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Sur-Ron custom: A Firefly built for Nike Air Max Day


It isn’t only regular Joes who keep the grinder sparks flying in custom workshops. A small but generous group of brands are also happy to commission bikes—because they’re a darn sight more interesting than most promotional vehicles or stunts. The German sportswear label and retailer BSTN is one of those farsighted brands, and this is the second custom they’ve commissioned from Philipp Wulk of Impuls. The base vehicle is a Sur-Ron Firefly: a popular and surprisingly powerful little scoot that sits halfway between an electric bicycle and electric motorcycle. Also known as the Light Bee, it has a top speed of 73 kph (45 mph) and a real-world range of around 70 kilometers (43 miles). The build quality is exceptional—reportedly better than that of most motorcycle makers, and approaching Honda levels, according to some testers.…

Laid Back: Proof that you can turn a Cub into a chopper


They represent a thriving sub-culture, but we don’t feature a whole bunch of custom scooters here. And we probably showcase even fewer choppers. But the cult Taiwanese shop 2LOUD Custom has just mashed the two genres together, and we’re blown away with the result. This super cute scoot is right on brief. 2LOUD’s customer, a young woman, was very clear on what she wanted: “Cub plus chopper plus love.” And builders Ma ‘Max’ Yicheng and Lu Yongyu were all too happy to oblige. They picked a SYM Cub clone as a donor. SYM is a Taiwanese manufacturer that built the beloved Honda Cub under license from Honda in the 60s, and then carried on using the blueprints after the deal ran out in 2002.…

A KTM 450 flat tracker built for a Dakar Rally racer


If you’re a custom builder, one of the most difficult briefs is for a race bike. No matter the genre or discipline of the project, the purpose-built, stripped-down nature of race machinery leaves minimal room for aesthetic creativity. After all, these bikes are not built to look pretty. They’re built to run a distance in the quickest time possible. So form takes a backseat to function, and each component needs finely tuned design. When Pierre Dhers of Freeride Motos Racing was offered a commission to build a 450cc single with vintage flair for a flat track race series, the he knew he had his work cut out for him. But he was undeterred—because he’s spent the better part of the last decade single-handedly operating a successful full-service motorcycle and race shop under the Freeride banner.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 22 March, 2020


A show stopping Yamaha GTS 1000 from Italy, a neo-retro Yamaha XT250 from Australia, and a very slick body kit for the BMW R nineT from France. Yamaha XT250 by Deus ex Machina The Deus Swank rally is a light-hearted off-road event that combines “vintage motorcycles, fancy dress and a can-do attitude.” So when Yamaha asked Deus Australia to build a bike that would embody the Swank spirit, head wrench Jeremy Tagand picked the XT250. After all, it might only be a small, air-cooled single—but it’s capable and bulletproof too. Jeremy swapped the XT’s 21” front wheel for a 19” unit, and then wrapped both wheels in Dunlop K180 dirt track tires. The suspension was left alone, but the upper triple clamp was swapped out for a CNC-machined arrangement from Ricci Engineering, so that the crew could install Renthal fat bars.…

About Turn: Eastern Spirit Garage builds an XS650 bobber


Eastern Spirit Garage have mastered the art of building cafe racers. They nailed the formula when they broke onto the scene seven years ago—and have produced consistently good results since. But the Polish shop likes to break the mold once in a while, by deviating from their hallmark genre. Because, as shop boss Sylwester puts it, “it just gives us a lot of fun and challenges.” This latest project is the furthest thing, stylistically, from a cafe racer you can get: a bobber. But clearly Sylwester and co. have that look down pat too, because there’s not a line out of place on this low-slung hardtail. The bike’s based on an early 80s Yamaha XS650 Special. That was the slightly chopper-ized version of the XS650, and doesn’t quite have the same classic appeal today.…

Sound decision: A music producer’s CB750 cafe racer


Some custom motorcycle builders grow up riding and wrenching, and that early start is obvious in their work. On the flip side, 25-year-old Nick Hooper’s been fiddling with bikes for less than three years now—but you wouldn’t think it, looking at this perfectly proportioned Honda CB750. Nick lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he works as a music producer and session guitarist. A friend got him onto his first bike, a Honda CB350, just a few years ago. He jumped in with both feet, teaching himself to maintain the little Honda via YouTube videos and online forums. After a few months of daily riding, Nick needed something more capable and reliable—so he bought a Ducati Panigale 899. “It was a blast to ride,” he says, “but I quickly missed the character that the old Honda had.…

Mechanical Art: Edi Buffon’s Gilera Extra Rossa 175


We’re constantly amazed by the skills of some after-hours builders: folks who have full-time jobs, but spend their evenings and weekends crafting bikes to the level you’d expect at a pro workshop. One of the most talented part-time builders is Edi Buffon, an engineer who lives in Sydney, Australia. We loved his Kawasaki KZ250 from a year ago, but he’s excelled even more with this magnificent Gilera bobber. Edi has been riding and modifying motorcycles for 20 years, but it wasn’t until about four years ago that bike building became a serious hobby. “The goal is to turn it into my main source of income,” he says, “but I’m still working on that dream.” There aren’t many Gileras in Australia—or indeed outside Italy.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 15 March, 2020


A very slick BMW K100 from Lithuania, a funky Honda Monkey from California, and a Harley-Davidson sidecar rig built in Poland—up for sale for a million dollars. Honda Monkey Z50R Back in 1979, Honda realized people were actually racing their Honda Monkeys. So they released the Z50R—a sportier version of the Z50A with BMX-style bars, a new seat and a different fuel tank. This Z50R’s been hopped up even more, and it sure looks like the most pint-sized fun you could have. It belongs to California local Andres, who built it with his friend Eric from Row4 Design. They started with a rusted donor that had a hole in the frame, and set out to build the “meanest little Monkey in California.”…

Nothing is Too Hard: A Triumph Trophy bobber from Spain


There’s a whole category of touring bikes that are short on sex appeal but long on character. One such machine is the Triumph Trophy 1200, which is like a two-wheeled version of the Mercedes W123 ‘Beirut Taxi’: it’s simple, reliable and well engineered, and can clock up an improbable mileage if looked after. This heavily modified Trophy comes from TooHard Motor Co., a Spanish garage based just outside Madrid. For the past five years, shop owners Jose and Bea have been restoring and customizing older bikes, with the occasional foray into newer machinery—like this R nineT that we featured last year. This Trophy 1200 is one of TooHard’s most radical transformations, and aligns more closely with Triumph’s current Bobber than the old sports tourer.…

Playing with fire: Ironwood tackles the BMW R1250GS


Ironwood Custom Motorcycles have a reputation for building edgy, well-finished BMW R-series boxers. But this latest project is a far cry from that simple and classic platform. This time around, the Dutch shop has torn into the most technologically complex boxer of all: a brand new R1250GS. With a liquid-cooled motor, trick ‘ShiftCam’ tech and a veritable spaghetti of electronic wiring and wizardry, the R1250GS is light years ahead of its ancestors. And speaking from experience, it’s a blast to ride too—with 134 hp and 143 Nm on tap. Ironwood landed the commission via watchmaker TW Steel. IWC had previously built a Yamaha XSR700 for the ‘Son of Time’ custom initiative, and impressed enough to get the call for a second time.…

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