Photo: European Motorcycle Accessories
Photo: European Motorcycle Accessories
Photo: European Motorcycle Accessories
Photo: Acid NYC
Photo: Acid NYC
Photo: Acid NYC
We take a look at 13 custom sportbikes from around the world.
Ricky "Captain" Bookal (shown here twisting a stoppie) is the man in charge of the Miami Warriors, a stunt crew noted for the fact that all its members ride exactly the same bike--highly customized Yamaha YZF-R1s.
With each of the 50-odd Warriors rocking the same model, you might expect some duplication when it comes to custom touches. As you can see, that's not the case. Ricky's own R-1 sports a full Akrapovic exhaust system and a clever, mock diamond-plate pattern on top of yellow and black paint.
As is the case with most of the Warriors' bikes, the graphic motif is carried over to Bookal's helmet and even the inside of the wheel rims. Each member's bike usually somehow expresses its owner's individual personality or interests.
Eli, who rides the lime-green R1 pictured at left in the group photo, is the crew's resident computer software wizard. Accordingly, his '00 R-1 is decorated with glow-in-the-dark striping in the pattern of computer circuit boards. Eli even incorporat-ed a few cryptic messages in the tape design, messages that can only be read after dark.
Savage, a regular in Miami's South Beach riding scene, did up his R-1 with a red-and-black camouflage pattern and has nylon crash protectors installed to ensure that the paint stays unmarked.
In addition to paintwork, nearly all the Warriors' bikes receive performance boosts from Street To Custom, located in Dania Beach, Florida. Underseat exhaust systems from either Blue Flame or England's Devil Exhausts, as well as extended swingarms, are the most common mods.
On the other hand, there's nothing common at all about the details invested in the '99 R-1 ridden by stunter Robbie Marley (far right). The son of reggae legend Bob Marley, Robbie rides a futuristic Yamaha featuring a computer-inspired paint job, an adjustable steering damper to steady the ride during Marley's famous parallel tank stands and Wave brake rotors.
On-dash, there's a rearview system that makes mirrors redundant by employing a tiny, wide-angle video camera and a dash-mounted monitor screen. "You just have to be careful to keep your eyes on the road ahead and not to watch the screen too much," Marley says.
Hasim Chaduray started with an '01 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a simple mission--to build the most eye-catching Gixxer in town.
His first step toward that end was $5,000 worth of chrome-plating--dipping the bike's rear shock and spring, gas tank, wheels, kickstand, bars and even the ignition key in the shiny stuff. Once the shine was put on, Chaduray turned his attention to the motor, administering another 10 grand in performance upgrades to ensure the parking lot prince had as much boost as it did bling.
Ray McLelland at Pittsburgh's Northgate Cycles was called on to install a full Yoshimura RS-3 Oval racing exhaust and remap the fuel injection with a Dynojet Power Commander unit. A 1,070cc big-bore kit was installed, and the heads were sent out to Dutchman Racing for gas flowing and porting. Inside are Yoshimura ST-1 mild-lift cams, cut and profiled for increased midrange. Matched with a timing retard eliminator, the big Suzook is pushing 185 hp--more than enough to ward off any "all show, no go" comments.
Once Italy's premier manufacturer of specialist sportbikes, Bimota went belly up in 2000. The company's demise hasn't stopped the firm's U.S. importer, Moto Point of Stahlstown, Pennsylvania from still occasionally filling the odd order from their back stock, however. Case in point: this '00 Bimota SB8R, decked out with nearly one of everything from the catalog of Japanese performance specialist Shin Kondo.
In case you're wondering, Shin Kondo stuff ain't cheap; the final total for this machine was more than $120,000. That sizeable bill covered some of the trickest parts ever to grace a street machine, including: dual under-seat titanium Tunnel Port exhausts (a cool $4,500) and titanium replacement fasteners all around, many of these built one-off by Kondo specifically for this bike.
This very special SB8R rolls on Marchesini wheels, sprayed with a pearlescent paint and sporting Brembo racing calipers. A hand-stitched silver suede seat is perched atop hand-painted carbon-fiber bodywork, complete with naked carbon-fiber ram-air ducts. Blue-tinted carbon clip-on handlebars provide control, and the lucky rider of this 391-pound featherweight sees the world through a one-off, iridium-coated windscreen. Hardly some showroom queen, the sexy Bimota is ridden regularly on the streets of Alabama. It's no slouch on the backroads, thanks to an upgraded Suzuki TL1000R motor with Cosworth pistons, flowed heads and a Suzuki World Superbike-spec close-ratio gearbox.
That's what the license plates on this '98 R1 spell out, as this bike can be found most Sunday mornings strafing Northern California's famed Highway 1--if not the 15 turns of nearby Thunderhill Park raceway.
