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Why Are Most Custom Motorcycles So Hideous? … And What’s The Point? (Editorial)


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, they say, but ugly is in the disjointed, mishmash design of most custom motorcycles these days. There are sites devoted to posting pictures and stories of one custom after another. BikeExif and PipeBurn come to mind, but there are many others.

“Back in the day” customs were largely Harley-Davidson choppers, which I never cared for. Now, there are all types of customs … all shapes, sizes, engine configurations and supposed genres. For the most part, what we have is too many builders getting too much press for too little talent.

The other thing I can’t figure out is why motorcycle manufacturers hand out so many bikes to customizers that end up defaming the manufacturer with a monstrosity that will forever be bound to the valuable brand built by the donor company. I think I understand why this started, but it needs to stop. Like most trends, it is now played out.

It started because a small handful of manufacturers gave bikes to custom builders who were typically well regarded, and turned out a quality product. As a result, these pioneers got lots of positive press, and drew crowds at motorcycle shows. This started a trend that the other manufacturers felt compelled to join. Unfortunately, there are only so many quality, custom builders available, and, apparently, too few good designs to riff off of.

But it is the truly garage-built stuff that is the worst. As a “custom” builder, your bike must be different … unique. Most guys are just trying too hard, and forgot one other necessary element, aesthetics. Not just pleasing to look at (although that would be a great start), but exhibiting utility.

In the end, there are just too many custom bikes these days that don’t deserve to be built and, in particular, don’t deserve to be displayed. Guys like John Britten must be turning in their graves.


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97 Comments

  1. J Wilson says:

    I think a lot of guys watched the Tuttles build Trailer Queen after Trailer Queen for big-buck customers (ironically, a lot of blue chip corporations, go figure . . . . ) and Jesse James laugh all the way to the bank and marry a movie star ( I STILL feel sorry for Sandra getting sucked in by that huckster), and thought ‘thar’s gold in them there hills!’ and the race was on.

    Most of them are dreadful, kinda like what teen-agers dreamed up reading old issues of Easy Riders while smoking a joint and drinking near beer. I really think it goes back to that whole Harley thing (‘I must have a Harley just like everybody else, but mine is different ! ! ). Take a couple shop classes, live in the S&S catalog, and have at it.

    But hey, somebody’s gotta make motos for those ROBB REPORT ads ! !

  2. fred says:

    Agreed. Lots of the “custom motorcycles” are neither art nor motorcycles.

  3. jim says:

    yeah you’re right on the custom build diarrhea, but a lot of modern bikes are easily mistaken for insects. while the functionality is there the visual is more a lack of roach killer than aesthetics. so say i to ktm to yamaha to kawasaki etc. there are custom bikes that are art pieces that happen to run but barely ride and there are ones that are functional and beautiful. motorcycles can still do that. by the time you’re a major manufacturer rolling out stilted, rigid, 3rd rate origami i wonder.

    original work is defined by it’s rarity, so readily illustrated by this very discussion……

  4. kjazz says:

    Everybody is an artist. Every musician that has written a tune, regardless of whether or not they actually wrote anything remotely original…gets the title of “artist”. Similarly, many of these bike builders just get too damn much credit. Most of this stuff is hideous, non functional, and just exactly like the one sitting next to it…..built by another “artist”. They say it can’t truly be art….unless there is a significant chance that it fails…. But when they do fail, we have to call them out. Thanks for doing that here. We should all walk away from this stuff. I’ve been going to the Motorcycle Shows that travel around the U.S. And I’ve seen this junk lined up in the aisles between the manufacturers booths. I’ve written notes to the motorcycle show sponsors telling them this junk is junk and please stop putting it out there as some sort of art show. We are educating show attendees that this stuff is worthy. It’s not. It’s mostly junk. But every once in a while, some guy does something really cool mechanically or aesthetically. So there are gems in the junk. I guess we are too afraid to tell someone that their 1,000 hours of labor were wasted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, we could also burn some books while we are at it.

      • kjazz says:

        Thanks for the time you spent crafting such an eloquent rebuttal…and for missing the point entirely.

    • Gutterslob says:

      It all started when some bloke met another bloke and decided they could sell a picture of a circle within a square for thousands of dollars. From that day, even shit on a sidewalk could be sold as art. What’s that big silicon valley buzz/weasel word that popular these days? Ah yes, disruption!!

  5. paul s says:

    Amen to that, glad to finally see someone calling a spade a spade.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “And What’s The Point?”….. click bait.

  7. Ron says:

    I guess that builder must think running flat tires is the next big “thing”. No doubt it costs extra too.

  8. Gutterslob says:

    The bikes get built because people want them.
    The majority of people have no taste.
    I’m sure you can do the math.

  9. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    I’ve been saying this for most of the custom bikes that show up on here. A very few aren’t bad. Others say they’re great, would love to have one etc., but I thought most of them were all just plain fugly. And then they charge one he** of a price for a fugly yet. Not for this guy. Looks like they even forgot the seat on the one pictured in this article. Jimminy crickets.

  10. Steve says:

    Right on the money.

  11. takehikes says:

    I worked for one of the most famous builders of the late 60’s early 70’s. We had a designer/engineer on staff. There was a plan and it had to get past a lot of people before being built. We had a few misses but mostly not. Today its a “hey lets throw everything at it” mentality. Also we didn’t have CNC, water jets, billet, wire welders etc at our fingers tips. You had to cut and form and hammer anything you built so you had to think it through or you would be wasting weeks of work not minutes. I also see that builders have no comprehension of design flow and form, more like tack it on it will be cool. Last ours were built to be ridden and often though they were built as show bikes. our owner would drag one out at night to go riding and I seriously doubt any of these abortions get ridden anywhere.

  12. Jim says:

    First World problems

  13. Dave says:

    Most are very ugly

  14. HS1... says:

    When most builders are expressing their individuality by doing the same few extremely exaggerated things, they become the most derivative sheep in the flock.

  15. Curly says:

    I’m a firm believer in saying ride whatever you want to ride. But if it’s unrideable is it really a motorcycle or just an art piece? Plank seats, square profile tires or no fenders on dirt bikes. No just no. Stop with all the stupid “builds”!

  16. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    editorial
    noun
    1.a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue.

    Hell, I agree with Dirck on this subject:
    Loads of these bikes look like sh@#.

  17. Tank says:

    I always thought that MD was here to promote interest in motorcycles no matter what the end product looked like. Don’t understand why “it needs to stop”.

  18. Gerry says:

    I will never understand why anyone would build, buy, much less ride a hard-tail motorcycle.

  19. Butch says:

    Rat Bikes, Rat Rods, I blame the whole phenomena on the movie, “Road Warrior” 1981.
    Im sure there are car and truck purist out there who are aghast at some of the restorable old rides being butchered up for arts sake.
    Personally, while I wouldn’t be caught dead riding most of them, there is something appealing about an unpainted, cobbled together motorcycle.
    Same goes for the Rat Rods.
    It’s all about the creative process.
    I get it.

  20. RD350 says:

    While I get where Dirck is coming from here, I see way more good than bad about the current custom scene. For starters, the best thing about this trend is that it is a gateway for young people to become, not only new riders, but life time enthusiasts. They are the ones who will carry the torch when those of us at the tail end of the boomer generation are gone. Second, the quality of the vast majority of bikes at the high end of this scene are outstanding. Check out Bikeexif or Pipeburn if you haven’t been there. Additionally, the entire industry benefits from a new generation interested in cafe/scrambler/tracker products. Not only after market products, but within the manufacturers themselves. Most of the current production bikes that I like these days are a response to the resurgent interest in these enthusiast categories. The BMW/Ducati/Triumph etc retro stuff all exists because of the custom scene .. not the other way around. While the number of riders/buyers may be down, the overall scene, especially for niche and enthusiast categories has never been better. Like all art forms there are always those with more ambition than talent. Yes there are many failures. But as in all things, the cream always rises to the top. And there is some really nice cream to enjoy these days.

  21. Mark says:

    John Britten was in a class of 1.
    Most customs would have hurt his eyes. I doubt he even looked at them.

    • johnny ro says:

      Agree with Mark.

      For Dirck, to say John Britten will roll in his grave at current customs is almost a defamation. A miss.

      He was at least a quantum leap or two above the best customizers.

      He was ….an originator, not a customizer. Imagine walking into Redditch or Munich or Minato or Hamamatsu with his resume…

      Lets make it ten quantum leaps.

