1974 Honda CB550 – Café Cycles
Written by Martin Hodgson. The CB550 was not a staple of the classic café scene back in the halcyon days but if they built them like Café Cycles that might have all changed. With the Café Racer culture booming again it’s easy for the new generation to forget its simple roots. Most of the world’s biggest custom builders and even manufacturers have turned out big dollar Café bikes, but in a small workshop in Rhode Island a lover of British bikes and a master of hand formed aluminium parts, Pete Chase is proving the old simple ways still work. In fact he likes British bikes so much he barely cuts them up, preparing to turn out perfect custom Hondas with a British flavour!
1988 Yamaha SR400 by Salty Speed Co.
Words by Ian Lee. When it comes to building a bike, an open brief is always a good brief. It's nice to know someone puts their faith into the fact you will get it right. This is exactly what happened with the latest build to roll out of the Salty Speed Co's workshop. Starting with a 1988 Yamaha SR400 with only 6500kms on the clock, the whole bike has been stripped back and reworked, giving a fresh new look to this bulletproof thumper. Utilising the classic single for the build, Matt from Salty Speed Co decided the engine needed no work, and to focus on improving the aesthetics of the machine. The first aspect that needed to be touched up was the stance.
Harley-Davidson Street 750 – Kustom Kommune
Words by Martin Hodgson. When you’re thrown the keys of a brand new Harley-Davidson Street 750 and asked to build the first custom example in Australia the pressure to deliver is on. But with the first “small” capacity HD in a generation up on the bench the team at Kustom Kommune have knocked this one out of the park and delivered a perfect homage to the mighty XR750 tracker legend. The brainchild of Kommune Racer Jimmy Goode the Street 750 is a perfect example of just how to make a new bike look old again while still maintaining all of the 21st century improvements, it’s no easy task. Need some extra pressure? There was just five weeks to build the bike and the Kommune boys had yet to even lay their eyes on a Street 750, but working between 8pm-2am three nights a week they brought this one home first past the post.
Written by Marlon Slack. Incredibly, in stock trim the Suzuki TL1000R is as ugly as it is torquey. With its rounded, fat fairing and ungainly looking seat, in the bike symbolizes much of what was wrong with the late 90s – along with Balkan ethnic cleansing, mass flooding deaths in China and the rise of ska music. Nick O’Kane – powersports sales manager at K&N air filters - saw the potential hidden underneath all the bulbous plastic of a 2002 model TL and put together this gorgeous custom that looks great, handles beautifully and has the powerplant to match.
Honda CB750 ‘Mr Hyde’ by Classified Moto
Words by Martin Hodgson. Custom motorcycles often leave an audience profoundly polarised, while some lavish praise others ridicule and scoff. It seems the further from sedate you go the more divided the opinion, but designers like Terblanche and Tamburini have shown that is not always true and great custom builders can do the same. Create amazing one off motorcycles that receive almost universal acclaim, are anything but bland and always show off that signature style that lets you know the brains behind the build. Enter John Ryland, Classified Moto and a Honda CB750 known as Mr Hyde. I always eagerly anticipate a new build from the Richmond, Virginia based workshop and this 1992 Honda CB750 Nighthawk certainly doesn’t disappoint. Customer Jordan had seen a pre-Nighthawk CB750 build of Classifieds called the SuperStrada and wanted something in the same vein. The first thing that hits you in the eyes is the single sided swingarm and this is certainly no bolt on conversion. While the Ducati Multistrada swingarm remains stock the Honda frame required considerable fabrication and welding expertise from Seth and Danik to get the two working in harmony. The Showa shock originally fitted to the Ducati remains in place while just like SuperStrada the rear wheel is from a Ducati 1098.
‘97 Harley XL1200C – Quentin Vaulet
It's been four months an a brand new wall calendar since the last AMD World Championships in Cologne, and yet we're still turning up some genuinely great bikes that were previously hidden deep within the winning ranks. Here's one from Belgium that's been handcrafted in a basement by a Mr. Quentin Vaulet, or as he likes to call his nocturnal garage adventures, “Charging Lion”. “It's a personal project (and a pretext) for which I completely surrender myself to the creation of motorcycle”. Fitting then that this, his latest bike, is called “The Thief”; by the looks of it, she owes Quentin more that a few hours. Much more.
Long-term review: ICON 1000 Elsinore Boots
Review by Marlon Slack. Of all the items of motorcycle apparel available, I find it hardest to get excited about boots. Jackets? Easy. Gloves? There’s a dozen pairs I want at the moment. There’s even a good variety of Kevlar jeans that don’t look like they’re designed for my Gran. But protective motorcycle boots usually look like a cyborg’s leg sprouting tumours – with lurid bits of plastic and obnoxious logos hanging off at all angles. And for a long time boots like these were the only real option if you wanted to protect your feet and ankles. But then there’s the Icon Elsinore 1000. Modelled after motocross boots of the 1970’s, the Elsinore 1000 tries to combine traditional styling with modern safety features. I think they look fantastic, but if you think that they look like ridiculous steampunk accessories there’s no helping you – you’re probably not the target market for the Elsinore’s anyway. But if you like the look of them, you should seriously consider buying a pair. Here’s why.
Honda CB550K ‘Logan’ by KickMoto
Words by Marlon Slack. I admire the Canadians. They’re a resilient, resourceful people with a long and proud reputation of overcoming adversity. Whether it be thriving in the barren wilderness of the North, co-existing with man-eating bears or having to live alongside French Canadians, they always seem to make the best of the difficult circumstances the Gods have dealt them. KickMoto in Halifax, Nova Scotia continue this long trend of Canuck determination by producing this tidy little café racer. It’s their first commissioned build and if the quality of this 1978 Honda CB550K is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be their last.
‘Elegant Bastard’ by Smokin’ Motorcycles
Written by Martin Hodgson. In the crowded world of the custom motorcycle scene new builders can easily be lost in the mix of high end builds and the well-established big names of the industry. So when Smokin’ Motorcycles of Rotterdam completed their third build and first to be revealed to the public they knew to make their mark they had to go all out. Enter build #003 Elegant Bastard; A BMW R nine T, with CAD designed parts, CNC machining, hand formed aluminium and leather from an African Antelope. It’s just the kind of splash that levels plenty of ripples and still scores a perfect 10!
‘72 CB350 Honda – Chappell Customs
Copper is a deceptively difficult colour to pull off on a custom bike. For all the wins we've spotted over the years, we also see a hell of a lot of gaudy, steam punk train wrecks that succeed in being beautiful the same way an unwashed, Victorian-era guttersnipe succeeds in being British royalty. But prepare yourself for a masterclass in metal patina. Using the transparent powder coating, Chappell Customs have managed to make a finished product that takes the look to another level. Queen Vic herself would be proud.