As the saying goes, life wasn’t meant to be easy. It’s the same reason that diamonds and gold are buried deep underground and not just rolling around in the gutter outside your house. All the best things in life take hard work to achieve. Take, for instance, the bike you just picked up off of a complete stranger for a song. If you brought it home and it customised itself, that’d be no fun now would it? No, it’s the challenges that make it all worth while. And trust us when we say that the challenge Doug Devine from Modern Metals faced after he peered inside the engine of this innocuous little Honda would be enough to test anyone.
There’s a saying that goes, “old Harleys never die, they just get faster.” Which, of course, is utter rubbish. Most of the Harleys I’ve known barely work fresh out of the box, let alone when they get old. Find and old HD in a barn and you’ll have about as much chance of getting it running there and then as you’d have finding someone with good taste at a Nickleback gig. But the same is definitely not true for the works of one Honda Giken Kogyo Kabushiki-gaisha. We’re not sure what dark, samurai magic the man possessed but it seems from where we stand, just about anything Soichiro Honda touched somehow gained the strength to never, ever, EVER die. Just ask Josh from Boise, Idaho’s JMR Racing.
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Aspen, Colorado. You’re thinking about the mountains, the snow, the cashed-up tourists, yes? Of course all that frozen water, dampness, and roads full of chains-on-the-tires virgins would make it pretty much the antithesis of what you’d call “good biking country.” Well think again, because it seems the local scene there has got their long Johns all in a twist over a rather beautiful scrambler-cum-cafe racer that has been buzzing up and down their streets disturbing the peace. The perpetrator of this public nuisance? One Casey Braaksma. And the bike? It’s probably the nicest Honda CL360 we’ve seen all year.
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“So why did you name the bike Willow?” This is the first question we asked Troy Helmick, the builder of this amazing bike. “Willow trees are strong but fluid” he replied. Very zen, sensei Helmick. Troy is a retired photographer who now runs an Alpaca farm in West Virginia. “It is my attempt to evoke a picture in a person’s head when they hear a name and then couple that name with the image they see before them in my machine” he explains. This bike was reborn on a farm in West Virginia. Willow started life as a 1974 Honda CL 360 before Troy found her on her side, rotting behind someone’s garage. The build was inspired by the era of the board track racers — they were brutal machines, elegant in their simplicity. The pictures you see before you are Troys redefined interpretations. Photographs and words by Troy…
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Living in Australia we sometimes forget how cold it can get in other parts of the world. On the recent Pipeburn ride I heard many grown men whining about how cold the early morning was in Sydney and it was only 16˙C (60˙ fahrenheit). So I take my mohair beanie off to guys like Aaron Ruse from Illinois who has spent the last American winter building a bike in freezing temperatures in his unheated concrete garage. Aaron is a young guy who recently decided it was time to learn some wrenching skills and build his first bike. “I got interested in motorcycles last summer as a way to learn about basic mechanics,” says Aaron. This interest quickly grew into a love for classic motorcycles. He was inspired by his uncle R.J. Ruse and his buddies who restore classic bikes, along with a new friendship with Team Hansan Racing’s Terry Naughtin, and set out to build a cafe racer last winter. “I found a beat up ’75 CL360 and a badly dented and rusted CB350f tank in a back junk yard of a local motorcycle shop and set to work”.
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