Motorcycles The Best Custom Motorcycles On Bike EXIF – Part TwoThe custom motorcycles that showcase what Bike EXIF is all about.
- Words Chris Hunter
There are over 3,000 stories on Bike EXIF’s website, with new posts added daily, and digging through the archives is as entertaining as it is eye-opening. When Bike EXIF launched, the modern custom motorcycling world looked nothing like it does today, and typically the first featured builds were simplistic and cringingly unattractive when compared with the outrageously reimagined and impressively detailed machines of today. Still, we wouldn’t be here without those earliest efforts that helped inspire a new generation of builders, and a few of those bikes turned out to be groundbreaking, timeless motorcycles that we never stopped fawning over. In this story, we pull some of our favorite customs from the past decade of Bike EXIF and present them in chronological order, with commentary from founder Chris Hunter and the site’s readers.
Reduced to the bare minimum and beautifully finished, the Yamaha XS650-based Type 6 showed us the talent on tap at Auto Fabrica. Shop owner Bujar Muharremi says, “We strived to achieve a bike which was executed perfectly and epitomizes what we see as a ‘real’ custom motorcycle: simplicity in form, complexity in detail.” Cleanliness comes from the tank and seat base, a single elegant unit formed from 2.5-millimeter aluminum. The headstock was lowered two inches and moved backward to create a strong top line that flows from the headlight to the rear cowl, complemented by a flowing, handmade, asymmetrical stainless steel exhaust with internal baffles.
Hunter says, “Let’s face it: The Harley-Davidson Street 750 was a dud. Kudos to Kurosu-san and his crew for creating magic out of such inauspicious beginnings.”
“If it’s not Bike of the Year, I can’t wait to see what beats it. I might be biased because I’ve got a ’73 and ’81 XS650. But, neither look like this. Those exhausts are just awesome, right up there with a Vincent set.”—Thomas Gorsuch
When this ’96 Honda XR650L debuted on EXIF, it came with a savagely witty introduction written by its builder, John Ryland, who said the bike is “a huge balloon-tired middle finger to the crowd who think we exist to build bikes that will knock the chips off their shoulders.” Ryland preempted the moto trolls and let them know that the insanely huge knobby tires “that probably aren’t even street legal” are, indeed, street legal and that the massive, jack-shafted swingarm “that probably doesn’t work as well as the original” does, indeed, work as well as the original. In closing, he said, “Blasting around the city, roosting through the dunes, cruising at freeway speeds, slinging gravel and dirt and snow — it kind of does it all.”
“The comments section of Bike EXIF can be a tough room, much to the irritation of some builders,” Hunter says, “But I always thought it was wrong that Classified Moto builder John Ryland caught more than his fair share of flack, so I was pleased to see him raise a big middle finger to the armchair quarterbacks.”
“If I were Mr. Ryland, I would christen this bike Troll Baiter. Motorcycles should be fun, and this bike oozes fun. Obviously, the big tires dominate the theme, but the details really make the bike.” – Rex
The nose fairing is loosely modeled on the R nineT’s namesake, the iconic R90S, and it’s home to a Rough Crafts headlight, with a perforated section on the right aiding airflow to the oil cooler. Perched on an abbreviated subframe is a solo seat that nods to the rubber BMW seats of the ’50s, though this one is wrapped in leather, and Rough Crafts created bespoke wheels based on traditional BMW “snowflake” rims. The black base of the bodywork has been treated to a carbon fiber texture, with extra layers of black candy laid on top, and the bike is finished with a traditional BMW double pinstripe, done in silver leaf.
“I think of Rough Crafts’ Winston Yeh as the moto equivalent of artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.” Hunter says, “He develops a concept, figures out a road map to the end result, and cherry-picks the best craftsmen to execute his vision. He’s never built a bike I didn’t like, but this R nineT is my favorite.”
“As a once, long-term 90S owner, I think this is gorgeous.
It embodies and improves upon the spirit of the 90S, and you wouldn’t want to stop riding it.” – David Gibson
Belgium’s Fred “Krugger” Bertrand turned this humble air-cooled single into a compact, supercharged café racer, a tribute to another very skilled Belgian bike builder, MotoGP mechanic Bernard Ansiau. The bike draws inspiration from the aesthetics and racing spirit of the ’70s. The SR400’s tank is stock but has been narrowed and stretched, and its stock fuel injection is replaced by a 48-millimeter carburetor from S&S Cycles and a hand-made intake that is designed to run with either an open velocity stack or an air filter. The tiny Aisin 300 supercharger comes from the automotive world and is finished with a custom plenum chamber and a belt-drive setup for the compressor.
“It’s hard to get excited by a custom SR400 these days,” says Hunter, “Haven’t the Japanese already done everything possible to this humblest of air-cooled singles? Evidently not. Motorsport-mad Fred bolted on a supercharger and blew us all away.”
“I’m so often disappointed by the efforts of ‘top builders.’ But this is from another world. Utterly beautiful and I simply can’t fault it in any way. Well, other than I just went and checked in my garage and it wasn’t there.” – Peter_981