Owned by Greg Colyer, co-owner of European Motorcycle Accessories, this bike has become a de facto testing and advertising tool for all of the exotic motorcycle hardware that Colyer and his cohorts collect from across the pond. Don't let the factory-style paint job fool you--under that pearl white-and-red skin is one of the trickest sportbikes on the road, with more specialized European racing technology than most machines in the World Superbike paddock. All suspension components have been upgraded to Ohlins Superbike-spec pieces, including forks, three-way adjustable rear shock and a steering damper. Wheels are PVM five-spokers, and PVM also makes the CNC-machined fork bottoms that hold the AP Racing six-piston monoblock radial calipers up front (an AP Racing two-piston caliper resides in the rear).
The remainder of the chassis is rounded out with a bevy of Harris products from Britain, including adjustable triple clamps, a Harris handmade, WSB-spec R7/R1 swingarm and Harris adjustable rearsets. Even the stock-looking body is special--fairing lowers are all carbon fiber, as is the rear hugger fender (from Harris) and inner dash panels.
The engine is the mildest part of the bike; it's mostly stock save for an Akrapovic ti full system and Ivan's jet kit. An ultra-spec drivetrain makes up for this, though, with a JOS-PVM slipper clutch and a Translogic quick shifter that has Intelli-Shift functions. Colyer's spec sheet is constantly changing as EMA's product base continues to expand. For updated specs or to find out how much it will cost for you to build your own WSB-based bruiser, log on to www.ema-usa.com.
Gregg's Customs R1
This tight R1 was turned out by Gregg DesJardins, owner of Gregg's Customs in Campbell, California. Gregg's manufactures a small selection of off-the-shelf sportbike components (including billet flush-mount signals, machined sprocket covers and other gorgeous bits) in addition to performing custom machining jobs. Gregg's machining skills are exhibited in spades on his R1, which features a homebuilt single-sided swingarm, rearsets and a host of other one-off components. Check him out at www.greggscustoms.com.
Suzuki's SV650 is the tabula rasa of modern motorcycles, the rare bike with the ability to be anything to anyone--sport riders, commuters, racers and even touring riders dig the little 'Zook that could.
Clean, naked styling also makes it prime for customizing, as illustrated here by these two tweaked SVs from Petaluma, California custom house Motomorphic. The blue bike is SV up front and everything else in the rear.
The Motomorphic crew started with a cast-off Honda RC30 swingarm, which, after 20 hours of fabbing, was mated with the SV frame. The rear wheel comes from a Ducati 916, and the crowning feature is the MV Agusta F4 tail section and quad-mufflers. The bike is still in progress--currently under development is a one-off, MV-style carbon-fiber tank and MV upper fairing and headlight, too.
The orange bike, on the other hand, is straight-up streetfighter. This one also features a single-sided swingarm adaptation, this time using Honda VFR parts. The front end is from a '98 GSX-R 750 (with Race- Tech internals), and the SV Fighter also runs an Ohlins shock and SharkSkinz aluminum subframe with solo tail. The motor is mostly stock save for Keihin flat-slide carbs and a Motomorphic-bent exhaust system capped with a pair of SuperTrapp mufflers from a Yamaha YZ426 dirt bike.
"Smooth" is the operative term when describing this flamed flyer built by Dave Lee, the owner of SharkSkinz Racing Bodies. Starting with an '01 Suzuki GSX-R1000, Lee first hung the bike with all new SharkSkinz GSX-R body pieces (plus a carbon-fiber tank from Eurospace Technologies), then set to work making everything flow. The toughest part, Lee says, was adapting the projector-beam headlights to the race fairing and blending in the flush-mounted lenses that cover the lamps. So tough, in fact, that Lee had to do it twice--the first time, after he peeled off the protective masking, Lee discovered that one of his handmade lenses had cracked during finishing!
The back of the bike comes together with a SharkSkinz GSX-R solo tail modified to fit the LED taillight units from the Yamaha R6 (this tail has since become a production SharkSkinz product). Lee's custom bodywork is finished off with an attention-grabbing red-and-white flame job laid down by Phil Day at Bikes Only in Orlando, Florida.
Underneath it all, the inline-four engine received some aftermarket attention as well. Lee installed a Yoshimura EMS computerized engine-management system (with accessory hub) that incorporates all sorts of gizmos, including shift light, fuel cut-out for smooth clutchless upshifts and a bar-mounted switch that allows Lee to jump between three different fuel-injection maps on the fly. The full exhaust system is a Ti Force from Orient Express, and a Penske rear shock matched with fork mods by Traxxion Dynamics helps Lee keep everything together in the curves.
Thank goodness for long, miserable Midwestern winters--without them, the custom bike world wouldn't be half as lively. Case in point: Reed Herman's marvy Monster streetfighter built over the last half-dozen or so off-seasons in Minneapolis. Reading the spec sheet, you'd almost think that Herman raided the closet in the Ducati factory race shop to gather the parts for his 'fighter: wheels are from a 916, the front fender is from an 851, and the rearsets are from an 888.
