The Bike Shed London 2019
The last weekend in May is always marked out in our calendars – not just because a public holiday brings us some extra riding time, but because this is when the annual Bike Shed MC custom motorcycle show takes place. 2019 marked the 10th edition of a show that has transformed from a low-key showcase of bike builders' work to an all-singing-all-dancing convention. While there are plenty of stands from major brands and bike manufacturers these days, nobody could suggest that the focus has been lost, and the halls remain a treasure trove of artistic licence and engineering ingenuity.
There's a certain character trait that the Bike Shed show exudes – it's not just the biggest custom bike show around, but the builders go further in the name of custom too. At just about every turn, I came across a bike that had simply left its former self on a garage floor somewhere many miles away. These are the builds that aren't always to everybody's taste, but they certainly get noticed.
When the guys at Biltwell Inc. decided they were going to ride a Sportster across a desert, I have no doubt that a few people laughed. That bike finished the NORRA Mexican 1000 though, so who's laughing now?
In a similar vein, Malle London have partnered up with Iron & Air to create a scrambler version of the new Royal Enfield Interceptor twin [they really didn't waste any time getting the spanners out there] to operate as a support vehicle at their Malle Rally event covering the length of Britain.
The Yamaha XSR700 is a bike that really lends itself to tinkering, for even the most ham-fisted of home mechanics. As a result most examples out there have had some tweaks, but nothing quite like "Fior" by Down & Out, which oozes 90's trackside style.
Biggest transformation of the show however, goes to the bike on the right. The aggressive stance of TVC's Kawasaki ZL600 really couldn't be further from the original laid-back cruiser design.
Fear not – the catering was excellent (shout-out to The Green Grill). I do, of course, refer to a certain transverse V-twin bike from Honda. The low purchase price has made the Honda CX series a popular donor bike for amateur and pro builders alike. Truly excellent examples can still be a rare sight, but the Bike Shed show delivered in spades.
Both Anders Jonasson-Beltin (right) and Frans Kromhout's (left) cafe racer builds show an awesome level of attention to detail – the rocker covers on Frans' bike really do it for me.
The stripped-back simple design of Chris Pugh's 400cc Candy Bob also pretty much stopped me in my tracks. In case you hadn't worked it out, I'm a bit of a mark when it comes to shaft-drive Honda vees!
Another member of the usual suspects when it comes to motorcycle builds, the BMW R-series is sure to come up at any show. As above though, this means that a stand-out example really has to do just that: stand out.
The slim tank and seat design on Steve Blacker's R75/7 (left) make for a striking contrast with the Boxer engine silhouette. Going pretty much right in the opposite direction, the look of Hawkeye Moto's bobber (right) is kept muscular rather than portly thanks to the two-tone paintwork on the cylinders that disguises the breadth of the rocker covers.
Triumph Bobber Build-Off
Across the UK, 13 Triumph dealers are doing battle. Starting with the Bonneville Bobber, these dealers have used the whole host of Triumph parts and accessories and their imaginations to put together a one-off creation and submit it to the public vote. The winner will be announced at the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride in September. Both entrants that caught my attention hark back to the original Speed Twin and namecheck its designer, Ed Turner.
Both these designs opt for girder forks and use the current Speedmaster handlebar. While Pure Triumph Wellingborough have created a homage to the Speed Twin with their red and chrome paintwork, it is the retro leatherwork and polished aluminium tank of Triumph East London's HED Turner that has won my vote.
Decked out in blue-tinted lighting, this year's show featured a room dedicated solely to bikes run by electric motors. In addition to builds from the like of Energica – whose bikes you can readily purchase already – we were treated to a closer look at the Vector bike from Arc Vehicles which opened for crowdfunding investment in the aftermath of the show.
Personally, I'd been looking forward to kicking the tyres of the Cake Kalk OR. The mountain-biker in me is very curious about the lightweight off-roader concept, although Cake themselves have commuting in mind as well. Perhaps the most interesting concept though was the converted Garelli KL50 motorcross bike built by Mokka Cycles of Budapest. The partnership between vintage tech – maybe the term "salvage" could even be brought in – and modern eco tech is certainly inspiring, and I for one would like to see more of this in the future
I have to include a few examples of bikes that are clean, classic....just really nice. And is it even a bike show without a Triton?