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A Brough Superior SS100 surfaces in deepest Russia

05.03.2019

The rare and beautiful Brough Superior SS100 is one of the most famous motorcycles ever made. Originally marketed as the ‘Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles,’ each unit shipped with a guarantee that it was capable of 100 mph. The last place you’d expect to find a Brough Superior is in the heartland of Russia, over 2,500 miles from the Nottingham factory where it was built. But that’s where this stunning example lives: in the Motorworld by V. Sheyanov museum in the former ‘closed city’ of Samara. Despite the brutal environs—temperatures stay below freezing point for five months of the year—Motorworld is the largest private collection of vintage motorcycles in Russia. It’s been a long and strange journey for this SS100. It’s now in the care of museum founder Vyacheslav Sheyanov, who also owns a Brough Superior Austin Four, an SS80 and an 11-50, as well as this SS100.…

Jigsaw pieces together a Scrambler Ducati custom

04.03.2019

We reckon the Scrambler Ducati is one of the best-looking factory bikes around. And the healthy sales figures bear that out. That makes it slightly tricky to modify. But the Greek shop Jigsaw Customs has just done a sterling job with a major bodywork swap and a select few smart mechanical mods. Jigsaw is a family-run business just outside Athens, and part of a Yamaha dealership. But in the cooler winter months, they focus on restoring and customizing motorcycles. This commission came from the folks at the local Ducati distributor, who were impressed by the XSR700 tracker that Jigsaw created a couple of years ago for the Yamaha Yard Built program. Randy Mamola took it for a ride, and it headlined the Yamaha stand at EICMA.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 3 February, 2019

03.03.2019

We’re back with an extremely oddball selection: possibly the world’s ugliest MV Agusta, a Yamaha XSR700 homage to Claude Fior, a gorgeous Honda CB400 Super Four cafe racer and an absolutely monstrous BMW R1150R scrambler. Grab a coffee and let’s go. MV Agusta 750 Twin Turbo Prototype We associate MV Agusta with some of the most beautiful motorcycles ever made. The F4 is impossibly good looking, and even the entry-level Brutale draws a crowd. But it was not always that way. Corrado Agusta commissioned this prototype in the mid 70s from American Tommy Barber, apparently as a test bed for a forced-induction engine. On 105-octane fuel and with an unfeasibly high 12.5:1 compression ratio, output was quoted as 150 horsepower—and the top speed was reportedly 186 mph (300 km/h).…

Channeling Top Gun: A GPZ900 hot rod from Italy

01.03.2019

It’s been over thirty years since Tom Cruise blasted across the screen in an F14 Tomcat, in the cult classic, Top Gun. But who remembers the motorcycle he rode in the film? We do: it was a red and black Kawasaki GPZ900R. Photographer Paolo Sandolfini wasn’t even born when Top Gun came out, but he’s a nut for everything 80s. So when he got his hands on a GPZ900R, the pop culture reference was too hard to resist. Paolo bought the GPZ900R four years ago, after owning a GPZ750. Even though he had hated the 750, he somehow still wanted a GPZ. “I really wanted the Top Gun bike,” he explains, “because it looked really weird to me.” Top Gun isn’t the GPZ900R’s only claim to fame.…

Soichiro’s finest: the Honda RC30

28.02.2019

Motorcyclists are a well-read bunch. Despite the well-publicized travails of some mainstream magazine publishers, the niche market is booming. Every country with a reasonably large population seems to have an independent magazine devoted to custom or ‘alt.moto’ culture. The latest entrant to this pleasingly busy market is Retro-RR from England. It’s a high-quality quarterly with 132 pages, celebrating bikes that were ridden or raced in the 80s and 90s. We were so impressed with the launch edition, we asked if we could reproduce an abridged version of our favorite article—covering the mighty Honda RC30. Enjoy. In an age of prosperity, huge tobacco sponsorship and an impending inaugural World Superbike championship, building a winner was the only thing that mattered to the mighty Honda Racing Corporation.…

