The Duke of Jakarta – Studio Motor KTM Cafe Racer

If you happen to follow Return of the Cafe Racers movements on Facebook or Instagram you’d have seen we spent a fair bit of time over in the Emerald Isle, otherwise known as Indonesia, last year. We discovered an incredible amount of talented custom builders spread throughout the country, but it was in their capital of Jakarta, where we first met Donny Ariyanto, owner of one of the countries best known custom workshops, Studio Motor.
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American Cafe Racer – Buell XBR12R Custom

There seems to be a revolution occuring in café racer enthusiast circles. Rather than opting for your typical go to platforms like Triumph’s Bonneville or Honda’s CB series, more and more builders are thinking outside the box. “I like to consider myself a normal motorcycle enthusiast.” Miguel Padilla tells us. “Last year in a motorcycle accident, I fractured 5 ribs and suffered a range of injuries that kept me away from riding for the better part of the year. During that time, I decided to create a modern American Café Racer”. A Harley would have been the obvious choice, but instead he opted for Eric Buell’s torque happy v-twin XBR12R Firebolt.

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A Classic Cafe Racer – The Yoshida Machine Triton

Aside from being the most iconic of all Cafe Racers, what really makes the Triton special is how it came to be. Unlike other classic bikes from the same era, the Triton was never a factory built motorcycle. Instead it was dreamt up by home builders in the UK during the late 1950s as a means to an end. They wanted faster, better handling machines than the motorcycles being sold by manufacturers and the solution was to simply create their own.
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Dainese 36060 Collection – Cooper Boots

The line between functional riding gear and fashionable motorcycle attire has most certainly been blurred. Over the past few years there’s been a plethora of new motorcyclist fashion brands built around the “look good and be safe” ethos. It seems though that many of the older brands have been hesitant to take part in the new trend, probably thinking this was all “just a flash in the pan fad”, sticking to their tried and tested, albeit old and outdated design approach. Thankfully that attitude is now finally starting to change and we’re seeing some of our favourite brands getting involved.

Since 1970 Dainese have been producing exceptional quality and top performing protective riding gear. Now, some 40 years later, they are retracing their own heritage to produce the Cooper Boot as part of their new 36060 collection.
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Lean and Green – MotoHangar Virago XV750

Pat Jones has been running his MotoHangar workshop out of Vienna, Virginia now since 2010. During that time I’ve featured a handful of his builds on these pages and have always been a fan of his simplistic approach to customising classic Japanese motorcycles. His latest work, based on a 1983 shaft drive version of Yamaha’s XV750 Virago, is no exception. Unlike many of his other builds though, this one was turned around in a measly 3 weeks.
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Simplicity Through Detail – Octavia BMW G650X

Some motorcycles are inherently exciting. Take for instance a Ducati 900ss, one of the new Thruxton Rs, the Norton Commando or a 6-cylinder Honda CBX… and we’ve all seen great customs based on exciting and nostalgic bikes. However, what I believe to be really special in the custom motorcycle world, is when someone takes a bike that doesn’t posses that initial appeal, and turns it into an absolutely lustworthy machine. Take for example what Jens Henkel of Hyde Designs in Cape Town, South Africa has done with his 2008 BMW G650X ‘Octavia’.
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Celebrating 35 years – the Suzuki Katana

My interest in motorcycles didn’t really blossom until around 15 years ago. My mother was a pessimist and me simply owning a BMX as a kid caused her enough stress. In fact I’m pretty sure that if I’d added an engine into the equation she would have had a nervous breakdown before I finished high school. This didn’t however stop me from taking notice of particularly cool motorcycles that were released during my younger years. One such bike that never failed to capture my attention was Suzuki’s mighty Katana and this year marks the legends 35th anniversary.
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Back to Basics – Guzzi V11 Cafe Racer

Moto Guzzi V11 Cafe Racer

In this super tech world we live in there seems to be a revolution happening in auto enthusiast circles. Rather than opting for vehicles packed with risk suppressing sensors and performance honing gadgets, many of us are opting for old school mechanics. We’re buying motorcycles that run on carbs, use cables for control and give you a physical workout when you ride them hard. There’s something visceral about a motorcycle that responds according to how much pressure you apply to it and it’s great to knowing that if something goes wrong you might actually be able to fix it yourself. Today’s build is the product of this train of thought. Omar Biagi is a 35 year old “Italian guy” and when he went searching for a donor bike electronics were the last thing on his mind.
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Retro Headwear – Nexx XG100 helmet

Nexx XG100 Motorcycle Helmets

Over the past few years there’s been a huge increase in demand for retro styled helmets. Thankfully helmet manufacturers have switched on to this fact and they’ve been answering our needs with some rather great looking lids. Chad Hodge nailed it with his design, which Bell went on to produce as their ‘Bullitt’ and American brand Biltwell did equally well with their full faced ‘Gringo’. One other company that’s also stepped up to the plate is Portugal based Nexx Helmets with their retro styled XG100.
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Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1

So I’m 46 years old. I’ve been on hiatus from my “mechanical hobby”; restoring cars, for nearly three years. I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and sold off my last Citroen DS21, on January 18, 2005. On a self-enforced hiatus for two years, it’s been another year because the Ideal Ride that lurked in my head just never materialized.

Modern Triumph Bonneville

Enter “Test Pilot Bill” in Phoenix. I’ve known him for years through my wife, Sheila. He is possibly one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Last year by happenstance he showed me his newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville that is absolutely perfect, low miles, and an H.G.-Welles-Time-Machine moment (I orginially attributed it to Orwell – forgive me!) with all the wonderful things about British bikes and none of their vices.

As I threw my leg over the Bonnie, something funny hit me. Kind of a “yeah… nice”. It fit not only my butt – it fit into my thoughts. Something deep inside me began eating away two of the four wheels that my Ideal Ride had always possessed. From that moment, I began to think of a motorcycle as The Thing to replace the Car Habit I had nurtured for more than 30 years.

I didn’t know if my search would result in a Triumph like Bill’s, but I knew that I would start on a journey of self-discovery and, as I write this, I couldn’t be more excited about anything I have ever undertaken.

Continue reading Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1