You’ve fantasised about your better half being into bikes as much as you are. Don’t deny it. Riding together. Wrenching together. Cruising the classifieds together. For most of us, it’s nothing more than a loopy, ‘I’ve had three glasses from the top shelf’ dream. But for Boxer Metals’ Bec and Chris, it’s an everyday reality. And with 55 years’ experience with Beemers between them, it’s no idle romantic match either. Here’s their latest love child; a matt khaki ‘83 R80 urban scrambler made from a secret stash of bikes that’s as close to perfect as any BMW could be without causing a Munich conniption.
“We design and manufacture parts for all years and models of BMW motorcycles,” says Rebecca. “Parts as simple as a bracket to hold your phone charger to foot pegs, handlebar controls, seating & lighting. Chris’ 35 years of experience and my 20 years makes for a lot of knowledge. As well as working together, we live together, raise a family together and travel together. Everyday is exciting; we love what we do. With two creative minds constantly going seven days a week, it’s easy to think outside the boxer box.”
Over a one month period, they received multiple emails and text messages from local friends about a secret stash of BMW motorcycles and parts. Playing detective, they located the booty and its owner. In it was the motorbike they used for this very build, along with another complete BMW bike and a few truck loads of BMW parts and accessories from the early 1970s right up to some brand new R1150 and R1200 parts.
Simple pipes mean less weigh, more growl
“Our inspiration for this scrambler was the customer. He specifically wanted a ‘no chrome and green-tanked’ BMW he could ride anywhere. But the biggest challenge was that the customer is vertically challenged. He asked us, ‘Can you build me a motorbike that I can touch the ground on? Oh, and I want it to have a green tank.” Chris said yes, of course. Then his mind got going and he thought, “What if BMW had made a military-styled bike in the 1980’s? What would it look like?“
“The biggest challenge was that the customer is vertically challenged. He asked us, ‘Can you build me a motorbike that I can touch the ground on?’ ”
While making a few rough sketches, the bike was stripped down to the frame for powder coating and all hardware was flagged for replacement or replating. The engine was disassembled and key components like the pistons, valves, timing chain and clutch were checked and/or replaced, so that the customer would have a low to no maintenance schedule. “We sourced a BMW police bike tank from the mid ‘70s and instead of building our own rear end, we contacted Down & Out Motorcycles in the UK for one of their seat, frame, and fender combo kits which turned out to have an excellent fit and finish.”
“For the suspension, we rebuilt the front forks and added some short YSS shocks in the rear, allowing us to lower the bike almost 2 inches front and back. Next, we swapped the mag wheels for spokes mounted to 18 inch Borrani rims. In keeping with the simple build aesthetic, we kept the handlebar controls and switches as stock BMW items, as well as the headlight and the wiring harness. The only electrical accessories we have added are the Acewell 2853 dial and the Rizoma turn signals. Always thinking about weight, we designed an exhaust system with its own internal baffling and no heavy mufflers.” The two report that the bike has a very nice tone with plenty of back pressure… and it’s apparently a hoot to ride, too.
Urban hide and seek
“The hardest part of this build was hearing from the customer that he couldn’t pick up the scrambler for four months because their young daughter was ill and in need of special care. Having two kids of our own, it really hit home and our hearts. The bike was about 80% finished when we heard the news, so we took it apart again and added a few more things for his comfort and safety. This included a modern ignition system, all-new engine electrics and some new engine & transmission internals. We did this at no cost to the customer, because sometimes you need to go that extra mile.”
“We really like how clean and simple this scrambler is and the fact that we too are a little vertically challenged means we know first hand what a fun and manageable bike it is to ride. It is almost like being on a mini bike with a 800cc BMW motor. It feels like it could be ridden anywhere from city sidewalks to mountain tracks chasing your buddies on their DR250s, and all the time having a big smile on your face!”
Reviving clapped-out road bikes from sheds and garages is all fine and good, but spare a thought for the old racers of years gone by. More likely to end life upside down than right-side up – and probably on fire – it’s a tough gig to survive without some serious war wounds. So when Spain’s Macco Motors had a customer bring them not one but two BMW R100RS ex-racers, they feared the worst: for the bikes, their budget and their sanity. But what’s a few broke, manically babbling customisers when you have an end result like this, a cafe racer they call the ‘Great White’.
