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Desirable Diversion

Carl S. Cunanan
January 30, 2018        |

On Two, Bespoke

Much of what was tool before is now art and craft and beauty. And while many look to the Americas for custom bike builders, the appreciation and the development of modern custom motorcycles takes us to different parts of the globe.

2012 Triumph Thruxton Roadster

BIKE BY Angry Lane 

Angry Lane is two Parisian brothers in Hong Kong, Guillaume and Ben Barras. They have both mechanical ability and fashion design in their blood. They worked on a 50cc Yamaha with their father as kids, and their mother would bring home examples of beautiful artistry and craftsmanship from fashion house Courrèges. This appreciation of different types of handwork took, and the boys moved from tinkering on their own bikes to helping their friends to running a global business out of a small shop in Hong Kong. They now also produce high quality leather jackets and gear perfect for the increasing market for the custom motorcycle lifestyle, and just began a collaboration with bag maker Pacsafe. Ben builds the bikes; here he sits beside a wonderful example of how their worlds come together. What began as a 2012 Triumph Thruxton is now an excellent example of a classic naked Roadster. Mechanicals are all open and available to see and appreciate, with combinations of black, silver, and grey highlighting and subduing different components for a wonderful overall look. The tank is a bright blue, the seat a sumptuous and well-crafted light brown leather that is sure to patina with age and use.

2015 Triumph Thruxton The Phantom

BIKE BY Angry Lane   PHOTOS BY Jason Bonello

Perhaps our favorite Angry Lane piece, the Phantom began as an idea from a customer and a 2015 Triumph Thruxton. This was their first Triumph project, and they clearly have a knack for working with the classic British bike brand. Another naked classic bike, with a look that is somehow part military, part races, and part artwork yet fully rideable. Big black knobby tires on black-coated wheels combine with wrapped exhaust pipes for a rather rough, utilitarian aesthetic that might seem tatty elsewhere but is just perfect on this motorcycle. A military style headlight completes the look, helped by details such as the lowered front and rear, clip-on handlebars and rearset pegs. What really brings things to the next level is the leatherwork. Beautiful dark leather for the seat, a top tank strap and the tank pads. Look closely and you will see the intricate detailing. While it is easy to look at the Angry Lane bikes and think of particular pieces, it is the look of the whole work that is really what makes them different.

1983 BMW R100 ‘The Deathstar Series’

BIKE BY Ironwood    PHOTOS BY Paul

With a name like Ironwood, you would expect these bikes to come out of the United States. With the initials IWC for Ironwood Customs, you might think Switzerland. Nope. Think Amsterdam. Arjan van den Boom and Partner began building bikes in 2012 with the aim being to produce “one of a kind vintage” machines. Their tag line is “bold & minimalistic.” Their “Deathstar” series has gotten them quite a bit of attention, and while the name may have something to do with the interest, the bike speaks for itself. This one (the third in the series) began life as a 1985 BMW R100. The classic mammoth tank shape is clearly what draws the eye, even though it like everything else is basically all blacked out. Minimalistic is right, there’s barely anything there that isn’t functional yet the bike is clearly BMW. The nicely-detailed solo seat is supported by an additional tube that works quite well with the old school look of the tank. Mounting points had to be changed, and the whole bike was lowered. Motocross bars were used to support the scrambler aesthetic. A very different vision from the work of Angry Lane.

1985 BMW R80 ‘The Mutant’

BIKE BY Ironwood    PHOTOS BY Paul

Arjan’s personal bike, the Mutant. He started with a 1985 BMW R80 and a desire to make something completely different. The monoshock and single swing arm that define the original bike are still there, but that seems about it. The Mutant is aggressive and raw but treated with a color palette that looks old-school showroom. Unlike the Deathstar series, there is color and texture and shine everywhere. A vintage tank strays from what most people envision when they think “BMW Boxer,” it is thin and tucks in way below the forks. Almost level with the clip-on grips (we told you it was aggressive). The single seat is sharp and thin. Your eyes are called to the custom exhaust piping, actually more accurately, to the nice welding that adds color and texture to the pipes as they snake around, up, and back into an Akrapovic muffler with a carbon fiber tip. This bike is about audacity and detail, rawness and minimalism. I personally love seeing the welds highlighted so nicely.

1987 BMW R80S

BIKE BY Angry Lane    PHOTOS BY Brian Wright

A little different from the other Angry Lane bikes, this is a café racer built around a 1987 BMW R80S instead of the Triumphs that they do so well. Here they wanted to expose particular details that define the bike, such as the iconic engine and the mono-arm and single spring rear, but make the whole thing into something with a café racer look. A custom subframe allows you to clearly see the powerplant, and a custom leather seat sits flatly above the open area that allows you to see the suspension design and work. This bike is more aggressive than the other Angry Lane motorcycles here, the rider will sit in a more forward sport-oriented position that isn’t always best for their native (now) HK traffic. Clip-ons instead of handlebars. Other signature details are still there, of course. Excellent workmanship on the leather seats, details, and tank pads. What you think is a stick-on or painted number plate is actually tooled and stitched leather.

2017 Yamaha XSR 700 ‘The Chronos Joyride’

BIKE BY Ironwood    PHOTOS BY Paul

Another departure from what we have shown from Ironwood. Here they began with a brand new bike from across the seas. The donor bike is a 2017 Yamaha XSR 700, part of a project with watch company TW Steel (which is also Dutch). Arjan brought their traditional “Brat” style bike to the modern Japanese design of the Yamaha, and you very clearly see the differences. Modern tank shape and modern lights in front of a custom leather seat by yet another Dutch company. You still see the minimalist look, but the lines are all much more forward-thinking than the other IWC (the bike, not the watch) motorcycles. Wide open spaces through and at the back of the bike, nice curvy pipes below leading to a short exhaust and a rather loud carbon muffler take the design language of enthusiasts and builders from generations ago and successfully apply them to modern engineering and electronics.

Congratulations to Arjan and family, who somehow managed to maintain communications with us while welcoming into the world their firstborn child!