Despite the name and the look of its work, Hawgholic Motorcycles is based in Tokyo, where it specializes in making vintage Harley Davidsons into special creations. This is a 1945 Knuckle chopper, rejuvenated with a yellow paint job, four exhaust pipes, and a modified sissybar. It was rebuilt in 2011.
In 2011, Justin and Jarrod Del Prado at DP Customs took a 1980 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster and made it into a cafe racer of sorts. The result is the Nake Café, with a stripped down frame and one-off parts including the rear cowl, oil tank, exhaust, and seat. The color scheme and angular look are inspired by the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Audi R18 TDI.
Triumph motorcycles may have been produced in England, but it’s in the US that they became something special. Exhibit A: Arie VanSchyndel’s 1972 Triumph 500, which he stripped down to the motor, frame, and wheels, then built up again with custom welded parts and no paint job.
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One look at the Kestrel, a 1970 Triumph Bonneville rebuilt by Ian Barry, and you see why the new name makes sense: It looks made to cut through the air. Modifications like added aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, gold leaf, iron, and leather, plus the exposed guts, make it a bike you’ll want to ogle for a while.
This bike, the Zero Crafter, is the work of Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts, who used a kit from Zero Engineering to add a special touch. The result is a “wonderfully gothic, Victorian vibe.” It’s like a steampunk bike, if steampunk came in drool-inducing awesomeness.
When he’s not working as a Harley-Davidson dealer in Germany, Andreas Bergerforth is making customized bikes. He’s produced some 160 so far, and the “PainTTless” is the star of the bunch. With no paint or powder coat to hide metalworking mistakes, it had to come out perfect. No wonder it was judged Best Freestlye Machine at the AMD World Championships of Custom Bike Building in 2012.
The Low Down & Shifty is not a pretty bike, but it is a fascinating one. Made from a Yamaha XS650 by Kurt Walker at ICON Motorsports, the chopper took years to build and hardly seems rideable by anyone who doesn’t play professional basketball. Retail price is listed as “too much.”
“The sterotypical motorcyclist,” Chris Hunter writes in the introduction to The Ride: New Custom Motorcycles and Their Builders, “used to be a rakish young guy or girl, a thrill-seeker with a mechanical bent. By the end of the twentieth century, it was the retired dentist trailering his 800-pound chrome-laden cruiser to a motorcycle meet. But today, the motorcycle is back.”
Indeed it is, in no small part due to a slew of beautiful machines and what Hunter calls “a new wave of custom motorcycle builders.” These creators—who include Justin and Jarrod Del Prado, Arie VanSchyndel, and Ian Barry—are mining the machines and aesthetics of the past and marrying them to modern materials and approaches.
The Ride (2013), edited by Hunter and Robert Klanten, and published by Gestalten, catalogs those builders and their fantastic machines. It’s a 300-page tour of the amazing world of custom motorcycles, from the guys in Japan turning Harley-Davidsons into amazing choppers to the German perfectionist working without any paint to hide his mistakes.
Here’s a selection of the best bikes in the book.