Richard Branson once said, “I have enjoyed life a lot more by saying ’yes’ than by saying ‘no’.” It is a pretty simplistic approach to surviving this mortal coil, but it sure is an interesting way of looking at things. Sadly, ‘no’ was exactly what Heiwa’s Kengo Kimura said when a customer first suggested a scrambler build based on a brand new Honda-Powered Montesa 4RIDE. Like us, Kengo saw it as a rather esoteric bike that he liked, but one he’d never really considered as a custom base. Luckily, after repeated requests from the customer, Kengo finally came around and said ‘yes’. And boy, are we glad he did.
“We have customized old motorcycles for a very long time,” begins Kimura-san. “But recently, more and more people want to ride new bikes that have been customised to look like a classic.” Of course, rewind 20 years and Japanese shops were doing the exact same thing with SR Yamahas. Circle of life, and all that… “So we began making such a bike. I guess owners are looking for engines that are no trouble and bikes that are more comfortable rides.”
The new 2017 Montesa 4Ride was purchased by Kengo at his local Hiroshima dealership. Clearly it’s not a bike that’s breaking global sales records, so an introduction may be in order. After the dirt boom of the 60s and 70s, the trials and offroad-focused Montesa from Spain fell into the doldrums sometime in the early 80s. Enter Honda, who ended up buying the company outright a few years later. By 1994, a range of brand new Honda-powered models were introduced. Introduced in 2016, the very trials-looking Montesa 4Ride is the latest bike from that lineage. The power plant is a 250cc four-stroke, four valve Honda single. Needless to say, we now want one quite badly.
It’s more air than there
After many years of featuring Kengo’s bikes, we’ve come to learn that he’s a man of few words. And the whole lost in translation thing never helps, either. So with bated breath, we asked him about his inspiration. “My inspiration for this motorcycle? I wanted to make it into a vintage scrambler with a ‘flip up’ seat rail.” OK, then…
“So I refused the job at the very beginning. But the owner kept asking me…”
“The owner said that he wanted me to make a scrambler based on a Montesa, which is very rare in Japan,” continues Kengo. We’re here to tell you that it’s not exactly common outside of Japan, either. “At first, I thought it would be too expensive for the customer. And because it was a new bike and not an old one, I thought it would be too hard technically. So I refused the job at the very beginning. But the owner kept asking me, saying that he wanted to make a truly unique custom bike that had never been seen before, and after a while I decided to accept the challenge,” he says, smiling.
After stripping off the factory plastics, Kengo’s first port of call was to figure out his beloved seat rail. An entirely new item was fabbed up using steel pipe chosen to match the bike’s other delicate frame elements. Then came a tank cover designed to allow the original tank to stay in place while also adding the necessary visual weight to the build.
After making up a nifty little mount for the new Bates-style headlight, Kimura-san followed through with a bespoke exhaust, two new fenders and a whole bunch of painting and powder coating in a curiously minimal yet effective black and white colour scheme.
Handmade box houses the air cleaner
“Assembling the rear wheel was the biggest challenge,” he recalls. “It was a real pain to get it all properly balanced.” But the end result, after dressing it in a chunky Dunlop D803GP trials tire, was clearly worth all the faffing about. And that’s before we consider the drool-inducing Spanish Morad rims finished in a sleek satin black. Nice.
When prompted, Kengo was quick to nominate the new tank as his favourite part of the scrambler’s build. “For the fuel injection, there is a pump in the tank which makes replacing it very difficult. But because the normal tank is so small, I was able to make a cover to go over the original item.” In conjunction with the new seat, it manages to move the Montesa’s look away from its trials origins while still retaining a beautifully lightweight, minimal appearance. And with a sum total weight of around 80 kilos (175 pounds), that appearance is more than just skin deep. So I guess that’s a ‘yes’ from us, too.
When it comes to the Italian brand that is Moto Guzzi, it’s easy to argue that the qualities of individuality and uniqueness go hand in hand with the marque. So when Moto Guzzi America was searching for four builders to take part in their V9 Pro Build series, those two characteristics were essential. That and being a world-class craftsman. Enter the final piece to the puzzle – sculptor, winning rider and race team engineer Bruce McQuiston. Bruce is the visionary behind Moto Studio from Miami, Florida and given the keys to a brand new Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer, he’s handcrafted an Urban scrambler he calls the ‘Braapster’ to shred the streets of the Sunshine State.
Bruce’s resume is as impressive as the bikes he creates and gives an insight into how he goes about building the beautiful machines that come out of Moto Studio. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kutztown University, a race car driver and engineer and the winner of the first motorcycle race he ever entered, he has an affinity with the often hidden natural beauty of Florida that he incorporates into his award-winning art. With the V9 before him he makes the design process sound effortless, “It was only a matter of adapting some design concepts to the requirements of urban survival in a city where there is little regard for the motorcyclist.”
