Let’s face it—it’s been the year from hell for most of us. But builders kept on building, in sheds and workshops and garages, and most of us were still able to get out and ride (a little).
Most builders were stymied by a lack of parts availability and prolonged shipping times. Others fired up the lathe, cannibalized spare bikes, or made do with what was lying around on the shelf. The quality and quantity of bikes submitted to us throughout the year did not decline.
On a more personal note, our web traffic was up by over 8% on 2019, despite most web browsers making it harder to count users. And towards the end of the year we sealed a deal to join forces with our favorite moto magazine, Iron & Air. This will bring extra stability to Bike EXIF, more exposure for builders, and a bigger audience for advertisers wanting to reach moto enthusiasts.
That’s enough about us, so let’s get onto the bikes. This Top 10 is purely data-driven, and based on page views, social likes and shares, and incoming links. We also bear in mind how long a bike has been ‘live’ on the site.
10. Honda CB Seven-Fifty by Unik Edition The first bike to sneak into our top ten is perhaps the most traditional: a Honda CB café racer. When Bike EXIF started back in 2008, this was probably the most common genre of build, but it’s a harder nut to crack in 2020.
Portuguese builders Tiago Gonçalves and Luis Gonçalves (not related) have delivered an elegant update on the CB aesthetic, using a 1996 Seven-Fifty (Nighthawk) as the base.
There’s a new front end with GSX-R forks set into custom triples, Öhlins shocks at the back, and gorgeous 17-inch Kineo spoked rims to boost the looks and reduce unsprung weight. The exhaust system is brutally simple but undoubtedly effective, since the rebuilt motor has been carefully tuned to work with K&N filters at the intake end.
The finishing at the back is amazingly clean, with a gorgeous leather humped café seat. But our favorite part of this build is the amazing black-and-gold paint, giving the Honda a retro-futuristic motorsport vibe. [More]
9. Ural coffee cart by Gasoline Motor Co. We love our coffee, and it looks like you guys do too. This portable barista workstation comes from Aussie legends Jason Leppa and Sean Taylor, but it’s more ‘café’ than ‘racer.’
The heavily modified sidecar is home to a professional La Marzocco espresso machine, a fridge, a coffee grinder and a milk jug rinser. It’s also got dry storage space for plenty of beans and accessories, plus a waste disposal system.
Potable water plumbing and 12V power are not usually on the build list for a custom bike, but the two Sydneysiders had to figure that out as well—with a little help from CAD software and collaborators Chunk Design.
Powered by a venerable Ural engine, this rig won’t be going anywhere fast—especially with 90 liters of water on board in two tanks. But it’ll be giving a lot of people in New South Wales a real buzz. [More]
8. Honda NX650 by Vagabund We’re massive fans of Vagabund’s brand of minimalism, and it looks like you guys are too: this Dommie was our biggest hit of the year on Instagram.
Austrian builders Paul Brauchart and Philipp Rabl work with millimeter precision, and decided to blend their love of offroad biking with the super-clean aesthetic that Vagabund is known for.
The crisp new bodywork is 3D printed in a tough Nylon material, and matching GKA fuel canisters are attached to a custom rack-cum-subframe. There’s another custom rack above the front fender (stolen from a Husqvarna TC85), and even the bars are one-offs.
It’s not all high tech fabrication, though: Vagabund used their traditional mechanical skills to recondition the 644cc single, and bent stainless pipe to create a new exhaust system that plumbs into a modified Akrapovič muffler. Best of all, there’s no compromise on the abilities of the legendary NX650.
If only modern enduros and ADVs had a little less dayglo plastic, and a little more visual restraint. Maybe there’s a lesson for manufacturers here? [More]
7. BMW K75 by Matteucci Garage The K-series has superseded the Honda CX500 as the ultimate litmus test for builders: if you can make one look attractive, you’ve got good bike building skills.
We’re still surprised to see a K in our top ten, but Italian builder Marco Matteucci created something very different with this K75. Amazingly, he left the tank, radiator shrouds and wheels intact—but completely rebuilt the rear end with new aluminum bodywork, an antelope leather seat, and a revised mounting point for an Öhlins shock.
There are matching Öhlins forks at the front, plus direct-mount bars and oodles of clever smaller details throughout. The kicker is the paint job straight out of the 80s: petrol blue with a contrasting red tank. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and brilliantly so. [More]
6. Honda CBX1000 by WiMoto A CBX with with not one but two single-side-mounted wheels? This Honda from Holland is a triumph of engineering with a heart-warming story behind it. It was already a heavily modified custom when the original owner was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Current owner Reinoud promised to look after the bike and never sell it, and after a few years, decided to take it up a notch. So he contacted Wido Veldkamp of WiMoto, who used SolidWorks 3D and Tony Foale’s software to create a completely new suspension system.
New 18-inch rims are laced to BMW R1200GS hubs, and there’s a chopped Honda Bol d’Or tail section matched to the original CBX tank.
It all sounds great on paper but would be a pointless exercise if the Honda was a pig on the road. Fortunately the handling is neutral and stable, and the CBX rides as well as it sounds. [More]
5. Ducati Multistrada by North East Custom The first-gen Ducati Multistrada had somewhat controversial looks, but good underpinnings. It was a sporty tourer with excellent dynamics and equipment, unfortunately hamstrung by oddball styling.
