That great British philosopher Rod Stewart told it true: "Every picture tells a story, don't it?" Okay, ol' Rocket Rod was no grammarian, and for purposes this discussion, let's broaden the perspective. Every motorcycle tells a story, don't it? Of course, some stories are better than others. Those are the machines that will be featured in BikeCraft Magazine.
Any custom bike is more than the sum of its parts, but individual components are important too. Each and every single item on a custom is there because the builder selected that part, more than likely modified it, had it painted, plated or polished, then decided just where and how it should be placed. Each piece has a story to tell. Take, for example, the head pipes on my restored Triumph 500 bobber pictured here.
Wes White of Four Aces Cycle did the resto for me, an extensive undertaking as the bike – an original California bob-job – had been sitting unused for decades. The pipes are rare high-rise units made in the 1950s by aftermarket firm MCM. Wes found the left header, dinged and with most of its chrome missing, in a parts bin at some swapmeet. Despite his further digging, the right-side pipe was nowhere to be found. On the way home, lone header in hand, Wes stopped by Mike Parti's garage for the usual gab session. Parti is one of the godfathers of SoCal's classic bike scene, and always has good stories to tell or interesting bikes to see. Wes related his good luck in finding the MCM up-pipe, but wondered aloud how he'd ever locate its mate. Without missing a beat, nodding to the garage rafters, Parti dead-panned, "You mean like that one hanging there?" You just don't argue with strange ju-ju like that.
More good fortune with the Triumph's seat, a chrome-plated Bates pan I wanted covered in oxblood-red leather. As the bike was being rebuilt as a tribute to Indianapolis 500 legend Bill Vukovich, I thought "Vukie" and the speedway's winged-wheel logo would look right carved into the seat's top, and called leather artisan Paul Cox about the job. At the time Paul was still dealing with his good friend Indian Larry's unfortunate death just a few month previous and was helping to settle Larry's affairs, plus coping with about a year's backlog of orders for his hand-tooled seats. It didn't look good, but Paul had recently read my obituary column about Indian Larry in Cycle World magazine. "I really appreciate what you had to say about Larry," he said, and promised to work my seat into his impossible schedule. Which he did, and of course it was perfect and of course he refused to take my money. Thanks again, Paul.
Invariably, interesting people make interesting bikes, so you'll read about them in BikeCraft, as well as the nuts-n-bolts of the bob-jobs, streetfighters, cafe-racers, street-trackers and specials they create. We'll also dig back into history to rediscover how the customs of years gone by have influenced today's motorcycles. After all, the cut-downs of the 1930s begat the bobbers of the 1940s and '50s, which eventually led to the similarly styled cruisers that make up more than half of America's new-bike market today. Likewise, England's Ton-Up Boys with their homebrewed "caff" racers in the late 1950s and early '60s laid down the blueprint for modern sportbikes, and are still being copied today in the second coming of the cafe-racer. We're looking for the coolest rides in the country to feature in BikeCraft. Sounds like a fun read, don't it?