Looking at Moto Studio’s previous builds and the factory styling of the Guzzi V9 it would be easy to assume that Bruce might have gone in a different direction but he explains the rationale. “While Moto Studio has thrived on a lineage of cafe racer builds, the combination of less than stellar roads and far worse drivers has created a need for a bike that allows one to take interpretive paths, hence the V9 Braapster was born.” Starting with the Tonti inspired frame, it was modified and cut back to accept the changes to come, but first the stance had to be in order.
To allow the V9 scrambler to handle any and all conditions thrown at it the standard forks are ditched in favour of an upside down front end with a healthy 8″ of travel. But the real genius is at the other end, the rear suspension is based on the factory swing arm, re-engineered and fabricated to accommodate a mono shock setup, also with 8″. Bruce sourced a Sachs Formula Matrix 4 way damper initially designed for various formula and prototype race cars. With motion ratios, valving and spring rates formulated for its new task, the Braapster is ready for any over the curb mission required.
As you can imagine with a trained sculptor leading the crew the body work is all designed and fabricated in-house with an emphasis on both aesthetics and weight reduction. With the factory steel gone the replacements instantly shift the look from Sunday cruiser to serious Urban Scrambler. The tank’s broad shoulders quickly flow towards the centreline of the bike creating a dramatic piece that is softened by the use of matte black and yellow. The tail section gets the mix of form and function just right, while up front you get an all-encompassing guard that’ll catch anything thrown its way. Giving the rider a place to call home, the seat in black leather with metal accents is all business.
“The hand-built 2 into 1 exhaust system is a thing of beauty; you can almost picture the hot gas fleeing down the pipes with joy.”
The engine is unmistakable Moto Guzzi V-Twin, here with 853cc of air-cooled power with thumping torque across the rev range. But modern engines have become electronically very complex, the upsides are huge but so too the nightmares if things goes wrong. So to simplify things a set Dellorto PHF 36 carbs mounted on Moto Studios own intakes now fuel the fire. It gives the engine the sweet visual vibe of the marques creations from the ’70s complete with retro velocity stacks. While on the other side the hand-built 2 into 1 exhaust system is a thing of beauty; you can almost picture the hot gas fleeing down the pipes with joy.
There is a beauty to the sheer absence of clutter the sculptor has created that would instantly be lost with a messy modern wiring loom. So Bruce had a solution. “As with all previous Moto Studio builds, the use of Motogadget electronic components which are not only bullet proof, but are flexible in their capabilities and minimise the footprint of the wiring harness.” The lighting is kept simple too with an LED combo light at the rear and a flush mount headlight up front. But it’s the grilled out light that is the beginning of an array of bespoke machined parts that pepper the Guzzi.
That grille gives Braapster a distinct sense of purpose as it fires towards you lights ablaze in the warm Florida nights. The gas cap and mount give the tank a very race car inspired feel no doubt taken from Bruce’s past. The mounting plate providing a touch of quality automotive engineering while the caps detailed machining is flawless. A Moto Studio clamp secures the motocross styled Renthal bars which are dressed up with the best from Motogadget and Domino, high-end and no fuss!
Unlike the stocker there is no big chrome mirrors either, just a gorgeous Motogadget analogue tacho to tell the tale. Finally the wheels were wrapped up in Allstate Dirtman tyres and this Urban Scrambler was set for speed. “Clearly there is no one motorcycle for all rides, however the V9 Braapster will provide solid entertainment for most rides thrown at it.” Explains Bruce. Moto Studio has delivered a truly unique take on Moto Guzzi’s V9, replete with the workshop’s signature good looks for all occasions.
As cool as it is to see a build that screams ‘custom,’ there’s something to be said for a project that looks like it rolled off a factory floor. Some of us want to keep our frames standard, some of us want to be able to find replacement parts and some of us want to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and piles. Thankfully there are builders like New York’s Venier Motorcycles, who have taken a different angle with their ‘Tractor 05’ – a sweet little 2015 Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler designed to look like it rolled off the factory floor.
Now before everyone gets their knickers in a knot we know Moto Guzzi have tried doing the scrambler thing before. In 2015 Mandello del Lario released a confused-looking ‘Stornello’ scrambler model to mild applause. Designed as a limited edition it also held limited appeal, with a bland looking paint scheme and underwhelming, circuitous exhaust system.
