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Diff’rent Strokes: Roland Sands’ smokin’ Yamaha


At the Born Free show a couple of weeks ago, there was a lone road racer in a sea of choppers. And not a Harley or Triumph, either: it was a two-stroke Yamaha. Born Free organizers Mike and Grant must have been scratching their heads, but they had the good grace to let “2 Stroke Attack” into the show. And we’re betting it was the fastest bike there by a country mile. “I worked on it for a year after I found a donor RD400 at a swap meet for $600,” Roland Sands tells us. “It didn’t run. The only thing left now is the cases and the California title.” Sands is an ex-racer, so most of the builds that roll out of his Los Alamitos workshop are tuned for performance.…

The Spirit of ’71: Hageman’s XL1200C Scrambler


Greg Hageman’s known as the guy that convinced us that Yamaha Viragos can look good. But we’ve never seen a Harley-Davidson custom from the American builder. Which is strange; the Sportster is arguably a better (and more popular) platform than the Virago. And Greg sure knows his way around them—he’s a qualified, master-level Harley technician. “I started in ’99,” he tells us, “and took every single tech class the factory offered until 2011. So I was fully aware of the capabilities of what I think is a wonderful ‘jack of all trades’ bike.” So, after a long run of mostly Yamaha builds, Greg Hageman decided to go back to his roots. “This is a bike I’ve had in my mind for the past fifteen years, way before the big scrambler trend of the present.…

Shop visit: Concept Racer, Mexico City


Mexico is one of the world’s great motorcycling destinations. It’s the all-time favorite trip of veteran moto journalist Peter Egan, who heads to Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. And then there’s the famed El Diablo Run, from San Felipe to Ensenada in Baja California. Despite reports of the glorious landscape and sunny climate, we’d never heard much about the custom scene in Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Until Miguel Lerdo of Concept Racer got in touch. Miguel is a lawyer with a Masters Degree in business, but his true passions are speed and adventure. Motorcycles satisfy his need for speed, and a stint as a Himalayan mountain guide provided plenty enough adventure. Today Miguel focuses on the Concept Racer store in Tecamachalco, which he runs with ex-enduro racer Sydney Lewis.…

Heavenly Hardtail: Factory Metal Works BSA A65


Classic hardtails aren’t our regular fare, but we can’t resist the subtle beauty of a Factory Metal Works build. Three years, shop boss Lucas Joyner blew our socks off with an amazing Triumph built for Mooneyes. And now he’s back with a beautiful BSA A65, its lovely engine cradled in a hand-fabricated dual-downtube frame. Joyner is a metalworker extraordinaire, but his path to the motorcycle business has been somewhat unusual. He’s been a heavy metal promoter in LA, a recording studio owner and a NASCAR chassis builder. Thankfully he’s now found his true love, and it’s of the two-wheeled kind. The frame is the showpiece of this perky, chunky-tired build. It’s not stretched, but it’s got a 25-degree rake and a 1.5-inch drop, plus slightly shortened sliders to level out the stance.…

The Auto Fabrica Type 6: Reduced to perfection


In Japan, there is a design theory called Kanso (簡素)—meaning simplicity, or the elimination of clutter. And every time I see an Auto Fabrica bike, I’m reminded of that fine principle. The machines that roll out of the English workshop are reduced to the bare minimum, but beautifully finished. And this extraordinary build, called simply Type 6, is Auto Fabrica’s best work yet. Most shops have a bike that’s been kicking around since the beginnings of time, and that’s the story with this Yamaha. “It’s one of four XS650s we rescued from a farm in the depths of rural Cornwall,” says shop owner Bujar Muharremi. “A lucky find that effectively kickstarted our company.” We’ve come to expect stellar levels of craft and finish from Auto Fabrica, but the Type 6 adds impeccable industrial design to the mix.…


