We don’t usually talk about new or concept motorcycles on this site, but this thing is all kinds of rad. The Husqvarna Moab concept bike - just revealed at EICMA show. IIt’s a concept bike, so who knows if they’ll ever make it, but damn she is a looker. I want one.Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (3)
I did a shoot with Nardi’s Triton about 800 years ago and I’m just getting around to processing the photos. Most of them are being saved to be published in a printed mag, but here’s a little taste.September 16th, 2011 by grail21 in Spotlight, Home Built Motorcycles, Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (4)
The last bike I’m considering on my short list of what will be my next daily drive is the modern Triumph Bonneville (or T100, which is essentially the same bike). I’ve owned one of the Hinckley Trumps before (an ’03 America) and the motors are rock solid and no nonsense. Plenty of power, very little maintenance and you can beat on them all day and they’ll keep coming back for more. The Bonneville is a simple looking, classic motorcycle design and looks great right out of the gate. There is something to be said about that’s not trying too hard to have some ultra cool design styling, it just is what it is – a good looking standard motorcycle. No fluff, no bullshit – just two wheels and go. I love the look of an inline twin, and throw the right pipes on there and it will sound more menacing and raw than just about any other motor. Take a wrench and some creativity to them and in short order you’ve got something that looks anything but standard. Great bikes, great platform. Here are some of my favorite (fairly stockfish) modern Triumphs.
OK, so that last one is not really stock-ish, but I wouldn’t call it a wild custom either. Damn good looking bike that can do some serious off-roading as well. (read more here)February 14th, 2011 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (2)
In sharp contrast to FXRs I talked about in the last post about my new daily rider search, the 80’s super bike style is a complete 180 in design, style and personality. Originally I was focused on the Kawasaki Z1s, KZ900s and KZ1000s but in my obsessive googling I’ve found a few other models to lump into the general search, which is why I’m categorizing them all as superbike styled. That said, any conversation needs to start with the Z1 as it really the fuse that ignited the style of the late 70s – early 80s superbikes. The exciting thing about the Z1 (specifically the Z1-R) is that it’s damn gorgeous straight off the floor of the factory. Squared off tank, bikini fairing, strong lines and a hint of café racer inspiration all make for what I think is a beautiful stock bike. A few mild tweaks /modifications and she’s an absolutely stunner. Many will be more enamored by the insane amount of power it has – which is why this bike still has the reputation it does; but for me it’s all about the looks. The KZs retained a similar style, and certainly didn’t relent in the power department, so I’ll lump them all together.
All that said; I’d rarely tap into the scary fast power cradled into the 4-cylinder beast. Bombing through traffic at 140mph for extended periods of time is just not my riding style. Sure, I’d grab a fist full of throttle and ring her out from time to time – what self-respecting moto-nerd could resist that – but I’m not planning on challenging Rossi anytime soon, so most of it would go unused (or get me into trouble with my already increasing insurance premiums). I’m looking for solid all-around performance and out of the factory good looks – or at least an easy to modify platform that can be made to look good without extensive modification. There are a lot of bikes from this era that can be made to that fit the bill, but two jump out at me, and they’re both from Honda.
(CB750’s from Wrench Monkees and a stock CB750)
You can’t have this conversation without talking about the CB750. Rock solid motor, readily available, tons of aftermarket parts and cheap to get into. You can easily find a running (but maybe not pretty) CB750s for under $1000, many times much less (there is so many of them out there that many old widows just want them out of their backyard). You can find close to pristine ones for $2-$3k. That said, the out of the showroom aesthetics need improvement for my tastes. This is fairly easy to achieve with so many aftermarket parts available – from fairings to seats to tanks – it’s not hard to completely change the look and style of the bike by simply swapping out a few bits. But some of my favorite CBs are the ones that look like they’ve gone through simple changes, but have actually been extensively modified to look right. Perfect examples of this are the bikes coming from the WrenchMonkees shop. Simple hooligan machines that look as though they’ve been stripped to the bone and tossed on the road to pound out miles. Look deeper and you’ll see that the devil is in the details and the modifications are much more than bolting on some bits and tossing away unnecessary components. While I fully embrace that kind of thinking, I’m not looking for another project. I’m looking for a buy it and ride it deal. A dependable daily, not another shop project. The CB750 is a strong contender but another Honda unexpectedly caught my eye….