Cool grey. Cool bike
So while BMW and Triumph have continued to make factory Scramblers, Moto Guzzi have thrust their hands into their pockets and wandered away from the off-road scene. Which is a shame, as the Guzzi’s produced today are sweet little things and a bucket of fun to ride around. But what if they were to release one again? Venier Motorcycles decided to tackle the concept of a small block scrambler with a whole lot more subtlety and eye for design than the team at Guzzi were able to muster.
‘The build is my take on what a Moto Guzzi Scrambler should be,’ head of Venier Motorcycles, Stefano Venier, says. ‘That’s why I didn’t modify the frame and it’s still a comfortable two-seater. This is something that could be built at the Moto Guzzi factory’. Hint hint?
“The build is my take on what a Moto Guzzi Scrambler should be.” – Stefano Venier
So firstly working from hand drawn sketches, then in Photoshop, Stefano began planning the build. The first and most obvious alteration was the aluminium body work. Starting with cardboard mockups and then onto sculpted foam, the tank was designed and beaten into shape by Stefano. Elongated and reshaped, the new tank changes the lines of the bike dramatically.
Branded and personalised speedo
Behind that, an entirely new tail section was crafted, with the Italian leather seat holding a recessed LED tail light. Up front the Guzzi now runs a 4” headlight with custom brackets and black aluminium handlebars and new grips while a GPS Customs speedo takes the place of the bulkier stock unit. Keeping everything thrumming along is an exhaust system manufactured by Mass Moto in Sicily.
All that work has the Tractor 5 looking like one of the best Guzzi’s Guzzi never built. It’s carefully considered, well designed, beautifully finished and looks like it rolled off the factory floor. ‘We designed the bike more than we “built” it,’ Stefan hastens to add. It’s a tough mix getting the custom and factory blend just right but he’s made it work beautifully.
Over the coming months there will be more motorcycles coming from the team at Venier – they’re currently working on a few more Moto Guzzis, a couple of Ducatis and even a BMW. So keep your eyes peeled on their website. Hell, while you’re there take a look at their own line of apparel, with some sweet looking shirts and a gorgeous leather jacket available to tide you over until their next custom bike gets wheeled out into the world.
Ducati’s mid-noughties SportClassic, designed by Pierre Terblanche and based on the ludicrously beautiful Ducati MH900e, remains one of our all-time favourite factory creations. There’s only a handful of affordable bikes that you’d kick yourself for not buying, but the SportClassic is definitely one of them. With their prices barely dipping below showroom values since their release, it’s probably fair to say that they’re well on their way to becoming a classic in more than just name. But fear not, as Miami shop Cohn Racers has a solution – your own sport Ducaticafe racer made from the much more reasonably priced and infinitely more customisable Monster S2R.
Hot on the rubber heels of their recent Muscle R Harley XR1200X, son JR and father John are clearly not resting on their laurels. “This is a cafe’d 2008 Ducati S2R,” begins JR. It’s a limited run series of 10 bikes which we call the ‘Agile’ cafe. This is bike number three in the series. It has been the most in-demand bike we’ve ever built and we are edging closer to reaching our goal of building ten bespoke examples by 2019.”
“Most of these bikes have been seriously abused and neglected, so finding good donor bikes is a difficult task. We searched nationally for many weeks and after looking at several bikes we ended up finding a really clean one that had been very well taken care of by a gentleman near Orlando. He even had a very nice S4R but unfortunately it was not for sale. Our next Ducati will be based of an S4R for sure.”
There were many media sources saying that the Ducati Monster was an instant ‘classic’ when it came out, so the irony of it sitting alongside the SportClassic in the showroom is rich. Never the ones to avoid shaking things up, the boys consciously avoided a warm-over and went hard. “Clearly we were inspired by the whole cafe racer genre, but we set our sights on doing something we really hadn’t seen done before with a Monster.” Early in the design process, it was decided that both JR And John really wanted wire wheels. “They are rare to see on the Ducati single sided swing arms, but the really gives the bike that vintage cafe racer feel.”
Classic up close, too
“You can convert it from a solo seat cafe to a biposto. It’s great if you want to earn some family points and take your better half out for a spin.”
