‘66 Honda Chicara Nagata

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Think of the wildest inspiration you possibly can for a custom bike build. Go on – anything at all. Anything. An aircraft? Done. Hot rods? Done to death. Animals? Architecture? iPhones? Done, done and done. So what happens when you get Chicara Nagata, one of the world’s greatest custom bike builders, and give him an open brief to design a security camera? This happens. And no, we can’t quite believe it either…

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Here’s the man himself, Nagata-San. “Last year, there came to me a request from a security equipment manufacturer to create a surveillance camera for them. The president of the company wanted a security equipment such that has never been seen in the past and everything was for me to decide – from idea generation, designing, to working model manufacturing.”

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“The deadline had been set on the 3rd of March, prior to ‘Security Show’, which is Japan’s largest exhibition of security and safety equipment which took place this year at Tokyo Big Site from the 4th of March.”

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“As soon as I accepted the request, I tried to come up with any novel idea for a security camera, but in vain. My own image about ordinary security camera kept me from having bold and free imagination. Security cameras are usually installed in the ceiling or the walls and they are unrecognized by passengers.”

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“How about a security camera which can’t be ignored? I then tried to imagine the shape of a mounting bracket for the body of a camera. What kind of object; shape, color, the way to be installed do I really want?”

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“What nobody creates but me is the one which has tires and an engine! I would like it for real riding! The motorcycle security camera came into the world this way. I was very thrilled with this idea and the excitement made me create it original as a security camera and unique as a motorcycle.”

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“This work is suitable to be installed in museums, entry hall of a building, hotel lobby and stores, etc. Of course, this can run swiftly in town!”

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“I am really grateful that Mr. Kaku of Japan Security System Co., Ltd who gave me this really exciting opportunity.” And we’re grateful that we have bike builders like you, Nagata-San. Otsukare-sama deshita!

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[Spotted on Megadelux.com]


‘63 Honda C110 – Dauphine-Lamarck

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‘Jolie laide’ is a unique French expression that is often used to describe someone or something that is unconventionally attractive. The direct translation into English is ‘ugly beautiful’, but you’d be mistaken if you were to think that the phrase was a case of damning with faint praise. It’s been used in reference to some of the world’s most beautiful women, include Sofia Coppola and the remarkable Charlotte Gainsbourg. And today we’d like to use it in reference to something else rather remarkable. Meet the most ugly beautiful bike we think we’ve ever seen, Dauphine-Lamark’s unconventionally beautiful ‘69 Honda C110.

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“This is my new time machine,” say’s DL’s Philippe Ricaud. “It’s a 1963 C110 that eats 125s for breakfast. I brought this bike on the internet for $50. The engine was dead but the overall condition of the frame was rather good so I took her home.”

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“For this bike I wanted to create a simple, fuss-free racer. I also decided to create it with Honda NOS parts. I started with the engine and installed an S65 piston and a 16mm carburetor with nice, big jet. She goes all the way up to 60mph now, which is pretty exciting if you happen to be on board.”

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“Next I decided to reduce and reinforce the front forks, which really made the bike look more trimmed down and lean. I also reversed the handlebars, added some sporty Michelin tires, and topped it off with some cool Takegawa grips.”

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“Dauphine-Lamarck’s speciality is 60s, 70s and 80s Honda motorcycles; we aim to make our bikes accessible, especially for suburban Parisians, and therefore we often choose smaller Hondas. The Philosophy of DL is all about the passion for the history of objects, or the beauty of their past. What can we do with these beautiful old things? Honda have a lot of popular two-wheelers under 126cc with beautiful histories. And the best part is that people still appreciate them, in spite of modern influences.”

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“I think that the motorcycles we create correspond more to a way of life than to some specific genre or type. Hopefully that shows in this build. I hope your readers enjoy it.”

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[Photos by Ana Le Lardic]


‘70 Moto Guzzi V7 Special – Two Cats Garage

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You know what they say. “It’s the simple things in life that are often the best.” And nothing represents that more perfectly than today’s bike. It’s a beautifully simple, perfectly restrained Moto Guzzi from the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand. With not much more than a new seat and a perfect eye for clean lines, Michael Dobson from Raumati’s Two Cats Garage has help this rather maximal Italian beast shed more than a few pounds and become the svelte, beautiful bike she somehow always should have been.

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“It’s a 1970 Moto Guzzi V7 Special, which was also called and Ambassador in US,” notes Mike. It’s actually our second Pipeburn appearance – we were luck enough to be featured previously for our 1986 BMW R80RT we called ‘Bopper’. For this one Gary, the bike’s owner, came to us with the concept and we did the rest.”

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“Essentially, it’s a very simple update on a very bulky bike. Sure, it’s not radically and could easily be achieved at home… but that’s what we like about it. Half the work was already done by Moto Guzzi; it just goes to show that if you start with a good product you just have to reveal it. We were also amazed at just how much lighter the bike looks. Like chalk and cheese.”

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“The main parts of the build include new alloy guards, the removal of the side covers, a new gel battery which we installed lying down and some subtle pod air filters. The crash bars were removed, a set of lower handlebars were added and an LED tail light was attached. Oh, and a clean, single seat. Obviously.

Then there’s the 70′s Ural peaked headlight rim which gives that classic, forward attitude to the bike’s looks. The custom mufflers were made by Damon at Cycleworks. The battery’s leather belt picks up on leather seat and the gold tank pinstripe as well. Overall, the look is the proven formula of black and chrome. There’s a good reason why it’s classic – and that’s because it looks so damn good.”

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“And we should probably mention that the bike will be featured at Polished Rockers ride-in bike show at Tuatara Brewery on this coming Sunday, March 9th. Be sure and say ‘hi’ if you drop by.”

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[Photos by Ireen Demut]


Yamaha XS400 – Volure Cycles

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Written by Martin Hodgson

The phrase second time lucky tends to suggest that the first time around didn’t go as planned. For Sander Ziugov of Volure Cycles and his Yamaha XS400 all was looking perfect when he converted his stock red Yamaha into a stunning grey on black café racer. So good in fact it was featured right here on Pipeburn, until a misadventure saw the bike tumbling down the road.

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With the original forks now consigned to the scrap bin the decision was made to convert the bike to a USD setup. Aprilia RS125 forks were adapted to fit the bike using heavily modified triple clamps to work with the standard Yamaha frame. Turning duties were handed over to a set of custom clip-ons, while GSX-R switch blocks continue with the modern look of the front end. Ensuring continuity in the theme, bar end turn signals were fitted and replacing the now damaged gauges is an all-in-one instrument unit by KOSO mounted to a custom-made bracket.

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No modern front end is complete without a quality brake master cylinder and when only the best will do Sander chose Brembo. A radial design was fitted to send hydraulic pressure to the original caliper now relocated to the left side of the front wheel using a custom-made bracket crafted from 15mm aluminium. Rounding out the stunning front end Sander fitted a single dominator headlight and moved the ignition switch to the rear engine mount.

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With the Aprilia forks changing the stance of the bike Sander turned his attention to the rear end. To achieve the aggressive stance he was after new shock mounts were welded 60mm down the sub frame and YSS shocks with progressive rate springs fitted. Rather than cut off the now empty standard shock mounts they were repurposed and now house the rear turn signals.

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The striking difference from the first incarnation of this bike is the paint, gone is the classic grey with speed stripe and in its place distinctive red Yamaha “Speed Blocks” laid over a solid white. While many of the black detailing work remains the frame has been painted silver to further enhance the colour matched Yamaha respray. Staying true to the race theme undamaged GSX-R rearsets from the first build have been kept in place and a wire held fuel filler clip added.

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With 6 months additional labour now complete since the bike’s misadventure Sander’s decision to give the bike a facelift rather than simply rebuild it has been rewarded with an immaculate result and racer finish that Mr Speed Blocks himself, Kenny Roberts, would surely be proud!

