If you walked into a moto shop in Virginia, USA and ordered a “Moxie & Brawn”, John Ryland, a wizard of mixology, would be the guy to shake it, strain it and slide it down the bar into your waiting hand. Not that he's a bartender; instead, Ryland mixes up his top-shelf ingredients into some of the best custom bikes on the scene today.
His latest release, an ‘89 Virago XV1100, is a show stopper; I can say this confidently because I was in NYC a few weeks back and watched people literally stop in their tracks and spill their drink upon seeing it. (John graciously offered to get us multiple refills.)
Built for Jack Harden who was looking for something solid and comfortable with enough power to merge without reservations, the XV1100 delivers on all counts. It mixes a dramatic low-slung profile with characteristically clean, brawny and rugged good looks. In person, the bike has a confident, bold presence while maintaining a feel of open accessibility. I swear it asked me if I wanted to ride on more than one occasion. Could have been the drinks...
John concedes, “The bike is all around civilized although it does look like it might bite you.”
Sliding into the saddle, you’re immediately taken by the aggressive, yet very comfortable stance the rider assumes positioned behind the tank; it feels like you’re “in” the bike rather than on it. Well proportioned, surprisingly light and seething with raw power - just sitting on it is a major tease and leaves you wanting more. An empty tank for display purposes was the only thing keeping me from firing it up and having Ryland chase me down the streets of New York City.
Engineering at this level is bound to have it’s share of occasional snags - like when, after they swapped out the front forks, they dropped it off the jack and the front tire sat firmly on the exhaust. That meant using a shorter tire and have a custom upper triple clamp CNC machined at Maxum Machine.
Says John, “It let us raise the ride height in front enough to avoid interference. It was one of those ‘live and learn’ things. Works great now and I love the way the upper clamp angles down. Almost as if we planned it.” Happy accidents are cool.
It’s impossible to look at any of Ryland’s creations and not notice the hallmarks of a Classified Moto bike. Like the perforated steel mesh he uses on the side panels and tail piece. It balances a beast like this, keeping things light and airy. And you've gotta love the tool kit compartment under the tank (which doubles as a handy place to store a hot dog jokes Ryland). The strip on the tail and tank were fabricated from truck bed-liner material and the foot pegs are crafted from transmission shafts. (He also makes those into really cool lamps by the way.) Come on now, where else do you see this kind of stuff?
So while we walked this swanky event in NYC's Soho and snapped a few shots, we leave the photographic glory to Mr. Adam Ewing - one cool chap who we tossed a few back with. After checking these shots out, make sure to check Adam out by visiting his new web site, Adam Ewing Photography.
John continues to demonstrate that being crafty, creative and all out cool keeps Classified Moto holding a top spot in the creative #garagebuilt customization scene.
In the end, we managed to spill our beers, yes, but on the hardwood floors and not on one of John's rides thank goodness.
So now we need a little help. This whole 'Moxie & Brawn' thing has kinda a cool ring to it. I wonder what drink we could invent to carry that name. Leave us your comments below and maybe we'll make it into a drink. Or a shirt. Or something.
Mike & Brett