Cohn always start with clean, low mileage bikes as their first port of call. “Next we strip and cut the factory frame and weld our own subframe. Then we design a new seat pan and upholster it with genuine Alcantara courtesy of our friends at Relicate Leather. We replace the plastic Ducati tank with a proper sheet metal unit and make the new rear tail section and the front fender both in sheet metal.” JR says that it takes about 30 hours to hammer out and smooth the curves on just the tail section alone. “The neat thing about this tail section is that it is removable; in a matter of seconds you can convert it from a solo seat cafe to a biposto. It’s great if you want to earn some family points and take your better half out for a spin.”
“The bikes also get a full front end conversion using Ohlins forks and Brembo brakes with 320mm rotors. For this we use a custom machined triple tree with custom clutch and stainless brake lines. The new custom wire wheels are ordered four months in advance from Borrani in Italy.” As with their Harley the engine is mostly stock, but there has been some solid tuning undertaken for better engine response and smoothness. “We also customize and coat the exhaust. Tuning the electricals saw us custom modify most of the stock harness and use our custom-faced speedo, LED turners and a brake light that’s integrated into the license plate frame.”
“Ducati’s have a bad reputation for being highly strung and hard to work on, so we were not optimistic. We had a hell of a time figuring out the electronics on it and this was probably the hardest part. Getting rid of the immobilizer, accommodating the new speedo and relocating the battery was quite the task. Figuring out the removable tail section took a lot of trial and error too, but we think it came out really nice and practical.”
Smooth as an oiled boob
JR and John are quick to name the bike’s new-found nimbleness as their favourite trait. “We removed a lot of weight from the Ducati and it shows. It feels incredibly light. It cuts through corners nicely. It stops on a dime and if you aren’t careful it can bite when coming out of the corners with too much aggression. We like that, though. The bike also looks like a million bucks; sleek and slim but with a mean stance. Some think it’s a naked superbike but then realize the tail section is deliberately there to look the ‘cafe’ part. All in all, it’s a very tricky little bike that has us feeling very proud and happy.”
In the 1950’s people had a glassy-eyed vision of the coming millennium. They imagined a jumpsuit-clad future propelled by sleek, metallic, rocket-shaped cars and bikes to zoom around in. But now we’re here now, and somehow we ended up with the Ford Taurus and the Yamaha TDM. It’s not fair. But Singapore’s Bandit9 aim to change that with their latest build, the Honda-based L•Concept, a motorcycle that blends retro futurism with incredible design engineering.
The L•Concept is the next logical step for Bandit9, who have produced some of the most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, genre-bending bikes that we’ve featured here on Pipeburn. If you’ve missed their prior work they’re so named because they produce a limited run of nine motorcycles of each of their designs. Their output is exclusive and always different. And the L•Concept is no exception.
‘It’s loosely based around a 1967 Honda SuperSport,’ founder and head designer Daryl Villanueva says, ‘Now it’s a 2067 Supersport’. The L•Concept is a tribute to Daryl and his team’s love of sci-fi films and books. ‘It wasn’t about building something futuristic or creating the next thing,’ he says, ‘It was about bringing to life something you’d only see in the pages of comics or in an episode of Star Trek.’
But that look doesn’t come easily. The initial design of the L•Concept actually began two years ago, with Daryl penning the outline and realising that their skillset wasn’t strong enough to make it a reality. But years later and with a score of divergent builds behind them the team is ready to tackle this astonishing stainless steel beauty.
“Just about everything is hand-built and all of it purposeful, with an incredible eye for detail”
Just about everything you see is built from scratch. That’s the stainless steel unibody tank and seat, the teardrop saddle, the insane handlebars made to look like the controls on a speeder, the grips and levers and switches. Just about everything is hand-built and all of it purposeful, with an incredible eye for detail and emphasis on restrained minimalism – with Bandit9 less has always been much, much more.
I’ve giv’n her all she’s got captain!
And nothing has been done the easy way. The engine cover, reminiscent of a USS Enterprise reactor, is suspended below the frame. ‘There’s a lot going on underneath that we had to make room for,’ Daryl explains, ‘Everything has to fit correctly so it looks purposeful.’ The exhaust itself takes over 60 hours to make. ‘It was tough to manage the shape and the angle to perfectly underneath the cover,’ Daryl explains, ‘It looks like nothing but that alone is a nightmare to make.’
While it’s easy to get bewildered by the overall shape of the L•Concept it’s worth taking a moment to look at some of the finer details. The twin flat shock rear suspension keeps things neat while the rear integrated tail light is reminiscent of HAL and the LED array at the front end is nothing short of beautiful.
