Written by Martin Hodgson
It’s long been said that travel broadens the mind and there is nothing like a trip to the Sahara desert to teach a great many lessons. It was there a few years ago amongst the enormous and unforgiving sand dunes that custom bike builder Boy Janssen found a new respect for the humble Yamaha XT. But back home in the Netherlands, he discovered they could be tuned to be just as good on the street and he’s been turning them out for clients ever since. Now the head honcho of Pancake Customs serves up a two-piece combo with matching Yamaha XT600e Desert Sleds that make the perfect pigeon pair.
Motorcycles seem to be vehicle de jour in Hollywood of late. Whether it’s Mission Impossible, Bourne or Bond, there’s bound to be some cool moto action sequence spread all across their trailers. And without fail, the evil assassins will be the ones riding black bikes, all dressed in black…
The discovery of new shops and custom bikes is by far the best part of our jobs. Waking up each morning to emails containing virtual goldmines of moto coolness is a privilege, and one that we’ll just never tire of…
Remember that scene from Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum says “life, uh… finds a way”? His logic is simple – if something in nature has got even the most remote chance of happening, given enough time it probably will. A group of all female dinosaurs will eventually reproduce. Nickelback will, given enough time, write a song the doesn’t suck. And two custom bike genres which may seem mutually exclusive will eventually merge to form a whole new subspecies. Take this little Yamaha XT600 beastie, for instance. Half cafe and half tracker, it’s the latest creation from Portugal’s Redonda Motors. And while science may have never intended it to be so, we’re kind of glad nature took its course.
A polymath is defined as a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. And naturally, if such a person is set a complex task to perform, it would be easy for them to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve the specific problems they might encounter. Turn a mind like that to the act of customising a bike, and you’re bound to get some pretty interesting results. Today’s bike is the result the hard work of just one man – namely Pierre from French shop Freeride Motos. Paint, leather, fibreglass, leatherwork, metalwork, electrics – you name it, he probably did it. And by the looks of it, he did it damn well.
There are certain artists, designers and builders whose work is instantly recognisable in their field and often even into the broader community: A Hendrix riff, a Pollock painting or a Scorsese film. In the world of custom bikes few builders’ creations are more instantly recognisable than those of David González from Spain’s Ad Hoc Café Racers. Twelve miles outside of Barcelona along the C58 Highway, with mechanics apron on, David operates out of his small workshop that is equal parts artist’s studio and motorcycle garage. It is here that his unique creations are realised and while some may consider them quirky, David in fact is sticking to the true Latin meaning of the name Ad Hoc – or for this – a solution designed to solve a specific problem. In this case it’s a 1991 Yamaha XT600 known as “Rising”, a flat tracker that’s built to shred the wildly varying street surfaces of Greece.
A little bit of old, a little bit of new and lots of out of the box thinking makes this Ténéré Tracker unlike any other, and that’s always the way it was meant to be. Starting with a “fit for the junkyard” ‘89 model Yamaha XT600, Santiago Garcia of Corb Motorcycles in Spain had a very unique vision of the sort of bike he wanted to build for himself. For more than 6 years in the city of Terrassa, 30 km from Barcelona, Santiago has been churning out customs for his clients and gaining an impressive following of fans and other local builders all determined to keep the true spirit of motorcycling alive. But when you build customs every single day and you finally find time to build something for yourself, it creates a chance to push the boundaries in every way.
Stereotypes are dangerous things. When you get an artist from New York City send you pictures of his ride, you expect perhaps a Vespa. Or a Segway. Or, god forbid, a fixie. Well Nick van Woert not only owns this radical 1991 Yamaha XT600, he built the thing with his own hands. Stereotype destroyed. And speaking of destruction, a friend has given the bike the nickname “Woert Hog” an homage to both Nick’s name and another close quarter’s machine of demolition, the A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog.