Showing posts with label Best motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Best motorcycles. Show all posts

Monday, October 5, 2015

Buell M2 Cherry-Salt

The Buell M2 Cherry-Salt is the ultimate go-fast machine, built to race on the 1/8 mile at the 2015 Glemseck 101.  Here all the work in progress. As with previous years the event of 2015, which has been hailed as one of the biggest custom and classic motorcycle gatherings in Europe, was on September 4th, 5th and 6th in Leonberg, Germany and was huge. This years 1/8th mile 'Sprint' race competitors started to surface around the web and although it's not quite complete, I couldn't wait any longer to feature this beast of a bike from Italian workshop Plan B Motorcycles. Inspired by the Lucky Cat Garage Sprintbeemer and determined to give them a run for their money this is the Buell M2 "Cherry Salt".

Cherry Salt started out life as a '99 Buell M2 Cyclone that had undergone a few performance "tweaks" during it's lifetime. Although the Buell's frame and engine set up didn't offer up the easiest base for a build of this kind, Plan B owner Christian Moretti saw the bikes potential and was prepared to invest the time and effort to achieve the desired result. "I was deeply in love with the Lucky Cat's SprintBeemer, so I started wondering if it would be possible to build something good enough to race against it."
With the Lucky Cat Sprintbeemer sucking down nitrous oxide Christian needed to look at ways of getting the most out of the Buells 1203cc, 93bhp (stock) engine. Reducing weight was the top priority so Aluminium was used to fabricate the bikes custom fuel tank. Sitting low on the frame the tank has a 12 litre capacity and features a large top recess and a narrow profile to allow its rider to tuck in around it to reduce wind resistance.
Hidden beneath the fairing you'll find a set of Suzuki GSX-R forks wearing 4 pot radial calipers with ample twin 320mm floating discs. It's almost too much braking power for a straight line racer, but there's a valid reason for it. As Christian explained "The quite unusual inverted Buell monoshock setup left me enough room to add a trick suspension system that's quite elaborate, but easy at the same time. An electric actuator changes the position of the monoshock letting you decide, with the flick of a switch, the overall height of the bike. This changes the center of mass, the rake angle and the trail at the front. So you can have it slammed down for racing on the straight, or rise it up for some corners on the road." As for cornering that's not really this bikes main concern, it's grip that's a priority. To limit traction loss Christian has fit a "big fat slick" tire from drag greats Hoosier on the back wheel adding plenty of additional grip and loads of visual attitude.

So what does it take to race against a lucky cat? How about an angry dog?

"Fitting a "universal" dustbin style fairing to the Buell was the huge challenge. I started working on the fiberglass fairing by cutting, stretching and slimming it down. I then redesigned the front upper section from scratch shaping it to resemble a Bull Terriers head...yes, it will be a true cats vs dogs race!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sprintbeemer by Lucky Cat Garage

The inspiration for a bike build can come from the most unlikely of sources. In the case of this most unusual BMW sprint bike, it was a vintage M&H Racemaster drag tire.

The tire belonged to the amiable Séb Lorentz of the Lucky Cat Garage, a familiar face on the European custom show circuit. While Séb was figuring out what to do with the slick, his family provided the answer: they bought him an Airtech dustbin fairing as a present. All Séb needed now was a frame, two wheels and an engine.

Séb is not only an accomplished builder, but also works for BMW Motorrad France. And so the Sprintbeemer was born—a bike focused on speed and acceleration, with a hefty dash of style. “It has to look fast to frighten competitors,” he laughs. The goal was audacious: to win the Starr Wars sprint race at the huge Glemseck 101 festival in Germany.

Sprintbeemer is a cocktail of parts from the 50s to the 90s, with an S 1000 RR superbike battery hiding in there somewhere. The modified chassis was an R50/2 in a previous life, and the shortened fork and front stoppers have been swiped from a R75/5. Séb added an air scoop and vent holes to the drum brake, and machined the wheel hub to save weight.

The swingarm is from a BMW R100/7 and the rear end is suspended by adjustable billet aluminum struts, hidden inside vintage shock covers. Power goes through a short-ratio R60/6 transmission. The drag slick that started it all has been mounted onto an 18” Morad wheel, with an Avon Speedmaster wrapped round the 19” Excel front rim.

Séb is not sure what the tank is, though. It’s an unbranded barn find, maybe from a 1950s French or Italian sport moped. It’s been treated to a high-flow petcock, an aluminum cap and an engine temperature meter.

Just ahead are a Scitsu tachometer and Menani clip-ons—wearing black glitter Amal-style grips—and a Domino GP throttle. The aluminum seat pan is handmade, and the silver bottle just head of the rear wheel is an oil catch can—a modified emergency tank from Mooneyes in Japan.

The star of the show is the engine, though. It’s an R 100 RS motor treated to big valves, breathing through Dell’Orto PHM 40 carbs. A 336-spec cam and lightened flywheel help the motor spin up fast, and Vattier race headers hooked up to race megaphones complete the package. The clutch is essentially stock, but beefed up with an HPN ceramic plate, and the R 100 R gearbox has inverted gears for faster and easier shifting.

But just as the bike was coming together, luck ran out: Séb broke his leg badly in a BMX crash and ended up in a wheelchair. Friends rallied round to help, and Sprintbeemer was finished—the night before the journey over the border to Glemseck.

Sylvain Berneron—aka Holographic Hammer—drove Séb and his bike to Glemseck in a truck. Sylvain then donned leathers and a helmet and sent Sprintbeemer screaming down the track to victory, adding to the trophy he won on his own Suzuki at Wheels & Waves.

As winter approaches in France, Séb is rolling the BMW back into his workshop. But keep an eye out for it in the spring. With a new, shorter-ratio transmission due to be installed, Sprintbeemer promises to be even faster next year.
Images by Daniel Beres. Follow the adventures of Séb via the Lucky Cat Garage website and Facebook.

republished from

Friday, October 2, 2015

How One Weekend on a Harley Nightster Converted me Into A Harley Fan

How One Weekend on a Harley Nightster Converted me Into A Harley Fan

You know the old expression, "Don't knock it 'til you try it," right? Harley-Davidsons are often surrounded by haters, mostly comprised of those who've never ridden one. There are Keyboard Warriors attacking H-D based primarily on their spec sheets, high price tags, and low performance. I'll admit it, I used to be one of them. That is, until a Nightster changed my mind.
I fully expected to hate this motorcycle. My brother expected me to hate this motorcycle too. It's too loud and too flashy; it's too "image-driven" and contains antiquated technology. I could come up with a million insults and at the end of the day they'd all boil down to, "It's a Harley-Davidson." But you know what? Believe it or not, it's fun!
2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty
2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty

My Riding History

About a year ago, I received my first taste of Project Livewire. Yes, yes, I know, it's not exactly a big thumpin' V-twin, but it was the first time I'd ridden a H-D product. I rode a Sportster Forty-Eight (which is essentially the same bike as the Nightster), but I didn't understand Harley-Davidson then. Riding a Sportster immediately after what I still believe is the future of motorcycling only accentuated the different eras I was experiencing. Because of that contrast, I guess I didn't understand what the "normal" H-Ds brought to the table.
MUST READ:  The Realities of Riding | RideApart
A couple weeks ago I took a 300 mile road trip on my Triumph Bonneville. When I got back, my brother offered to loan me his Nightster. This let me do a direct comparison of two very "image-driven" motorcycles.
Both motorcycles are starting points for self-expression. While I feel like the Triumph is a completely blank slate, the Harley is drenched with decades of "biker" imagery. However, I (surprisingly) had a great time on my brother's Nightster. Granted, I don't fit that Harley Davidson bike mold at all, especially when riding it with my full face helmet and head-to-toe textile gear.