Daryl deliberately tries to avoid picking a genre for any of his builds. ‘I tell my guys to resist the urge to categorize. It pigeonholes our thinking,’ he says. ‘There are enough constraints in the technology, engineering, physics, even in the financing of building the actual bike that the end result will always be “just an attempt” at the ultimate idea rather than a full manifestation of it. We just try to do our best close that gap and make it as exciting as possible.’
We’re not the only ones who are enamoured with Bandit9’s work. They’ve delivered pieces to the Barber Museum in Alabama and have a few of their works appearing at the Petersen Automotive museum in Los Angeles. In the last few months the team have sent a number of bikes to individuals and collectors in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the United states. ‘The guys that acquire our motorcycles are just was whacky as I am,’ Daryl says, ‘And I thought was alone’.
I’m afraid I can’t do that, Daryl
If you want to be part of the select, eccentric crowd that covet the motorcycles Bandit9 produce – get in quick. Five of the nine Hondas have already been ordered.
For all the new kids on the block that come charging into the custom bike scene with guns blazing there are still the old hands who have seen the trends come and go. One such man is Italy’s Filippo Barbacane who since 1993 has been applying his skills to motorcycles and in the process built perhaps the world’s greatest catalogue of customised Moto Guzzi masterpieces. The head honcho of Officine Rossopuro was looking for a way to commemorate ten years since he built ‘80’, one of his most popular bikes, and decided to pay it tribute by setting a challenge. Take a brand new Moto GuzziV9 Bobber and create a crazy cool street machine called ‘VIX‘ (or ‘V9’ in Roman numerals) that maintains the bikes strict Euro 4 compliance.
That wasn’t the only test for Filippo who prefers a starting platform from more simple times, “I do not use a lot of new bikes because they have too many electronics and I don’t really like modern electronics, but I wanted to try to make a special based on the new Guzzi, because Moto Guzzi also chose a style that was a bit custom for these latest motorcycles, but I think also the potential to make a very different bike is there.” In the search to create his own take on the new V9 one thing he refused to sacrifice was the absolute road legality of the bike and its compliance to Euro 4 standards.
Whereas most of his builds involve taking a grinder to the stock frame, fitting up a raucous exhaust and showing scant regard for the feelings of the authorities this would be a somewhat more sensible build. The philosophy is sound as most consumers who shell out for brand new bikes don’t fancy too much the idea of them being cut up nor voiding the warranty, let alone suffer the endless harassment of the police. But from the beautiful town of Pescara where he operates, Filippo knew despite the limitations he could still make one hell of a bike, most of all one that was truly fun to ride. “I just wanted to undress the motorcycle of everything and make it more sporty and light.”
Like all bikes that roll out of Officine Rossopuro the body work is incredible, the master metal worker always finding a way to beautifully compliment the lines of a Guzzi. But to set himself yet another challenge Filippo wanted to make the tank and panels out of both steel and aluminium in what he calls a ‘hybrid body’. The gorgeous tank combines the two with the lines contoured to pick up some of the styling cues of the stock V9 while still being 100% original. The speedo is flawlessly integrated, slightly raised to make viewing a breeze for the rider.
‘Frenched’ brake lights look superb
The pop-up filler cap is flush mounted to leave a smooth surface to run your hands over, while Filippo’s now famous knee dents are back with a special design just for the V9. The aluminium panelling not only has the shop logo applied but with completely hidden bolts they appear to hover magically over the tank. The Guzzi’s side panels are a mix of raw and painted alloy with the design a cleaner version of the stock part, while the aluminium front fender and neat cowl are also left in their natural state.
The rear tail and fender piece is simply a work of art, reverting back to steel for its construction it is a perfect combination of form and function. The design is substantial enough to act as a proper rear guard, while the seat latch locking mechanism is placed directly inline with the filler for that detailed touch. But the pièce de résistance is the way the frenched in tail lights are all but invisible from side on and only reveal themselves as you move to the rear of the bike. To compliment the raw metal and black, the red for VIX comes from close to Filippo’s heart, “the colour used is similar to that of my old bike made 10 years ago, 80. I really love this memory!”
“The rear tail and fender piece is simply a work of art. It is a perfect combination of form and function.”
The all new Guzzi comes with an unusual tyre combination for a modern road bike with beefy rubber at both ends. Filippo has deliberately designed the body work to visually minimise the look of the front tyre while showing off the big rear end. But to get the stance just so he threw away the factory shocks and replaced them with a set of longer premium Bitubo items, with almost unlimited adjustment. Up front the fork gaiters give the long factory stanchions a shorter look and VIX takes on a much more balanced stance. That is only further improved by the flatter than factory bars now in black with machined alloy ends.
