100% Biker 203

100% Biker 203
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It was while assembling this issue like the glorious jigsaw that it is (this Editorial is usually the last piece and by the time everything is in place I’ve lost it under the sofa or the cat’s stolen it) that I realised we have two Yamaha XVs featured.

Admittedly they’re two different models, separated by over 30 years – Tollbar’s street racer on page 58 was born in 1981, while ‘Playa del Rey’ on page 38 is one of Yamaha’s new Bolt models – but XV customs (and, in particular, those from its first incarnation) have, like so many of their contemporaries, been a little thin on the ground in recent years. But something happened two or three years ago. I’m not sure if it was a meteor strike (we are suspiciously low on dinosaurs around our way) or a particular phase of the moon, but suddenly people began to use engines that had lain forgotten.

You and I, dear reader, have already had the discussion about the impressive rise of both the Honda CX500 and BMW engines, both of which have come back to prominence in a way many of us could never have envisaged, while Royal Enfield’s sturdy little 500cc is continuing to consistently find new fans – although how nice it is to see its baby brother, the 350, being used in a superb little machine like the Enigma on page 68. We always knew that the Triumph Bonneville motor in all its guises would be a constant in the custom world, the number of modified machines curtailed only by the increasing prices as ‘classic’ replaces the (oft-more appropriate) words ‘basket case’ in adverts.

A quick flick through the last year of 100% Biker issues showed that we have featured bikes using engines from over twenty different marques (even I was surprised and I put the things together – the magazines, that is, I leave the clever stuff with bikes to the grown-ups). As well as the usual suspects of Harley-Davidson and Triumph (which, in numbers of features, ran head and head), there have been the big four Japanese manufacturers, Indian, JAP and even a Francis-Barnett and a Velocette, as well as four Buells and five Ducatis, each a far cry from the typical streetfighter route you might expect someone to take with either of the latter.

There seemed to be a period not too long ago when the custom world was dominated by Harley and every custom show you attended would be a vista of V-twins. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that; despite having only owned one, I like Milwaukee’s product and this country has produced countless magnificent examples of what can be accomplished with one, but it is a pleasure to see the custom scene becoming so diverse once more. No doubt, out there, there are more interesting, awe-inspiring and mind-boggling machines currently being created in sheds than I can ever dream of, and I look forward to seeing each and every one.