Personality Counts

If I were to make a pros/cons list, a Harley is the bike I shouldn't buy. But at the same time, it's like my Ducati and a few cars I've owned in the past; its personality shines through in an unexpected way. The Nightster quickly became endearing. I'm not sure if it could ever be my only bike, and my brother's ownership experience seconds that notion, considering how little the Nightster gets ridden while living next to his R1. With that said, each day I had the H-D, I wanted to go for a ride, and I came home happily exhausted. I've certainly owned bikes I can't say that about.
MUST READ:  Why I Bought a Kawasaki Ninja 650 - My Second Bike | RideApart
The suspension isn't top of the line, but it still manages to be gentler on me than a day on the Bonneville. The motor? Well, it shakes everything and everyone around. Surprisingly, not a ton came through the bars. The bike was nowhere near as fatiguing as I expected it to be, and because of that I found myself filling the bike up multiple times throughout the day. (The fuel tank is small, so the range isn't awesome.)
2012 Harley-Davidson Nightster 1200cc
2012 Harley-Davidson Nightster 1200cc
Despite the fact that the bike doesn't meet my image, I had a ball riding it and found one thing that really surprised me. Anyone who's ever ridden behind me on a bike has to give me the flashy-hand signal. Not with the Nightster, however. It had me covered with self-canceling blinkers! I'm looking for how to retrofit that system to every bike I own right now. I spent days looking like I knew where I was going, and I just can't put a price on that!

There's Always Something...

There's one downside though. That clutch was terrible, although I'm not sure if it was because of my small hands or the oversized levers. All I know is that my clutch hand was on fire after a day of riding around town. With such a stiff and long pull, I know that if I owned this bike, I'd be shopping for ways to mitigate that before I even bought an exhaust. Maybe I've just been softened by the other bikes I've ridden, but this clutch is in another world from anything else. All a part of the experience, I guess.
Despite the clutch, I'm surfing used-bike sites looking for a Nightster of my own. They hold their resale value really well and the temptation is real.

First published by

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Make it pop: GS Mashin’s Harley Fat Boy

Custom Harley Fat Boy built by Tom Mosimann of the Swiss workshop GS Mashin.
A world-famous custom builder recently told us: “I never want my Harleys to look like Harleys.” We wonder if Tom Mosimann had the same thought when he built this outlandish Harley Fat Boy. Based in the Swiss capital of Bern, Tom is a sign painter who started building bikes three years ago under the moniker of GS Mashin. This 2000-model Fat Boy is his first Harley—you can’t miss the muscular V-twin, but it’s now clothed in most unusual swooping bodywork and a retina-searing paint job.

Tom drew inspiration from old salt flat racers and drag bikes. He shaped everything himself out of steel—from the prominent headlight shroud, through to the hard-edged tank and the tail section with its integrated rear light. The seat’s been covered in leather, and Tom’s made a neat little belly ‘spoiler.’ The exhaust system is his handiwork too, as is the angular ‘GS’-adorned air filter.

Accompanying the bespoke metalwork is a bevy of choice parts. Hiding behind the headlight shroud are an Auto Meter speedo, LSL bars, Roland Sands Design grips and Beringer controls. The mid-placed foot controls and primary drive are from Performance Machine.
Tom kept the Harley Fat Boy’s rear wheel and shocks, but lowered the forks and upgraded them with Progressive Suspension springs. The front wheel’s a 21-inch unit from another Harley; both wheels are running Dunlop D402 rubber.
Tom wrapped the project up in nine months, finishing it off with a livery that unashamedly flaunts his skills with a paint gun. The greens used are echoed in places like the wheels, air filter cover and spoiler. It might not be the most practical custom, but we love it. And, despite its outlandish appearance, it’s fully road legal in Switzerland—a country that has some of the most stringent noise regulations in the world.

