if it was released today as a larger capacity scrambler? Jesper Johansen from Slowbuilt in Copenhagen, Denmark, wanted to build a larger capacity XT with all the retro cues of the original classic – only bigger. “I always loved twin shocks dirt bikes,” he explains. “Especially the Yamaha XT500 and HL500 – had a few over the years, especially the white 1976 model XT with the iconic tank decals.”
Words by Martin Hodgson | Photography by Hiromitsu Yasui
On the outside it looks like a simple little building, with faded weatherboards and an old tin roof in a small historic town in Japan. Surrounded by neatly ploughed fields you step inside and expect to see an old man repairing dated farming machinery, instead you’ve entered the home of one of the world’s best custom bike shops. But despite becoming renowned for their concept BMW R18 ‘Departed’, the bread and butter of Custom Works Zon is American V-Twin muscle. And with a desire to play in the nearby mountain mud they’ve turned an unloved Buell X1 Lighting into a true weekend warrior.
We were lucky enough to have local photographer and moto journo Tom Bing cover the Bike Shed show for us. He is friends with the Bike Shed crew and a lot of the bike builders, so it was great to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes as well as the bikes on display. Words and photos by Tom Bing.
It’s got to be the most exciting weekend of the year in the UK for custom bike lovers. It’s funny, when you’re anywhere near the ‘inner folds’ of something like the Bike Shed, you feel strangely proud of the achievements of all the people who have worked so hard to make the event come together yet again. It feels like a community event – not something you just attend as a punter, but something we are all a part of.
Photography & words by Phoenix Naman
When a weekend involves camping under the stars, fresh brewed coffee in the morning, hot breakfast and lunch, and best of all motorcycles, it’s a weekend well spent. That is exactly what Australia saw on the weekend at the Australian inaugural Deus Swank Rally. You might think, “what the heck is a swank rally!?”. Well, it’s a good old fashioned enduro time trial. But not as you know it, it’s a day of fun for the whole family at this friendly championship. Goofy outfits, inappropriate bikes, and a can do attitude are encouraged. Friday night saw keen swankers arrive early to set up camp, and catch up around a fire. Early risers were well caffeinated, and fed thanks to Chef Takeshi and the Deus Cafe team.
Written by Ian Lee.
The big single. The thumper. No matter how you refer to it, the large displacement single cylinder motor has been putting smiles on motorcyclists’ faces since the dawn of motorcycledom. The simplicity of the mechanics, the ease of working with one and (of course) the noise they make all add to the benefits of using a thumper bike in a custom build. Toma Customs, based in Brussels, has shown the quality of build that is possible when the right workshop has the right cycle on the bench. Utilising the Honda FMX650, Thomas Jeukens and the Toma’s crew have taken the plastic-wrapped Super Motard and released the urban tracker hidden inside.
This is a story older than time. A common predicament many of us have been in. You buy a donor bike with all the right intentions to build one of the coolest motorcycles the world has ever seen. But the days pass by and then the months pass by until reality hits and you know you aren’t ever going to finish this build. Whether it’s a lack of time or a lack of ability, the bike sits in the garage waiting for some love and attention. This is exactly what happened when a customer approached French garage Forge to build them a Dominator. The 1989 NX650 had been sitting in pieces for a year and the owner knew he wasn’t going to get it done, so he called Forge.
How do you haul ass in Hollywood? You go full metal jacket on a breathtaking Urban Enduro that’ll cruise with Bentleys on the Boulevard, before heading to the hills where the stars live to rip it up on the rough and rugged roads. But first you need to pick a platform with an iconic status and a Paris-Dakar pedigree…
The Red Clouds Collective are a Portland-based outfit that make bomb-proof waxed cotton moto gear. And luckily for us Seth and Casey Neefus, head honchos at Red Clouds, also use the business as a front for making gorgeous custom bikes, like this pair of incredible Yamaha XT500s…
What do you get when you take a big serve of America’s automotive obsession and crossbreed it liberally with the Mexican tradition of going loco? Why, you get Baja – that’s what. Mother of countless cool off-road trends, the Baja 1000 was founded in 1967 by American florist Ed Pearlman…
It’s always the quiet and unassuming ones you have to keep an eye on, for years folks thought Ted Bundy was an average Joe. Not quite so lethal, although still the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing is the Honda Dominator, that enjoyed a 15 year production run…