A half-foot of snow blankets the world outside my window, with another half-foot plummeting from the sky. Gentlemen, it is officially the dead of winter. What better time to launch The Manual’s new monthly celebration of fantasy-inducing custom motorcycles? Kicking off this month’s collection are some finely crafted street machines that can make a man weak in the knees, from a stripped-down vintage Honda CB750 to a blazing Ducati 999S captured from the wilds of the track. Just be warned: exposure to bikes this cool could make you drop everything and head for warmer ground.
Yamaha SR500: “KRAD XX1”
Don’t let the relatively small, 500cc displacement of the Yamaha SR500 fool you – this thing is a beast. Packing a single-cylinder “thumper” motor, this 1980 scrambler-style looker is the first custom bike build from Germany-based Scramblers Motorcycles. Everything that could be removed has been, with some custom frame work, a K&N air filter and engine breaker, and hand-selected turn signals and custom seat added for good measure. If you want nothing but you, the bike, and the road, the KRAD XX1 could be the ideal machine.
Harley-Davidson XL 883: “Nadia”
American-made Harley-Davidsons have fallen out of favor with custom bike builders in the US, replaced instead with vintage Japanese and British bikes. But India-based custom bike studio TJ Moto proves we’ve been missing out by overlooking ol’ HD. TJ Moto’s first build, named “Nadia,” is built from a stock Harley-Davidson XL 883, and features a unique custom frame, mono-shock seat, hand-crafted brass tank caps, and a leather-strapped gas tank that gives a dose old-school ruggedness to this modern brute.
Honda CB750: “Baby Blue”
Crafted by bike builder Brady Young and custom bike shop Seaweed & Gravel, this ’73 Honda CB750 cafe racer, dubbed “Baby Blue,” features inverted forks, modern disk brakes, custom heat-wrapped exhaust, and an airy, naked frame that gives it the clean lines these vintage bikes are meant to have. With a bike this pretty, you’ll have a hard time beating back the gawking crowds.
Ducati 999S Testastretta: “999VX”
Speed, pure and simple. That is the essence of the “999VX” custom from New York builder Stefano Venier. Based on the Ducati 999S Testastretta, this powerhouse was converted from a track racer to a street destroyer capable of pumping out 150 horsepower thanks to some key high-end upgrades, which include an STM clutch, Discacciati levers, and more. This stallion is so mean, you might be afraid to ride it.
Triumph Scrambler 900: “The Dirt Bike”
Like an apparition straight from the set of Steve McQueen’s The Great Escape, this 2012 Triumph Scrambler 900 build comes from British Customs, and just might be my favorite bike on the list. Fitted with flat track wheels and Continental TCXII 80 tires, a low-slung 2-into-1 exhaust, and some secret performance upgrades, this modern-turned-vintage build lives up to its name: “The Dirt Bike.”