“GS Mashin only builds roadworthy bikes,” Tom explains. “Because bikes are for riding.” Absolutely.
GS Mashin Facebook | Instagram
Custom Harley Fat Boy built by Tom Mosimann of the Swiss workshop GS Mashin.
First published by

Thursday, July 16, 2015

968 Triumph Daytona 500 by Origin8or


Some builders have a distinct style you see in all their bikes, Rob Chappell of Origin8or is not one them, he can take the same two bikes and deliver totally different builds, the one constant however is always quality. Just six weeks ago we featured another Triumph Bobber build by Chappell, a springer wearing, orange flake painted Bonnie that screamed look at me. But this 1968 Triumph Daytona 500 is an example of how less can be more and custom cool can still stay true to classic style.
Like any high end restoration and rebuild of a vintage vehicle, either car or motorcycle, this is a full frame off build with absolutely every part removed and stripped down. To give the classic bobber look Rob fitted the frame up with a The Factory Metal Works 4 inch stretched and 2inch drop hard tail. The frame, suspension components, pedals and the various bits and pieces that keep them all together were sent off to be sandblasted before being treated to some silver powder coat for a durable and clean finish. One of the few matching features to the previous Triumph bobber build is the timeless rear fender, narrow and shortened to display as much rubber as possible.
The front suspension is stock, all be it renewed to function just as well as it did when it rolled off the factory floor. New fork tubes, new fork legs and 10wt oil were just some of the items that went into the full rebuild of the front end. Once completed the forks were also treated to the same colour as the frame, plus minimal use of raw polished metal to further accentuate the silver paint scheme. The brakes remain the stock 8 inch leading shoes at the front with polished hubs and a single 7 inch out the back. The hubs are laced with new spokes and the tires were something new for Rob, the ever popular Firestones. “I had to see what all the fuss was about and it suited the era of the bike.”
The engine fitted to Triumph’s Daytona is a special little beast, designed to take on the Japanese at the Daytona International Speedway. When Triumph won the 1966 Daytona 200 race with American Buddy Elmore aboard the Daytona name found its home on the Triumph the next year and a race winning average speed of nearly 100mph tells you this little thing can get up and go! The 490cc parallel twin engine featured new heads and twin AMAL Carbs for more top end power, both of which have been rebuilt by Rob. In fact the whole drivetrain has been rebuilt, not a bad decision when it was discovered the previous owner had used what looked like axle grease as their lube of choice for the transmission. Rob was nearly finished piecing together the rebuilt lump when he discovered the “full gasket kit” he’d bought didn’t include a head gasket, more than a minor issue. But a few emails and a two hour trip to a vintage bike show at a flea market, turned up just the right item and the rebuild was completed.
An engine this good deserves an exhaust to match and on a bobber the pipes become part of the look. With straight right side pipes on the last build Rob ran the twin pipes on the left side on the Daytona that are bent down and kinked slightly out to clear the oil tank. What makes Chappell such a great builder is his eye for detail, not only are the pipes ceramic coated to avoid pipe burn and an adverse effect on the oil temp the downward bend of the pipes exactly match the lines of the hard tailed frame. The oil tank itself is a TFMW item that has been painted silver, which next to the velocity stacked carbs and polished cases gives the engine an old school minimalist look that I personally could look at and appreciate for hours… imagine how good it sounds!
The “pristine” tank that came with the bike turned out to be a total nightmare, sandblasting revealed a wreck, dings and dints had been filled and one lump of bondo measured four inches deep. For a builder of Chappell’s quality there are no cutting corners, so an expensive session on eBay had a much better condition unit on its way. Factory badges and a lightly sparkled silver paint with black stripping over both the tank and fender are understated but enough of a detail to give passers-by a hint that this is no factory restoration.
The bobber seat is from the Chappell brothers company Tuffside, black with white diamond stitch and old school spring struts. There are no ape hangers here; a build of this quality doesn’t need anything over the top to the catch attention so Biltwell risers hold some flat track bars with Biltwell kung-fu grips and polished stock controls. Rob always gives his bike a full rewire for flawless operation and a small headlight and side mounted tail light do their job without interfering in the ultra-clean classic lines.
With the Triumph Daytona 500 finished it’s no surprise to see Rob sit aboard with a proud, broad smile. Many builders choose a bike and then throw a whole catalogue of parts at it, but Origin8or Cycles and Rob Chappell can make a crazy custom or like this build pay tribute to a classic in a subtle way that screams the sort of understated craftsmanship that makes him one of the best builders around.
First published on

The Auto Fabrica Type 6: Reduced to perfection

An extraordinary custom Yamaha XS650 built by the English workshop Auto Fabrica.

