Written by Tim Huber.
Unlike most creative mediums, custom motorcycle building isn’t taught in classrooms, and is instead of a mishmash of semi-related skills, often acquired over many years in other careers before being applied to one-off two-wheelers. For Tossa R’s owner, Tudor Dunev, that training and preparation came in the form of an illustrious four-wheeled motorsport career of building — and piloting — championship-winning drift and rally cars.
The Bulgarian racer’s accolades include a VW Lupo Cup championship, five consecutive Bulgarian Touring Car championship titles, and the title of 2010 European Drift King, among many others, the most recent of which being the 2019 Bulgarian Eco Rally which Dunev also took first in. So, after spending years churning out highly-competitive race cars engineered to take on extended abuse in some of the world’s toughest environments, Tudor has applied his skill-sets to running a successful customs shop with a proven history of quality and craftsmanship.
Consider the work of Poland’s Jacek Mulak. As Europe descended into one of its harshest winters in years, Jacek began to realise that his custom crowdfunding project was, as he put it, ‘A disaster.’ His solution? He put everything aside and did what he loves best; he built this…
Business seems good for Dutch builders Ironwood Motorcycles. Last week it was their sweet restomod Honda that garnered a great response. This week, it’s a Flying Brick that’s reminded us how no serious custom garage collection is complete without at least one example of Bavaria’s take on the inline four. And if we had to choose one right now to add to the collection, it’d be this cafe’d ’86 K100 that would get the nod.
There must be something in the Virginia air. When you consider the state’s track record for creating great bike builders, their batting average ain’t half bad. With shops like Classified Moto, Cognito Moto and MotoHangar all hailing from the Lover’s state, there seems to be little doubt that they are head and shoulders above most Eastern states when it comes to custom bike coolness. And as if to rub your nose in it, here’s perennial favourites MotoRelic with another killer build. Fresh from their place in our most recent Bike of the Year Award, we’d like you to meet their take on the build platform du jour, the mighty (square) BMW K100.
Ah, the K-series BMWs. What can we say that hasn’t already been said before? Their unique engines. Their incredible second-hand affordability. And then there’s all that get up and go! Even a very tired example of a K100 will deliver you 85hp and 80Nm of torques – and for little more cash than a boozy weekend away with friends. Of course, this isn’t exactly a revelation. The sheer number of them we now see gracing our pages is a testament to this. Hell, we’ve seen less virgins at a Minecraft show. But just when you think you’ve seen them all, along comes Austria’s NCT Motorcycles with something that piques our interests like no other Brick has done in a very long while. Say hallo to ‘Sir Ulrich’.
What’s the biggest change you’ve ever undergone when buying a new bike? For many of us, it’s simply the newer, bigger, better model of whatever it was we were already riding. The more daring of us might jump ship to another brand or, if they are getting old and all complain-y like me, something with a bit more comfort that’s easier on the wrists. But have you ever thought about making a really big leap of faith and choosing something that’s just totally and utterly different in almost every single way? Austria’s Titan Motorcycles faced something along these lines with their latest build. In the end, the customer rode out on this, one of the nicest, most original Beemer Bricks we seen all year. But can you guess what he rode in on?
You’re a fly on the wall of a BMW Motorrad meeting in Germany in 1977. Much to your horror, you witness what looks to be the end of the company happening right before your very eyes. Faced with the massive challenges of Japanese dominance, the ‘death’ of the boxer twin and big new emissions regulations, the company’s Kaisers are about to sign off what looks to be a train wreck on two wheels. They are all in agreement; they will put a four-cylinder Peugeot engine sideways into a new BMW bike. Surely this idea is so comical and misguided, it’s the last bike the company will ever make. Fast forward 40 years to the present day and somehow we’re in the middle of a BMW K-series resurgence. Up is down. Black is white. Square is cool. There are bricks everywhere and here’s the latest one to be thrown; it’s the Wrench Kings’ very black, very cool BMW K100.
The relationship between client and creator is always a tricky one. Just ask any designer; their customers always want a game-changing creation for nix, and they usually want it yesterday. But great work always takes time. Time, and the patronage of someone who understands that the bike builder might actually know more about, you know, building bikes. When this happens, art often follows. Art like this, for instance; the latest and dare we say greatest from Kentucky’s best custom bike builder, Scott Halbleib of H Garage.
Approaching one of the most enigmatic builders in the world with your idea for a custom build can be a nerve-racking experience, when you bring a limited budget and a quirky bike to the party you might want a stiff drink first. But for Karl “Ed” Renoult of France’s Ed Turner Motorcycles every new challenge is a chance to test his building skills and in this case give some attitude to a bike in its original fair he describes as a “Norman Wardrobe”. Hugo the owner of this BMW K100 really only had two requests, he wanted a blue tank and a tracker build the rest would be in Karl’s more than capable hands. Only one other thing, Hugo is a student and as Karl found out that meant “no dosh”, but that hasn’t stopped Ed Turner Motorcycles turning out another first class build proving yet again a great builder doesn’t need a blank cheque to create a masterpiece.
If you are anything like me, you’ll always have your latest ‘bike of interest.’ To the uninitiated, that’s the bike that is currently catching your eye. The one that you look at first when you surf eBay or thumb through the local classifieds. And for me right now, the bike is definitely the BMW K100. What it is about the K that really pushes my buttons, I’m not quite sure. Maybe it’s the ludicrous car engine laying on it’s side in the frame. Maybe it’s the shaft drive, or maybe it’s just the jaw-dropping mass of the things. Whatever the case, if I started a new project bike today, a Beemer K100 would be it. And it’s not just me who’s thinking along these lines. Take, for instance, one Ben Kingham of BSK SpeedWorks in Bedfordshire, England. He too has the bug, and I think it’s fair to say that he been bitten worse than I have. A lot worse.
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