This Husqvarna was sold with skis as standard equipment

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
Mention vintage Husqvarna dirt bikes, and the legendary Cross 400 immediately springs to mind. But Johan Nordin of 6/5/4 Motors has managed to get his hands on something even more rare and quirky.

He’s managed to score a Husqvarna 256—a bike that was developed in 1968 specifically for the Swedish defence force. Only a thousand were ever produced, and all of them were sold by the early 80s.

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
Johan’s named the bike ‘Thage,’ after his father. “I built this bike because my dad had one when he did his compulsory military service in the early 1970s,” says Johan. “And I’ve heard a lot of great stories of his winter adventures on the little bike with skis. Now I want to experience the same adventures.”

The 256’s two-stroke engine punches out an earth-shattering 15.4 horses, reined in by a four-speed box. But that’s not the best part: it actually comes with skis. And the operating procedure for the skis is the sketchiest we’ve ever come across…

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
“The skis automatically spring up if they are not pushed down,” explains Johan. “You push them down using your feet.” That makes changing gear difficult—so when the skis are down, you have to shift with a hand-lever that is attached to the gear lever.

“The gear lever is on the righthand side and the rear brake is on the left,” says Johan. “This is so that you can use the clutch with your left hand, and shift with your right.” Got that?

“When using the skis you can also disconnect the front brake cable and reconnect it, so it controls the rear brake instead.”

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
As scary as that sounds, it’s all part of the 256’s charm. Secondhand models are extremely hard to come by: “They’re usually owned by older men who did the mandatory military service back in the early 70s,” Johan tells us. “I guess this bike was the first motorcycle most of them came in contact with… and was also the only fun they had when doing their military service.”

As a result, owners typically hold on tight, and treat their 256s really well. This one was in great condition when Johan got it; a friend had bought it from an old-timer, with the intention of rebuilding it. “He became a father, so that was the end of that story,” says Johan. “So the bike was just standing, untouched, for a year, before I got to buy it from him.”

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
Like most military-issue vehicles, the Husky was originally very green, and very utilitarian. But Johan and his compadres at 6/5/4 have injected their usual brand of Scandinavian style.

The rear frame’s been lopped-n-looped, and there’s a more compact perch up top. The fenders are new too, but the front retains a lot of the original’s styling.

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
6/5/4 also fitted longer shocks, new drum brakes, and new Maxxis knobbies. Up front are a set of MX bars and grips, with a simple, classic switchgear setup. A small Bates-style headlight and a new LED tail light round out the parts list.

Johan took a look inside the engine’s top-end too, but everything looked mint. So he just fitted new gaskets and fasteners, and carried out a solid carb and clutch service. After much searching, he found the final piece of the puzzle: a decent exhaust system with a properly sized expansion chamber.

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
Naturally, the whole bike’s been given a new lick of paint, from the tank right down to the frame, engine and wheels. It’s a huge improvement over the stock drab, with a pair of killer ‘Thage’ graphics on the tank sending it comfortably over the top.

Still, one burning question remains: what are those skis like to operate?

“To be honest, I haven’t tried this one in the snow yet,” Johan admits. “But my dad has access to the successor of the 256—the 258, with an automatic gearbox—and that one I’ve tried…”

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors
“Even with the automatic gearbox, it takes a while to get used to. So I imagine it will be hard to ride the manual 256.”

“I can’t wait to try it out in the snow though. I guess I’ll have to keep it until next winter!”

Please do. And then send us the pics.

6/5/4 Motors | Facebook | Instagram | Studio photos by Johannes Helje | Outdoor photos by David Gonzalez

Snow Patrol: An ex-military Husqvarna 256 by 654 Motors

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White Hot: Union’s track-inspired BMW R100

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
There’s something about Beemers with classic fairings and paint—just look at all the fuss being generated by the new R nineT Racer. But there’s more than one way to get that lovely rennsport look, and Union Motorcycle Classics have absolutely nailed it with this heavily modified R100.

Builders Mike Watanabe and Luke Ransom are best known for their immaculate restorations of older British and European bikes, but they occasionally dip a toe into the custom waters.

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
“Like a lot of vintage enthusiasts, Luke and I are fascinated by the Bol d’Or bikes,” says Mike. “So this time we’ve focused on what BMW might have done with an R100 in endurance racing.”

Back in the 90s, Mike used to ride with a friend who had an R100 police special, complete with Heinrich tank. “The look of that bike played a role when I created the design and guidelines for this build,” says Mike. “I also love the way that contemporary BMWs embrace an asymmetrical world. That influenced subtle features of our design.”

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
After spotting a 1993 BMW R100 R in a friend’s workshop, Mike and Luke transferred the bike to their century-old Idaho barn and got to work.

“As a Norton guy, I have always wondered how much the German engineers looked at the main hoops of a featherbed frame,” says Mike. “I have had this shape of tank in my mind for a Norton frame for a long time, and the tank form is dictated by the swooping frame hoops.”

