We couldn't let 2013 slip by without running a feature on the bikes that stood out on the Bike Shed over the last 12 months. We've added almost 300 bikes & stories to our pages over the year, and all thanks to our contributors - pros and amateurs - and to the guys who've helped make the Bike Shed work, including two major live events in London last May & October and the Distinguished gentleman's Ride last September. It's fair to say that we've seen a lot of amazing machines go by, but these are the ones that stood out, for whatever reason. The first bike to catch our eye in 2013 came in early Jan and was a class-defining CB550 cafe racer, which was not only a lovely bike in its own right, it also stood out for being one of the few bikes on the scene to be built by a woman, Sofi Tsingos, who is also a qualified Ducati Tech. The story was one of our most popular, for all the right reasons - the quality of the build. Read more HERE Cafe Racer Dreams have always been prolific on the Bike Shed (and everywhere else too) but we were more taken than usual by this scrambler/tracker based on Honda's trusty and reliable big single, the NX650, AKA the Dominator. This bike picked up on a trend we saw first with Andrew Greenland's Elsinore-inspired builds the previous year, but CRD took it to a whole new level of timeless style. Our prediction for 2014? The year of the big single custom tracker. Watch those second-hand Honda Dominator prices rocket. Read more on this build by Pery & the crew at Cafe Racer Dreams HERE HERE If any bike has dominated 2013 it's been the BMW Boxer twin, so you'll find a few in this roundup of the year- but the first to set a really high benchmark for quality and class (that we saw) was this R100 built by Barcelona builders La Corona. The proportions of the rear end, the small tank, the white, black & gold paint, the pipes, the gold snowflake wheels and oversized front tyre, all just add up to bike-design Nirvana. Well, it does in our opinion. All the Beemers that followed got compared to this one - although many more rose to the occasion. More on this build HERE If the BMW Boxer twin was THE bike of 2013, the humble Honda CB Four has been the long-serving staple donor of previous years, and this is one of the nicest out there, based on a 1974 CB500 and built by David Chapius & William Guerin at Pure Motorcycles in the South of France. Not only did this bike stand out on the Bike Shed pages online early in the year, it stood out all over again when David was kind enough to lend it to us as our ride at Wheels & Waves 2013, where it was a serious head-turner wherever it went, despite being in a crowd of exclusive ubercool customs from some of Europe's greatest custom builders. More on "Blue Moon" HERE HERE From real 70's Ducati cafe racer reps we soon found ourselves drawn to this Honda/Suzuki recreation of the 1972 Paul Smart Ducati. We would describe Kevin Dinsmoor's stunning build as a homage to the Ducati Paul Smart but it turned out he was sticking two fingers up to some of the snobbery he'd encountered from a bunch of unfriendly Ducatistas at a show. Read all about it here HERE Over 2013 Untitled Motorcycles moved away from specialising in BMW Boxers and into all sorts of urban cool machines, built to tear up the streets of North London, but they did manage to pull this beautiful R90 build out of the bag,. The bike was commissioned for Antonius in Germany and got the full UMC treatment from Adam, Rex & Anita. The photos don't really do the bike justice but you can see and read more HERE This cafe racer got us excited for a whole host of reasons. Firstly it's built around a very unlikely and (at the time) original donor, the Kawasaki GT550. These bikes, alongside Honda CX500s, were boring but reliable shaft drive workhorses loved by London couriers and riders who prefer practicality over style or performance. As a courier in the 1980s I rode one and didn't think much of it, so to see one so beautifully rebuilt was a real eye opener. The build was also exciting because it was put together by a bunch of young Londoners called AutoFabrica, and they had put as much work into the design as they had into the actual engineering - and it showed. It was a build where the devil really was in the detail. More HERE The MotoGuzzi has always been a stunning bike on which to base a cafe racer build and there are many out there, but this one from the Nico & John at 4h10 in Paris was very special with some beautiful details, including the etching on the tank and bodywork. The bike featured on the poster for the second Bike Shed London Event and also came to the show where it was one of the most popular - and most photographed - builds. Read more HERE The Kawasaki z750 is a pretty bike in any guise, whether restored or rebuilt. The tank shape and twin cylinder engine are held together by the rest of the chassis parts in perfect proprtions - but - in the hands of Cafe Racer Dreams this one ended up about as pretty as a brat-style custom could ever be. It might just be the twin shotgun exhausts that are the icing on the cake. Decide for yourself with more pics & info HERE This next bike really blew our minds, not just because it's a hybrid of unlikely donors, including the Honda VTR Firestorm and a VFR but because it was put together by a first-time shed-builder called Ron from the UK who built the frame himself with a second hand pipe-bender. The "Rogue" was featured in the second Bike Shed event in October where it impressed people even more in the flesh. More HERE Luke Robinson's bikes caught us off guard because Robinson's Speedshop was right on our doorstep and we ony discovered him through seeing his bikes on Ebay. Not only were his builds simple and lovely, they were also built without any big-brand aspirations or ego, and were amazingly affordable. In fact, we nearly brought one. Luke just keeps pumping out lovely, affordable cafe customs, but this was our favourite, a beautifully photographed GS750. It also went down a storm at the second Bike Shed Event in October. More HERE. Kevils Speedshop in Devon are well known for their high quality custom Boxer Twins, and they build them to order for all manner of clients in the UK and abroad, but this is one of our favourites of 2013, an R80/7 fitted with a Honda tank styled to pay homage to the WWII Mustang P51, and called the Gunfighter. More on this build here