A few years ago, it would have been easy to dismiss Yamaha’s ‘Faster Sons’ and Yard Built campaigns as mere marketing exercises. But the bikes that have been created as a direct result of the program are as plentiful as they are cool. And just when you think that it might have run its course, there always seems to be yet more moto goodness to come. Germany’s WalzWerk Racing is the latest shop to team up with the Japanese giant, and their ‘Apex Ruler’ XSR700 Tracker seems to suggest that the Yard Built campaign still has plenty of go.
Our recent expedition to Northern Italy for the inaugural Wildays show gave us more than just ham-induced consumption, some sunburn and a flat track-related bung knee. It also provided us a chance meeting with Germany’s Hookie Co., who had set up shop right alongside the Pipeburn display area. Bumming their shade, we got to talking over this, their latest build. It’s a 1993 Harley XL883 that’s been given a new lease of life as one of 2017’s coolest trackers yet.
It’s a dream come true for most custom motorcycle workshops; to have a major manufacturer come to you with the offer of a new bike and a request to create a crazy custom. But everything that seems too good to be true usually is and when the list of demands start to roll out the dream can become a nightmare. Never before have so many manufacturers turned to small custom shops and yet so few have got it as right as the pairing of Suzuki and Germany’s Mellow Motorcycles. From a base of a new Suzuki DL1000 XT V-Strom that starts life as a bulky Sport Adventure Tourer. They’ve created a custom carbon flat tracker that’ll do it all, from Dakar to the drag strip, they call it Suzuki-Mellow V-TRACK 1000.
For the tiny percentage of road-going vehicles that motorcycles make up, it’s kind of cool just how many different types there are to choose from. You can take your pick of v-twins, singles, flat twos, flat fours, triples and, if classic Japanese bikes float your moto-boats, inline transverse fours. While they all have their own unique feels, between-the-knees width is the dominant vibe that these Nippon beasts impart. Like riding a racehorse or taking a tumble in the hay with a larger lover, these bikes are all about their bountiful girth. And while Tommy from Germany’s Schlachtwerk is kind of new to Japanese fours, he’s liking them more and more. Here’s his ‘Dicke Berta’ or ‘Big Bertha’ Kawasaki Zephyr 750.
The rise and rise of eighth mile sprint racing in Europe has proved a real goldmine for those of us interested in custom drag bikes. Shops from all across Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy are now feverishly building bigger and better bikes while drafting increasingly skilled riders to see if they can’t make it to the top of this new league. One such hive of speed is South German shop Kraftstoffschmiede, owned and run by Philipp Ludwig. And this lower-than-low Beemer beast is his latest masterful creation.
Picture the Audi logo in your head. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing something along the lines of the Olympic rings. Being a company that was formed by a conglomeration of four different pre-existing entities, these circles were designed to indicate a union. And one of those circles was the German NSU Motorenwerke AG. While they produced cars for much of their life and helped to make the rotary engine famous, motorcycles were their stock-in-trade. And some would argue that the WWII 601 NSL was their finest hour. Here’s a mint example from Russia’s Mortorworld.
Nitrous oxide. Turbos. Superchargers. We’re as guilty as the next guy and or gal for drooling over flashy go-faster parts that make good headlines and get those website clicks a-clicking. But there’s a much more traditional approach to speed that doesn’t involve mega bucks and a team of rocket scientists. It’s what bikers have done since the dawn of time. Drop weight, increase capacity and work on the heads. And for Schlachtwerk’s Tommy Thöring, it’s just this approach that turned out this little gem. Meet his Kawasaki W740 he calls ‘No Fat’.
Taking home the top trophy for best in show or coming first at the drag strip sure feels good, but it usually doesn’t pay the bills. For most workshops, following the build of a bike that has crowds going crazy there are at least ten others that come in for minor work. It keeps the lights on, puts food in the belly and pays for the parts to make that next dream machine. But every customer still deserves the best and when a client said he wanted his wife’s new bike tailored to fit her needs, Tom Thöring of Germany’s Schlachtwerk, was ready and waiting. It’s a 2016 Yamaha XSR700 that draws on Buell’s XBS for inspiration to create a fellow twin terror to shred the streets.
For true drag racing fans, the two famous quotes from the original The Fast and the Furious Movie were enough to make the skin crawl. Dom of course is ‘living his life a quarter mile at a time’ and Brian’s ‘need for NOS’. Working in drag racing at the time and sitting in the cinema, I wanted to be sick into my popcorn. But little did we purist snobs know that those two lines would enter the global lexicon and give a new appreciation for the sport we love. For Stefan Bronold of Bavaria’s Radical Guzzi, drag racing has become both a passion and the place he proves that his company’s products work and win. So while his team campaigned their beautiful MGR Guzzi for the 2016 season, they were secretly building an insane machine for the years to come. And now NOSferatu is ready to rumble. Its name might mean Dracula, but this big bore Italian is more Stroker than Stoker.
It was the result of three great forces combining to build a beloved motorcycle that tugged at the heart-strings of the Ducatisti around the globe. The legendary feats of Mike “the Bike” Hailwood, the brilliance of head Ducati designer Pierre Terblanche and the global power of a relatively new communications tool for the masses, the internet. The result was the limited run Ducati MH900e of which only 2000 were built over a period of two years. Special edition Ducati’s have always held their value and leaving them standard is just what you’re meant to do. But Roland Sands got Italian blood boiling when he chopped up a Desmosedici and created a 200hp tracker. Now it’s Germany’s superstar builder Marcus Walz’s turn to improve on perfection, it’s the WalzWerk Racing MH900e.