That’s the Nighthawk CB700s (or SC depending on where you live). That’s right, a Nighthawk – a bike I usually associate with MSF Riding School and have never associated with “cool”. I’m sure I’ve seen one of these before, but just assumed they were customized CB750s – little did I know. Produced from 1984-86, 700cc (to avoid the Harley tax going on at the time), hydraulic lifters, 16” front wheel and the beautiful styling and bodywork straight from the factory. It reminds me of the ZRX1100, which is a damn good looking bike and even the Z1/KZ900 a little bit. They’re not as ubiquitous as the CB750 (having only been produced for a few years) although they’re still reasonably priced. Same bulletproof motor design as the CB750 with even less maintenance because of the hydraulic lifters. The shaft drive – while it requires less looking after - is not my preferred final drive (I’ll take a chain or belt thanks). But the beemer I sold had a shaft and it was smooth and didn’t bother me. Good looks, solid, proven motor, and reasonably priced – throw it on the short list.
There is always a give and take with any bike. Things you love, things you could do with out. In the case of all these models and the others that I didn’t mention but are similar (GS850 for example) having to deal with four carbs instead of one or two can be a major pain in the ass. The rasp of a 4 banger doesn’t have the grunt or thump of a 2 cylinder, but certainly it can be made to sound raw. And one thing that is neither here or there is the seating position. Compared to the FXR or my sporty, these bikes have a sitting position that is more on top of the bike (than “in” the bike) – which is similar to my BMW. That’s not a pro or a con, outside of the realm of wanting to try something different than what I had last.
So there you have it – option 2 on the short list for the next daily rider. Up next: the Hinckley Triumph.February 8th, 2011 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (4)
My first (but probably not my last) experiment with modern, technology laden (for me at least) motorbikes looks to be coming to an end. Last year I bought a 1999 BMW R1100R as a daily driver / commuter bike. Great bike, super well balanced, tons of power, great in the twisties and on the highway, but ultimately time to move on. Time to try out a new toy. With any luck, the Beemer will be transferring ownership this weekend and I will be on the hunt for a new daily while I continue to work on the Sporty and the Savage (oh yeah that! Pretty much forgot about it didn’t you? So did I… kinda). The requirements are similar – reliable, ready to go (i.e. no work needed to get on the road), sub-$5000 price (around the $4k mark being closer to what I want to spend), fairly comfortable for long rides and no need for constant maintenance. I have a short list of bikes I’m considering – the first one being a 91-94 FXR. There’s been a lot of love for the FXR over the past 1-2 years and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the hype has intrigued me. Comfort, reliability, balance, power, fun factor, cost – all those things have been talked about endlessly with reference to the venerable FXR. They look fairly decent in stock form, and some minor aesthetic tweaks can make them look even better. There are plenty of great examples of heavy customization that can make them look out of this world, but going down that road is not something I’m considering for the time being. I’m looking for something to snatch up and crank miles on. So in the extensive googling and right clicking that ensues when the promise of a new scoot looms in the future, here are some of the my favorite (fairly stock) FXR examples that have tickled my fancy.
Next up in the search for the new daily: the Kawasaki Z1 / KZ900 / KZ750Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (5)
Lock Baker of Eastern Fabrications is one of the most forward thinking builders out there today. Not the only one of course, but one of the few who that pushing the boundaries. Part sculptor, part mechanical mad scientist, all artist. Full disclosure - I have the benefit of knowing Lock personally (he’s been a great supporter of the greasebag) and aside the fact that I think he’s a great dude, it’s his approach to bike building and overall creativity that get me stoked on what he’s doing. I don’t get a chubby for every bike he’s built, but I can appreciate them all from a fabrication and engineering point. I’ve loved watching him grow and refine his skills and in my mind he’s built some of the most memorable bikes of the past few years. He’s always been a detail guy, and his attention to that has always shined when it comes to custom fabricated parts. But it’s the overall designs and the balance of his bikes that I think have really stepped up a notch. His bikes can be polarizing to many (a love ‘em or hate ‘em affair) but you can never question the creativity or quality of work. The scene needs more talented artists who are not happy coloring within the lines and churning out minor adaptations of things that have already been done before. It was true during the fat tire craze, and it’s just as true now with the popularity of choppers/bobbers/cafes/trackers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classic designs, but just because the classic designs are more aesthetically pleasing than the fat tire, chrome encrusted buffoonery craze doesn’t mean they’re doing anything new or pushing the envelop. We need guys who know how to push the envelope and have the design sense to do it well. Doing it well is key, because building a bike that looks like a bent over skeleton with a spiked spine for a gas tank and a giant skull for a head light is pushing it in the wrong direction.