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[Pictures by Kevin Amon]


Honda C70 – Minority Custom Motorcycles

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Written by Martin Hodgson

In the post World War II period there were two types of people who rode a motorbike in America, outlaws and the police. But all that would change in 1963 when armed with his small Super Cub model, Soichiro Honda launched his campaign to win over the masses. The 12 year blitz that included sponsoring the Academy Awards convinced the US and the World that motorcycles offered a lifestyle they could aspire to. 50 years on and the success of the marketing campaign is obvious. The Super Cub has surpassed 60 million units and made Honda the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. But never could Mr Honda have envisaged his little Super Cub being converted into an outlaw in such a way as Minority Custom’s “The Eyes”.

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Any less and it wouldn’t be there at all

Gone is the chain guard designed to keep oil off your freshly pressed suit, the upright handle bars and big comfy seat that took you to the office in luxury and just like it’s bigger rivals of the 60’s this little Cub is chopped down and bare boned. Starting with a 1980 Honda C70, Jonathan Evan from Minority Custom Surabaya, Indonesia set about creating a Cub with a “fierce and strong” road presence.

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Starting at the back of the bike a new hard tail rear section was fabricated and widened to allow the addition of a huge (by Cub standards) 130 rear tyre, giving the bike that classic Bobber look. The bench style seat was ditched in favour of a slimmed down bicycle unit and the fender deleted to remove more unnecessary weight. Complementing the rigid rear is a polished Springer front end with cut and reversed Honda Monkey bars for that ultra-minimalist look. The Step Through (or underbone) frame was smoothed and de-tabbed before being repainted and “The Eyes” graphics applied.

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To keep the period look the standard rims were ditched and re-laced using polished Yamaha DT Hubs, resulting in a 17″ front and 15″ rear. And nothing says Bobber like a suicide shifter. To give the Cub a little more pep, a larger custom carburetor was fitted and the exhaust is now a heat wrapped, straight through item ensuring “The Eyes” is both seen and heard.

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The eyes have it

It’s hard to know what Honda-San would make of this marrying of his little Cub with its outlaw rivals, prowling as it does down Indonesian roads. But in 2014’s custom culture this little C70 is Bad to the underbone.

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‘79 Honda CX500 – Kingston Customs

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Another month and another killer creation from Gelsenkirchen’s Dirk Oehler King and his merry band of men at Kingston Customs. As before, they’ve turned their nimble fingers to a Honda CX500 but this time they’ve taken it in a decidedly different direction. And that direction is mostly a hard left off the bitumen, onto the soft grass and up the nearest embankment. Introducing Kingston’s latest build – an amazing hybrid motorcycle they are calling the CXL500.

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Dirk filled us in thusly. “One day a friend came to the garage and brought a ’79 Honda CX500 with him. He asked me to see what I’d do with it. He didn’t want a Café Racer; he wanted a bike suitable for everyday life that he could also ride off-road. He wanted, he said, to ride it to the horse stable every day. Which gave me an idea…”

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“So I had the idea to build a mix between a street and an off-road bike. As Honda had built a CX500 and an XL500, it was obvious to us to build a Kingston Honda CXL500 Scrambler.”

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“The bike was stripped completely, the frame was glass bead blasted and modified, then painted. The engine was treated with a thermo-sensitive coating. It has an output of around 50 hp.”

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“We’re responsible for the bench seat, the battery box, the Aluminium fenders, the 2-into-1 exhaust manifold and the radiator grille & spoiler.”

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“We also added an exhaust pipe from Speed Products, footrests from a Yamaha XT600, a mini Cat’s Eye tail light, a K&N air filter, Lucas Stahlflex brake lines, a Shinyo front light and Heidenau K60 rubber (100/90-19 and 120/90-18). The ‘bars and the tank are standard pieces.

Overall, the style and paintwork was intended to remind you of the old Honda Enduros from the seventies.”