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
The almost half-moon tank profile is perfect for this BMW, flowing on from the curves of the rear frame tubes. So Mike built a hammer buck, and starting shaping aluminum panels.

“Many thanks to Mark Collins at Falcon Fabrication for use of his amazingly well-constructed English wheel,” says Mike. “I didn’t want to ruin all the shaping work so I let Luke handle the stress of welding all the pieces up!”

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
For the design of the fairing, Mike turned to Laverda for inspiration. “Bret at Glass from the Past made the mold. The fairing is now also available on his website in racing form.”

To get the visual flow of the BMW just right, Mike and Luke tackled the seat, exhaust, and rear sub-frame all at the same time. “We figured out the muffler placement and engineered the frame rails. Once the seat was formed, we made a mold, and pulled a fiberglass seat out of it.” Then Luke put the rear together and started fabricating all the mounting points, brackets, and the wiring harness—all the little details that take countless hours.

The engine also gets a boost from new Dell’Orto PHM 38 ‘pumper’ carbs, which Mike describes as a “huge improvement” over the stock Bings.

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
There are Showa forks up front, but not the original 41mm Showas. These are more modern inverted forks from a Honda CB600RR, complete with Tokico brakes, and they’ve been tweaked to take the stock R100 front wheel: “We thought it very important to keep the Akront—for quality, and for matching the spoke pattern to the rear wheel.”

The rear shock is an Öhlins, set up for aggressive street/track riding, and the tires are Avon Roadriders. With a classic tread pattern molded into a reasonably modern rubber compound, they’re an excellent choice for older performance machines.

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
After mounting the controls onto clip-ons and fabricating rearsets from scraps lying around the shop, it was time to decide on paint.

“We investigated a lot of options, but ultimately chose the tried-and-true contemporary BMW racing colors,” says Mike. “Luke sprayed the base, I striped it, and then Luke wrapped it all up.”

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
Despite the racing vibe, Union’s BMW is built to excel on the street. It’s got turn signals, good brakes, and a decent riding position. There’s even a custom dash with a speedo and tach, and a full set of idiot lights.

“I love this bike. It rides great and it’s super practical,” says Mike. “I wish I could keep it, but unfortunately that would not be practical—so the BMW is for sale.”

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics
If you’re tempted, contact Union Motorcycle Classics via their website. Schnell!

Union Motorcycle | Facebook | Instagram

White Hot: A track-inspired BMW R100 R by Union Motorcycle Classics

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This week’s best bikes from around the web

The best cafe racers, scramblers and bobbers of the week
Untitled Motorcycles are back with an impossibly elegant Moto Guzzi 850. We’ve also got a BMW R nineT tweaked for the track, and proof that even a Honda Shadow can be turned into a cafe racer.

Honda CR500 tracker by C’s Garage of Auckland, New Zealand
Honda CR500 by C’s Garage Introduced in 1984, Honda’s ‘Ping King’ CR500 was notorious for one-wheel exploits and its high compression, shin-bustin’ kick-start. So we already have a soft spot for Team Red’s motocross beast. But this one from New Zealand’s C’s Garage … well, it’s turning us to goo.

Working from a bone-stock US import, fabricator-in-chief Adam Hedges wanted to build the flat track bike Honda might have made in 1985, had they thought of it. Many of the finishing touches are factory quality: Take that custom swingarm for example. Crafted from chromoly tubes that match the CR’s frame for size and shape, it shortens the bike’s wheelbase by about 1.5 inches. The subframe took form using the same stock, and was then topped with a new fiberglass tank and tail. Other special touches include the handcrafted mid-pipe and the fact that Adam grafted together a couple of radiators from a pair of CR250s to keep big thumper cool.

Suspension is R6 forks up front and a Ducati shock in the rear; both ends ride on Excel rims that Adam laced up himself. In order to make sure he could enjoy his Ping King on road as well as off, a KTM’s Brembo was mounted up front although Adam still has some lighting issues to tackle for full street legality. [More]

Moto Guzzi 850 T3 by Untitled Motorcycles
Moto Guzzi 850 T3 by Untitled Motorcycles There’s just something about a Moto Guzzi based cafe racer that defines the style of the category. Guzzis seem to straddle the fine line between brutal and elegant, while embracing both—unlike any other marque. At least, that’s the case when they’re done right.

This is one done very right indeed. It’s the 37th and latest build from Untitled Motorcycles, this time from their London-based chapter. Working with a 1981 T3 that had previously served time with the constabulary, UMC began with a complete teardown. Their client was looking for a ‘raw and visceral’ cafe racer, so the mechanicals were treated to a vapor blast that, in my opinion, suits this barrelhead to a T. After rebuilding just about everything, UMC turned their attention to cleaning up wiring and eliminating the Goose’s bulky, linked braking system. New stainless steel lines now feed a traditional lever and pedal set-up, and rear-sets replace the old mids.

