100% Biker 172

100% Biker 172
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No matter what anyone might say about custom bike folk all being individuals, there are very definitely trends in custom biking, there really are.

A few years ago it was for S&S and Ultima-engined kit bikes, and I lost count of how many high headstock/ fat rear wheel/ flash paint beasties arrived in my email inbox along with a note saying ‘just finished this, do you want to feature it?’ It’s funny, but I always felt really guilty turning them down, even though (a) they’re not really what the magazine is about, and (b) they all looked almost exactly the same bar the differing paint jobs…

That trend was followed by an influx of Sportster-based bobbers; a move spearheaded by, I think, two factors. Firstly, the bikes built by Simon Harris at Attitude Customs that showed how good a simple and relatively inexpensive build could look, and secondly, the first stirrings of the global recession—folk who might’ve previously bought big aftermarket motors started to feel the pinch a little and started looking for slightly less bank-breaking bases for their next builds. Complete and running Sportsters could, at that time, be picked up for anything from £1,500, and once you’d sold off the bits you didn’t need, you had a cheap Harley motor to build a bike around. This, inevitably, led to a rise in the price of second-hand Sportys, and so now people are looking for something else to build from.

This year it seems that we’ve almost gone back to the days of the 1980s (when, funnily enough, there was a recession too) and more and more folk are building Japanese-engined chops. Here at Biker we have a fair number of really nice Jap-based machines to show you over the next few months, something that’s almost a complete reversal of the situation this time last year; then we had loads of Harleys and almost no Japs at all. And at Faro this year, the ‘Custom’ class, always the most well subscribed category, was noticeably lacking in H-Ds, but rammed full of small-engined, but beautifully crafted, Japs (including, of all things, a Super Dream!).

Me, I just see it as an indication of how diverse and unblinkered the British custom bike scene is. In the UK we know that H-Ds aren’t the be-all and end-all of custom bike building, and we know that we can build amazing machines using almost any engine we choose. And recession or not, I hope that’s something that goes on forever…

-Nik

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