Herman almost went bust buying titanium: All but a handful of fasteners are the magic metal, along with the front axle, the rear tank mount/pivot and the forks, which are ti-nitride-coated. The green stuff on the engine is a zinc-chromate-magnesium protectant--don't ask. Herman didn't neglect the motor--displacement has been bumped to 944 cc, with Lofgren-ported heads, lightened flywheel, balanced crank and loads more aftermarket accessories. Herman estimates that he has about $36,000 wrapped up in the project--money well spent for a bike truly deserving of the Monster name.
Performance Machine is probably best known for its huge line of aftermarket billet goodies for choppers--its bread and butter over the last few years. But PM is anything but a newcomer to the sportbike scene--its Chicane wheels have been a common sight
on racetracks (and custom street-bikes) for a decade now, as have its aftermarket brake components. Though chopper bits remain the PM crew's main stock in trade, the company says that demand for sportbike goodieswheels in particularis stronger than ever. It was this growing demand that led PM to build the custom Hayabusa shown here (also on the cover) to take to trade shows and other motorcycle events with the purpose of building excitement in the company's expanding line of sportbike products.
The PM Hayabusa was built entirely in house by PM's R&D; department--led by Roland Sands (also this issue's cover boy/spinner), Todd Silicato and Peter Vecvanagus. Save for a Yoshimura full exhaust system and some revalving of the fork and shock, the mechanicals of the bike remain mostly stock. Big mods were saved for the body: an AirTech tank and race tail, the latter of which had to be substantially modified to work with the stock seat and the Aprilia taillight. The signal holes were filled before ColorZone Design in Huntington Beach, California shot the bass-boat metallic paint, while a black-anodized frame, swingarm and fork lowers round out the finish work.
Everything that wasn't painted or powder-coated was chromed--including levers, triples and other bits. Last, but not least, the bike was hit with one of everything from the Perfomance Machine sportbike catalog, including 17-inch Gatlin wheels, matching 320mm front rotors and PM's own Race calipers. PM builds at least one new show-stopping chopper each year to showcase its latest cruiser products. Here's to hoping it follows the same plan with custom sportbikes. A ZX-12R next year, guys? Please?
Scott Chester and the other cats at Acid NYC have plenty to occupy their time. Between operating a thriving cigar company (Acid Cigars: Look for the sportbike on the label), managing a nascent clothing company and executing an endless stream of design-for-hire tasks, Chester is a busy boy indeed.
Don't believe us? Just try and reach him by office phone... Despite employment overload, Chester still makes time for his first--and oldest--interest: custom sportbikes. Chester is one of the most sought-after bike painters on all of the East Coast, having pumped more than 200 rolling works of art out the doors of his DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) design studio over the past decade. Though 200 bikes might not sound like much to the Earl Schiebs of the world, realize that when Chester lays licks on your bike, it's not just a paint job--it's an honest-to-goodness work of art. Chester's concepts can be absolutely stunning in their originality.
Take, for instance, the Honda CBR600F3 pictured to the left, one of two bikes that Chester created a few years ago for clothing manufacturer Ecko Unlimited. Upon cursory glance, it looks like random images. Tilt your head a bit, however, and everything begins to make sense. "The idea," Chester says, "is that if someone pulls a stoppie on the bike, you'll suddenly see the whole scene." Tilt the magazine on end and you're looking down an urban street, complete with lampposts and buildings. Look closely, and you'll see that the main image in the foreground (across the center of the fairing) is actually a lamppost pasted with Ecko stickers. The background (mostly on the tank) is an apartment building, and each window has something unique inside. Artwork within artwork far-out stuff.
Not all of Chester's work is so high-concept--many designs are simpler in nature, like the Caterpillar-inspired ZX-6. That bike is a simple two-color base (black and yellow) with some creative masking and graphics laid down on top. Though simple in design, the effect is still dramatic.
Thugomatic, the red ZX-7R, is another example of Chester's more egalitarian work. This bike isn't painted at all but rather is a reflective sticker kit applied over a red base coat. The concept for this bike was a collaboration between Chester and fellow artist Tristan Eaton; Chester and Eaton came up with the concept together, and Eaton transferred the concept to a computer file and cut out the graphics in reflective vinyl, then Chester applied them to the bike. Comic book characters, logos and other advertising imagery are common themes in Chester's work. "It's an East Coast thing," Chester says. "New York is where Marvel comics are from, and a lot of advertising comes from here--it's part of our scene." Chester is currently at work on a Spiderman-themed '84 Kawasaki GPZ 900. "That's what the customer wants," Chester says by way of explanation. "Anyway, some of the concepts fit better with older bikes. Design is all about attitude, angles and shapes, and the old bikes have a lot to offer here." Spoken like a true artist.