      I am not so down on customizers as I more or less ignore them as noise in the field. From my view, no harm, no foul. They have fun, so it is OK.

      The pictured bike might have been selected to make Dirck’s point easy to agree with.

      Hardtails; I want an older BMW, might get to buy one next ten years to ride a few times a season. Deeply inferior in all functional ways (except front fender) to a Kawasaki 300 adventure bike but desirable.

  22. oldridertom says:

    Slow news day indeed. Lets just chum the waters and see the feeding frenzy begin. Honestly, ride what you like and let the rest of the world do the same. Is the ultimate goal of motorcyclists to have a bunch of identical clones riding and liking the same things? Or can we appreciate the concept that maybe the custom scene is to push the envelope of what is popular and see where we end up? Lots of stuff out there I don’t like, but I am sure no one really wants to hear my opinion just as long as they get to tell me theirs. I am waiting to hear about new motorcycles coming up and what dastardly thing the latest MotoGP contender did. Let the artists dream.

  23. Hh says:

    Thank you Dirck, spot on, well said. Lately, I see more and more interesting chops, rats and cafes ( not necessarily made from HD) around town and the riders committed to riding them. It’s integrated statement and I am ok with that since riding is about commitment. I maintain the hope that all the themed named one off bike builders and their wannabe followers will buy 3d printers and fabricate their designs into paper models. This will free up their design parameters and then real builders can decide what ideas are worth carrying across to the real world of functional bikes.

  24. Doc says:

    Like everything else, some can do the custom thing well, others not so much. I like different, even quirky sometimes, but not just for the sake of same. Even some choppers when not done over the top, I can appreciate even though I wouldn’t own one. Have seen a number of badly executed cafe racers on Craigslist and my first thought was “What was he thinking?” Then I come across another bike built by someone that had genuine talent. If you remember Biker Build Off, there was an episode with Indian Larry. He built a chopper or maybe it was more bobber, but I liked it. I wouldn’t own it but it was cool looking. The paint had heavy metal flake, Rat Fink was on the tank if I remember correctly and even the oil filter was out by the back wheel. But the thing I remember most is a comment he made. He liked the mechanicalness of bikes. Me too.

  25. Spider says:

    I cannot ride hardtails very long anymore but I know some young and old riders who do and for long distances. Most of the custom bikes are made from wrecked or beaters. These young and older men and women learn a lot about mechanics, welding, painting, parts hunting etc. These bikes sell and people ride them or collect them.
    It’s very disappointing to see one of my favorite web sites being so negative about these motorcycles.
    At first I thought it was like an April fool post just to bait us. To top it off all the negative commenters came out of the couch and start ragging about music, types of bikes, how the good ole days were so great.
    We live in the best time in history. We have the greatest selection and quality of new bikes to buy and ride.
    The “baby boomers” and so called “greatest generation” would probably say “Can’t we all get along?”
    The owner of this site has the prerogative to post whatever they want but I was hoping for more motorcycle reviews or racing news instead of this type of article. Maybe the writer could just go on a nice ride on two wheels and enjoy every breath and all the goodness in the world. Personally, I’m going to go for a ride after I finish this comment. Maybe a little humor to start this whole business in a different direction. Like an article on what type of oil should I use in my bike;)

  26. mark says:

    To each his (or her) own. Who cares what anybody thinks is attractive or not. We live in a world where we are free to do whatever we want to with the things we own. I may think your (whatever you want to put in this space) is attractive, ugly, hideous as sin, or whatever, but no matter what you may think it really doesn’t matter. Why be judgemental? Does it really serve any purpose at all? All it does is add stress to your life and make us seem petty.

    Look at the item, then smile, (or frown) your choice, and move on. Peace!

  27. j_cott says:

    Dirck, here’s my opinion: as an Industrial Designer, I design products every day, with an eye to aesthetic, and to function. Not motorcycles – typically consumer products, but the same principals apply:

    In product design I’m typically faced with a choice: A vanilla design that most people think is okay, but few love, and few hate; or a more polarizing design that a smaller slice of the population LOVES – not likes, but LOVES – and a typically MUCH larger slice that hate it….and maybe a small slice in the middle that think it is okay.

    Sometimes, if the product idea is new and unique at the core, the more “vanilla” aesthetic design is best – it gets more people to try the unique core product idea and hopefully love it.

    Other times, if the idea isn’t new, you go for a polarizing aesthetic design – because, you want it to stand out, and you want the people who LOVE it to buy it. And the people that think it’s Okay still will. The people that hate it won’t – but it gets attention when compared to a bunch of vanilla competitors. That’s motorcycles – not a new idea.

    Additional considerations are market presence: How much presence do you have in the market? If you own the market, Vanilla can be a safe bet because it protects your house by not alienating the majority of the market that already buy your product. If you have, say, 3 percent, and you come up with a vanilla design that 99 percent of the market find “okay”, you’ve probably done nothing to increase your share. But, if you have a polarizing design, that 6% of the market LOVE and can’t live without, they rush out and buy it – you just doubled your share.

    Customs combine all of this:
    Art – it’s subjective
    Polarizing design – if you don’t build a custom to stand out and be different, why build it?
    Small Market – market of one typically. Or maybe 25 or 50 on a small run of bikes…so you need one person to LOVE it. That’s all.

    Kinda like custom homes – there are a LOT of ugly ones. And a LOT of amazing ones – just like bikes. Seems you forget to mention the amazing bikes.

    Another principal in closing: Successful design is 90% failures. But, the other 10% are move the ball forward with amazing new innovations – functional or aesthetic.

  28. Bud says:

    I lost commenting privileges on bike exif for expressing the same sentiments. Less tactfully, I must admit.

  29. Miles says:

    Big surprise, come to Motorcycle Daily, find a bunch of old men grumping about “these kids today”.

    As someone who has owned an HD Chopper (custom frame, extended forks, coffin gas tank, etc.) and a BMW Airhead cafe racer (very mild: just seat and bars), I realize that custom bikes aren’t for everyone, but some manufacturers style isn’t for everyone either. I love the look of custom HD and Honda 750 choppers from the 60s and 70s. Raked frames, extended forks, crazy paint and tanks, etc. It evokes a more carefree time and and a rebellion against typical cruiser style that seems stuck in the 50s. If I wanted a motorcycle that was comfortable, went fast and handled great, I wouldn’t buy a cruiser anyway. If I wanted a motorcycle that looked cool, I wouldn’t ride a stock modern cruiser because they are boring and derivative. Let a new generation chop them up and experiment with their own style.

  30. WSHart says:

    Aesthetics replaced by ASSthetics. Disgusting way for a motorcycle to die. To become worthless by having it’s soul sucked out by some moto Nosferatu.

  31. arrowrod says:

    In the old days…
    Well, these ain’t the old days. Triumphs and Nortons and BSAs, oh my. Gorgeous, and atrocious mechanically.
    Now, Japanese designs are atrocious, but mechanically georgous. What the hell, when your riding them, you’re looking at the road.

    As far as most peoples tastes, argh!

  32. redbirds says:

    I can agree that most customs are poorly done and hardly practical but the styling of many factory street bikes today is a hideous glob of angled plastic, bearing fake cooling vents and and weird shaped lights. KTM is a good example, great performance bike but uglier than hammered dog doo.

  33. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Because art. That is all

  34. Bryan Kowalchuk says:

    Most custom hacks jobs are hideous, unstructured and un-rideable. I am reminded of seeing a work in progress of a pristine Honda CBX550 being hacked to death into a “café” racer. Instead of embracing the weird ’80’s vibe and extending it, he was trying to turn it into something that just wasn’t really possible, and by ruining a rare bike in the process.

    I was faced with the same dilemma, with a basket-case 1983 CX650E. First option was to turn it into some murdered out MadMax beast, but quickly came to my senses and decided to the opposite, that is modernize and old bike, a resto-mod. I am glad I did. Modern parts turned a good ’80s bike into a good modern bike without loosing anything. Most people at the coffee shops can’t believe the bike is 35 years old and has 125,000kms on it.

  35. Sam says:

    They need a BEAK to be truly hideous 🙂

    • Grover says:

      One look at the latest Suzuki DR650/1000 “Big Bird” styling makes most customs attractive by comparison.

