Skip to comments.11 Boutique Motorcycle Builders
Posted on 05/07/2014 8:49:34 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
Custom and small-batch bike building are back. These rides are retro, minimalist, and very cool. Here are 11 of our favorite boutique bike builders.
Ryca offers kits to transform a once-humble (and dorky) Suzuki Savage/S40, a cruiser that's been in production since 1986, into something more: Your choice of cafe racer, Steve McQueen-style dirt tracker, or hardtail bobber. The transformation is radical. But the price tag isn't. A nice, used Suzuki S40 can be found for around $2000, and the CS Tracker kit starts at $2795. With a little elbow grease, you could have a killer custom motorcycle you built yourself for less than $5000.
Deus is an Australian custom bike builder with six flagship stores around the globe. Each location crafts its own machines. The Los Angeles store, the only one in the U.S., specializes in frame-up customs by design director Michael "Woolie" Woolaway. These bikes aren't cheap (starting around $40,000) but they are exceptionally cool, and blend the simplicity of the cafe bike with modern high performance.
The Deus showroom is packed with cool clothes as well as a coffee bar. So even if the bikes are out of your price range, it's a fun place to visit.
Revival Custom and Vintage Motorcycles is the Texas go-to spot for cafe-style customs. Located in the hip enclave of Austin, Revival specializes in custom builds, many of which use stock Moto Guzzi bikes (or at least engines) as a basis. In fact, Moto Guzzi itself has recognized Revival for its work with their bikes, and features the spectacular Le Mans I bike on the company website.
This small Indian company (originally British) has been building the Enfield Bullet off and on since 1949. Today's 500-cc Bullet will run you just under $5000 and is visually indistinguishable from the circa 1950s versions. They may look old, but mechanically, these bikes are built with fuel injection as well as modern tires and braking systems. You can even option a sidecar for the perfect vintage look. The Bullet isn't a quick machine, but if you want the best handling version, opt for the $5999 cafe sports version, the Continental GT, which is new for 2014.
At just $3900, the AVA 250 could be the least expensive way on two wheels to turn heads. It looks like a rare race bike from the 1960s, but it's an impressive transformation of a Chinese-built commuter bike.
AVA founder Adrian Van Anz created a lightweight (200 pounds) gem that looks like a vintage collector bike but is as accessible and rideable as a common scooter. And AVA will offer a full lineup of accessories with the potential to make every bike unique. Van Anz even envisions a spec-racing series with these bikes.
Roland Sands' bike designs blend several styles of custom into one signature look. The result is a batch of bikes worthy of a magazine cover. These are full frame-up customs. But on quite a few bikes, Roland retains the original frames, which brings the cost way down. Sands has a deep catalog of bolt-on parts too, so you can strip down your Harley Sportster or Triumph Bonneville and recreate the look of a classic cafe racer with a relatively modest investment.
Even among boutique motorcycles, the Renard GT stands apart as a concept bike come to life. Its a stunning retro-futuristic machine loaded with exotic components including a carbon fiber monocoque frame that weighs just 20 pounds and a wild adjustable suspension. The 1300cc Moto Guzzi Twin is more conventional than the rest of the bike and makes 123 hp, but its uncorked and sounds magnificent. These beautiful 374-pound bikes are designed and assembled in Estonia. Weve never seen one of these six-figure motorcycles on American roads, but wed sure like to swing a leg over one and hit a canyon or two.
Ecosse was born more than a decade ago. Today the company's original Heretic bike is joined by several others in the line. The look of these bikes blends a bit of Ducati Monster with a big shot of American muscle cruiser. Between the frame rails of the Heretic is a unique 45-degree American-made V-twin with 130 hp. But the craziest ones receive a titanium frame and a supercharged V-twin pumping out a full 200 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. Expect prices well north of $100,000 to park one of these in your garage.
Danish small-batch motorcycle builder Lauge Jensen made news earlier this year when the company unveiled its Viking concept bike. The Viking didn't grab headlines merely because it's a tough-looking cruiser. This bike was designed by Henrick Fiskeryes, the same man responsible for the short-lived but beautiful Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. The concept cruiser uses a 100-hp V-twin said to be made in Wisconsin, coincidentally the same place Harley-Davidson makes its V-twins. So should the Viking be brought to production (which seems likely) and imported to the states, you can expect to see this bike at the nations' hottest bike hangouts.
There is a certain subset of motorcycle geeks who can't get enough of simple and rugged military-style motorcycles, especially when that bike is equipped with a sidecar. No bike today satisfies that craving better than Urala Russian-built line of off-road/on-road bikes that offers real two-wheel drive, thanks to a driven axle on the sidecar. Every Ural for 2014 has a fuel-injected boxer two-cylinder engine and an upgraded braking system. The bikes start at just under $13,000. Not a bad deal for such an interesting bike.
I like the kit bike idea, but that Suzuki doesn’t do much for me.
Thanks for posting. Blue Collar Bobbers has some nice kits for do-it-yourselfers. Cafe racers as well as bobber kits for late-model bikes.
Is Confederate still in business? Their bikes aren’t any more expensive than the Renard, and have the additional positive of using more advanced front suspensions. Likewise Bimota, one of the most well-known boutique builders, whose Tesi is still the ne plus ultra of advanced motorcycle design.
I don’t know.
I’ll have a Norton, a Royal Enfield, and a diet coke.
Checking around, both Confederate and Bimota are still up and running. Bimota did “die” for a while a few years ago, but was bought and restarted. They’re still making the Tesi, now the “Tesi 3D”, and they even have a spinoff company called Vyrus that also (and exclusively) makes a hub-steered motorcycle. Confederate slowed down during the recession, but still operates, and even moved to a bigger facility not too long ago. They only build 2 models, and only a total of about 30 motorcycles a year, but since they’re not parts-bin specials, I’d say they still count as “boutique” builders.
I’ll have the same.
If you like it.
Wow none that I have ever heard of... Not really into Motorcycles that much, but was hoping to see Boss Hoss on the list... I have seen some cool bikes in my Grandma’s neighbors place. But not really very economical or daily riding stuff I suppose. http://wildrosebosshoss.com/
Another really terrific Kit Bike (I don't know if it's still available) is from Australia's "Vee Two," called "The Squalo." It's a frame & body work kit that is really cool, for Ducati "L-Twins." Years ago, an old riding buddy, Jim Lepisto, owner of Cyclops Cycles in Merriam, KS, built a Squalo out of a Pantah, and it was a really cool, great handling, and very light bike.
“Boutique Motorcycle Builders”
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