‘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.
Pipeburn’s 2014 Bike of the Year Award
Hot damn – where’d that year go? So with New Year’s so close you can almost smell the tequila, it’s time to look back at the past 12 months to see what rides really took our fancy. We’ve been doing a top 10 list for the past five years, and for the past two years we have been giving out the very shiny, very weighty Pipeburn trophy you see above to whoever takes the No.1 spot. In an art form with a distinct lack of real-world recognition, we like to think of it as our way of rewarding all the builder's blood, sweat and tears. So we've gone back over every bike from this year to count your comments, tally Facebook likes and scientifically measure ‘woah’ to come up with our top 10 bikes for 2014. Enjoy.
‘07 Triumph Bonneville – Macco Motors
Where'd that year go? Suddenly ‘tis the season to be jolly and we're on our last bike of the year. Damn. So, what better way to say ‘season's greetings’ than with the latest build from Spain's Macco Motors? Forget your three wise men; we've got a much more efficient package. They're called Jose and Tito and here's their latest miraculous build - a heavenly Triumph called ‘Bonebreaker’.
‘79 Kawasaki KZ650 – Alex Veaone
Estonia. No, we didn't know where it was either. As luck has it, the country is essentially Finland's southern cousin which should help you figure out how the hell you'd ride there if the mood ever took you. And if, once you arrived, you were looking for one of Estonia's coolest builders to hang out with, best grab a ticket and fly straight back to the good ol' US of A, because we're here to tell you that Estonia's finest is coming at you straight out of downtown Philly, Pennsylvania, and his name is Alex Veaone.
‘72 BMW R75/5 – Tattoo Custom Motorcycles
We are happy to introduce a new writer at the 'House of Burning Pipes'. Marlon Slack is our latest recruit and we're happy to have him on board for the ride. Tattoo Custom Motorcycles have taken this 1972 R75/5 – a traditional, commuter-style bike – and turned it into a neat scrambler with a few particularly nice, subtle touches. There’s quite a few boxer engine custom bikes kicking around these days, but it wasn’t always the case. Eight years ago I sat in the café attached to Deus Ex Machina and between bites of breakfast and the occasional superior scowl I tried to throw at the Deus clientele, the side doors opened and a mechanic wheeled in a BMW R65, propping it up in a window display that overlooks the cafe. Behind me an older guy looked up at the motorcycle with a scowl. ‘Please,’ he groaned, ‘we’re trying to eat.’
2003 Harley Sportster – Mandrill Garage
China is a funny country in a not so funny way. While most countries generally think motorcycles are a viable way to cut traffic congestion and reduce pollution in cities, the Chinese are going the other way. They have started to ban motorcycles in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai (plus another 200 cities across the country). These strict laws by the government are having a huge impact on bike manufacturers like Harley-Davidson who thought the new found wealth of the Chinese would make it an easy market to increase their sales. How wrong they were. There are however a number of small custom shops who are defying logic and opening custom garages because it’s what they love doing. One of these is a freshly opened shop called Mandrill in Beijing. Mandrill is the love child of Lin and a few of his like minded friends, who are determined to keep the motorcycle culture alive and have a place that bike enthusiasts can hang out. Their first build is this compact Harley Sportster café racer which has been built over the last couple of years and given the name ‘Red-Eye Bitch’ because of the many late nights it took to build her in their spare time – they all still have day jobs to pay the bills.
‘81 Yamaha XV750 – DS Design
It's difficult not to love Yamaha's timeless XV750. It's a bike that was intended as a cheeky Japanese tilt at America's star-spangled Harley market, but now-a-days it can take on pretty much any custom role assigned to it with mucho aplomb. Café racer? Bobber? Tracker? The bike's been there and done that. And add that to the fact that the bike used an engine-as-stressed-member design, a rear mono shock and adjustable pneumatic suspension and you have a bike that was light years ahead of it's competition. Speaking of which, it's time to meet the builder of this rather charming ride. Introducing New Zealand's David Sinfield and his very clean DS Design ‘81 XV.
BMW R100 by Nozem Amsterdam
Written by Martin Hodgson. At first glance this is a café racer based on a BMW boxer obviously built by a talented team. But as you take it all in you realise it’s builds like this that finally and empathetically make the statement that the elite of custom bike building is no longer exclusively a V-Twin domain. It’s no surprise then to see big names like Roland Sands and Marcus Walz turn their hands to Metric bikes. But this is what Lorenzo, Delano and Daniel from Nozem Amsterdam do, take metric, often unconventional bikes and turn them into elite custom creations.
Ducati 900SS – Moto Studio
In the Nineties Ducati brought back the Super Sport SS range that had been such a success for the marque in the seventies with the now enormously popular classics the 750ss and 900ss. But while there was nothing particular wrong with the 1990’s version the Monster and top of the line superbikes were dominating Ducati’s sale, perhaps if they’d built their SS like Moto Studio built “Racer 5” sales success would never have been a problem.