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‘79 Yamaha SR500 – Volts Mechanix

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Most bike builders who are lucky enough to have more than a few projects under their belt will likely tell you the same thing; they’d love to have their own shop. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like not your home. So you’d think that once you have a shop on the go, you’d be a happy camper. But not for Tony and Clive from the UK’s Volts Mechanix. See, they currently have two shops. Yes, two. One for summer and one for winter. We’ve heard of the English landed gentry, but this is ridiculous.

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Here’s Clive, or Sir Reeve as we like to call him. “Tony and I have been collaborating on projects, both large and small since the nineties. Our initial foray was custom longboard skateboards, both of us lived and worked in Zürich for extended periods and developed a unique cross-culture view on life. We had arrived at the same point in time through a love of music, bikes and general chaos.”

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“A couple of years back we decided to join forces on a bike build. Initially it was foreseen as a step into road racing, Tony being the idiot to take the seat. However we came across a 1979 SR500 and decided to rebuild it to our own specifications. The main goal was to make a bike that would be fun to ride in town and out on the open roads. Low seat height to make it comfortable to cruise, modern brakes and ignition to help stopping and starting the beast. We stripped off anything that wasn’t needed and polished up the rest.”

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“We both had the misfortune to buy modern bikes quite recently and found that apart from pumping up the tyres there was little ‘do it yerself’ work to be had on them. We had enjoyed the old carb-based bikes that you could tune and mess around with. Once the SR was underway we received lots of admiring glances and a couple of commissions. So we thought ‘why not’ and Volts Mechanix came into existence.”

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“it’s on a farm and we can mess ‘round on trial bikes during lunch”

“Since then we have worked out of two workshops, one in East Grinstead the other in Uckfield” And no, he didn’t make that name up. “The Uckfield one is bigger and better, but the damned roof leaks so we only use it in the spring and summer. It’s a shame as it’s on a farm and we can mess ‘round on trial bikes during lunch. We aim always to use local firms when we need to outsource (powder coating, MOT’s etc) so have built a little community around us.”

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“We make all our own seats and leather work, so saddlery seemed like a natural addition to our mechanical endeavours. We have an XL600 on the bench at the moment which we will make into ‘FrankenTrail’ a.k.a. the worlds most terrifying custom built trail bike; we want it to look good both muddy and shiny in the high street. There’s a couple of tiny two strokes that are going to get the full early ’80’s treatment too. One muddy, the other just fast and loud!”

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Downtime with the Power Rangers


Triumph T25 Blazer SS – Tredici Custom Castings

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Most of us will start a custom bike build with a genre, fashion or style in mind. You might want something that oozes classic café racer. Or maybe you’re thinking of a creation in a brat style with a touch of tracker thrown in for good luck. Hell, if you’re anything like me you’re probably planning the colour of the brake leads before you’ve even got a bike. But few of us have the skills or courage to just trust in your love of metal, your passion for bikes and your creativity and simply let the build happen. Which is exactly what Gian from France’s Tredici Custom Castings did. Meet his very groovy ‘Black Smoker’ Triumph.

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“My name is Gianluca Curulla. I’m 33 and my parents were South Italian immigrants, so I live in North East France where all the French iron and steel industries are. I’m a blacksmith and a metal founder and until recently I was a foundry teacher. My hobbies have always been metal, music and motos. I’m a drummer in grind-core and doom bands, doing recordings and thousands of gigs and tours all over Europe. I also love mountain bikes and bmx; most weekends i’ll be eating dust and breaking my shoulders somewhere or other.”

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“Clients payed me with bottles of Islay whiskey or bikes parts, sometimes weed”

“I have always lightened and customised my bikes. As a huge addict of drag, hot rods and all types of motor freaking, I’m always putting all those non-sense accessories and plastics in the bin to keep things light to handle and roll. With my first pay cheque I got my motorcycle licence and bought my first ‘real’ motorcycle. It was a Honda 500 four and since then I’ve had only 70′s bikes – mostly Hondas. I always repaired and built bikes and cycles. Sometimes for friends and for free, doing cast parts at my foundry for old-timers or race bikes. I never got a shop or a real business going; the clients payed me with bottles of Islay whiskey or bikes parts… and sometimes weed.”

