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Pure and simple: A Bonneville T120 from Central Java


The 21st century motorcycle is a complex beast, crammed with electronics and trick engineering in the name of one-upmanship and regulatory approval. But there’s something strangely compelling in the simplicity of an older bike from less complicated times. And they don’t come more stripped down than this 1972 T120 from Pitstop Motor Werk. Pitstop is a team of three led by an Indonesian builder called Agung. They’re based in the hot and humid province of Central Java, and like most Indonesian builders they have to be incredibly resourceful and thrifty. Yet this does not seem to affect the quality of their work. It helps that Agung has been wrenching on bikes for 20 years now. “I used to get called up by friends to repair their bikes,” he tells us.…

Bardahl Special: A ’48 Panhead from Switzerland


Where is the line between meticulous and just plain nuts? Because we’re sure Albert ‘Ash’ Aeschlimann crossed it at some point during this astounding build. What started out as a simple ’48 Panhead custom turned into a seven-year project—with hardly any of the original bike remaining. Doing things ‘the right way’ is an essential part of Ash’s day job. He’s a technician at a major science museum in Switzerland, and before that, he studied architecture and worked as a carpenter. After hours, he makes magic in his workshop under the Ash Kustoms banner. Photographer Marc Schneider tells us that Ash’s obsession began at 20, when he got into vintage Vespas. Then he saw the Indian Larry versus Billy Lane episode of The Great Biker Build Off, and was instantly hooked on custom motorcycles.…

Fighting Talk: Harley design boss Brad Richards


Harley-Davidson is under a microscope right now: its every move is dissected, examined and critiqued. And there have been plenty of moves lately. They’ve killed the Dyna while relaunching the Softail. They’ve announced a barrage of new models, including the Livewire. But although revenue is holding up at the moment, sales figures have been declining for several years—and were down 10% in 2018. It’s a challenging time for the Motor Company. So I sat down in Milwaukee with Harley’s VP of Styling and Design, Brad Richards, to ask how they’re going to fix this. Harley’s PR lead Joe Gustafson joined us too, and both were raring to go. Bike EXIF: There’s a lot of pressure on Harley-Davidson right now. People expect every new bike the company releases to be ‘the’ bike to turn things around.…

This BMW R nineT is a homage to Rickman Métisse


In the world of vintage desert sleds, the Rickman Triumph Métisse reigns supreme. It was a pretty legit scrambler in its day, and also one of best-looking motorcycles from that era. For VTR Customs boss Dani Weidmann, though, there’s an even deeper connection. Back in the 80s, 17-year-old Dani took an apprenticeship at a company called Meier & Lutziger—the Swiss importer of Rickman frames and parts. Dani fell in love with the classy design of these throwback sleds. When the VTR Customs crew were recently shooting the breeze over coffee—and reminiscing about the past—the idea of building a Métisse replica popped up. And since VTR is the custom arm of the BMW dealer Stucki2Rad, it could be based on the BMW R nineT.…

The Killer: A front wheel drive motorcycle from Rodsmith


The concept of the patron is well established in the world of art. Charles Saatchi is almost a household name in the UK, but before him we had New Yorker Peggy Guggenheim—who anchored the careers of Pollock and Rothko. Parallels are now edging into the modern custom motorcycle scene, and one of the leading lights is Bobby Haas of the Haas Moto Museum in Dallas. Bobby has built up a collection of 130-plus extraordinary motorcycles, and occasionally commissions them too. Hazan is one of his protégés; Craig Rodsmith is another, and his incredible front wheel drive motorcycle is the latest resident of the hallowed halls. It’s a classic story of patron and artist working in tandem, and begins when Bobby was suffering from a bout of insomnia while visiting the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas last year.…

Spirit of the XCLR: A Fat Bob custom from Blacktrack


Blacktrack Motors have got cafe racer design down to a fine art. Their first build was one of the sharpest Honda CX500 cafes we’ve ever featured, and they followed it up with a pixel perfect custom Thruxton. Now they’ve tackled their most ambitious project yet, the BT-03—a cafe racer based on the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 FXFBS. The Fat Bob 114 is one of the most fun bikes in Harley’s range. Its 114 ci power plant generates 155 Nm of torque, and handling from the new generation Softail frame is actually pretty respectable. But its power cruiser stance is a far cry from that quintessential cafe racer fly line. Despite this, it was exactly what Blacktrack founder and designer, Sacha Lakic, was looking for.…

Vagabund’s R nine T custom comes with official approval


Most of us take it for granted that we can modify our bikes. As long as the VIN number is correct and the modifications are not visibly unsafe, there’s rarely a problem. But in some countries, the regulations are real tough. Several territories in Southeast Asia make it virtually impossible to register a custom bike. And in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, there’s the notorious TÜV system. TÜV requires official approval for almost every modified part fitted to a bike. The frame cannot be welded or drilled or deformed in any way. Even a new muffler must have an approval sticker—and be designed for the model of bike you’re riding. This makes life extremely difficult for custom builders in the Germanic countries.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 10 March, 2019


There’s something for everyone this week. We’ve got a Bonneville beach cruiser, a pair of high-performance Triumph Speed Triples, and a Ducati Panigale covered in occult symbols. Plus a trio of electric bikes—an old Enfield that traveled the entire length of Britain, and two new concepts designed by Erik Buell. (Yes, he’s back.) Triumph Speed Triples by Associated British Motorcycles Tony Scott’s the guy behind the top tuning operation T3 Performance—so he knows how to extract maximum performance out of a machine. These two Speed Triples, the Gemini Naked and Gemini Indianapolis, are the first customs from T3’s new sister brand, Associated British Motorcycles. And they both put a colossal 160 horsepower to the rear wheel. The Naked (above) is the more ‘cafe’ of the two, with minimal carbon fiber bodywork, and Öhlins and Maxton suspension.…

Ground-up build: A Kawasaki bobber rises from the weeds


Everyone loves a good barn find story, but what about digging an old motorcycle out of the weeds? That’s where Edi Buffon found the basket case Kawasaki KZ250 that would eventually become this incredible bobber-style piece of art. Edi lives in Sydney, Australia, where he works as an engineer. Outside office hours, he wrenches on bikes as Machine 1867, from a 380 square foot space inside a shared warehouse. His area’s stacked with welders, grinders, hand tools and a lathe. Edi wasn’t really shopping for a KZ when he found this 1980 model. He had a lead on a bargain pair of Honda CB900s, and when he went to collect them, the owner threw in the forlorn Kawasaki. It wasn’t running—and yes, it was literally lying in the weeds—but Edi saw potential.…

Feel the Illinoise: A DR-Z400 for the streets of Chicago


Federal Moto havethe Midas touch. The builds coming out of their Chicago workshop are sharp-edged, compact and big hits with our readers. But sometimes, success can be a double-edged sword. After releasing ‘The Sunshine State of Mind’ SR500 in 2016, Federal were bombarded with requests for a replica build. “But there’s no fun in building the same bike twice,” says lead builder Mike Müller. “We love the support, but we also want our clients to have a one-of-a-kind bike.” So Federal generally suggest to their clients that they build another one-of-a-kind bike. “Just as thumpy, just as wheelie-enabled, and just as awesome!” That’s what happened with ‘Big Suzie,’ a DR-Z400 commissioned by a local Chicago-based client. “He’s a father of two, a businessman and city livin’,” says Mike.…

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