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Winner Takes It All: Rod Motorcycles’ Bullet 500


David Zima isn’t a man to shy away from a challenge. When news of a custom build-off popped up in the Czech Republic, he didn’t really have time to build anything—or spare money for a donor. But he jumped in headfirst anyway. Build-off contests are everywhere these days, and this one was run by the Czech importer of Royal Enfield. But it had a catch—builders had to buy their own Enfield donor bike. Fortunately there was an attractive discount on offer, and as the prize, whoever won the contest would get their money back. “At the time, I was overwhelmed with work on other motorcycles,” David tells us, “and on constructing a new workshop. But the idea that shops from all over the Czech Republic could compete with a motorcycle modified from the same base suited me perfectly.”…

Danger Zone: Federal Moto’s Kawasaki GPz1100


The year is 1986, and Tom Cruise is playing Maverick in Top Gun—flying an F-14 Tomcat by day and tearing around on a Kawasaki GPZ900R by night. If you fell in love with that film and the bike ridden by its motorcycle-mad star, you’re not alone. “We all know that movie,” says Michael Muller of Federal Moto. “And we always knew that when Federal Moto built its first custom sportbike, we’d need the beefiest bad boy of the 80s: the GPz1100.” The GPz1100 was the older, bigger brother of the Ninja 900, and the Chicago shop managed to secure a 1984 model. “It came to us bone stock,” says Muller. “With 120 hp, 73 foot pounds of torque, and a top speed of 135 mph [217 kph].”…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 24 May, 2020


The Buell X1 gets its turn with the amazingly prolific builders at K-Speed. Plus an impossibly elegant CB550 from Kott Motorcycles, and a (barely) street legal Honda XR650R tracker. Honda CB550 by Dustin Kott This chic Honda cafe racer scores major points on both balance and subtlety. It’s the work of Dustin Kott, who’s been building Japanese cafe racers for longer than most—so he’s had plenty of time to hone his craft. And if you’ve followed Dustin’s career, you’ll spot a lot of his signature touches too. That’s because this 1978 CB550 comes with a unique backstory. The client had originally ordered a few Kott Motorcycles parts to build the bike himself, with the help of his father. A few months after the parts order went out, the entire bike showed up at the shop with everything fitted, and instructions for Dustin to “make sense of the build.”…

Gentleman’s Express: Revival’s ‘BMW R90Esq’ restomod


The custom scene is replete with R-series BMWs, but they still split opinion. Purists say they’re classics that should be kept original; others are happy to whip out a grinder and get to work. This tasteful BMW restomod from Revival Cycles should be enough to satisfy both camps. You’d be forgiven for thinking this airhead is the iconic R90S, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually a R90/6, the roadster cousin to the sportier S, given a hefty dose of S style. As BMW’s first ‘superbike,’ the R90S legacy includes an AMA Superbike Championship win under Reg Pridmore, and the introduction of BMW’s famous Daytona Orange livery. But this /6 is likely to turn even more heads on the street, because Revival have done an excellent job with it.…

Desert Fox: A Honda XR650 scrambler from Hungary


Way back in the day, scramblers were really just road bikes that were adapted slightly for desert use. And the same is true for the custom scene—when the scrambler style took off, builders were slapping knobby tires on everything from Honda CX500s to Kawasaki W650s. But a new trend has emerged in recent years; taking bonafide dirt bikes, and restyling them with throwback looks. And if you’re building one of those, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better donor than the Honda XR650L. The XR650 has remained relatively unchanged since it first broke cover in 1992 (and you can still buy a 2020 model in some countries). A close cousin to the XR650R that dominated the Baja 1000, but without the aluminum frame and with less power, it’s a robust, air-cooled thumper with unlimited potential for modification.…

Essence of a Motorcycle: Heiwa’s Suzuki ST250 scrambler


Kengo Kimura is one of the world’s most versatile bike builders. He can create high-end customs that win ‘Best In Show’ prizes at Mooneyes. He can also build wild concepts for the likes of BMW. And then he can take a humble commuter bike and make it look like a million dollars. This elegant little scrambler is based on Suzuki’s ST250, an anonymous but competent single launched in the mid 90s and sold around the world under several different names—including TU250 and Volty. In the US, the second generation TU250X has been a slow but steady seller for over a decade. The original bike had vaguely retro styling, but Kimura-san has amped it up to the max here.…

Missing Link: A Ducati Pantah built for a car designer


If there’s something missing from Ducati’s current lineup, it’s a modern cafe racer with strong ties to the past. Sure, there’s the oddly named Scrambler Cafe Racer—but that submodel doesn’t evoke as much nostalgia as a SportClassic or MH900e. What Ducati really needs is something in the same vein as this magnificent Ducati 600SL Pantah. Built by Ruamachines and based on a 1982 Ducati 600SL Pantah, it’s an effortlessly cool cafe racer with a better-than-factory vibe. Highlights include Italian colors, upgraded suspension, and a minimalist design that puts the unique frame and Desmodromic L-twin motor on full display. Ruamachines founders Armando Fontes and Victor Rocha are based in Esmoriz, just south of Porto on the Portuguese coast. They have very sharp eyes, but this project had to be even more clean and tasteful than usual: their client was an interior designer at a major Scandinavian carmaker.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 17 May, 2020


The almost forgotten BMW R1150R gets a makeover from the Austrian shop NCT. Plus news of a Ducati Scrambler design contest, and a bespoke luxury roadster from New Zealand. The Engrich motorcycle New Zealand has a long tradition of bike building and engineering ingenuity, with John Britten being the name that most remember. That tradition is alive and well, and this custom-built machine destined for small-run production is the latest example. The ‘Engrich ART’ motorcycle is powered a fully balanced, 1200cc 360° parallel twin. It’s the only engine of its type in the world, we’re told, and uses a ‘reciprocating tungsten balance system’. The project started 20 years ago, and after sustained engine and chassis development, the first complete motorcycle was built last year.…

Gixxer Fix: A GSX-R1100 with Ducati superbike suspension


Arno Overweel builds pretty wild custom motorcycles. He’s not afraid of bolting a turbo onto a Honda CBX1000, for example. But he usually reserves those neck-turners for his customers: his own daily runner is a bone stock and somewhat anonymous Suzuki TL1000. A few years ago, the Dutchman built an eye-catching custom for himself, but made the mistake of taking it to a show—and someone made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. So he figured it was time for another personal project. Arno had a specific idea: decades ago, he’d successfully mated a single-sided Honda VFR800 swing arm to a Suzuki GSX-R1100. Right now, he had the wheels and swingarm from a Ducati 1098 lying around in his Culemborg shop, and an itch to pull off a similar trick.…

Kumram: A custom Heritage Softail Classic from Bangkok


The Heritage Softail Classic is the kind of bike most non-riders think of when they hear ‘Harley’—oodles of chrome, saddlebags, riveted leather and massive fenders. At over 700 pounds wet, it’s designed for long distance touring—and it isn’t the sort of machine you expect to find in a teeming metropolis in tropical Southeast Asia. So when Bangkok native Tuey Chuenprapar got the keys to a 2008 Heritage, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. “I used to think it was a very ‘old’ looking bike,” he says. “Bangkok is among the world’s worst for traffic congestion—and compared to most motorcycles, the Softail is old-fashioned, big, and heavy. It would make it difficult to get around the city.” Tuey runs an advertising agency, so he grabbed his pencils and figured out how to make the Softail better.…

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