Ten Custom Builders
Bike Exif's Chris Hunter's list
We asked Chris Hunter, editor of the world’s largest custom moto website, to select his favourite builders from recent months. So here’s the hand-picked Bike EXIF x Influx Selection: the builders (and bikes) that are reshaping the new wave custom scene in 2015.
FRED ‘KRUGGER’ BERTRAND
BMW Motorrad gave the Belgian wizard a K1600 road sofa to customise, and he’s rewarded their faith with the extraordinary NURBS—named after a technique engineers use to replicate freeform surfaces in car design.
The only bits left from the stock K1600 are the really complicated ones: the engine and the seven separate computers that handle the electrical systems. Everything else is custom made, even the wheels.
Fred recently revealed the BMW to the masses at the AMD World Championships —the biggest custom building show of all. The judges were wowed too, and gave Fred the ultimate winner’s trophy. Bravo.
This is what happens when a Californian Ducatista strips his 749 to give it a thorough cleaning, and likes what he sees. Gustavo Penna is a cinematographer who shoots car commercials. When he caught a glimpse under the 749’s bodywork he decided to leave it off.
Penna has reworked the rear of the bike with a solo seat and minimalist subframe, retaining and modifying the stock tank and headlight unit. The engine was swapped out for a 749R mill—enhanced with a host of performance upgrades, including a titanium exhaust system that was designed with the help of a friend who works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Fuelled by Danish design sensibilities and with a knack for building raw and simple machines, the Wrenchmonkees have pioneered a unique style.
They’ve now taken a break from the Japanese middleweights, and applied that style to an early ’70s Laverda 750 SF1. Most of the work went into the suspension: the rear frame and swingarm have been modified to take a Yamaha YZF-R6 monoshock setup, and the forks have been dropped and fitted with Wirth progressive springs.
It’s an extremely elegant machine, thanks to the lines created by the hand-made tank and seat. Some will think it’s heresy, but we reckon this Laverda looks even better than the original.
Auto Fabrica are based in the unlikely location of Southend-On-Sea, Essex, the resort town sitting on the Thames estuary. Shop boss Bujar Muharremi and his crew have a passion for Yamaha SR250s, and this delightful little beast is their fourth build.
This one’s all about the stance. The forks are lowered, hooked up to a beefy twin leading-shoe hub, and the rear is raised via longer shocks. The aluminium tank was fabricated in-house, complete with scalloped knee indents.
It’s not all about the looks, though. The engine was dispatched to legendary tuner Bob Farnham for a full rebuild, and came back with a bigger bore and a gas flowed head. Yes, this custom has the go to match the show.
RONIN MOTOR WORKS
Colorado-based Magpul Industries make composite high-tech firearms. They’ve now set their sights on custom motorcycles, and the ‘47’ is the first release.
It’s based on the much-loved Buell 1125R superbike, and each build will be named after one of the 47 ninja warriors of Japanese folklore. Magpul know a little bit about explosives, so they’ve focused their attention on tuning and cooling the engine, which previously generated enough heat to boil the fuel in the frame.
There’s a high-flow, single-core radiator right up front, above a cast aluminium alloy linkage fork. The controls are billet jewellery, and the bike starts up via an RFID chip.
Tempted? Yours for US$38,000.
Here’s a Harley with a difference: a street tracker with a strong vintage vibe. And it’s packed with performance upgrades for a blisteringly fast ride.
Roland Sands is the man who can do no wrong in the custom scene, and can flit between styles and genres like no other. For this XL1200X Sporty, he’s added a carbon fibre intake kit, a sinuous exhaust system, and a Fuelpak control unit — which plugs into the ECU to ensure optimum fuelling and maximum power.
New fork internals and shocks keep the show on the road. But as you can see, this is a bike that likes to wheelie.
CAFÉ RACER DREAMS
Spain’s superstar builders keep hitting the ball right out of the park. But if we had to pick a favourite from their recent builds, it’d be this wild BMW R1200S.
We’re pretty sure this is the first time a major custom workshop has taken a grinder to BMW’s sport-tourer. Yet Pedro García and Efraon Triana have made it work.
There’s a definite apocalyptic look, with two lights up front and a military-style mesh covering the tank, hooked up to a painstakingly-welded exoskeleton. It’s a bike built for fast dirt roads, helped by adjustable Öhlins shocks front and rear and tough Metzeler Karoo tyres.
Yes, that Hans Muth. The man who rose to fame as BMW’s chief of styling, before jumping ship to Suzuki and leading the team that created the iconic Katana.
Muth is back in the game now, helping young Suzuki designer Daniel Händler to build a very tidy one-off Bandit 1250, nicknamed ‘FatMile’. Suzuki’s own parts bin has provided the GSX-R front end, but the forged alloy wheels are from PVM and the levers are from cult Swedish brand ISR.
There’s an ECU remap for extra power, a modified frame, and all-new bodywork. Proof that there’s life in the old dog yet—and that means Herr Muth himself, as well as the venerable Bandit.
EL SOLITARIO MC
From their workshop in Galicia, David Borras and crew build the world’s most controversial custom motorcycles. This Ducati 900SS is called ‘Pertardo’, meaning firecracker, and it’s an explosive celebration of mechanical complexity.
Borras doesn’t believe in hiding the paraphernalia of a bike. So all the ‘organs’ — like the switches, pumps, regulator and hoses—are on the outside. The panel of Stack gauges on the tank is reminiscent of a Group B rally car fascia.
There’s a 10-litre jerry can at the back for fuel, hooked up via an external pump and dry-break lines. The heavily modified frame is actually from a 600SS, with a blueprinted 900SS motor shoehorned in. The bodywork is hand-beaten alloy, contrasting with the black chrome and powder coat elsewhere.
There’s nothing else quite like it. That’s how El Solitario roll.
Japan has more top-flight custom builders per mile than any other country in the world. Some are well known in the West — like Brat Style and Hidemo—but the breakthrough shop this year has been Cherry’s Company.
Shop boss Kaichiro Kurosu has won the top trophy two years in a row at the Yokohama custom show. His track record caught the eye of BMW’s top brass when they were looking for builders to work on the new R nineT.
Kurosu didn’t disappoint: his ‘Highway Fighter’ has created a storm on the interwebs. Just look at that hand-beaten aluminium bodywork — it’s a styling tour de force, and could be straight off the set of a Dark Knight movie.
Chris Hunter is the publisher of Bike EXIF and editor of the book The Ride: New Custom Motorcycles And Their Builders.
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