The tail proved to be the toughest part of this build, and I’d argue it’s what makes the package come together. It took weeks to shape the fiberglass into the form UMC wanted, and its lines match up to the tank perfectly. The simple and subtle black treatment given to its lower is a visual stroke of genius. [More]

BMW R nineT cafe racer by OSE Kustom Motorworks
BMW R nineT by OSE Kustom Motorworks Old School Engineering is a collective of talented hobbyists based in the North of France. The seven-strong team of enthusiasts each have a steady job that keeps them busy during the week, but when they get together after hours, something magical happens.

Working with a customer-supplied BMW R nineT, OSE were tasked with building a track-friendly cafe racer, with a hidden exhaust. Which meant the Bavarian’s bodywork needed re-tooling. Hiding beneath the rear cowl, a set of pipes winds around much of the Beemer’s mechanical bits to keep a low profile. At least until the engine fires…

Up front, similar challenges were faced. Since the owner likes to get his lean on at the track, that meant the headlight had to be trick to avoid constant tape jobs. OSE took the challenge and ran with it, modifying an old Mooneyes hubcap into a cover that can easily be fitted or removed, depending on location. The mechanical mods are all well and good—and truly they are—but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the Island Hoppers inspired paint. No doubt its tones would have Rick, T.C. and Magnum high-fiving on the beach, wearing inappropriately short shorts in the process. [More]

Street Twin ‘Salt Flat Racer’ by Triumph Groningen
Street Twin ‘Salt Flat Racer’ by Triumph Groningen We had fears that Triumph’s new water-cooled Bonnies would curb builders’ appetites to modify them, but needn’t have worried. Triumph now has a dealer custom competition similar to Harley’s Battle of the Kings and this Salt Flat Racer is the recently crowned winner.

Built by Netherlands’ Triumph Groningen dealership, owner Leonard and his mate Rinaldo decided they’d take their Street Twin down the retro-racer route, via some tasty hand crafted bodywork. Working off Rinaldo’s design, the team rolled and formed 1mm thick sheet metal into the slippery dolphin fairing, seat pan and humped tail unit you see here.

Street Twin ‘Salt Flat Racer’ by Triumph Groningen
If you zoom in for a closer look, you’ll notice that the rear tail and brake lights are almost invisible, integrated behind a trick glass Triumph logo: They’re lit by a unit poached from an Opel Vectra car. Up front, the horn and starter buttons have been moved to the bar ends—which are no longer bars at all, but a set of clip-ons. Not bad for a two week turnaround. [More]

Honda Shadow 400 cafe racer by XTR Pepo
Honda Shadow 400 by XTR Pepo Roughly every four weeks or so, my search for bikes to populate this space gets a little bit easier. That’s because Pepo Rosell seem’s to work on a 28-day schedule: Roughly once a month, the master builder drops another bomb on us. And this one, the Spitfire Special, is absolutely brilliant.

Unlike the bikes the typically roll out of the Madrid-based garage, this build doesn’t pay homage to a racer from yesteryear. Instead, Pepo teamed up with the Spanish spare parts company, Motostion to recycle a Honda Shadow 400 into this dripping wet stunner. I say recycle because every co-opted part on the Spitfire came from Motostion’s used inventory. That list includes forks from a ZX6R, a Yamaha YBR125 tank, clip-ons from a late model Gixxer and the headlight from a Mash 125.

Of course, more was at play than just bolting on repurposed parts. Pepo has modified the cradle frame, eliminating needless metal to deliver a racer’s profile. He then created an all-new subframe to enhance those lines. Even the donated tank needed some heavy petting to make it sit pretty. And speaking of sitting pretty, that seat is a one-off XTR original. [More]

Honda Shadow 400 cafe racer by XTR Pepo

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Road tested: The motorcycle gear we wear

New motorcycle gear recommended by Bike EXIF.
We can never agree on gear here at Bike EXIF. Chris won’t leave the house in anything less than a full-face helmet and head-to-toe armor, but I’ve been known to rock an open face and t-shirt on occasion. But we agree on one thing: if you’re going to buy gear, buy good gear.

So, rather than our usual ‘New & Noted’ round up, we’ve decided to bring you pukka, real-world gear reviews. Here’s a look at some of the stuff we use, love, and would recommend to our nearest and dearest.

Hand your credit card to your significant other, and read on.

Bell Moto III helmet with Ride 100% Barstow goggles
Bell Moto III helmet A friend recently asked me why I insist on wearing an open face helmet. “I just like the vibe,” was the best (admittedly lame) retort I could muster. If you also like ‘the vibe’—but want a helmet with modern materials and decent protection—you should seriously consider the Bell Moto III.