Speedo relocated to tank top
Of course even on a more sedate build, no bike leaves Officine Rossopuro without getting a few more ponies and an all new soundtrack. So based on Filippo’s own design and fabricated by Mass Moto, the new exhaust not only achieves both but has been homologated to fully comply with Euro 4 regulations. So too the small smoked out indicators at all four corners, so try as they might even the most overzealous law enforcement officer won’t be able to book you for the modifications on this Abruzzo beast. Fancy the reliability of an all new bike, with flawless customisation and full road legality? Then call Officine Rossopuro because this Guzzi is now looking for a new owner, all you have to do is get in touch, slap down your money and get your kicks.
“It’s hard to say what style the bike is. Maybe a reverse restomod?” It’s a seemingly innocuous statement, but New Zealand’s Mike Dobson and his Two Cats Garage instantly had us hooked. Most of us will know what a restomod is, but a reverse restomod? Well, it’s taking a modern bike with all the bells and whistles and customising it to give it more of a classic look. Sound interesting? Well whatever the terminology, Mike, along with his mate Ken at Better Boxer Co. have just joined forces to take a nondescript ’93 BMW R100R forward to the past.
Wellington’s Better Boxer Co. (a.k.a Ken Howe) has owned, ridden, repaired and modified BMW boxer motorcycles for himself and others for the past decade. And after studying product design, he’s now produced a range of BMW boxer aftermarket parts, too. Friend Michael Dobson has been a BMW motorcycle mechanic since 1978. He has spannered on several race bikes, built a few specials and now works from home in Raumati Beach, just north of Ken.
The bike was picked up new from the Berlin BMW factory, a popular method of delivery that allowed antipodean customers a European moto holiday along with the (now defunct) ability to import their brand new bikes back into the country as second-hand vehicles, avoiding certain taxes. This particular bike ended up in the North New Zealand town of Martinborough for a very quiet life of pottering around the region’s vineyards. 60,000 kilometres and 24-odd-years later, Ken and Mike took possession. Enter keen motorcyclist and restaurateur Jeff Kennedy…
Crosswinds won’t be a problem, then
“The build was always guided by Jeff’s vision,” says Mike in opening. “He knew he wanted a bike that was an homage to the 1950’s, but had modern features such as disc brakes and electric start. He also wanted to make a feature of the entire BMW powertrain from front cover to final drive.”
“A Kawasaki 250 Eliminator tank was chosen. And while it might seem like an odd choice, there’s no denying how well it works.”
“After removing what we didn’t need, all we had to do was vapour blast the engine, set the lines and reassemble. How hard could it be?“ We detect a touch of modesty. “There were some obvious features that were compulsory; the black bodywork with the double white pinstripe, a smaller headlight, bigger mudguards and the hidden battery.” Looking for a tank that brought the whole bike together, a Kawasaki 250 Eliminator unit was chosen. And while it might seem like an odd choice at first, there’s no denying how well it works.
Jeff was involved along the way, mainly as a sounding board for the boys to bounce question off. “There were many nights of us asking, ‘Jeff, where do you want the guard cut? and, ‘Jeff, which tail light do you prefer?’ and, ‘Jeff, black brake lines or silver?‘ ”
“It was quite an easy build; there was nothing that was really difficult,” says Mike. “Jeff wanted some Continental TKC80 tyres, which meant that we had to fit a 19″ front wheel, which was no real problem. The two rear mudguards needed welding together to get what we wanted and the Kawasaki tank needed a few small mods, but nothing too hard. As always, hiding the electrics can be challenging but by now we know a few tricks.”
Looking at the details, there’s also an original BMWspeedo in a water-jet-cut custom mount, Hagon rear shocks, a Lucas red beehive glass brake light with a replica BMW housing, Tarozzi pillion pegs, Motogadget m.blaze pin indicators, and a beautifully chosen Triumph tank rack. Damon at local shop Cycleworks fabbed up the exhaust and steady handed Kurt from Kurt Goodin Artworks did the pinstriping. And of course, there’s a bunch of Better Boxer Co. bits on their, too.
“It rides really well and feels lighter and lower,” Mike says, clearly happy with all his hard work. “It also gets a lot of positive attention. All three of us like the way the entire powertrain looks like a complete unit. It is all there on a standard BMW, but hidden. Creating space and adding daylight has exposed it quite nicely and the Better Boxer Co. ‘Fastback’ starter cover gives a very clean line to the top of the engine. Most of all we like the fact that Jeff is really happy with it. Job done.”