HERE Engineers Osvaldo Coutinho & Alexandre Santos from it roCkS! bikes, impressed everyone with their second build of 2013, "Sunburn" built around a yamaha XJR1200. The tank and seat are all built in a single piece, but it's not all about the stylish bodywork, the engineering and choice of components are second to none. The guys brought the bike up from Oporto in Portugal to the Bike Shed event in October where it was even more impressive in the flesh. More HERE Spirit of the Seventies have been the toast of 2013 in the UK biking press and really helped push the new wave cafe racer custom scene into the mainstream. Kent-based Tim & Kev have really pushed their emphasis on good design and planning, as well as sound engineering, and they're also not afraid to mess with modern bikes like the Daytona 675, new V7, Kawasaki ER-6 and they've turned a few modern Triumphs into classic beauties. This scrambler was one of our favourites in 2013. More HERE Down & Out Cafe Racers have had a very busy time with us at the Bike Shed since coming to our second London Event in October. They brought with them a pair of middleweight cafe customs including this Gold & White Honda CB450, which was laden with unique details and clever touches. It also sounded superb after firing-up in a single kick. See more of Simon's photos and read the full story HERE. After the popular Boxer Twin came a surprising new contender for the "most featured bike of 2013" in the form of the "ugly, slow, plastic maggot" the Honda CX500. More and more started to crop up on our pages, but then this one rocked-up at the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride and became one of the most talked about bikes out of 300+ other beautiful machines on show. Richard's bike set a new benchmark in simple style for the increasingly popular Honda. More HERE When this BMW Boxer turned-up all the blog sites rushed to feature it on their pages. Kingston Kustoms had managed to take an R75/6 and build something that appealed to everyone who saw it, whether they liked old school classic or more modern brats and bobbers. Some elements of the builds were distinctly new wave but the bobbed rear end and pinstripe paintjob conspire to create a clean, but almost steampunk looking build. Take a look for yourself at the original story HERE We're not usually much for arty builds here at the Bike Shed but with Venier Customs' "Sputafuoco" Stefano Venier managed to get creative, break all the rules, and come out with a build that looked like it had been made that way at the factory, back in some imagined era. It's a Ducati, but not as you know it, and it was definitely one of the stand-out Bike Shed features of 2013. More HERE When we first saw Gunnar's z750 we just got a few teaser photos, but from what we could see we knew we'd have a big hit on our hands. While many Bike Shed followers love old school aesthetics plenty of you also like performance and handling, but it's hard to take any modern Japanes sportsbikes and give them truly timeless looks. Gunnar pulled it off, and the bike was massively popular - but it wasn't an easy build, as you can see and read HERE. Most people love a Ducati Cafe Racer, even more when it's wearing an Imola style bikini fairing, but this build from Steve Hilary at Redmax Speedshop stood out for us, not just because it's beautifully done, (which it is), but because it was built around a Ducati Monster using parts that you can buy direct from Redmax yourself. Considering how sought-after the Ducati Sport Classic 1000 is these days, we thought it was superb that you can build something just as good looking around one of the most readily available Ducatis out there. More HERE Shed-builder Alan had a GS550 brat build featured on the Bike Shed earlier in the year, but he got in touch with us again a couple of months ago and blew us away with this build from his new co-conspirators, Pacific Motorcycle Co in New Zealand. There's no need to explain why they called it the Red Rocker, and yes, it's a Honda CB, but to find out more you can get the full story HERE. Herencia Custom Garage in Argentina always build great looking bikes, so it was no surprise when we got this classy looking bike in our Bike Shed inbox, but it took us a few seconds to realise it was yet another Honda CX500. The swapped-out tank has completely transformed the machine and showed us just how far the plastic maggot could be taken. The lowly CX had been re-invented. Again. Who wouldn't be proud to ride around on a bike that looks this good? More HERE It's probably a bit naughty to feature this second build from Down & Out Cafe Racers in our countdown of the best bikes in 2013, but I'll fess up - the bike belongs to me, so it's special for many reasons, but it also feels like the first Bike Shed build, because of the input we had in the design of the bike. But apart from all that we really do think this is one of the nicest Boxer Twins of the year and deserves its place. It was certainly hugely popular by click-thru numbers alone, so we must have done something right. More HERE This year Alec & Rafe from the UK's Old Empire Motorcycles turned-up and impressed everyone with the quality of their builds. Their brand of old-school British style with a young, fresh look at design and engineering was first showcased with a couple of very classy Enfield bobbers, but then they turned their attention to small capacity Japanes bikes and applied the same unique thinking to bikes like this 1975 Honda CB250. More HERE The last bike in our roundup of the best of the Bike Shed in 2013 is another BMW R-Series Boxer Twin. It's an appropriate donor since 2013 really has been the year of the Beemer, but more importantly it's a shed build, put together by Erik Christensen in Alaska. It's not just a beautiful bike, it's also a really good story. We strongly suggest you take a look at the original feature, as we think it sums-up everything great about the cafe racer custom scene. It's all HERE. We look forward to another amazing year of bikes, builders and inspirational stories in 2014. Whether it's a high-budget branded Pro-build, a low-budget new-talent build, or a lovingly crafted shed-build, we'll try to pick the best and make each one into a great story, and we can't do any of it without all of you. Thanks. The Bike Shed Editorial Team: Dutch, Ian, Ali, Gareth & Hugo
Your cart is currently empty.