This thing is straight outta the 70s, and a dead ringer for the original—complete with the iconic mouth vents and a five-snap peak. Except it now sports a tri-composite shell that’s not only incredibly light (a hair over 3lbs for my XL), but is also DOT and ECE-approved. (That chin bar is not just for show.)

The Moto III comes with two different liners, depending on which colorway you pick. Opt for a solid color and it’s a proper throwback terry cloth affair; pick one of the graphics, and you get a gorgeous leather and micro-suede finish. I don’t usually dig graphics on motorcycle helmets, but terry cloth is just a little too period-correct for my liking, so I chose the ‘Chemical Candy’ graphic (pictured here).

Chemical Candy’s not just a clever name—it’s the pseudonym of the Texas-based airbrush artist who conceived this design. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t change my mind about graphics the second I took the Moto III out the box. It’s supremely cool, with a deep metalflake finish that pops like mad, and neat little details like perforation and quilting on the liner.

Bell Moto III helmet with Ride 100% Barstow goggles

Better yet, the Moto III has an extremely compact profile, even on my huge melon. The interior is really stiff out the box though—there aren’t any hotspots, but my ears did feel it the first few times I put it on and off. It’s also pretty hard to squeeze sunglasses in, and it still leaves an imprint on my forehead when I take it off—but does seem to be breaking in.

The liner is removable and moisture-wicking, and the helmet fastens with a double-D ring closure, with a press stud to keep excess strap from flapping around. The five-snap system on the peak is rock solid—it doesn’t rattle, and it takes a firm hand to remove and replace it. I did notice a small misalignment on the graphic, but it’s right up top (and only noticeable when the peak’s off).

The big eye port will take most goggles; I wear Ride 100%’s rather large Barstows, and they fit with a squeeze. It also lets some air in, along with the mesh chin bar vents—but on a hot day you will eventually find its limits. I’ll level with you: the Moto III isn’t as well vented, aerodynamic or quiet as, say, an Icon Airframe Pro (we’ve got a review coming on that sucker soon).

But, as retro lids go, it’s a pretty solid—and downright steezy—option. [Buy]

Saint Model 1 Unbreakable jeans review
Saint Model 1 Unbreakable jean We’ve been fans of Saint’s gear since day one, for a simple reason: comfort. Rather than line their motorcycle jeans with Kevlar, the Aussie company makes them from a single-layer, abrasion-resistant material. So instead of being stuffy and constricting, they’re all-day wearable.

Saint’s ‘Unbreakable’ denim is constructed by weaving cotton with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (or UHMWPE) fibers. That makes it good for a six second, 75 meter slide time. With the Model 1, they’ve added even more protection in the form of removable hip and knee armor: The hip armor is CE Level 2 rated, and the knee armor CE Level 1 rated.

The straight-cut Model 1 jeans look and feel like a good pair of Carhartt work pants. The denim weighs in at 14oz, with a coated finish that gives it a heavy-duty, almost canvas-like quality. The overall construction and quality is rugged, and details include a zip fly, belt loops and a subtle Saint ‘wing’ logo embroidered on the back pocket. Sizing is spot-on too: order your regular jean size, and you’re good to go.

Saint Model 1 Unbreakable jeans review
My other pair of Saints—the ‘Tough’ model—are so understated that they regularly double-up as casual wear, but the overall aesthetic on the Model 1 is a little more ride-specific. Saint has added some extra stitching—and accordion panels—around the knees, to optimize the fit with armor. It works though—I could feel the armor while riding, but it never got in my way.

The armor itself fits into mesh pockets inside the jeans, and is easy to remove. You’ve got a choice of two vertical positions for the knees, but I did find that the knee pockets had a touch too much horizontal room—so the pads didn’t always sit dead center.

Even with the armor in, the Model 1’s truly are all-day wearable. (Take it from me: I’ve spent a full day in them riding, wrenching and walking around.) And any gear you’re comfortable in, is gear you’ll keep reaching for when you head out the door. [Buy]

Velomacchi Speedway roll-top motorcycle backpack review
Velomacchi Speedway roll-top backpack Velomacchi is a relatively new operation out of Portland, Oregon, but they’ve come out swinging. I’ve been riding with their Speedway roll-top backpack for the last few months, and while it does have some shortcomings, it’s one of the cleverest backpacks I’ve used.

For starters, it’s tough and it’s waterproof—a winning combination for someone who’s hard on things and paranoid about getting his stuff wet. The chassis is made from a 1000D fabric, and the main compartment seals off with a watertight roll-top closure. There are also two zippered compartments, and two pouches with toggle closures; and they’re all waterproof. I’ve ridden through everything from drizzle to downpour, and always arrived with dry gear.

But the real selling point is Velomacchi’s harness system. They call it a 3-point pivot system: The shoulder straps each connect via a pivot point, then meet in the middle to create a perfect fit, regardless of the shape of your body or jacket.

Velomacchi Speedway roll-top motorcycle backpack review
The system locks up front via a magnetic coupler that simply clicks in place when you push the two parts together. Twist the knurled aluminum knob, and it disengages. I thought this was a gimmick at first, but after months of use it’s no less functional than it was the day I got it. And the overall design makes for a super-stable pack that never shifts or bounces around, whether it’s fully loaded or empty.

Velomacchi has also included a nifty adjustment system, with markings that help you dial in the perfect fit, and strap ends that disappear into hidden compartments, leaving nothing to flap around. A pair of extra buckles helps you micro-adjust the pack depending on the load. I haven’t fiddled with my pack once since setting it up the first time (but I have noticed that one of the micro-adjustment buckles has a tendency to disengage at even the slightest bump).

The Speedway’s back panel is quilted for some extra comfort, and behind it is a sleeve for a hydration bladder, complete with a hanger strap to secure it. Velomacchi bills its stuff as ‘privateer gear,’ and there’s a strong enduro influence here—the straps are kitted with details like elastic strips for guiding a hydration hose, a medical ID card slot, a slot for a tire gauge or pen, and a flat plastic panel that can be used to mount a POV camera. And the chunky aluminum helmet clip on the back is a nice touch.

On the down side, the Speedway isn’t the biggest pack around. I can generally cram in a MacBook, sweater, notebook, charger(s), earphones, sunglasses, gloves and my FujiFilm X30, before things start to get tight. Which is fine, since I seldom carry more—but if you tend to do the grocery run on your way home from work each day, it might be an issue. It’s also not quick to get in and out of; the main roll-top fastening hook, and the toggle closures on the outside pockets, take some getting used to.

If you can live with that, you’ll get a pack that’s waterproof, tough, good looking and well thought out. Which is why the Speedway is currently the only motorcycle backpack I use. [Buy]

Ride 100% Barstow goggles review
Ride 100% Barstow goggles If—like me—you prefer riding in open face or ‘retro’ lids, goggles are a must. Sunglasses are good for cruising along the promenade, but at any reasonable speed the wind takes over, and your eyes start cursing you. Sure, you could grab a pair of standard issue MX goggles off the shelf for less than a new pair of 100%’s Barstows—but if your wallet lets you, these are worth springing for.

The Barstow basically combines modern goggle tech with retro looks and premium finishes. So you’re getting plush, triple-layered fleece foam for your face, good ventilation and an anti-fog and scratch resistant, tinted Lexan® lens. You also get a spare, clear lens, a soft goggle bag, and a microfiber cleaning cloth in the box. The strap is silicone coated on the inside for grip, the adjustment buckles are metal rather than plastic, and bits like the strap trim are made from leather or suede.

Ride 100% Barstow goggles review
Best of all (and the reason I’ve now got myself a second pair), the Barstow is huge. The frame measures at 19cm x 10cm, which makes for an excellent field of view—and the optical quality of the lens itself is great. It also means that these goggles simply won’t fit into some helmets—so that’s worth checking before you buy.

The downside? Well, other than the price, I can’t decide which color I want to get next. [Buy]

New: The Icon 1000 Akromont motorcycle jacket
On the Horizon: Icon 1000 Akromont jacket Icon Motosports are known for their loud, hooligan-ist gear—but their Icon 1000 line sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a dark, understated ethos. And it doesn’t get much more subtle than the Akromont jacket.

We haven’t tried the Akromont yet, but it’s high on our wishlist. Available only in black, it features a textile chassis in a simple layout with minimal detailing—save for stretch panels under the arms, and embossed leather patches on the elbows. Icon give it their ‘level 1’ waterproof rating—which means it’ll be fine for light showers, but not heavy rain.

You also get a full complement of D30 armor, and a removable ‘SatinCore’ vest liner. The ends of the sleeves have two-way ventilation zippers with a mesh backing, and there’s a hint of Clarino on the inside of the neck for added comfort. A couple of hand-warmer pockets—and basic Icon 1000 logos on each arm—finish it off.

If you want a stealthy jacket that eschews the typical café racer styles, this is it. [More]

Also pictured: Stylmartin Red Rock boots, Velomacchi Speedway gloves, Holy Freedom neck tube.

Photos by Devin Paisley, with thanks to Wolf Moto for the loan of their BMW R65.

New motorcycle gear recommended by Bike EXIF.

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Behind the scenes: Cafe Racers of Instagram

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
If you love custom motorcycles and feed your addiction via social media, you probably follow Cafe Racers of Instagram. It’s an impeccably curated account with a staggering 850,000 followers, delivering quality images of café racers and customs several times a day.

The guys behind CROIG, David and Andrew, are much more than mere pixel pushers though: They’ve been getting their hands dirty building bikes, out of DIY workshop The Moto Collective, in Minneapolis. This heavily modified CB450 is the second outing under the croig.builds label, and there’s already a third on the way.

