The era of US car and motorcycle customisation shows captured me for at least two years. It got to the point where it felt like whenever I switched to the Discovery channel, there was something being chopped and modified.
For motorcycles, American Chopper built around Paul Teutul Sr and his Orange County Choppers and Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose were my favourites, which I watched religiously. Although I did not ride or own a motorcycle at the time, there was something wonderfully appealing about watching them take a standard motorcycle and infusing it with the owner’s personality.
Although I stopped following the shows when I bought my motorcycle, a 2015 BMW R1200 R, I also started a Pinterest board dedicated to custom motorcycles. Since I paid off my motorcycle, I have received many a message, offering me the opportunity to trade in my bike. The way I see it, my first motorcycle is precious and, rather than trading it in, now is the time to customise it to reflect me.
In looking for inspiration I came across Bulgarian-based Tossa R’s customised BMW R1250 R “Hulk" edition from 2021. While the R 1250 R is a step up from my R 1200 R, it is the angular lines on the design that make the motorcycle look even more aggressive, although with mine, I would probably go with a blood-red colour. Plus, with no-one in the family interested in riding as pillion, the single seat adds to the appeal of the motorcycle.
My future garage has a motorcycle section with a variety of custom bikes. Some of my favourite builds that I have come across, in those extended moments when I go wandering down motorcycle rabbit holes, include the following:
German Thomas Grewe’s Indian Scout winner in the 2023 Budweis Indian Custom Motorcycle Show at the Indian Motorcycles’ Indian Riders Fest held in the Czech Republic in June. Narrower twin pipes, a leather solo seat and a white on red tank streamline the motorcycle, in a way. Looks ideal for a leisurely ride on the highway to nowhere.
Rogue Motorcycles’ The Hooligun has a gunmetal grey paint job and is built on the off-road Suzuki DRZ400E. Billy Marijn Kuijen of Rogue Motorcycles built it around a customised aluminium subframe, adding in LED lighting, a solo saddle, a custom-made grill, a Yamaha SR400 gas chamber and a Kawasaki ZX-7's shock absorber, among others. While its origins are in the dirt, I can see myself navigating Joburg roads and traffic happily on it.
While the Royal Enfield is still often associated with England, it is India-owned and has a long history with the country. Bombay Custom Works, which has been operating for about a decade, built the Jugaad for a client some years back based on a Desert Storm with a 2015 Enfield 500 engine. I love the simplicity of the design in particular the emerald green colour with all the chrome bits in black, including the exhaust, and the leather saddle. Definitely looks a fun ride off the beaten path.
The Renard R100 Café Racer is exquisite. Based in Estonia, Renard Motorcycles built their ‘interpretation of the ultimate Café Racer’ and then tailor it to the owner’s desire with various customisation options. They have married the classic look perfectly with modern manufacturing and electronics, including keyless ignition and smartphone/app connection. Plus it is powered by a 1,000cc custom engine from Renard.
The list continues to grow, the more time I spend online. What are some of your favourite custom builds?