In Japan, there is a design theory called Kanso (簡素)—meaning simplicity, or the elimination of clutter. And every time I see an Auto Fabrica bike, I’m reminded of that fine principle. The machines that roll out of the English workshop are reduced to the bare minimum, but beautifully finished. And this extraordinary build, called simply Type 6, is Auto Fabrica’s best work yet.

Most shops have a bike that’s been kicking around since the beginnings of time, and that’s the story with this Yamaha. “It’s one of four XS650s we rescued from a farm in the depths of rural Cornwall,” says shop owner Bujar Muharremi. “A lucky find that effectively kickstarted our company.” We’ve come to expect stellar levels of craft and finish from Auto Fabrica, but the Type 6 adds impeccable industrial design to the mix.

“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.” Bujar and his crew spend a huge amount of time on preliminary design before they pick up the grinders. Starting with hand sketching and moving on to Photoshop renderings, they create the bike in the virtual world before turning the vision into metal.

This time, the objective was to push the physical limits with panel beating. “We spent a lot of time trying to balance clean graphics with highly complex and organic surfacing, to achieve a clean yet interesting design.” Much of that cleanliness comes from the tank and seat base, a single elegant unit formed from 2.5-millimeter aluminum. The XS650 frame has been modified by lowering the headstock two inches and moving it back slightly, creating the strong top line that flows from the headlight to the rear cowl.
The forks look especially sleek: they’ve been overhauled and fitted with stainless steel covers that conceal the bottom yoke and add a touch of Art Deco style. The engine of the XS650 was pretty handsome straight from the factory, but it’s been elevated to a whole new level here.

“Inspired by some other great builds, we took time to design a single carb conversion. We continued the line of the exhausts all the way through to the filter,” says Bujar. “You can trick the eye by placing the single inlet on the opposite side to the exhaust outlet positions, to create an asymmetric balance.” It might be a trick, but it works well.

The engine has been fully rebuilt with 0.5-oversize pistons. It looks just as good on the outside as in, with a textured paint finish for the top and raw metal lower down. Auto Fabrica love the matte finish that aqua blasting gives to bare metal, so the engine casings and aluminum parts all went into the blast cabinet.

The exhaust pipes are handmade in stainless steel, and bent into perfect curves. They look like unmuffled pipes, but have custom baffles hidden inside. “We could have kept them straight through and raw, but with the refinement of the bike as a whole, we needed a more refined exhaust note—as well as the correct back pressure.”

The rear wheel is built on the standard hub, but it’s now laced to an 18-inch alloy rim with stainless spokes. Up front is a beautiful Laverda SF750 twin leading shoe hub laced to a 19-inch alloy rim, with a custom brake switch located on the TLS arms. The bodywork is almost impossibly sleek, so it’d be a shame to have clunky bars up front. To maintain the theme, Auto Fabrica fitted slim clip-ons and then created a custom wrap that forms a smooth loop. It’s a neat solution that matches the inverted stainless steel brake and clutch levers.

We’ve only the skimmed the surface of this build, because it’s often the ‘simple’-looking bikes that involve the most work. (As Mark Twain famously said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”) The Type 6 is for sale. If you’d like to examine it at your leisure in your own garage, contact Auto Fabrica via their website.
Auto Fabrica | Facebook | Instagram | Images: Julien Brightwell, Bujar Muharremi

Sunday, June 14, 2015

H Garage Honda Gold Wing

In 2012 Scott Halbleid left his career as a graphic designer to focus his efforts on building custom motorcycles. As a trained, multidisciplinary artist his skills already included sculptural and fabrication techniques which when combined with a lifelong love of motorcycles had him positioned perfectly for the transition. Since he opened the doors of his 'H Garage' workshop he has amassed an impressive portfolio of custom builds, but this '78 Honda Goldwing, his latest creation, is the icing on the H Garage cake.

