Where to next for the custom motorcycle scene? Over the past ten years, raked-out choppers have faded away and ‘Brat Style’ bikes have dominated. The genre is named after the Tokyo-based workshop run by ‘Go’ Takamine, one of a handful of Japanese builders who took cheap commuter bikes and stripped them back to the basics, fitting slimmer seats and removing fenders in the process.
Call it neo-retro or new wave, it’s a look that we’re all familiar with these days. So what’s next? The increasing popularity of the tracker style is one pointer, but another comes from shops like An-Bu.
An-Bu has a stellar reputation in Japan, and its bikes are different to those we usually see in the west. The company has a strong house style; It’s based around asymmetrical fairings and a vibe that is part Mad Max, part Tokyo street culture. This XS650, built for the last Yokohama custom show, is a particularly eye-catching example.
The bike is running a no-frills S&S Super B carburetor (more commonly found on Harley Sportsters), raised compression and an overbore for extra capacity. The exhaust system, spectacularly kicked up at the back, is fully custom. The engine has been tuned for torque.
The sleek black fairing—an echo of racing motorcycles from the 1960s—is matched to a race-style seat unit, brutally truncated and sitting much further forward than you would expect. For the tank paint, An-Bu has selected a military theme. The camouflage-style paintjob is reminiscent of tiger stripes, hence the name of the bike, ‘Skull Tiger.’
An-Bu’s style is certainly arresting, and there’s a solid performance boost to match. A good direction for future custom builders, would you say?