The 2011 Bike EXIF Top Ten

Vincent Black Shadow: Falcon Motorcycles' Black Falcon
Every six months we profile the greatest hits of Bike EXIF. It’s the definitive guide to current custom motorcycle trends: these are the bikes that sent traffic through the roof, struck a chord with our readers, and often triggered the most comments.

1. The Black Falcon (above). The clear winner this time round is the Black Falcon, the eagerly-awaited masterpiece from Ian Barry’s workshop in LA. The Vincent badge always goes down well with our readers, and this incredible machine clocked up over a thousand Facebook likes in a matter of days.

Triumph TR6 Tiger custom motorcycle
2. Triumph Tiger Custom (above). Our runner-up also has a strong old-school influence. This lovely 1967 Triumph Tiger was built by New Yorker Eric Henderson with a little help from his friends at TT Cycles. There’s nothing radical about this machine: just a clean and simple hardtail with perfect proportions and a beautiful finish.

Custom BSA motorcycle 'Son Of A Gun'
3. Son of A Gun BSA (above). Larry Houghton has a knack of building show winners, and Son of A Gun wowed the judges at the most recent Custom Chrome European Bike Show. It’s based on a BSA Gold Star, although you’d be hard pressed to tell. Truly original and surprisingly inexpensive—many of the parts came from eBay.

Triumph Bonneville
4. Atom Bomb Velvet Underground (above). Clay Rathburn is an old-school builder, doing most of the work himself—right down to building frames in-house. His ‘Doctor Who’ bike is one of my all-time favorites, so I’m glad to see his latest creation make the grade.

BMW R75/5 custom
5. Revival Cycles BMW R75/5 (above). It was a real mission to get images of this machine. And I half expected the reaction to be terrible. But it proved that originality is always a winner, and our servers almost melted down. Top marks to Bill Twitchel and his partners at Revival Cycles for producing a one-of-a-kind.

BMW R80
6. Untitled Motorcycles BMW R80 (above). It’s always gratifying to see a new workshop hit a home run. London-based Untitled takes old bikes and ‘recycles’ them into practical daily conveyances, perfect for blasting around the streets of Camden Town. The ‘Scrambler UM-2’ triggered uproar in the comments section, but most folks hit the ‘Like’ button. New releases from Untitled are on the way—stay tuned for details.

Harley-Davidson Sportster custom
7. Shaw Speed & Custom XLST3 (above). Just when I thought I’d seen every possible permutation of Sportster customizing, this one dropped into my inbox. It’s from a British Harley-Davidson dealer, and there’s nothing else quite like it. The dirt track influence is obvious, but there’s a lot of clever thinking in this machine and it’s not an XR750 clone. As one commenter said, “I am not the biggest Harley fan, but I would ride anything Harley that these guys could build.”

Honda CX500
8. Wrenchmonkees CX500 (above). No Bike EXIF Top Ten would be complete without an entrant from the mighty Wrenchmonkees of Denmark. And sure enough, their take on Honda’s lowly CX500 was a massive hit. According to the Copenhagen boys, the style is ‘chopper-racer’, and strangely enough, it works. Even more impressive is being able to pull off a paintjob in … brown.

Yamaha XJ900
9. Yamaha XJ900 custom (above). If I had to pick a theme for the first half of this year, it’d be ‘understatement’. Muted tones are the most popular, and amateur builders are showing just as much restraint as the pros. This delicious XJ900 is a case in point: it came from Australian builder Carlo Romanin, who has now set up shop as Halfway There Motorcycles. This bike is an iron fist in a velvet glove: it’s packing a 100 hp powerhouse motor, but speaks softly with warm gray paint and just a splash of color from the grips and instruments.

Kawasaki Z750B
10. Wrenchmonkees #18 (above). Another hit from the Wrenchmonkees, and one of my personal favorites. The ‘Monkees went to town on the Kawasaki Z750B motor, machining out the cylinders, fitting custom-made pistons, and giving the heads a port and polish. It’s reasonable to assume that #18 has got the ‘go’ to match the show.

All the bikes in this Top 10 were featured in the first six months of 2011. But honorable mentions should go to several bikes from 2010 that are still generating huge interest. At the top of this pile is the blacked-out BMW R60/2 from Blitz Motorcycles of France—one of the most controversial bikes we’ve ever featured. Another is the Ducati Diavel: our web exclusive is still going strong and attracting comments. (Was it really only launched eight months ago?)

Fitting within the 2011 timeframe but just missing the cut was John Pellow’s magnificent Taimoshan Super Café Racer—an Aprilia RSV-powered beast that’s probably one of the fastest road bikes we’ve ever featured.

So that’s the state of the custom motorcycle world today—or should I say, our readers’ visions of that world. Are there any machines you’re surprised not to see here?