Custom Bikes Of The Week: 5 August, 2018

The best cafe racers, scramblers and bobbers of the week
A delicately massaged Norton Dominator, a Honda CB500 with Panigale suspension, a board track racer over a century old, and a Honda CRF1000 upgraded by the improbably named African Queens.

Honda CB500 Four cafe racer from France
Honda CB500 Four by Lionel Duke Just when we think we’ve seen every possible rendition of a cafe’d Honda CB, something new comes along. This time round, that newness is draped in white and comes courtesy of Lionel Duke of Tourettes-sur-Loup in south-eastern France.

Starting with a 1973 CB500 Four, Lionel wanted to do something that would stand out in a crowd but still be identifiable as a Honda CB. Seven hundred hours later and his dedication and craftsmanship are pretty staggering.

Honda CB500 Four cafe racer from France
Take the exhaust for example. It’s a four-into-four, MotoGP inspired unit that came together via 115 bits of stainless steel. Or maybe the tank has caught your eye. Sure, it looks like a stock cell from Big Red—but it’s actually a handmade aluminum unit with an integrated Motogadget MST Vintage analog speedo that’s been flanked by stainless steel cables that run the length of the bike.

Sitting below the gorgeous, snubbed tail is a single sided swingarm that used to keep a Panigale on the hunt. The frame was modified to help everything mate up and while he was hacking away at the Ducati, Lionel decided the front end would do rightly as well. My favorite touch however, is the mounting of the front fender—which uses more aircraft cabling—and the braided brake line that keeps it hovering over the racing slicks. [More]

Norton Dominator by 72 Motorcycles
Norton Dominator by 72 Motorcycles When we first came across the Brits at 72 Motorcycles, they astonished us with their recrafting of Ron Wood’s Big Tube Tracker. Now Jamie Ireson and his business (and romantic) partner Merry Michau are at it again. They’ve taken a Norton Dominator SS, subtly modified it, and called it the Phantom.

The largest changes to the Norton’s visuals come courtesy of the hand shaped aluminum fairing up front and the equally tasty work in the rear. On a stock Dominator the tail is already a very pretty piece of woven carbon fiber—but we reckon this new aluminum unit lends even more elegance to this cafe racer.

Norton Dominator by 72 Motorcycles
To help clean things up even more over OEM form, Motogadget’s catalog has been raided for bright yet miniscule lighting solutions. And on the topic of illumination, the Phantom has one of those pricey yet purposeful J.W. Speaker headlights that shines LEDs into a corner when you initiate a lean.

The finishing touch is a fresh coat of midnight black, accented with a matte center stripe and tasteful shimmer here and there. This Phantom may give Rolls-Royce a run for the most elegant British ghostie. [More]

Harley-Davidson 11K board track racer
Harley-Davidson 11K board track racer Unless you’ve been living off-grid, still have a rotary dial on your phone, or missed Wes’ excellent interview with Harley’s marketing boss Steve Lambert, you’ll know that the Bar and Shield have some impressive hardware heading our way in the near future. But as with any heritage brand like Harley-Davidson, what lies in the past is sometimes of even greater interest. Like this incredibly rare Harley-Davidson 11K board track racer.

One of only 79 original bikes, this piece of rolling history was found rotting away in an Argentine scrap heap. A blown engine had shelved its racing career, and it was apparently more interesting to watch it rust than fix it. So rust it did, until it received the love and attention it deserved and was painstakingly restored beyond its 1915 greatness.

Harley-Davidson 11K board track racer
The parts of the frame that would not turn to dust at first brush were integrated into a new, millimeter-precise bit of millwork. The forks, along with the unique Andre dampers, are from the original bike—extensively cleaned and reworked to a new-old stock condition.

So much sweat and equity was poured into this restoration, it took home the 2017 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance award for Most Outstanding Machine. And now it’s for sale, hitting the Mecum auction block near the end of this month. In all truth, the Motor Company itself is the only buyer this thing deserves, so hopefully it ponies up. [More]

Triumph Speed Triple by Italian Dream Motorcycle
Triumph Speed Triple by Italian Dream Motorcycle The Speed Triple has never been a slouch in terms of performance. Hinckley’s hooligan machine even had creative styling, what with those bug-eyes and all. But that hasn’t stopped Sergio Giordano, the man behind Italian Dream Motorcycle (IDM), from pushing the envelope with ‘Tripla Competizione.’

Everything on this 2005 Speed Triple build has been honed for optimal track performance and go-fast style. And after seeing how the IDM crew tweaked a Suzuki Bandit, we shouldn’t be surprised. The engine has seen some internal wizardry and now generates 145 hp (up from 130 hp), and those big and beefy Brembos have enough stopping force to dislodge eyeballs at 1.3 g.

Triumph Speed Triple by Italian Dream Motorcycle
Even under full twist or clamp, you can trust that the new Öhlins suspenders will keep things planted and let the Pirellis do their job. They’re mounted on spiffy gold-series hoops from Rays, and look ready to sniff out apexes and devour straights.

For bodywork, Sergio went with hand formed aluminum to boost aerodynamics while maintaining the visuals of the Trumpet’s frame. Up front there are two options for the fairing, the one in the images is aluminum and covers the lights for track use, but a carbon fiber unit will be available (with bug-eyes integrated) for the street. The good news is that IDM will be making five iterations of Tripla Competizione available for public consumption. The bad news is that you’ll need €45,000 (about US$52,000) to add one to the garage. [More]

Honda Africa Twin upgrade by African Queens
Honda Africa Twin by African Queens Honda’s reborn Africa Twin is a superemely accomplished middleweight ADV bike. Whether in standard or Adventure Sports trim, it offers a mix of on- and off-road ability for riders looking to get dirty on their travels.

But what if its focus was honed? What if, instead of a Swiss Army knife, you wanted a machete? Enter African Queens.

Situated between Ingolstadt and Munich, the AQ team has been turning out enduro specials since the mid-nineties. With roots in rally racing and the famed Dakar, the AQ team knows how to prep a rally bike—and this kit takes the Africa Twin from mild to wild.

Honda Africa Twin upgrade by African Queens
Essentially an enlarged version of the CRF450 Rally bike that currently competes in Dakar, this CRF 1000R has had most of its creature comforts binned in favor of all-out performance. Up front the soft suspension of the stock AT has been cured via a set of drop-in cartridges that not only improve damping but also add extra travel.

To match performance levels, at the rear an Öhlins unit takes care of Pro-Link duties. A set of Excel wheels has been fitted and, with the help of a new Termignoni exhaust, helps to shed 11 pounds of heft.

Each portion of the kit can be purchased separately from AQ, so if you only wanted little changes, that can be arranged. The standout addition, in my eyes though, is the set of twin auxiliary tanks—fitting seamlessly into the bodywork and increasing fuel capacity to a staggering 30L (7.9 gallons). [More]

Honda Africa Twin upgrade by African Queens