  36. Richard says:

    I suspect that one reason that “most custom bikes” are “hideous” is a result of three things: 1) that most builders lack either the skills and/or funds to make the bike they see in their mind; 2) that “we” have a predetermined concept of what is and isn’t hideous (what we like isn’t hideous, even though we’re not any more qualified than anyone else to make such a determination); and, 3) we’re able to allow ourselves to be inundated with the sheer volume of what’s out there by way of the internet, social media, etc.

    I suspect that what’s being described as a “new” phenomenon has always existed. However, in years (decades?) past, the only people who were exposed to a particular custom build were those who were in physical proximity to the bike that was customized. If you didn’t live in the builder’s neighborhood, drive down a road upon which the bike was traveling, or attend a bike show or some other event to see it parked or displayed there, you had no such encounter with the creation.

    With the advent of blogs, enthusiast websites, and other forms of “electronic communication (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, ad infinitum), you no longer are limited to bikes physically proximate. Anyone (who has access to a smart-phone or computer) can see an obscure build in “God-Knows-Where” put together by someone no one has ever heard of, and will likely never be noticed again. Their endeavors will be lost much as smoke in the wind.

    I suppose I’m saying to you Dirck, that your critique is true but too limited in scope. It is not so much that *only now* are beautiful custom bikes in short supply; it is, rather, thus it ever was. And will be.

    Can I have an amen?

  37. CrazyJoe says:

    The idea of a chopper or a Nakid bike is as you go along dropping it, it develops it’s own style after removing the damaged parts. I never liked choppers much, what no front brake, but some of what out there are works of art. The triumph bobber looks good but look at what Honda and Yamaha did with their custom look bikes.

    I don’t know why only older Harley designs and UJM’s from the 70’s look right to me. You can throw in Henderson’s, Bonneville’s and every once in awhile something like a Ducati Monster and Scrambler comes along but when I see a Honda Goldwing with all the plastic removed I think it’s an improvement. To each their own.

  38. Mike J says:

    Yes. Lack of aesthetics.

  39. Lmartin780 says:

    You guys are missing the point. It’s about function over form. Yeah, It doesn’t look so hot, but throw a tank bag on it and it’s something I could 12 hours days on. Now do I want to go this route, or go with an FJR1300….hmmmm?

  40. Grover says:

    I blame Arlen Ness. Look what he did to Victory Motorcycles and where are they now?

  41. Jabe says:

    Is that front tire flat? Kinda fits the theme of things.

  42. Jeremy in TX says:

    I have seen some really good customs. I am very partial to the street tracker and cafe racer styles, and a number of those old bikes look great made up as such, much better that the original in my opinion.

    I don’t really lament the “loss” of any of those historic machines as the doner bike is almost always in a pretty sad state to begin with and would have likely just turned to rust anyway. Better someone try to make something of it, whether I care for the result or not, than just let it rot. Choppers? Can’t stand them. But hey, others seem to dig them, all good.

    Are there a lot of untalented builders out there? There sure are. The quality of their work speaks for them. Others produce good craftsmanship that I can appreciate, even if the “bike” they built demonstrates that the builder and I have very different ideas of what a motorcycle is. Maybe that makes them a good craftsman but poor builder?

  43. RyYYZ says:

    The “custom” bike scene has always pretty much left me cold. The custom chopper scene, particularly, as I never cared for the aesthetic, and the bikes were clearly barely usable. Once in a while I see a custom bike, even a chopper, that makes me say “that’s really cool!”, but most are just not attractive, or usable.

  44. PN says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth. The whole scene is a cliche: flat back, pipe wrap, hardtails, silly spring seats. This cr*p is unrideable as well. The XS650 was a neat bike worth upgrading. Try to find one now that hasn’t been chopped and ravaged.

    • RJ Biddulph says:

      Totally agree. The hardtail part and those springy/ultrathin seats are the worst. Not to mention the old tires on each and every bike. Instead of making something better, like restomods, they often make something good crappy.

  45. P Harris says:

    The builders you like, developed those skills while making bikes you probably don’t like. It’s called learning.

  46. beasty says:

    Meh. Must be a slow news day. There are some very nice customs out there and there are a lot of swings and misses.

  47. paquo says:

    the one pictured is actually kind of cool imo , although there seems to be nowhere to sit

  48. Tom R says:

    Yeah custom bikes are all pretty much ugly trash, but it keeps their builders off the streets and out of trouble.

