Written by Martin Hodgson.
Head south-east out of Italy’s motorcycle capital of Bologna on the E45 towards the Adriatic Sea and eventually you arrive in Ravenna where you are transported back in time and you haven’t even had to reach 88mph. This was the capital of the Western Roman Empire, it’s where Julius Caesar gathered his forces before crossing the Rubicon and you don’t have to look far to see a Basilica decorated with the world’s most incredible mosaics. But Ravenna is also home to a small workshop that takes you back to a time when great craftsman and artists worked from their small studios to create pieces that would remain on the lips of admirers for centuries to come; this is the home of Oscar Tasso’s OCGarage. It is here that he has created his latest masterpiece, from the very best materials in the world, a 1992 BMW R100GS with sidecar, it’s the incredible AVVENTURA!
Not every project is a smooth one, they can start and be halted for months at a time, life gets in the way, parts can be hard to find and when you finish you can still be left with doubts as to whether you’ve achieved your goal. So after years of preparation there could be no more intimidating place on the planet to debut your custom Ducati than at the annual World Ducati Week amongst the fanatical Ducatisti. But Marco Graziani needn’t have worried as his CC Racing Garage custom cafe racer took out the top prize in the Ducati Garage Contest at the 2016 WDW and also took home the trophy from the riders’ jury, consisting of Davide Giugliano, Danilo Petrucci and Eugene Laverty, who presented him with the sought-after Ducati riders’ award. It might have started life as a 2001 Ducati 900SSie, but plenty of other Bologna bombshells have donated their parts to bring this trophy winner to life.
Every industry has its personalities. The leaders. The entrepreneurs. The strong, silent types. The worker bees – and of course the rockstars. When it comes to the world of custom motorcycles, the latter position is more than adequately filled by the two Italians who make up Anvil Motociclette. To say they bring a little Mick Jagger and Steve McQueen to our scene is a gross understatement. San Marco and Phonz may spend their days with greasy hands building cool motorcycles with their own sinister edge, but they’ve also starred on TV, been featured in Italian Vogue and Rolling Stone magazines and collaborated with a fashion house on a line of leather jackets. But let’s not forget that what got them noticed in the first place was their bike building abilities, and it should come as no surprise that on any given Sunday they can be found racing bikes and going fast; something which their latest weapon, the “Rusty Quattroemmezzo”, does in style.
If you’ve ever visited outback Australia, you’ll realise just how a movie like Mad Max could come about. With nature’s brutal extremes an always-present reality, and dusty old Australian cars the only real means of transport, things tend to get rather apocalyptic very quickly. Now Sicily may seem a world away from this brutality, but remember that Palermo, Sicily’s capital, is actually closer to African desert than it is to Rome, and that the island has been subjected to thousands of years of invasions from many unruly southern hordes. Add this to the fact that the last Mad Max movie was actually filmed in Africa, and the parallels between Australian and Sicily start to make real sense. Channelling this, and adding a large dose of wine, women and food for good measure is Delux Motorcycles. Here’s their latest, a BMW R65 they call ‘Mad Max’.
A good custom bike build is a big ask from just about anybody. The time, effort, thought and skills required are a challenge that has bettered the best of us. Starting custom shop is another step above that. Suddenly there are things like rent and customers to think about, let alone building cool bikes. Adding restorations into the mix means you’ll have to have an understanding of just how the bikes came out of the factory. Add cars to the mix and you’ve now got vast expanses of metal bodywork to consider. Seems like your climbing Everest already, yes? Well what if, just for good measure, we now make the shop both a clothing store and a brewery? Mission completely freakin’ impossible? Not for the keen proprietors of Italy’s Apache Custom Motorcycles. And as if to boast, here’s their out-of-the-box take on a Honda CB350F brat.
For a custom motorcycle workshop, to be selected to compete in a bike build off on National Television with backing from a major manufacturer sounds like a dream come true. A free motorcycle, cash to spend and instant fame for your business; unless of course you make a hash of it all and that dream turns into a horrible nightmare with an unfinished wreck of a machine. Thankfully, the ten teams selected to compete on Italian TV’s ‘Lord of the Bikes’ show all knocked it out of the park, but there could only be one winner and the king has just been crowned, step forward “Silver Knight”. Built by OMT Garage from Origgio, just North of Milan, it is a stunning take on the all new Moto Guzzi V9, a bike for the Aristocrat in us all but customised on a working man’s budget.
Installment three of Italy’s TV series “Lord of the Bikes” is here. Once again, the producers at Sky Uno have chosen more old friends of Pipeburn; this time it’s the turn of the bad boys from Rome’s Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche, the creators of many a stunning ride. But a bike build-off, where impressing the judges to advance to the next round is all that counts, is a much different exercise than designing a bike for a customer. Understated looks, single colours and law-abiding functionality all go out the window with every trick in the book used to fit the theme that has to wow the judges and earn the win. Just as in previous episodes, Emporio was given a 2016 Moto Guzzi V7 as their canvas, but the budget was upped to €4000 and the chance given to Rome’s finest to pick their opponent.
When Sky Uno, the Italian TV Channel, was looking for the 10 best custom bike workshops in the country for their TV show “Lord of the Bikes”, it came as no surprise that our friends at Anvil Motociclette were selected to compete. Each week, two workshops are pitched head to head in a themed build-off. They are given a new bike, a few Euros for accessories and then battle it out to impress the judges. When it came time to throw down, Anvil was pitted against their fellow Milanese builders South Garage, both given a brand new Moto Guzzi V7 II, €3000 for parts and the theme – ‘Quentin Tarantino’. Okay, so that’s a little out of left field Mr TV Producer. So how long do you give the teams to build their machines while your cameras scrutinise every move, 6 months? 3 months? No. Try 15 days.
When you grow up in a city of historical beauty – the setting of a Shakespeare play and where Galileo lectured at the local university – that also happens to be one of the oldest in the world, richness of culture and a passion for creation are in your blood from birth. For brothers Diego and Riki Coppiello, it was the internal combustion engine that become their passion at a very young age. However when they reached university, art and physics became their courses of choice. But the call of the engine brought them back together and they founded North East Custom in Padova, Italy where they combine all their talents to create motorcycles like this 2007 Triumph Bonneville that focus on clean design and highlighting the beauty in mechanical simplicity.
Growing up in the 1980’s with a classic bike rider for a neighbour, I was thumbing through his old brochures that I first set eyes on a Moto Guzzi. I was captivated. When it comes to the old Italian marque and their unique engines and designs, you either get it or you don’t. And one man who gets the Guzzi like no other is builder Filippo Barbacane from Officine Rossopuro in Abruzzo on the exquisite Adriatic coastline of Italy. From his workshop he has built a range of Guzzi’s in every style imaginable and just like this SP1000 they’re all picture perfect and built to standards so high, they’ll take your breath away.