Scott acquired the Gold Wing when an acquaintance stumbled across it decaying in a barn and offered it up for sale. He had already been tempted by another Gold Wing he'd seen at a swap meet months before so convincing himself to lay down the cash was an easy task. After taking ownership of the ageing GL1000 it was decided the bike would be his next workshop project with an aim to transform it into a fully faired bagger. Thankfully after some deliberation while observing the stripped down Honda the bagger theme was ousted in favour of a Hot Rod/Mad Max themed bike, naked, raw and packing plenty of attitude.

With the beast of a bike taking up a large chunk of real estate in Scott's 2 bench workshop the Gold Wing build had to be prioritised and completed as soon as possible. Over the following 6 months he transformed the 1800cc behemoth into his minimalistic road warrior named No. 5 to commemorate his fifth H Garage workshop build.

After the initial tear down the Gold Wing's frame and its water cooled, flat 4 engine were cleaned and painted before being reunited once again. Hot Rod parts manufacturer Mooneyes supplied a set of solid alloy "moon discs" to conceal the bikes cast wheels and the stock Honda fenders were stripped to bare metal. In the rear he trimmed the fender and rolled it around to sit over the rubber at 5 minutes past twelve and tucked an integrated brake/signal LED strip beneath the lip of the fender.

With the removal of the bikes faux fuel tank (on this model Gold Wing the real fuel tank lives under the seat) a new air filtering system was required, so Scott once again looked to an aftermarket manufacturer in the Hot Rod scene for a solution. Performance carburettor specialists Holley had the perfect solution in the form of a large billet filter that perfectly fit the top of the frame so he mounted it using a custom made inlet system, feeding all 4 of the bikes carbs.

When it came to the bikes exhaust extra time was spent refining its design prior to fabrication. A pair rectangular tips were underslung on the frame to visually draw the bike lower to the ground. Shooting out horizontally from either side of the bike the mufflers were welded to the stock headers and produce an exhaust note that'd put most Harley Tourers to shame. With modifications to the flow of gases through the carbs and out of the engine some tricky tuning was required. For this Scott enlisted the help of Chad Francis of RetroWrench who solved the problem with careful synchronisation, jetting and a bit of needle drilling.

The bikes factory controls were swapped out with MotoGadget switches, new cables and hand levers mounted to a set of drag style bars. To help keep cables to a minimum a GPS speedo with integrated tacho sits on the backbone of the frame. The headlight has been replaced by an alloy framed, mesh faceplate and a pair of high intensity LED Fog lights perched atop the engine guard rails provide enough light to illuminate a small stadium.   

Suspension has been upgraded with Progressive rear shocks and rebuilt fork internals and all of the tired old brake lines have been replaced with braided ones. The seat pan was designed to wrap over the fuel tank which protrudes out from the top of the bikes frame. Using several welded sheets of steel it hugs both the frame and tank perfectly allowing easy access to the tanks filler cap.

The final finish on the bike was achieved by applying a custom paint colour to the face plate and the fenders before laying down a satin clear coat which gives them the appearance of raw steel. The gas tank, radiator surrounds and various brackets were stripped bare before being clear coated in a heat proof clear coat while the frame, drivetrain and forks were finished in satin black.

There are so many incredible details on this bike that I had to ask Scott what he likes most about the No. 5 Gold Wing to which he replied... "Riding it! It's loud, obnoxious and fast. People seem to dig it too which is always a plus." What's your opinion?x

(H) GARAGE     |     Photos by Craig Schneider

first published by returnofthecaferacers