A street tracker with a woodgrain finish, a pair of very different Honda CB450s, and a new build from Deus’ Californian wizard Michael ‘Woolie’ Woolaway. Here are the custom bikes that got our motors running over the Christmas break.
Suzuki GSX400F by Shaka Garage Exchange monocles with someone who has ridden in the back of a Rolls-Royce, and the topic of wood grain will inevitably arise. But wood is not something we motorcyclists are normally impressed with—until now.
Crafted by the skilled hands of Shaka Garage from Bari, Italy, the appropriately named Wood Tracker is artfully adorned with dark veneer accents on its tank and side pods. Against the matte green paint, the look is exquisite. But don’t be fooled, it’s actually airbrushed on.
Thanks to the knobby rubber and upgraded Öhlins suspension, this 80s-era Suzuki GSX400F scrambler should feel right at home amongst real trees. The tailpipes are handmade units and the engine was completely overhauled to ensure raucous, trail-roosting fun. I’m not convinced the side-mounted tach would last long with me behind the Tommaselli bars, but standing on pegs beats backseats every day. [More]
Honda CB450 by Vagabund Moto You can often identify a builder’s work by a commonality of theme. Down & Out prefers a wide-wheeled look, El Solitario explodes molds, and Auto Fabrica delivers clinically clean aesthetics. Now Vagabund Moto is becoming known for its obsession with detail.
The Graz, Austrian builder’s BMW R100R had us gobsmacked with its intricate and distinct style, and this Honda CB450 is doing much the same. The bare metal finish on the front end, tank, engine casings and exhaust exudes raw aggression. Softened ever so slightly by the subtle sea-foam green paint, saddle brown leather seating and black accents, it’s clear that Vagabund hasn’t lost any focus. The stance is spot on and despite not echoing the same style of perfection from that BMW, this Honda easily captures its ethos.
From the expertly shortened rear sub-frame with its integrated LEDs to the playful use of a 20s-era Colgate & Co shaving tin, this cafe racer has me smitten. [More]
Honda CB450 by Steel Bent Customs Maybe a cafe racer isn’t quite your cup of Honda CB450 tea? Then maybe this scrambler ready for the single tracks is more appealing. It’s a 1976 model from Florida’s Steel Bent Customs, dubbed Dirty Jersey, and the recipient of Michael Mundy’s expert handiwork.
The frame was sliced and looped to trim the stock excess, and longer-travel, progressive rate rear shocks were added to balance the stance and raise the ride height. A svelte gel battery is hidden under the well-padded, diamond-stitched seat. The finish is classic, austere and damn near spotless. My favorite touch is the cocktail shaker treatment on the unequal length, high-mount exhaust.
Oh, and the fact that the high-gloss clear coat should be easy to wipe clean after a day near the Newark Watershed. [More]
Yamaha XT600 by Lab Motorcycle For five years Portugal’s Lab Motorcycle have been quietly assembling an impressive collection of custom builds. The latest creation from the Setubal-based shop is a trail-ready Yamaha XT600 that simply oozes the company philosophy—“Just For Fun.”
The rear subframe has been hooped, the battery shrunk, and the tank swapped out for a Honda CG unit. But the XT’s original, enduro-friendly geometry has been well maintained. The suspension has been upgraded to soak up unwelcoming conditions, and the Reagan-era plastics have been binned for recycling. The stock rectangular, halogen headlight has been put back into a K-Car in favor of a more stylish 5¾-inch round unit with a shield.
The Ténéré-style paint job drops a hint—this machine is likely to be a riot on either street or trail. Listening to the thumper blasting through the Arrow exhaust could be the perfect cure to a New Year’s hangover. [More]
Kawasaki W650 by Deus Customs Given the classic dirt racer look of this latest Deus build, it’s no surprise to find that it hails from the Venice, California workshop. SoCal has embraced the dirt like few other locales in North America, and this Kawasaki—named W-`ühini—is the perfect weapon.
If you’re wondering about the name, the ‘W’ is for the W650 motor and `ühini is the Hawaiian name for grasshopper. The motor has since been overbored to 800cc and slotted into a hand-made chromoly frame. The rake and trail have been set with humps, bumps and dirt in mind—allowing the rider to catch air and slide soles through corners with ease.
The tank and tail are both hand-shaped aluminum, bead-blasted in some areas and brushed in others. Then fourteen (yes, fourteen) coats of yellow and blue candy paint were applied. The contrasting surfaces create a unique shimmer depending on lighting and positioning. [More]