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BMW K 1600 GTL Project: The Builders

22.03.2015

Harley-Davidson dominates the heavyweight custom scene in Japan: many of the top builders work on no other marque. But BMW has just disrupted that paradigm with its ‘Ignite Straight 6’ project: it’s given its luxury K 1600 GTL tourer to two of Japan’s most esteemed motorcycle craftsmen. Keiji Kawakita (Hot Dock Custom Cycles) and Kenji Nagai (Ken’s Factory) were previously Harley men to the core. So how did they handle the difficult job of customizing a machine famous for its high technology? With the help of Japanese journalist Tadashi Kono, we decided to find out. Keiji Kawakita opened Hot Dock Custom Cycles in 1984. He also races bikes—on the drag strip and in road races for singles and twins.…

BMW K1600 GTL Custom Project

20.03.2015

At the Osaka Motorcycle Show, BMW Japan has just thrown the wraps off two extreme customs based on the K1600 GTL. That’s the range-topping luxury tourer, a road-going spaceship powered by a 1649cc inline six—and probably packed with more electronics than any other motorcycle on the market today. Just two builders were chosen for these transformations, and both are legends in the Japanese custom world: Keiji Kawakita of Hot Dock Custom Cycles, and Kenji Nagai of Ken’s Factory. The results are very different to the four machines we revealed a few months ago for the R nineT Project. They’re not ‘new wave’ or café-style customs: this is free-form building from two of the most radical and skilled craftsmen in the East.…

Red Alert: Down & Out’s Triumph Bonneville SE

19.03.2015

Down & Out probably isn’t the most auspicious name for a business. But Shaun Walker sleeps easy at night: business at his Sheffield, England workshop is booming. For the past 15 years, Shaun has been building very tidy, sharp-looking customs. He works mostly on older BMWs these days, but also professes a liking for the modern Triumph Bonneville. “It was time to build something that was going to be good around the streets,” he says, “so the ‘Street Bob’ was born.” It’s a 2013-model Triumph Bonneville SE, which came straight from the factory with a bold red frame. “The red frame wasn’t my first choice,” Shaun admits. “And the standard mag wheels…not so good, either. But the bike had only 900 miles on the clock, and was like new—so the deal was sealed.” The first job was to remove as many standard parts as possible, to lose weight without compromising function.…

Running Lean: Fuel Motorcycles’ sleek R65

17.03.2015

‘Svelte’ is not a word that sits comfortably in the BMW design language. These days, the machines that roll out of BMW Motorradwerk in Berlin are best described as imposing—or in the case of the sportbikes, angular. It wasn’t always that way, though. The R65 of the early 1980s had a compact frame, and it’s that slender underpinning that defines this elegant new custom from Spain. It’s the work of Karles Vives of Barcelona-based Fuel Motorcycles. He’s the man responsible for Scram Africa, an epic ride across the North African desert, and best known for his neo-retro trail bikes and scramblers (like this R100 RT). This BMW R65 is a spectacular departure from the usual Fuel style. The client—a young guy who also lives and works in Barcelona—was happy to give Karles and his team carte blanche on the project.…

The Walking Dead: The Daryl Dixon Motorcycle

16.03.2015

EXCLUSIVE If you have a television in your house, you probably know AMC’s The Walking Dead. If you’re blessed with a strong constitution, you may even be watching it. It’s a post-apocalyptic drama series that scores millions of viewers for every episode. And unlike most shows of that ilk, it’s a huge hit with critics too. The series returned for the second half of its fifth season in February, and with it comes a new addition to the cast: a motorcycle ridden by the character of Daryl Dixon, played by actor Norman Reedus. If you see elements of the Classified Moto style in this Honda Nighthawk, you’re right. Reedus already has a Classified bike in his garage, and when the producers of The Walking Dead needed a motorcycle, he knew just the man to speak to … “Norman’s the best,” says Ryland.…