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
It’s an intriguing approach from guys who spend their working lives examining every kind of custom build under the sun. It’s most definitely not a cafe racer, and there are absolutely no fripperies or bling: CROIG’s CB450 is a bike stripped to the absolute basics, being a hybrid on-/off-roader with minimal bodywork. There isn’t even a tail section.

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
So what was the thinking behind that? “I wanted to merge two styles of motorcycles from my youth that I’m nostalgic about,” Andrew tells us. “There was a non-running CB450 sat next to my parents’ garage, which planted the seed. Then when I reached 15, I saved enough money to get my own bike, a 1997 Kawasaki KX125.”

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
The idea was to turn a 1970s street classic into an off-road machine. The Honda straight twin offers a good mix of power and agility, and there happened to be a broken one tucked away in the corner of the garage…

Andrew describes the process of building as “Nothing but problem solving from the start.” First, he stripped the suspension and swingarm off a Honda CR250 found at a salvage yard, and rebuilt it. Then, with a little help from Common Motor of Houston, the motor was overhauled.

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
Next came the challenge of merging the CR250 suspension with the CB450 frame. “I did my research and surprisingly, it was pretty adaptable,” says Andrew.

To get the CB rolling again, CROIG called up Warp 9 Racing and ordered a set of their 17” supermoto wheels. But with the wide (and matching) front and rear Metzeler Karoo 3 tires, they now had clearance issues with the 47mm Showa inverted forks. A quick email to Cognito Moto saw the boys rescued with a machined triple tree to accommodate the larger front tire.

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
On the electrical front, CROIG have given the Honda a complete Motogadget setup, plus a PIAA cube headlight and a taillight from the Prism Supply Company. Just ahead of the ProTaper bars is a faceplate hand-formed from 18-gauge copper sheet, painted and distressed. “I developed a love for copper during my college years in studio art classes,” says Andrew. “Polished, brushed or patina’ed, it just looks great.”

In keeping with the ultra bare bones look, the exhaust piping is simple but effective, fashioned from mandrel-bent stainless steel. “I wanted to create a clean line with the pipes, and give it an upright/sprung feel.”

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
Keen eyes will spot the CB360 gas tank, taken off a salvage bike, restored and given a satin/brushed finish. Right behind is a minimal seat, upholstered by Nate at Vinyl-Lux.

So what’s it like to ride? “My first impression was nothing but excitement,” says David. “The snappy torque of the 450 twin with the suspension of a CR250 dirt bike was exactly how I thought it would feel.”

A radical Honda CB450 scrambler by Cafe Racers of Instagram
With over twelve inches of suspension travel front and back and a freshly rebuilt motor, we’re betting this CB450 is an absolute hoot—especially off-road.

The next build is going to be a Honda Hawk GT NT650. But CROIG’s newest release is digital: a very entertaining clip that injects a radical dose of Daft Punk style into the standard custom moto video (below).

If you’re at a moto show in the States, keep an eye out for the boys—they’re often riding across around the country keeping their fingers on the pulse of the scene. Tell ’em we said ‘Hi.’

Cafe Racers of Instagram | Images by Roy Son | Follow Bike EXIF on Instagram too

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How to turn the Triumph Street Twin into a flat tracker

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
Triumph is pumping out hit after hit at the moment, building bikes that people want to buy. If we had to pick a machine from the ‘modern classics’ stable, it’d be a toss up between the Thruxton and the Street Twin.

Much as we love the trad café styling of the Thruxton, this sharp little tracker from Jason Paul Michaels is forcing us to take a closer look at the 900cc roadster. Jason and his crew have built what they believe is the perfect race bike from stock, with a shed-load of rad mods.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
“When the Street Twin came out, with its low center of gravity, power delivery specs and wheelbase, I knew it was going to make a great flat-track bike,” Jason says.

“For hooligan racing, where you’re typically on smaller tracks, horsepower doesn’t always win. The Street Twin is light and flickable and has just the right amount of power to get through the gears and back down between the straights and corners.”

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
For Jason, whose Standard Motorcycle Co is one of the leading lights in the custom industry, the catalyst for getting out on the track came in the form of award-winning bike builder Roland Sands.

“I always wanted to race and just never found the opportunity until Roland introduced me to flat track. I was hooked. Something about sliding out of control while managing to maintain it was beyond thrilling to me,” says the self-confessed ‘Triumph guy.’

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
“When I got on the flat track and started racing, a sense of clarity came over me. While I was on that track, the only thing I thought about was that moment right then and there. It opened my eyes and helped me fall even more in love with motorcycling.”

Jason got on the phone to Triumph, and a Street Twin was soon delivered to his Standard Motorcycle Co. workshop. Sticking to the spirit of the Super Hooligan rules, Jason and crew would convert the Street Twin to race spec, and then offer a kit for other owners to do the same.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
What you see is essentially a stock bike that can be 100% competitive in a race scenario. Unless you’re Jason, who managed to crash heavily on his first shakedown day with Johnny Lewis of Ten Training. (Fortunately, we snagged these photos prior to the incident.)

