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Speed Read, 24 January 2021


It’s a newsier mix than usual this week, with the Yamaha SR400 finally down for the count, and a top European motorcycle museum gone up in smoke. On the custom bike front, we’ve got two very sporty builds—one an XT600 supermoto, and the other a radically restyled BMW R nineT. Yamaha XT600 supermoto by 86 Gear Motorcycles Christian Boosen runs 86 Gear Motorcycles in Warsaw, Poland, a city where the custom scene is starting to boom nicely. He’s just finished building this XT600 for a local client, and it looks like an absolute A-to-B supermoto weapon. The engine got a massive shot in the arm with a rebuild including a high-comp piston, the cam from a TT600, and a Mikuni TM34 flatside carb—plus a new hydraulic clutch to handle the extra power.…

Master of Metal: Shiny Hammer’s Moto Guzzi 1000SP


We’re suckers for classic Moto Guzzi café racers. But we like it even more when someone messes up the recipe a little. As with this sleek and quirky 1000 SP from France—which mixes conventional and unorthodox styling cues to great effect. It comes from Samuel Aguiar, a multi-talented chap who designs furniture as well as motorcycles. He runs the Shiny Hammer workshop in Saint-Quentin, a town near the border of Belgium in northern France. Samuel’s previous creations include a Rocketeer-style electric scooter and a stunning Shovelhead. They’re both fantastic builds but have little in common with this Guzzi. “This one’s based on a 1981 1000 SP,” says Samuel. “The donor bike had been crashed, and the front wheel was basically stuck in the engine.…

ISDT Dream: A BMW R80/7 Scrambler from Estonia


Some custom shops have a knack for building motorcycles that are clean enough to pass for factory specials. But this BMW boxer from the Estonian powerhouse Renard Speed Shop takes things up a notch. Not only does it look like some sort of restored off-road racing prototype, but it was also pieced together from leftover parts. Most of what you see here, including the 1979-model R80/7 donor, was dug out of Renard’s workshop, and modded to fit together. That’s right: this one’s a bitsa. Despite how tidy it is, Renard built this scrambler as a practical ride for navigating the many forests around their ‘hood. And if you’re picking up shades of the BMWs that participated in the International Six Days Trials, you’d be right—that’s where the inspiration came from.…

Cut to Fit: RSD build a Honda Monkey for Wee Man


Customization can be about aesthetics and performance, but it can also be about making a motorcycle fit its rider better. This wild Honda Monkey from Roland Sands Design rolls all three approaches into one, with a build list to rival bikes twice its size. The Californian workshop built the Monkey for skateboarder, stunt performer and Jackass star Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuña. Jason used to ride mini-motocrossers as a kid, but he wanted to get back on two wheels—and this time on the street. So he approached RSD to build a bike that would fit his frame. “We are a non-denominational motorcycle company,” says shop boss, Roland Sands. “If it has two wheels and can be improved in the eyes of the owner and the RSD crew, it’s a project we are willing to take on.”…

BMW R18 by Kingston Custom: An Art Deco Meisterwerk


BMW has wasted no time getting the new R18 into the hands of customizers. Five months ago, before the Bavarian cruiser was even in showrooms, Roland Sands unveiled the low-slung ‘Dragster’ concept. Then a couple of weeks later, Bernhard Naumann of Blechmann revealed an even wilder build. Now it’s the turn of Dirk Oehlerking, who runs Kingston Custom. He’s based in Gelsenkirchen—a six-hour ride from the BMW factory in Berlin—and has built around 17 BMW customs over the past 35 years. This is arguably his best yet. The swooping lines and quality of finish are next level. But this is not a styling exercise endlessly refined in a CAD program on computer; Dirk still works in a totally analog way.…

Speed Read, 17 January 2021


This week’s selection is as varied as they come—from a new, ultra-modern electric motorcycle, to an eclectic BMW boxer with raw finishes. Plus we have two entries from Poland: a rough and ready Honda CB450 scrambler, and a Triumph Scrambler 1200 with supermotard style. The Sondors Metacycle electric motorcycle Any conversation about electric motorcycles inevitably revolves around the tension between price, range and performance. So when we heard about a new two-wheeled EV that promises an 80-mile range and 80 mph top speed, and costs just $5,000, our interest was piqued. It’s called the Metacycle, and it’s the first motorcycle from the established Californian electric bicycle brand, Sondors. It’s a looker too, built around a cast aluminum frame and swingarm that take advantage of the blank slate that EV technology offers.…

Thruxton Gullwing X: A twist on classic café racer style


Every car enthusiast of a certain age knows the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. It made roof-hinged ‘gullwing’ doors famous—despite being a design trick first seen on the Bugatti Type 64. And it’s one of the most iconic sportscars of the last century. The 300 SL has inspired the Alicante workshop Tamarit to create a limited edition series of customs, and the latest version is ‘Gullwing X.’ The link to the Mercedes design is the new bodywork on the bike, which is a monocoque arrangement with a front-mounted hinge allowing it to be lifted up at the back. ‘X’ is the ninth and latest version in the ‘Gullwing’ series, and quite aside from the nifty engineering, it’s drop dead gorgeous. Tamarit’s José Antonio describes it as a ‘sport’ version: “Parts like the brakes, rims, carbs and cooling system are dramatically improved.”…

Overlander: A BMW G/S built for serious adventure travel


Nothing grows knowledge like experience. So the best way to figure out how to design a continent-crossing motorcycle, is to actually cross a continent—then see what works, and what doesn’t. Back in 2016, Matias Corea rode his 1985 BMW R80G/S Paris Dakar from Brooklyn all the way to Ushuaia, in Argentina. Now he’s got another trip planned: a 22,000-mile journey from his native Barcelona to Cape Town in South Africa. So he’s taken the lessons from his first trip, and built his vision of the ultimate adventure airhead. “After 20,000 miles in 168 days, you get a clear idea of what the bike is capable of and its limitations,” he says. “This build is based on everything I learned on that trip.…

Sailor’s Choice: A Monkey that flits between sea and shore


Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. After all, it’s the foundation of business for brands such as Harley-Davidson and Indian, and model lines such as Triumph’s ‘modern classics’ and the BMW R nineT and R18. It’s also the driving force behind ‘Gorilla,’ the latest build from Bunker, the prolific custom powerhouse based in Istanbul. Mert and Can Uzer, the brothers behind Bunker, were inspired by their customer’s reminiscing—which dates back to an early fascination with minibikes in the 1970s. “On his first boat trip at the age of 8, Alp was spellbound when sailors docked their boats at the Vieux Port de Cannes,” says Mert, “and then cruised along the coast on scooters and minibikes. “At night, he watched them ride back up the gangway and store their machines on the boats.”…

Daily Stunner: A Kawasaki ER-6F by Cowboy’s Chopper


The Kawasaki ER-6F ticks all the right boxes as a daily runner, but it’s not much of a looker. And it’s an uncommon choice for customization, too—we’ve featured a handful of custom ER-6Ns on these pages, but never the fully faired ‘F’ model. It takes imagination to look beyond its vanilla bodywork and standard-issue ‘sport commuter’ style, and see potential. So this 2006-model ER-6F spent most of its life as a loaner, parked in Alex Gao’s garage. That is, until he needed a custom donor in a pinch… Alex runs Cowboy’s Chopper in Taipei, Taiwan, and he kept the Kawasaki for clients to ride, while he worked on more worthy machines. Then he was invited to exhibit a bike at Taiwan’s massive Ride Free show.…

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