November Customs’ Ducati Scrambler 350 Restomod

27.02.2019

Most custom shops have a bike or two quietly lurking in the corner. They’re usually personal projects that only get attention during gaps between ‘real’ jobs. And that’s the story of this charming 1974 Ducati Scrambler 350. Paul and Linda—the husband and wife team at November Customs—first spotted the Ducati when a nearby shop imported it from Spain. They literally bought it as it was being off-loaded, with the intention of giving it a light sprucing. But once they had it road legal and registered in the UK, it got relegated to the corner. “It sat in the back of the shed for a couple of years waiting to be worked on,” says Paul. “Well—when I say shed, I mean the either the living room or the dining room as well as the shed.…

RC Dept’s Honda Dominator: Big style from a tiny country

26.02.2019

The modern custom scene has infiltrated the most distant corners of the world. This very slick custom Honda Dominator comes from the tiny European principality of Andorra—the 16th smallest country in the world. (At 181 square miles, it’s about an eighth of the size of Rhode Island.) Despite its compact dimensions, Andorra is now home its first fully-equipped custom workshop: RC Dept, run by Roberto Conde. And he’s not alone in his passion for bikes. “Andorra is full of motorcycle enthusiasts and collectors,” he reveals. “There are many big private collections—some exceeding 200 bikes. You can find amazing bikes from Vincent, Matchless and Norton. And Triumph prototypes, official MotoGP bikes from the 60s and 70s, vintage off-road racers and much more.” Roberto’s Dominator could hold its own against many of those bikes.…

The Best of the 2019 Mama Tried Motorcycle Show

24.02.2019

There are only four or five months of good riding weather in the American Midwest. The rest of the time, motorcyclists keep sane by wrenching. And nothing offers more inspiration than the annual Mama Tried motorcycle show in Milwaukee. The sixth edition of the show happened just last weekend, shortly after the polar vortex was done ravaging the region. Visitors huddled away from the snow inside the Eagles Club—a ballroom and live music venue with a pseudo-psychedelic interior. Inside, custom motorcycles of all shapes and sizes filled the upstairs ballroom, with various moto-centric vendors lining the many hallways. Mama Tried is an invitational, but there’s no set theme; we saw choppers, bobbers, flat trackers, land speeders, café racers and a number of undefinable oddities.…

A Ducati speedway motorcycle, imagined by Wreckless

22.02.2019

If race bikes are motorcycling in its purest form, speedway machines must be akin to holy water. They have no brakes, just one gear, and drink neat methanol. They’re also rather squashed-looking machines, with stubby hardtails and forks raked steeper than the most extreme sportbike. But this creation from England’s Wreckless Motorcycles is a thing of strange beauty. The unusual story starts with Wreckless founder Rick Geall, who has a passion for oddball two-wheelers and is probably the only man to ever customize an Aprilia Moto 6.5. In the 1970s, teenage Rick went to Denmark on holiday with his family. “I got hooked on speedway,” he reveals. “Riders like Ivan Mauger, Peter Collins and Denmark’s own Ole Olesen were dominating the sport, winning multiple world titles.” Fast forward forty years, and Rick finds himself in possession of a rather pretty 450cc Ducati single—the sought after Desmo version.…

Building a Street Bob custom using Harley’s rulebook

21.02.2019

More Harley-Davidsons go under the grinder than any other make of bike. But surprisingly, The Motor Co. seldom commissions customs from big-name builders. Instead, it has developed the annual Battle of the Kings contest—where dealers customize a bike within a very strict rule set. To get a taste of how hard that is, we flew to Milwaukee for the second Harley-sponsored ‘Brewtown Throwdown’ event. The Brewtown Throwdown is a build-off between teams, made up of people from different walks of life. Last year, our team was tasked with building a Sportster café racer. This time around, I was on a new team with a new donor: a fresh-out-the-crate Street Bob. We had to operate within the BoTK rulebook—which means a set budget, and a specific quota of H-D aftermarket parts.…

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