Absolute Gem: Diamond Atelier’s BMW R100R

13.03.2015

We’re calling it: the custom boxer movement has reached critical mass. More BMWs are rolling off workbenches than ever before, so builders have to look at Bavaria’s sweetheart with fresh eyes to get noticed. This neo-noir BMW R100R from Diamond Atelier is more of a swift kick to the jaw than a breath of fresh air. Astonishingly, it’s only the third build from the Munich-based shop—but it’s ganz wunderbar. “There was talk of our first motorcycle [a stunning BMW R80] being an unrideable show bike,” says Diamond Atelier’s Tom Konecny. “Even though I raced it in the Glemseck 101 Sprint last year.” “So with this build, we had to step it up. Not only in terms of visuals and details, but also performance and rideability.” This time round, the duo wanted a donor with a bigger engine and better suspension, and managed to find a 1994 BMW R100R Classic.…

Boxing Clever: Deus Customs’ Gentleman Jim

11.03.2015

Boxing aficionados will know the name Gentleman Jim Corbett. He was a man of taste and manners, who trod the boards of theatres in San Francisco and New York. He also entered the ring 24 times between 1886 and 1903—including one bout that extended to a brutal 61 rounds—and became the Heavyweight Champion of the World. So ‘Gentleman Jim’ is an inspired nickname for the latest custom to roll out of the Deus Customs headquarters in Sydney, Australia. Constructed by master builder and workshop boss Jeremy Tagand, it’s a sublime mix of elegance and power. The classic lines and subtle finishes hark back to the days of fine British iron. But the heart of this machine is a 2008-spec Harley Davidson XL1200C—better known as the Sportster 1200 Custom.…

Thunderhawk: A New Angle On The Honda CB77

10.03.2015

With most Honda CB customs packing 400cc or more, we were a little curious when a CB77 Super Hawk hit our inbox. After all, this was the bike that launched Honda in the USA—and the bike that Robert M. Pirsig rode on his trip in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Plus, the Super Hawk is gorgeous in stock form, with its iconic chrome tank. There are plenty of restored CB77s out there, gleaming in the sun—but it’s intriguing to see a completely fresh take on a timeless classic. This angular 1962-model CB77 is a radical departure from the original bike’s soft lines, and the result is stunning. It belongs to Ian Duffy: an industrial designer based in Miami, Florida, who has an affinity for the Super Hawk.…

Slate Hammer: Rough Crafts’ custom Sportster

09.03.2015

EXCLUSIVE The Harley Sportster is probably the most customized bike on the planet. But there are surprisingly few examples that butter our toast. It’s the café racer look that seems to be the most troublesome: giving the portly Sportster a sleek and pared-back style is not easy. So when Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts said he was going to give it a crack, we held our breath. Would even the most accomplished of Harley builders get tripped up? The answer is no. This is ‘Slate Hammer,’ and Winston has once again nailed it. The custom Sportster was a commission from a friend, who owns a clothing brand called Taki Design. “He likes to travel with us, and after several trips to shows like Mooneyes and Joints, customs grew on him very fast,” says Winston.…

Made in Australia: Glory Road’s CB750K

06.03.2015

Glory Road Motorcycles is a small retail space that’s just opened in the heart of Adelaide, Australia. Step inside and you’ll find apparel, riding accessories—and some fine motorcycles, like this Honda CB750K. The shop is new, but owner Tom Harrison has been turning wrenches since the age of 17—when he left school to work at a garage specializing in Minis. For the last couple of years, he’s been building bikes under a tiny carport in the ‘burbs. Tom’s acquired enough skills over the years to handle all the fabrication himself, outsourcing only the paint and trim. Which explains why this sleek, boat-tailed ’73 CB has a look that sits somewhere between handcrafted and factory. Originally bought as a wreck, the CB750K was one of the first builds on Tom’s bench—but it took a back seat to more pressing projects.…

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