Lock has a blog that I’ve been following as of late, I dig seeing his build and fabrication process – I think you will as well. Check it out here: http://lockthewelder.com/
You can also check out his regular website here: http://www.easternfabrications.com
And as a visual reminder, here are some of my favorite bikes that he’s built over the past couple years.Bitchin' Bikes | Comment (1)
Delicious engraving on a Acme Choppers built split rocker shovel.October 21st, 2010 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes, Moto Art & Pics | Comment (1)
Matt Davis. True Gentleman, gorgeous motorcycle. Photographs from a pitch black campground can be tough to capture. “I’m getting better!” Google it, it will bring the whole thing around full circle.September 28th, 2010 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes, Moto Art & Pics | No Comments
Man, these looks like so much fun. Yamaha’s RD350LC - a liquid cooled, 115 mph 2-stroke bottle of good times. I’d grab one of these and wouldn’t change a thing about it, just ring it out on the road while trying to keep my cheeks from hurting too much.September 7th, 2010 by grail21 in Vintage, Bitchin' Bikes | No Comments
Gifny at Hajarbroxx Motorcycles in Indonesia is straight up killing it with this flat track inspired 1976 CB100. Great lines, simple design with some beautiful details and killer pics.August 16th, 2010 by grail21 in Spotlight, Bitchin' Bikes | Comment (1)
Jeremy Cupp at LC Fabrications is continually building head turning, killer custom bikes and his latest creation continues the trend. Dubbed the “Chicken Salad” and built on the venerable Yamaha XS650 platform, the bike oozes cool with it’s simple lines, hand crafted parts and slickly engineered components. From the cantilevered seat suspension to the dirt track inspired front half, this bike has it going on. For a full tech sheet and more info, click the read more link below.
August 6th, 2010 by grail21 in Spotlight, Bitchin' Bikes | No Comments
Classic Bike Dossier on the Kawasaki Z1. Still looks sharp more than 30 years later. For my tastes, very few bikes are coming straight out of the factory looking this good.July 26th, 2010 by grail21 in Spotlight, Vintage, Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (3)
I don’t think I ever posted these shot’s of Nardi’s Triton. He keeps talking about changing a few things up, but she’s certainly a looker as she sits.June 5th, 2010 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes | Comment (1)
A production rigid frame for the Suzuki Savage? Who’da thunk it. Voodoo Vintage out of Austin, TX is putting these out and they look damn good. Little bit of gooseneck, clean lines and you can bolt up the majority of the stock bits to get it done (although I’d get rid of the stock tank in favor of a wassell or something similar). I dig it, check em out at http://www.voodoovintage.biz/May 31st, 2010 by grail21 in Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (5)
While I snooze on finishing up my Suzuki Savage chopper, Casey Stevenson has been busy putting together this beauty. Great design, clean execution and looks like a blast to ride. Here’s what Casey had to say about it:
I was in the market for a new motorcycle and wanted a lightweight thumper to get around the streets of L.A. I quickly discovered the lack of available options, so I started working on a new design. I was imagining a motorcycle with a Japanese engine and classic cafe styling, but more sleek and modern than the single cylinder customs based on old bikes that are popular at the moment.
I discovered my ultimate thumper cafe racer hidden inside a bike known as the Suzuki S40 (aka the Savage). They have been around for over 20 years and are still available brand new. The custom parts and accessories were designed to avoid any major modifications to the frame or engine, which allows anyone with basic tools to build their own bike from kit components. The end result is a machine that is simple, fun, and efficient.
Custom low profile tank with integrated keyswitch / indicator panel.
Fiberglass cafe racer seat. Seat mount isolates rider from frame to reduce vibration.
Rearsets with custom mounting bracket and hardware.
Custom fiberglass side covers.
Mini tachometer and speedometer with custom mounting brackets.
Custom battery box. Doubles as mounting point for electronic components.
Progressive rate rear shocks.
Super bright LED tail light includes running light, brake light, and blinkers in one unit.
Reverse cone muffler.
Foot-actuated decompression lever. Eliminates bulky stock decompression solenoid.
Gran Turismo style grips.
K&N air filter.
Check out more pics at Casey’s site: http://www.rycamotors.com/May 26th, 2010 by grail21 in Spotlight, Bitchin' Bikes | Comments (4)
I remember seeing this one a few months ago and having to wipe the drool off my chin - which is usually the case when Walt Siegl unveils a new bike. He is easily in my top 10 modern builders. Absolutely stunning work and a gorgeous machine. Check out his site if you haven’t already.Bitchin' Bikes | No Comments
Was digging through my email archives and found a whole bunch of reader submissions I hadn’t posted up. Still got a lot more to go through, but here’s the first batch. Jean-Christophe from France, bitchin’ Ironhead chop, dig the punk rock sticker paint job on the tank.Bitchin' Bikes | No Comments