Custom Bikes Of The Week: 4 September, 2016

The best custom motorcycles and cafe racers of the week
Deus reworks the MV Agusta Brutale into an Agostini tribute, Zagato has a crack at the F4, and the tweedy chaps at Old Empire Motorcycles take the SR400 back in time. Meet the bikes that revved our engines this week.

Buell Blast by Ivan Moto
Buell Blast by Ivan Moto When I went through a rider training course 16 years ago to reduce insurance rates, I was handed the keys to a Buell Blast. Thanks to some years of experience in the saddle, the instructors let me wield the 492cc thumper instead of buzzing around on a 125 or 250 dirt bike. I was stoked for the recognition—but dear god, was that bike awful.

Now, had that bike been this jaw dropper from Moscow’s Ivan Moto, I may have been inclined to hand Erik Buell some money for one of my own. But Ivan’s Blast shares very little with EB’s old entry-level bike. The rigid frame is completely custom, as are the impressive girder front forks.

The raw aluminum bodywork has a steampunk vibe that works incredibly well here, especially with the hardwood finishes on the seat and kneepads that soften the overall look. Motogadget switchgear hangs just below the tank, keeping the cockpit impeccably clean. Браво, Ivan! [More]

MV Agusta 'Ago TT' by Deus Customs
MV Agusta ‘Ago TT’ by Deus The Ago TT is the latest creation of Deus USA’s famed designer, Michael ‘Woolie’ Woolaway. Commissioned by MV Agusta, this Brutale is a homage to the brand’s racing heritage, with a specific nod to Giacomo Agostini and his successes in TT racing during the 60s and 70’s. To that end you’ll quickly notice that this MV sports no headlight, signals or taillight. Woolie wanted to make sure the Ago TT was a “true racing tribute… with no compromises.”

The factory plastics are obviously a distant memory, as is the OE subframe. A new unit was hand built in Woolie’s shop to provide minimal support to that magnificent tail, and hide some spaghetti in the process. The tank, however, is the standout of this build. Seven individual pieces of aluminum were coaxed and rolled before being welded together to deliver a shape that would make MV’s old racing tinsmith, Primo Selotti, blush. [More]

Honda CB550 by MONNOM Customs
Honda CB550 by MONNOM Customs If cleanliness is next to godliness, then this 1978 CB550 from MONNOM Customs of Des Moines has achieved deity status. It’s the work of Mike Gustafson, who had his work cut out for him when the bike arrived: The tank, engine and electrics were all a mess.

Undaunted, Mike stripped the CB550 down entirely before turning his attention to the tank. A previous owner had tried his hand at modifications using bondo and scraps from a tin can or two. To make things work, the top of the tank was peeled off and a new roof from a CM 450 was welded in place. Next the engine was rebuilt, including new rings, seals, valves and a cam chain slipper. Then the cases were hand polished and the block freshly painted. Sitting on top of the new subframe is a humped, hand-formed fiberglass tail, adorned with a cherry wood seat, which was shaped and smoothed by Mike over hours with his hand tools.

You can fault any other build for slinging pipewrap and binning fenders, but I wouldn’t want to see this CB550 finished any other way. [More]

MV Agusta F4Z super bike concept by Zagato.
MV Agusta F4Z A couple of months back, my colleagues over at Gear Patrol published an online debate about whether letting Italian design house Zagato loose on a creation is a good idea or not. They opined that, more often than not, Zagato tries to fix things that aren’t broken in the first place and the results are less than stellar.

After seeing what the Milan coachbuilder has done with this MV Agusta, I think some of my colleagues might change their tune. Commissioned as a one-off build, the F4Z’s bodywork is a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber, with swooping, voluptuous lines offering a modern take on 80s inspired design.

To have function follow form, some mechanicals had to be re-engineered in the process. The intake manifolds, battery and exhaust are all bespoke units, as is the MV’s new fuel cell. The overall aesthetic is not beyond criticism—the one-piece subframe/seat/tail unit looks a little bulbous and a touch weighty to our eyes. But it’s an impressive package from a design house typically associated with four wheels, not two. [More]

Yamaha SR400 by Old Empire Motorcycles
Yamaha SR400 by Old Empire Motorcycles Alec and Rafe of Old Empire Motorcycles sweat the small stuff during a build. Take the switchgear on their latest creation, the Snipe. It took hours of CAD tinkering and a King’s ransom in milled aluminum shavings for the pair to be satisfied with the housings for the Motogadget pushers alone—so you know the rest will be impressive.

Even ‘impressive’ doesn’t do the Snipe justice: It borders on perfection. As with all OEM builds, the stance of each bike is paramount to its look, and to nail the silhouette of the SR400, the front forks were shaved and lowered three full inches. That called for a custom set of yokes to hold the new profile together. (Two sets actually, since the first just didn’t sit right.) The Yammie’s tank was altered next: A deeper tunnel was channeled (or chunneled?) to lower the fuel cell and have it sit at an angle that matches the upward curl of the rear subframe.

There’s plenty more to wax poetic about on the Snipe, but Easter Eggs are no fun if you’re told where they hide. Take some time with this one: OEM certainly did. [More]