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French Bob: A dose of vintage flair for the Triumph Bobber


The success of the Triumph Bobber has not gone unnoticed by the more savvy custom shops. It’s the fastest-selling motorcycle in the history of the British brand, but unfortunately it’s tricky to customize—because Triumph largely ‘got it right’ at the design stage. The French outfit BAAK has just finished this 2020-spec Bonneville Bobber 1200, and it looks superb. But there’s a bigger story than just the bike. The Lyon-based workshop will open new premises in the USA next year, and this Bobber is also a platform for their rapidly expanding parts catalog. BAAK’s Triumph cleverly takes aspects of the factory design and amps them up further, adding a vintage vibe along the way. Their goal was to make the Triumph Bobber feel ‘more authentic,’ while adding a little of their own DNA.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 7 June, 2020


A crisp Honda V30 Magna tracker, a swooping Norton/Vincent hybrid, a Ducati Hailwood replica up for auction, and a very sharp Ducati ST4S cafe racer. We’d happily put any of these into our garage. Norvin by Stile Italiano We’ve all seen plenty of lust-worthy Tritons; Triumph motors stuffed into Norton frames. The crew at Stile Italiano has built six, plus four ‘Hartons.’ But now they’ve really gone overboard, with this stunning Norvin. You’re looking at a Norton featherbed frame, equipped with one of the most desirable engines ever made—a Vincent. The crew started by sourcing an original ‘wideline’ featherbed frame. They obviously had to mod it to hold the Vincent motor, but they also cut out the bottom and rebuilt it, so that the motor (and center of gravity) would sit lower.…

Czech Mate: A Minarelli 50 GP with a curious past


Nothing arouses curiosity quite like a rare racing machine. Bonus points if it’s so vintage and obscure, you need to turn to specialist internet forums to pinpoint its origins. Which is exactly what Cole Mahlowitz, the owner of this beautifully restored 1970s 50 cc Grand Prix racer, had to do. When Mahlowitz bought the bike, it was listed as a 1975-model ‘Czech’ Minarelli 50 GP—a 50 cc two-stroke racer with a six-speed box, and a claimed output of 16 hp at 14,500 rpm. But when the bike arrived, he had to dig deeper. Because although the motor was undoubtedly a Minarelli unit, it strangely had ‘ČZ’ stamped in several places. The now-defunct Czech manufacturer ČZ never built a 50 cc GP racer, so Mahlowitz took to the internet to figure it out.…

Unkonventionell: Eastern Spirit Garage’s BMW R80


Eastern Spirit Garage is probably Poland’s premier custom workshop. But they focus on quality over quantity, with fewer than a dozen builds over the last seven years. Shop boss Sylwester has picked up the pace a little recently, though. Three months ago he revealed an amazing XS650 bobber, and he’s now just thrown the wraps off this most unconventional BMW R80. It’s not your typical R-series custom, and despite the sleek finish and perfect stance, Sylwester admits that it was a struggle. “This was by far the hardest project I have ever undertaken,” he tells us. And that wasn’t just down to the huge amount of work involved in the build— Sylwester was beset with personal relationship issues too, which almost derailed the project.…

Nemesis: A Sol Invictus scrambler Built to tackle Tasmania


Factory-made modern classics are everywhere these days, but they’re usually premium motorcycles at the upper end of the engine size scale. If you’re looking for a low budget, small capacity bike with retro style, your options are fewer. Unless you live in Australia. Down under, you can get a Sol Invictus Nemesis 400 Scrambler for AU$5,999—less than half the price of a Triumph Street Twin. Granted, it’s a far more basic bike: an air-cooled, carbureted single that makes an honest 27 hp and is made by Shineray in China. It’s essentially a copy of the Honda CB400SS … but it’s also a looker, and a great candidate for customization. Tom Gilroy at Purpose Built Moto recently ended up with a Nemesis 400 on his bench.…

Dr. Skin: An S&S bobber built for a dermatologist


Like many accomplished customizers, Martin Becker has lived an eventful life. For almost twenty years he’s been building bikes in the beautiful ancient city of Heidelberg—and petrol has been coursing through his veins since he got his first moped at the age of 13. At 16, he started an apprenticeship as a motorbike mechanic, but his love affair with two wheels was interrupted by travels through India, Burma, Nepal and Thailand. Martin rode through south India for weeks on a rented 500cc Bullet. On a trip to Rajasthan, he met some locals with custom Royal Enfields, and his custom building journey began. He bought two Bullets, rebuilt them, and sent them to Germany. By 2007 he’d caught the eye of the influential German magazine Custombike and these days he focuses on V-twins, mostly with old rigid frames.…

Custom Bikes Of The Week: 31 May, 2020


A sleek and sophisticated Thruxton from Massachusetts, a tiny BMW balance bike from the Netherlands, a rare Royal Enfield Interceptor up for auction, and a bizarre folding WW2 ‘parascooter’ from Excelsior—Britain’s first motorcycle company. BMW K75 balance bike by Roel van Heur A while ago, Roel helped a friend to build a custom K75. Then Roel heard that his mate was expecting a baby—so he decided to build the kid a balance bike, inspired by his dad’s custom. The Dutch designer started by sketching out the pint-sized two-wheeler in SolidWorks, then bought a pile of stainless steel tubing to build it up. The frame and forks were bent, cut, welded and hand-brushed at home. The fork ‘boots’ are 3D printed plastic items, but they’re just for show, since the forks are rigid.…

Taste of Tsukuba: A classic Suzuki GS1200SS race bike


If you like to play Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, you’ll know the Tsukuba circuit. It’s hugely popular with the street tuner guys, who use it for ‘time attack’ sprints—and it’s also home to some of Japan’s biggest motorcycle races, second only to the Suzuka 8 Hours. In May and November every year, the circuit hosts the famous ‘Taste of Tsukuba’ races. These are open to classic race bikes, and the array of the machinery lined up on the grid is mouthwatering. And when racing restarts in Japan later this year, one of the bikes on the grid will be this freshly built Suzuki GS1200SS. It’ll be piloted by American Jason Fullington, an old friend of Bike EXIF since the days when he worked at ICON Motosports in Portland, Oregon.…

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].”…

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