Peel off the bodywork though, and you’ve got the makings of something special. Padua-based brothers Diego and Riccardo Coppiello saw the potential, and delivered this crisp café racer that doesn’t mess with all the good stuff that comes with a stock Multistrada 1000 DS.
They’ve added a Ducati 999 tank, a custom seat unit, Hypermotard wheels, a new headlight and custom shroud, and new bars, instrumentation and hand controls. A trick two-into-one exhaust hugs the iconic engine and is partially concealed by a new belly pan with a mesh insert for the fumes to exit through.
It’s a very clever rework of a bike that has never quite received its due, and was hugely appreciated by our readers. [More]
4. Harley XR338 concept The Italian design studio Engines Engineering knows a bit about creating production-ready motorcycles: they work for many of the major manufacturers and have a hundred staff on the books.
This intriguing concept is based on the Benelli 302S, the same platform that Harley-Davidson was rumored to be exploring as a base for a small capacity bike for the Indian market.
The concept comes from one of EE’s North American designers, Michael Uhlarik, and it struck a massive chord with our readers. Even better, it’s 70% production-ready, despite having a new frame, ECU and exhaust system.
The street tracker vibe is on point, the stance is fantastic (thanks to 18-inch wheels) and as far as we can see, there’s nothing to give the bean counters palpitations. Will it make it into production? Unlikely via The Motor Co. But hopefully another company will pick this one up and run with it. [More]
3. BMW R nineT by Zillers Garage We admit to occasionally wondering if there’s anything new left in the custom world. Usually when flicking through generic Instagram accounts full of emojis and BMW airheads with brown seats and knobby tires.
Then a bike pops up that completely restores our faith in the creativity of custom builders. This BMW R nineT almost tripped our servers the moment it came out, because it’s like nothing else out there.
Commissioned by BMW Motorrad Russia, it took ten months to complete. And the only parts left from the 2016-spec R nineT are the engine, final drive, and a few frame elements.
The most intriguing part is the suspension: it’s a hydraulic system that raises and lowers the bike at the touch of a button. And when the bike is parked up, it simply rests on the belly pan.
The engineering is complex, but the effort was worth it: Zillers is now on the global custom map. And this incredible machine is on the cover of the 2021 Bike EXIF calendar. [More]
2. Scott Kolb’s BMW race bike Who’d have thought that a pure race bike would become the second most popular machine to feature on EXIF in one year? Not us. But Scott’s homage to the iconic Daytona Battle of The Twins is something very special.
The framework is custom, using 4130 chromoly tube, and the 82 hp big-valve R90/6 engine is stacked with 1980s race parts from Chris Hodgson’s CC Products—on top of a Siebenrock big bore kit.
As befits a track machine, the suspension is Öhlins R&T all round, and carbon fiber wheels from Rotobox help keep the weight down to a mere 310 pounds (140 kg). For rapid stopping, Scott fitted the Brembo brake system from a BMW S1000R but still had to fabricate the swingarm to accommodate the 200-section rear hoop.
The bodywork is a mix of carbon fiber and .062 aluminum, and there’s a smattering of Rizoma hard parts and controls for a classy finish. This is motorcycling in its purest form. [More]
1. Switch eScrambler We’ve been keeping an eye on Kiwi entrepreneur Matthew Waddick for a while now, and 2020 was his breakout year. After a run of street-legal electric customs, he built this eScrambler prototype—and promptly scored one of the biggest hits we’ve seen in the history of Bike EXIF. Our article on this bike was the second most-read of the year, right behind our preview of the production BMW R18.
Why? Aside from the obvious interest in electric bikes, we reckon the styling has played a big part. Michel Riis, a former Yamaha Japan designer, has managed to get just the right mix of modern and traditional design cues.
You can read all about the bike here, but just as importantly, it’s getting ready for production. Matthew and his Shanghai-based team were significantly affected by COVID 19: he returned to New Zealand for a two week holiday and hasn’t left since. But Switch have rejigged their supply chains, pulled in government support, and leaned on local strategic partners to help with raising capital.
Some heavy lifting will still be done in China—including the frame, swingarm and big extrusion molding—but the tech components and assembly will now be done in New Zealand. Full road-legal production is slated for 2022, with off road versions available sooner. We can’t wait to swing a leg over. [Switch Motorcycles]
EDITOR’S NOTE As always, it’s been fascinating to sift through the data while compiling this list. The bikes that just missed the cut included Charles Leclerc’s Vitpilen, the Blechmann BMW R18, the Eastern Spirit XS650, the ‘Good Ghost’ BMW from Kingston, and 2LOUD’s Honda Cub.
Finally, there are several people we should thank. Like the builders and photographers who dazzle us daily with their skills. And our generous advertisers, who keep the servers humming smoothly, and the site free for you to read. In particular Icon 1000, Motogadget, Biltwell Inc., S&S Cycle and Motone Customs—we salute you.
We’d also like to say a huge thank you to our readers and commenters: you’re the reason Bike EXIF is the most widely read custom motorcycle site in the world. Let’s catch up again in a few days, when Wes will reveal his Editor’s Choice for 2020 (and data be damned).