So Jason, how did you start the build? The tires are the single most important part of a flat tracker. So we hopped on the phone with Cameron Brewer at RSD to sort out the right size wheels to fit the Dunlop DT3 rubber we wanted to run.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
The only option was to speak to Dubya Wheels, because no one had done spokes yet on the Street Twins. Which posed another problem: What to do about hubs? With another quick call, a magic box from the UK arrived with two hubs we’d never seen from Triumph before. They were protos of hubs they were going to use on the wire wheel package. Score!

We ended up going with Sun aluminum rims with 6 gauge spokes and swaged nipples. It’s a rad combination that makes for a durable wheel setup.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
Did you modify the suspension? Fox Racing found a pair of aluminum-body race shocks from their line-up that worked perfectly. Will machined these great little aluminum caps that doubled as spacers for the heim (rod end bearing) joints.

What about the cockpit and controls? We opted to stick with the OE Triumph controls, but add a set of adjustable levers and Oury grips. The bars are Renthal Fatbars that we widened by 1.5″ to give a more traditional flat-track stance.

The factory clutch cable turned out to be long enough, but not the brake line. At that point, we decided to completely gut the ABS system. It was already going to be disabled, so why not?

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
We made up new lines with Goodridge products from Dime City Cycles, and EBC made up a set of custom stainless floating rotors and high-performance pads.

This bike will still be ridden on the street, so we kept the upgraded front brake. To finish off the bars and provide some additional safety, a set of Delrin bar ends were machined in-house, and everything was protected with DEI wire sleeves.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
What mods did you make to the engine? The internals were left completely stock—it’s more than powerful enough for its purpose.

We designed and installed an airbox removal kit and the solution for an air intake was to plumb a single intake to the right side and run it right through the side cover. With the new air intake and wide-open exhaust, it’s a performer. But how was its desire to rip side ways and suck fuel going to be addressed? No one had tuned one of these as they were just released, and the ECU was locked.

So you called Triumph again? What happened next we’re not at liberty to say—but take our word for it, this engine has a TON more power than it ships with.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
What did you do to the exhaust? We started with a pair of flanges and a bracket for the Vance & Hines mufflers, drawn in AutoCAD and laser-cut out of stainless steel. After the exhaust system was roughed into place, the mufflers were shortened and welded to the goods that Cone Engineering sent to us. A resonation chamber was added and we angled the cone inward, to keep the exhaust as tight to the frame as possible.

Any other mods that aren’t quite as visible? New case guards, designed and laser cut by Cody, with hand-machined Delrin sliders. Then we designed and installed a two-piece laser-cut battery eliminator kit: It tucks all the electronics up and out of the way, with an integrated LED taillight. The battery is now a Shorai Li-Iron unit that packs plenty of punch with none of the weight. It just requires some soldering and extending wires.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
As for little details: the brake peg was modified to support a standard rubber foot peg, as opposed to the aluminum one. On the left side, the shifting was changed to a GP (reverse) shift, with the rear peg moved up and back a few inches.

Who made the seat unit? Marlow at Rusted Jalopy hand-shaped it from a single piece of sheet metal. (And didn’t use a hammer. Not even once!) The seat pad was done by Ginger from New Church Moto. The laser-cut flange at the front allows the unit to function like a stock seat that’s released with the key, but also hinges forward and rests on the tank. Perfect for trackside repairs and maintenance.

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
Now you’ve got us thinking. Any advice for someone who’s never tried flat tracking? What are you waiting for? Get out there! You can use an old vintage bike, or a new Triumph Street Twin or Street Cup. By just putting 19” wheels and some decent bars on it, you can turn it into something you can pilot around a flat track.

There’s also the benefit of building relationships. The first race I showed up to I had no intention of riding, but within 20 minutes I was—because the other racers wanted me to be able to experience it. That’s beautiful and is what motorcycling is all about.

Read more in the Triumph online magazine, For The Ride | Standard Motorcycle Co. | Facebook | Instagram | RSD Super Hooligans | Additional reporting by Jim Levack

