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Editor’s Choice: An Alternative Top 10 for 2017

Editor's Choice: An Alternative Top 10 Customs of 2017
As each year winds down we sharpen our pencils, trawl through our data and whip up our annual Bike EXIF Top Ten. But because that list is based purely on page views and social media activity, some of our personal favorites don’t always make the cut.

So, as has become tradition, we’ve compiled a follow up list—an Editor’s Choice that ignores the numbers and favors the heart. It’s a nod to those builders that we feel deserve recognition, to trends that we’d like to see take off in 2018, and to the bikes that stopped us dead in our tracks.

There’s no ranking, so we’ve listed our picks alphabetically, by builder’s name. And for obvious reasons we’ve excluded bikes that made it into the first list.

Design masterpiece: Yamaha SR scrambler by Auto Fabrica
Yamaha SR500 by Auto Fabrica Brothers Gaz and Bujar Muharremi—the men behind Auto Fabrica—have some of the best eyes in the business, hands down. This Yamaha SR500 is testament to their skill at stringing together perfect lines, unique details and tasteful finishes.

Art and engineering collide on the right hand side, where an air channel in the fuel tank flows into a molded aluminum heat shield for the exhaust. Subtle, yet captivating.

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The BOTT XR1R Pikes Peak motorcycle—winner win of the Exhibition Powersport class
Bottpower BOTT XR1R When the mad engineers at Bottpower decided to take on the notorious Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, they cranked the tech up to eleven. The BOTT XR1R is powered by a 150 hp Buell XBRR motor, hanging off Bottpower’s proprietary backbone-style frame.

The full package is extensive, but highlights include top-shelf suspension, carbon wheels, a custom air intake system and sophisticated, custom-designed electronics. It looks mental and runs just the same—XR1R pilot Travis Newbold took a class win and finished with the fourth overall fastest time for a motorcycle.

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Buell XB9 City X cafe racer by deBolex Engineering
Buell XB9SX by deBolex According to shop owner Calum Pryce-Tidd, deBolex’s ethos is to “celebrate the efforts of the manufacturer by retaining the core of the bike, dressing it in a new set of clothes and upgrading components.” And there’s no finer way to describe what the London shop did to this Buell XB9SX City X.

DeBolex transformed the Buell with svelte bodywork, fine fabrication and killer upgrades like Panigale 899 forks and carbon wheels. They also cleverly repacked some components—like moving the oil cooler to between the yokes, behind a custom-made headlight shroud.

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Ducati MH900e cafe racer by Stadafab and Red Max Speed Shop
Gareth Roberts’ Ducati MH900E A stock Ducati MH900e is desirable enough, but this one’s just plain ridiculous. It belongs to Gareth Roberts—a London-based film director responsible for the upcoming custom scene documentary, Oil in the Blood. It’s also technically a replica, but built at a level rarely seen on factory machines.

You’re looking at a 900ss motor in a titanium frame, covered in replica carbon fiber bodywork. The parts list is lengthy, with Panigale 899 forks, an Öhlins shock, an S2R swing arm and Kineo wheels all in the mix. Best of all it was a group effort, with some of the best hands and minds in the business leaving their mark on this exotic machine.

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Triumph TR6 custom motorcycle by Heiwa
Triumph TR6 by Heiwa MC We almost put two of Kengo Kimura’s builds on this list, but in the interest of fairness we let this Triumph TR6 hog the limelight (here’s the other one). It’s the bike that bagged Kimura-san the coveted ‘Best Motorcycle’ award at Mooneyes this year, but we’d be smitten with it even if it didn’t win.

The three-piece bolt-together frame, lithe bodywork and unique handlebar setup present of the best craftsmanship we’ve seen this year. And everything hangs together beautifully…like it just ‘belongs.’ It’s a reminder why Heiwa MC is—and will remain—a powerhouse in the custom scene.

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Custom BMW R nineT Scrambler by JvB Moto
BMW R nineT Scrambler by JvB-Moto Spend five minutes with Jens vom Brauck, and you’ll discover a humility that belies just how talented the man is. His bikes are as sharp as his sense of humor, plus they’re a blast to ride too—I had the opportunity to put a few miles on this trim BMW R nineT Scrambler, and didn’t want to get off.

It’s a lot more compact than the OEM bike—thanks to a smaller fuel tank that places the seat further forward, and narrower and higher handlebars. It’s also loaded with signature JvB-Moto touches, like the bulldog-ish headlight and that neat little ducktail at the back. The small sliver of color on the tank is another killer feature—especially when you consider that Jens whipped up that gradient with rattle cans in record time.

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BMW C evolution custom motorcycle
BMW C evolution by Krautmotors We’ll admit that this isn’t the most practical motorcycle we’ve featured this year, but we don’t care. With the world of electric vehicles expanding rapidly, we need custom builders to do batsh*t-crazy things with electric motorcycles. And a 72 Nm electric dragster, with a hand-shaped composite fairing and its guts exposed, is about as nuts-o as it gets.

So thanks to BMW Motorrad for handing Rolf Reik at Krautmotors a C Evolution to tear into—and thanks to Rolf for throwing the rule book out the window.

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Moto Mucci's Husqvarna TE 570
Husqvarna TE570 by Moto Mucci This sensational little dual-sport is what happens when an industrial designer with a head full of ideas builds himself a new ride. Dave Mucci’s Husky TE570 is laden with quirky touches—and devoid of all the plastic it shipped from the factory with.

There’s a vintage Husqvarna tank—complete with original patina—up top, along with a new bolt-on subframe and custom-made saddle. The front-mounted radiator and grill give the Husky almost cartoon-like proportions, but the real kicker is how this thumper looks like nothing else out there.

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Custom BMW R nineT Scrambler by NCT Motorcycles
BMW R nineT Scrambler by NCT Motorcycles We first became aware of NCT Motorcycles two years ago, and we’ve kept a close eye on them ever since. The Austrian shop has produced hit after hit, but it’s this fresh take on the R nineT that secured them a spot on this list.

The use of a classic boxer fuel tank (taken from an R100 RS) on the modern nineT is a stroke of genius, and the yellow and blue palette is inspired. Then there are smaller details like those side panels—perfectly shaped to fill space and complement the Beemer’s new lines. It’s the sort of consideration that we’ve come to expect from NCT, and will probably see for years to come.

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Kawasaki H2 by the Wrenchmonkees
Kawasaki Ninja H2 by Wrenchmonkees We’re itching to see more 80s and 90s sport-style customs, and this stunner from the formidable Wrenchmonkees is the perfect blueprint. The project was commissioned by Dutch moto gear manufacturer REV’IT!, and is based on Kawasaki’s maniacal Ninja H2.

It’s a smorgasbord of adapted and hand-made parts, finished in a typically Monkee monochrome livery. It’s also one of the wildest customs we’ve seen from the Danish crew, and a kick-in-the-face reminder that you should never, ever count them out.

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Editor's Choice: An Alternative Top 10 Customs of 2017
Honourable mentions Above, we have six more builds that made the shortlist, but narrowly missed the final cut. Clockwise from top left, we have Revival’s sidecarcross Ducati ST4, Craig Rodsmith’s turbocharged Moto Guzzi, the Krugger Ducati Diavel, Schlachtwerk’s Kawasaki W650, Titan’s BMW bobber and Thrive’s Harley XL 1200 Sportster.

It’s been a tremendous year for the custom scene. Thank you for joining us, and for engaging in lively debate. If we’ve missed any of your favorites here (or in our data-driven main Top 10), put us right in the comments.

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