Factory Class: Renard Speed Shop’s SR400


Custom builders often strive for ‘that factory look’—bikes that are neat and cohesive enough to be mistaken for OEM machines. And when you’ve got an exquisite, limited edition production motorcycle to your name, ‘factory’ is second nature. Based in Estonia, Renard Speed Shop is the custom division of Renard Motorcycles—the outfit behind the mind-boggling Grand Tourer. So this barely broken-in Yamaha SR400 was in good hands when its owner delivered it to Renard Speed Shop. “The client was asking for a street tracker,” the guys tell us. “We wanted to make the bike look like it was a factory-built prototype. Like Yamaha were playing with the idea of building a bike to rival the Ducati Scrambler.” Since the SR400 was practically new, there was no need to fiddle with the engine or airbox.…


Lvpvs Alpha: A radical Moto Guzzi California


Over the past few years, the surge of interest in custom bikes has been fueled by a backlash against modern technology—whether it’s electronic ‘rider aids’ or acres of sharp-edged, plastic bodywork. So this new build from Officine RossoPuro is something of an oddity. The design is unapologetically advanced, and far removed from Officine’s usual fare of classy, classic roadsters. It’s positively space age in its use of materials too: the brake calipers are made from Incoloy 800, an incredibly tough nickel-chromium alloy used in nuclear reactors. Elsewhere, we have chromium-vanadium steel and titanium; the 7075 aluminum alloy used for the radical girder-type fork seems mundane by comparison. The project kicked off when Officine boss Filippo Barbacane partnered with the high-tech company Walter Tosto SpA—an Italian outfit that specializes in components for oil and gas plants.…


Extra Lean: Rough Crafts’ Harley XR 1200


Our favorite customs usually leave us scratching our heads: do we want to stare at them all day, or ride the pants off them? Winston Yeh has a knack for building such bikes. The latest offering from the Rough Crafts stable is no different. It’s called ‘Rusty Slider,’ and it’s a decidedly leaner take on the Harley XR 1200. In theory, the XR 1200 had everything going for it when it launched: notably a punchy motor and flat-track styling. Except it was a bit on the porky side, and the looks didn’t quite hit the mark. But that wasn’t a a problem for Winston, who’s whipped the XR into shape like few can. The idea started when two of Winston’s friends—the proprietors of Taki Design and Provider Production respectively—teamed up with Dickies on a project.…


Going With The Flow: Kawasaki W650 by Clutch


Before the ‘new’ Triumph Bonneville came along, there was the Kawasaki W650. And some would argue that it captured the spirit of the Meriden original even better than the later Hinckley-built Bonnie. Willie Knoll of Paris-based Clutch Custom Motorcycles is a fan. His Bonneville T100 from last year is one of our all-time favorites, so we were keen to see his version of “Big Green’s memory machine”—as Motorcycle Classics has called the W650. This latest Clutch build is based on a 2001-model Kawasaki W650. “The idea was to create a simple, classy and minimalistic motorcycle,” Willie tells us. “With a touch of drag bike styling, fine lines, and good detailing.” For Willie, visual ‘flow’ is critical to a good custom build, and he doesn’t disappoint.…


A Honda 650 for Africa: Ton-Up Garage’s Muxima


If current trends are anything to go by, Honda thumpers might soon surpass the mighty CB-series as the platform of choice for custom builders. And why not? They’re torquey, nimble and unbreakable—and in the right hands can both look good and be practical. Which is exactly why Portugal’s Ton-Up Garage picked one for their latest project. But rather than using the popular NX650 ‘Dominator’, they opted for a 2005 FMX650—a supermotard based on the same platform. Ton-Up’s client lives in the former Portugese colony of Angola, and needed something to tackle both city streets and backcountry dirt tracks. And he races enduro and supermotard, so the tall FMX was the perfect candidate. The project was named ‘Muxima’—Ton-Up’s Pedro Oliveira explains why: “It’s the name of a village in Angola, and it means ‘heart’ in Kimbundu.” “The goal was to build a bike that could reflect the spirit of the riding experience on the roads of Muxima, and especially towards Quiçama National Park.…

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