Triumph Street Twin flat tracker by Standard Motorcycle Co., built for the RSD Super Hooligan National Championship
Specifications
2016 Triumph Street Twin
Engine: Water-cooled 900cc HT (High-torque)
Bodywork: Triumph OE x handmade sheet metal by Marlow Buelvas of Rusted Jalopy
Frame & swingarm: Triumph OE frame and swing-arm w/ SMC Frame Sliders & Case Guards
Seat: SMC x New Church Moto custom seat pan and cushion
Electronics: SMC battery box delete kit, Shorai Li-Iron battery, DEI Wire-loom
Cockpit: Renthal Fatbars with risers and Oury grips
Foot Controls: SMC GP Shift Conversion
Exhaust: SMC x Cone Engineering 2-into-2 Performance Flat Track Exhaust w/ Vance & Hines AMA Pro Mufflers
Intake: SMC intake plenum & airbox removal kit, K&N Hi-flow air filter
Wheels & Tires: Custom Sun wheels, spokes & nipples by Dubya Wheels, Dunlop DT3 Flat Track Tires
Brakes: SMC x EBC custom floating rotors (front removed for Super Hooligan Racing), Goodridge Shadow Custom Lines
Suspension: SMC custom front and Fox Racing shocks
Triumph OE Accessories: Front axle protectors, skid plate, slotted chain cover, left and right side engine inspection covers, aluminum head bolt covers, adjustable clutch and brake levers
Paintwork: Moe Colors
Coatings: ProFab Customs

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An ice-cool BMW R1150 cafe racer from Sweden

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
There’s a growing sentiment that BMW’s R1150-series boxers are future classics, particularly the globe-trotting R1150 GS. When 1980s airheads become too old and rare (and there are no stock ones left), it’ll be the ’leven-fifties that go under the knife.

So here’s a glimpse into the future; a stunning R1150 GS-based cafe racer, built by Ronna Noren of Sweden’s Unique Custom Cycles. And it’s a future we welcome with open arms.

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
The project kicked off when Ronna was working on the sunny ‘Flower Power’ BMW for photographer Jenny Jurnelius. Feeling inspired, Ronna decided that he needed his own BMW boxer racer too.

UCC are highly regarded in Europe, so Ronna’s plate is usually pretty full. But according to our mutual friend Ola Stenegärd, Ronna has a work ethic like no other. “He decided to build his own bike while completing two more and fixing up a seriously totaled truck to haul all the bikes to Glemseck,” Ola told us, the last time we spoke. “And this was just a month and a half before the race!”

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
“His friends seriously believe his calendar consists of a mysterious 48-hour-a-day rhythm. His long time and very patient girlfriend once said, ‘As long as he doesn’t sit still, I’m not worried.’”

Ronna was actually hunting for a good old-fashioned airhead for the build when the newer ‘oilheads’ grabbed his attention. They’re punchy, reliable and easy to come by—and when Ronna looked past the quirky Telelever suspension, he realized the 1150 package could be a solid platform for a cafe racer.

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
“And somehow they haven’t really been ‘discovered’ yet,” Ronna says, “so they can be found for a bargain price.” He soon located an R1150 GS with a sound engine but a damaged chassis, and set to work.

Ronna’s a frame builder by trade, so naturally he’s fabricated a completely new, two-piece CroMo frame. “I decided to develop a good frame combo that could work perfectly for a cafe racer as well as a scrambler or ‘GS’ style bike,” says Ronna, “since my aim was from the get-go to create a frame kit that I can add to my catalog.”

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
The initial mockup went from racer to scrambler every other day, until Ronna settled on the right rake and trail numbers for a general setup that could go both ways. He opted for a low-slung effect for this particular build, and then grafted on a BMW R nineT front end.

The triple clamps, forks (which have been shortened), front brakes, fender and hub are all nineT items—along with the rear shock. A set of aluminum rims from Morad round out the chassis package; 18” up front, and 17” in the rear.

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
Next on the list was bodywork; Ronna hand-shaped a new tank and tail combo from 2mm aluminum sheet metal.

“Ronna is truly a wizard when it comes to metal shaping,” says Ola. “His shop has all the machines needed. An English wheel, Pullmax, Eckolds, sandbags and dollies sit alongside his favorite, homebuilt planishing hammer—all of which make his work shine, like we have seen on bikes like the R5 Hommage.”

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
Up top, Ronna modified the R nineT top clamp to remove the handlebar clamps, opting for clip-ons instead. The hand controls came from long-time friend, Acke Rising of ISR, and the instrumentation came from Motogadget. The foot controls are BMW R1100 RS units, and the pop-up gas cap is from Ronna’s twin brother Benny’s company—Tolle Engineering.

Ronna finished the R1150 off with a neat, two-into-one exhaust system, terminating it in a Spark muffler. Between the new exhaust, the K&N filters and a remap, there’s now more than enough grunt to launch the 190kg-wet motorcycle off the mark.

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
When it was time for final ‘paint,’ Ronna opted for a raw finish. “My intention was all along to leave it bare and brushed, to underline the pure essentials of this racer,” he explains.

Benny then stepped up again, and powder-coated just about everything else gloss black.

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles
Since completing the build, Ronna’s raced the bike in the Glemseck 101, and taken it to a few shows. But, more importantly, he’s already started on his next project: a scrambler chassis that’ll be running a full suspension package from Öhlins.

The age of the oilhead has begun.

Unique Custom Cycles | Facebook | Photos by Jenny Jurnelius

BMW R1150 GS cafe racer by Ronna Noren of Unique Custom Cycles

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