Here’s a little piece of motorcycling trivia for you. Do you know why riders in the ’40s and ’50s ended up wearing flying jackets and aviator goggles? Give up? It’s because many of the English and American guys who’d flown planes in WWII took up motorcycling as something to do after the war was over. It not only put a little thrill into their comparatively dull civilian lives, but forming clubs that met and rode regularly was a good way to stay in touch with airforce buddies. So in many ways, the biking culture that we all enjoy today was a product of bored flyboys. And what better way to acknowledge this than to build a bike that’s a lot more khaki canteen than it is café. Here’s the ‘Fox’, Old Empire Motorcycles’ latest build.
Alec from Old Empire Motorcycles walked us through the build. “The classic bullet 500 design has changed little through the many decades past from its conception. And for good reason, such a simple design that looks great, sounds great and is the perfect platform to create something special.”
“The bike’s nacelle houses all the unsightlys perfectly and is completed by our custom ‘Sturney Bars’ which are designed to mimic the shape of the housing exactly. Leather adorns the bike from the little leather knee pads to the handmade battery satchel and fuse box, all carefully thought about to keep the balance of the build.”
The boys chose the name ‘Fox’ for this, the first of five builds based around what they’ve learnt from their Origin and Progeny builds. It’s closest relative is the rather amazing ‘Pup’ build, which we featured here previously. The bike’s stance is achieved by a healthy amount of front end chop and a new set of short, Hagon shocks out back.
In a patriotic cap doff to another Great British institution, the bike proudly wears both a Brooks saddle and leather-wrapped grips. These are kept company by some more leather accessories including the knee-pads, battery leather satchel, and leathered-covered electrical box. But unlike their Brooks counterparts, these ones were made by the OEM guys themselves.
The tank was sourced from a Harley Sportster before being subjected to much pounding and welding at the hands of OEM’s metal masters. Our eyes tell us that nothing so sleek could have possibly come from a Milwaukee mule, but that would be underestimating the obvious skills Alec and the boys possess.
Other beautiful details of note include the elegantly hidden indicators, brass filler caps, hand-made distributor cover and a blue tinted and capped headlight to allow the bike to be ridden at night without attracting too much attention from those damn Gerry bombers overhead.
All up, I’m sure you’ll agree that OEMs skill in manufacture of understated classics from a bygone era of motorcycling are second to none. And for those who like what they see, Alec has telegraphed us confirming that there’s plenty more bikes in the hangar. Watch this space.