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“So now, pushed by my friends and family, I’m running Tredici Custom Castings, and I specialise in casts and forged parts for bikes. This little Triumph is my first ‘official’ build, but I’ve got other bike projects going on in my garage, too. But this bike is kind of a living portfolio of my work.”

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“I really believe in this stuff. The real things you can touch. I’ve got no Facebook, no Twitter, no nothing except the shop and my poor blog. Soon I’ll open an online store, with lots of parts. I’m kind of discrete person, but I have a good amount of part orders. It’s great ’cause that’s I really want to do. More parts and more bikes, and maybe even make a living with it. That’s my dream, man.”

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“I started the build with a ultra-beat up and non-running Triumph T25 Blazer SS (Street Scrambler). I was able to buy this bike cheap as it was pretty much junk. Non-running motor, bent and cracked swingarm, missing or broken parts. But with street legal papers! It’s not street legal in this guise, but I have hidden wiring and quick connectors for headlights, licence plate illumination and the rest.”

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“I lowered the forks by 8cm front and rear, put on some Hagon shocks, an Avon 19″ front and a Dunlop K81 18″ rear. The one-off aluminium parts I cast are the mudguard, saddle, primary cover, timer cover, rear drum plate, exhaust ‘salt lake style’ pipe cap, footpegs and the front fairing.”

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“The gas tank is from a 70′s Batavus moped; I used some bass drum tensioners to fasten the mudguard and saddle, and old butterfly nuts from 40′s bicycles. The stand is made from the leaf spring suspension of an English MG car and a drag z-bar. All the rest is raw metal which has been hand fabricated and drilled. The only color luxury I permitted myself was to put a light layer of matt black on the frame only to de-paint it with acetone to bring up an authentic 40 year-old look.”

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“It runs like a beast now and weighs exactly 103kg with a tank full of gas. There’s 28hp to play with, and the saddle is really comfortable. The leather was professionally made, and it’s the only part of the bike I didn’t do myself. The photos you see here where taken near the last remains of an old steel mill from when I was a kid. It’s now a green park where old people walk the dog on a Sunday. I hope you enjoy them.”

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[Photos by Hugo Chevalier]


‘75 Yamaha XS650 – Maccomotors

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If you’ve got any lingering doubts about the 21st Century custom motorcycle scene not being a truly global affair, then prepare to have them squashed like the model buildings in a Godzilla movie. This, the 4th Maccomotors bike to feature on Pipeburn, is the product of no less than four different countries; namely Spain, Mexico, the UK and Japan. And although you might assume that such an international affair might end up looking like a poster child for design-by-committee, we’re here to tell you it’s turned out quite the opposite. Say ‘hola’ to ‘The Mexican’.

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Jose and Tito of Maccomotors risked an international incident by filling us in on the build. “We´re proud to introducing our latest build. It’s a 1975 Yamaha XS650 that we call ‘The Mexican’. We were commissioned by Sergio, a spanish engineer who’s been living in Mexico now for eleven years. He was in love with our work, especially with the Montesa Enduro 75. But he was a unsure about how to go about finding the perfect bike.”

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“On a hunch, we advised him to buy a Yamaha XS650. This bike was never imported into Spain but there were two in the spanish second-hand market. Obviously, the bike looks better now than it was when we first saw it. There was some pretty serious rust below the seat, in the frame, and on the front forks. So we decided rebuild it from the ground up.”

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“We did a little research and discovered Quetzalcoatl, which is an Aztec serpent-god”

“We decided to give her a personalised brat look. Sergio, the owner, wanted to include a kind of tribute to Mexico, too. We did a little research and discovered Quetzalcoatl, which is an Aztec feathered serpent-god. It was related to the gods of the wind, Venus, dawn and of the arts. If you look closely you’ll see it included as part of the logo design on the tank.”

