Motorcycle Customising 101
The custom motorcycle world is growing exponentially at the moment. You only need to poke your head through the doors at any big European Motorcycle Show or maybe pop down to your local biker haunt on a Sunday morning to see that countless riders are now looking to either trade in their sportsbike for a retro looking machine, or add to the collection with something a little more vintage. As each manufacturer releases another homage to the old school, more of us are looking to turn our ride into something different - something new that sets us apart when we all roll up for that next cup of coffee. Some more experienced riders and mechanics might like to tinker with their own bike, some like to seek out the hot new bike builders to do the work for them, but what if this scene is new to you? Where do you go for inspiration and to chat about starting modifications for your own ride? Here are a few ideas to help point you in a few different directions that could help set you on your way.
The biggest ‘go-to’ event for those entering the world of customised bikes is the annual Bike Shed show held in London, usually around May time. It’s a great chance to see what the UK, European and bike builders from further afield are doing, what the current trends are and, most importantly, the room is flooded with decades and decades of customising knowledge. We’ve always found it a great spot to get chatting to folk who know the right places to go and right gear to work with. You can find everything from top manufacturers to home builders, helmet makers to artists and everything in between. Moving on from here, it may be worth looking into the annual Wheels & Waves festival in Biarritz and the Dirt Quake events in both the UK and US.
When searching the internet, we would first default to Bike Exif and Pipeburn who appear to be the big hitters in this field. That said, there are a whole host of new blogs and website popping up every day so keep trying new searches and try adding your local town or county to your search to see what is happening locally. We tend to do more of our reading and research online as the custom scene is massive and you can really go to town with sourcing weird and wonderful bikes. However, when we fancy looking through something physical then we always read Sideburn and Iron & Air from front to back. Also, it is always worth checking out helmet, clothing and motorcycle gear websites as they frequently contain imagery which can help inspire. Deus, Iron & Resin and Biltwell tick a lot of these boxes.
Lastly, log onto Instagram and do all of the above in one spot. Customisers and custom bike fans love to see, hear and play with bikes and this seems to be the standard format to both show-off and network in our weird, modern bike era. Using the words ‘custom’, ‘motorcycle’ and ‘cafe racer’ will give you a steady start but try adding ‘bobber’, ‘brat’ and ‘fabrication’ to broaden your results.
The suggestions above are by no means an exhaustive list, but they will hopefully allow any new faces to the custom scene a chance to see what is happening in the scene and what is achievable with a little elbow grease and a lot of time.