2013 has been a fantastic year for Silodrome, the site now has almost a million monthly readers and somewhere in the region of 100,000 social media followers. Our stories have been featured right across the web on sites like the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, Road & Track Magazine, Autoweek Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik and of course, Bike EXIF.
This collection of 13 motorcycles are the ones that pulled in the most views over the past year, have a scroll through and see if there are any you might have missed, then come back tomorrow and take a look at the Top 13 Cars of 2013.
I’m a big fan of the humble Honda CB550, the model has always been over-shadowed by the far more famous CB750 but the parallel 4-cylinder engine in the CB550 is lighter and has earned itself a solid reputation over the years.
Every now and then I like to go and feature a motorcycle that’s a little out of the ordinary, partly to keep everyone on their toes and partly because it’s kind of interesting to see what’s happening in other parts of the motorcycle world.
Slapping a motor into the frame of a bicycle, laughing at the idea of suspension, then setting out to race your friends at speeds that are quite remarkably excessive are the founding principles of the world of motorcycling. The pioneers who created the very concept of the motorcycle could look at the bike picture above and below and instantly recognise it as a motorised velocipede, which if we’re honest, actually sounds a lot cooler than “motorbike”.
We featured the official 2013 Triumph Scrambler last week, in the process of writing that piece I got to talking with Joao Alves of Somos and we pondered what a proper, balls-to-the-wall Triumph Scrambler designed to race across Baja would look like.
It was built by one of the smallest custom motorcycle garages in the country, it’s so small that it’s actually just one man working alone – despite this he’s gone on to become one of the most famous customisers in the world. His name is Greg Hageman and he’s one of those relaxed, friendly and exceedingly talented individuals who can build a bike alone in a garage that can compete toe-to-toe with some of the biggest multi-million dollar garages in the world. And win.
The Honda CX500 is like a feisty featherweight boxer who’ll take on anyone and will never, ever back down. The model was first released in 1978 and it was fitted with a series of innovative features that were either uncommon or totally unused at the time, things like shaft drive, modular wheels, twin CV carburettors that were tuned for reduced emissions and a liquid cooling system. Interestingly, the electric ignition system was separate from the rest of the bike’s electrical systems, this allowed the motorcycle to be push-started and ridden – even in the case of a total electrical failure.
The 1930 Henderson Custom is one of the most stunning art deco motorcycles we’ve ever seen, it’s based on a 1930 K.J Henderson with an inline-4 air-cooled engine, that bodywork is all custom and it’s the sort of thing that would have impressed even Ettore Bugatti.
If this is the first time you’ve seen the new Caterham Brutus 750, it’s probably safe to say that your lower jaw is now resting on your keyboard. Whilst you gather your wits I’ll hit you with all the important numbers, just so we have it all out of the way.
Walt Siegl is, quite deservedly, one of the most famous custom motorcycle builders in the world. Far from the hideous kitch hellscape of the custom stretched out chopper scene, Walt works from his garage in New England and creates some of the most beautiful and technically advanced custom bikes you’ll find anywhere on Earth.
The Kawasaki GT550 was fitted with a DOHC transverse, 4-cylinder, air-cooled engine with a total capacity of 553cc, it could produce 58hp at 9,000rpm and some claim it could top out above 140mph. Power was fed to the rear wheel via a shaft drive and a 6-speed transmission, making it a slightly unusual bike for the early 1980s.
Purebreed Fine Motorcycles is a relatively new French Canadian custom motorcycle garage run by Guillaume Brochu, Guillaume is one of those non-traditional intellectuals who find fascination with seemly unrelated things but then somehow manages to pull them altogether. He graduated from college as a certified accountant before eighty-sixing Microsoft Excel for the life of a sommelier, a career he kept for 10 years.
This bike was nicknamed “The American” by its creator, Michael Woolaway (aka Woolie), the head motorcycle man at Deus Ex Machina in California. The fundamental ethos behind The American was that is should be as American as possible with as few internationally sourced parts as could be managed.
I have this hope that as the cafe racer craze begins to abate we’ll see a surge of other interesting retro-custom motorcycles, like scramblers for example. On the face of it they share a lot with cafe racers, both are stripped back to reduce weight, both typically have air-cooled engines, both came to popularity in the ’60s and both make me want to sell important possessions so I can afford them.