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“Sergio then asked us to include some BSA references as well. We were a little concerned that it might be too much, be we went with it and made the covers for front springs and included some classic BSA colours when painting the bike. We think it turned our pretty good. Now she’ll live Spain and will maybe go to Mexico, where she probably belongs…”

Jose and Tito we kind enough to supply some build specs for the bike, too. The who job started with a complete engine rebuild. Then Yamaha XS850 front forks we added along with the double disk brakes. The guys made the front forks covers, along with the seat, paint, chopped guards and wiring. The ‘bars are from Renthal and have Biltwell Kung Fu grips. The headlight is a Bates and the filters are K&Ns. Hagon shocks bounce Bridgestone AC-04 130 rear and Exedra 110 front. The foot pegs are from a Kawasaki Enduro bike and the exhaust is from Hooligan.

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[Photos by Sergio Ibarra from Semimate]


‘81 Honda CB750 – deBolex Engineering

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Two wheels good, four wheels bad. It’s a throw-away line that you’ll see plastered to more than a few jackets, helmets and be-stickered gas tanks. And sure, sometimes cars can suck. Especially if they happen to be the immovable object that brings a grinding halt to you and your bike’s unstoppable force. But they aren’t all bad. Take, for instance, one Calum Pryce Tidd of Croydon in the UK. He’s not only the unstoppable force behind deBolex Engineering, but he’s also a guy who got a shot at customising bikes for a living through his day job as a classic car tuner. And what a shot it turned out to be.

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Calum kicked things off by sharing deBolex’s raison d’être. “We recognise the good engineering and quality built-in to many of the big brand production motorcycles. We retain that genetic core, but in our quest to create something individual we strip these bikes back to their bare bones, discard the superfluous and rebuild to put a new heart and soul into the machine.

The differences are always unique. All aspects of the work are carried out in-house, enabling us to keep control of the design and build quality whilst paying extra attention to those finishing touches. From metal fabrication, engine building, trimming, paint work and trial running, we do it all.”

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“the wearing in of the leather and the rust through the lacquer on the bare metal tank are what this
bike is all about”

Calum says the concept for this build was to transform a Honda CB750 into a fun usable brat style motorcycle with a finish that would get better with age. “Nothing too pretty, the wearing in of leather and the rust through the lacquer on the bare metal tank are what this bike is all about.”

Sammy, the bike’s owner is a professional photographer living in London, preferring the freedom of a bike to the in-your-face hustle of the underground. “He wanted something with character that could worm through traffic and that doesn’t need a weekend spent polishing.”

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The result is the MK2, a 1981 CB750 DOHC’d sight for sore eyes. “Although not an extreme custom and still rocking the original suspension and wheels, we gave extra attention where we could. For example, the rear light recessed into the tube like it’s always been there, custom brackets hook up the 7” headlight and the ignition barrel relocated under the tank.

Up the front we’ve given some Renthal ultra low bars, leather wrapped grips and we turned up some neat bar ends. Digital speedos supplied us with the perfect speedo, small, satin black, and didn’t break the bank.”

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“The top end of the engine received an over hall, replacing timing chains, re-shimming the head and while the barrels and head were off they went through a cleaning treatment which brings the aluminium back like new. A clothing company supplied the leather for the seat; this gave the bike that rustic feel we were after. And a custom exhaust system wound in titanium wrap releases the musical crack of the Honda in-line 4.”

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Calum points out that this is the bike that helped kick-start deBolex into business “I was already restoring and tuning classing cars as my day job, but had always had a passion for motorcycles, so when Sammy approached me about building him a bike, I jumped at the chance.”

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And it seems that the MK2 isn’t the only trick up Calum’s sleeve. “Now with all our focus on motorcycles, the MK2 finished, the MK3 almost complete and the MK4 donor eagerly waiting to be stripped back, we hope we can slowly earn our name and establish ourselves in the custom motorcycle business.”

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“We have been working hard to complete a website that reflects our motorcycles and have lots of new exciting things to come, including the completed MK3 ready for the MCN show in London on the 14th-16th February, which we are very excited about releasing.”

Wish we could be there, Calum. We really do.