When you’re one of France’s oldest original-owner Harley-Davidson dealers and the company announces a custom competition entitled ‘Battle of the Kings,’ you better not take your entry lightly. With 30 years of history and a dealership smack bang in the middle of the nation’s capital, ATS Harley-Davidson Paris ‘Bastille’ knew they had much to lose should they enter the competition and not come out rulers. Keeping a level head, they gathered together a team of experts that only 30 years of experience could offer and took a brand new Softail Street Bob on a tour back through history. The result is a race-tinged bobber that’s bound to take the 2018 custom competition by storm.
“The shop was founded in 1985 and was originally focused on vintage Harley’s under the name ‘Antique Trading Supply,’ says shop spokesperson, Richard Clairefond. We rebranded as ATS Harley-Davidson Paris Bastille in 1987 upon becoming an official dealer. We now hold the honor of being part of the original generation of official H-D dealers in France. This year, we’re celebrating our 30 year anniversary, making us the longest operating original owner dealer in the country.”
Clearly a mix of genres, Rich was hard-pressed to define the bike’s style. Then we twisted his arm. “I guess it’s a kind of flat tracking competition chopper,” he says. We’re not sure we’ve ever heard of such a thing, but seeing one in the flesh makes us want to immediately start a new racing series. “It’s based on a 2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Street Bob with the new ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ engine.” Delivered in factory-fresh condition off the back of a Harley truck, the new machine was stripped down within hours of its arrival. “The choice of the Street Bob as the base model for the build was in response to the general consensus of the shop’s staff. This was the one 2018 model everyone knew they could get behind.”
Everything new is old again
“We were inspired by the choppers of the 70’s and 80’s, but the choice of handlebars, tires and the racing tail were definitely touches taken from our love of flat tracking.”
With Harley-Davidson celebrating 115 years and ATS hitting the 30 year mark at the launch of the competition, it became obvious that this was a special occasion and a great opportunity to create an anniversary bike; one that transcends multiple styles and epochs, while symbolising the long-term collaboration between the two companies. So by mixing some old and new elements, “A Thirtieth Story” was a bike spawned by both its vintage roots and a bunch of cool new Harley technology. “Initially, we were also inspired by the choppers of the 70’s and 80’s, but the choice of handlebars, tires and racing tail were definitely touches taken from our love of flat tracking.”
Once the bobber’s base model had been chosen, the team used a virtual inspiration board that was added to by the entire staff to define the basic style of the build. “The winning design was based on general popularity and supporting presentations,” says Rich. “The build team was chosen by their interest for the defined project and involvement in the chosen style. Next we dialed in the basic lines of the bike via a Photochop, playing with colors, graphics and engine finishings.” At this point the build was started in earnest. Friend and master craftsman Didier was enlisted to help us form the Harley’s bespoke parts, including the rear fender, seat assembly and clutch cover.”
“As the bike came together, we continually looked at fine tuning the details with each member contributing new elements, including the vintage aircraft pilot seat references, frame covers, wheel discs and the engraved clutch cover with our 30th anniversary logo.” As you’d expect, there’s a decent amount of Harley (and non-Harley) aftermarket parts in there, too. Note the S&S air filter, Thunderbike turn signals and Emgo trumpet silencers. The leather was chosen from a local specialist who boasts having over 85,000 skins in stock. The yellow headlight lens was suggested to recall French national lighting standards during the 70’s and 80’s. The tank’s candy and flaked paint, including the oversized eagle feathers, was meant as a subtle wink of the eye to the brand itself.
The team notes that the project seemed to get easier as it went along. “Defining the initial concept of the bike, the build process and especially the form and structure of the rear fender and seat assembly was tough. But once these were established, everything else came together quite smoothly.” Of course, builders can always think of other details that could have been addressed, but the finished bike seems to be the perfect testimony to the company’s moto-esque savoir-faire.
Another Balmy February in Paris
“There’s many highlights from the project,” concludes Rich. “But seeing the reaction of our clients when they enter the showroom and hearing of their emotional connection to the bike is hard to beat. Other than that, it was a pleasure to work alongside Matthieu our Sales guy, our GM Richard and Technicians Redouane and Jean-Christophe. Each member brought with them ideas from their particular generation and culture; it was amazing to see them all coming together into a cohesive design that is getting such a positive response.” And should the mood take you, you can give the bobber a little helping hand by casting your vote on the Harley Battle of the Kings website here.
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