  49. dt 175 says:

    ARS GRATIA ARTIS

  50. Tim says:

    While I agree with the general sentiment of this article, and hate to see beautiful old bikes hacked up, I do see some value in the process. At least the trend is helping bring a few younger people into motorcycling, something the industry badly needs. So I’ll just continue to keep my mouth shut, and think to myself “Wow, that’s ugly”. To each his own.

  51. Walter says:

    Finally– someone had to say it

    “Beauty may indeed be in the eye of the beholder”- the classic response when something is genuinely ugly LOL

    • Tom K. says:

      Yes – saying “He’s got his daddy’s chin” will always have a much better ending than “That’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen”.

  52. downgoesfraser says:

    Art has always been in the eye of the beholder. What drives me nuts is when people bitch that some old pile has been “ruined” by the customizer. The crazy reverence for anything old drives me nuts.

    • Fred M. says:

      “The crazy reverence for anything old drives me nuts.”

      If only I could find a supermodel that felt that way about men…

      • downgoesfraser says:

        Aaahhhhhhhhhhhh, an apparantly big bank account seems to do wonders, ask our current Pres.

  53. John says:

    The real question is why does the Press even cover the trash these guys build??

  54. David Fisher says:

    I almost forgot. Some bikes are green, some are blue, and some are red. I have a red one. Bet you would never be able to guess who made it!

    • Max says:

      You’d never know it today. If it’s not covered stem to stern in flat black spray paint, it ain’t hip.

  55. David Fisher says:

    Looks like I am on the other side. I checked out PipeBurn and BikeExif. Yes, some of these designs may not win any awards but at least some builders out there are pushing the envelope. Factory bikes are pretty much in a rut. They are all essentially the same look. A little tweaking of the electronics and minor modifications to the body work and you have a new model that just looks like last year’s and just like all the rest.

  56. HS1... says:

    I don’t desire to bash a cottage industry, but the proof is pretty plain. Most customs nowadays are really hard to look at and even harder to ride. The resale value of most of these bikes appears to free-fall faster than a rocket powered anvil. That hack with the burnt and ATV tired bikes builds some real abominations.

  57. OldGuy says:

    God they are so horrible! All of them. They should stop destroying good honest bikes. You see them regularly on ebay where someone has taken off the mudguards, cut the seat in half and thinks it’s worth a fortune. My current nightmare is the revolting CCM Spitfire! It should be banned.

    • TF says:

      I could not agree more! I restored a couple old dirt bikes back when that was the thing to do so I did quite a bit of shopping for opportunities. I remember seeing a really nice 72 TS185 that someone had put café bars on. Now it seems like half the used bikes on CL have been hacked up by some skinny jean wearing clown. The worst part is, they hack them up and ride them but they don’t restore or maintain them. Hence, most of these old treasures are now on the fast track to the recycling bin……lost forever.

  58. WSHart says:

    Scott said, “Are some crap?”

    Most of, if not all of ’em are, toilet boas.

    And yes, what passes for popular music is cRap today. LOL! Sing wit me, chilluns!

    With a MoFo here and a MoFo there. Here a Mo! Thera a Fo! Everywhere a MoFo! Ol’Mickey D’s he had a crib, he be one hip ol’ MoFo…’n’ sheeeeet!

    Choppers suck. So do a great many “cafe'” bikes.

  59. WSHart says:

    The majority of these turds are nothing less than the “builders” personal “Picture of Dorian Gray”.

    It’s like a “painting” by Picasso. Soooo hideous. Sadly, some people want so desperately to be liked and thought knowledgeable that they’ll pretend to be flies and eat crap and claim to enjoy it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but again the majority of these turdlings are downright FUGLY. Useless too.

    Just because some idiot with a blowtorch named “Art” put something together does not make it a “work of Art”. To paraphrase the Josey Wales, “To hell with them customs. Flies gotta eat, same as Dung Beetles”…

  60. David M says:

    As a teenager, I butchered my share of old VW bugs and “custom” painted a bike or two. Those old 1950’s era cars and my 1974 CB750 were just run of the mill iron back then. Only with decades of hindsight do I now see what they would worth today if left stock. And, what I did to them, was to many eyes, an abomination. But, I was young and building what I thought was cool. But most importantly, I had almost no money and just made do. I had no money for chrome, custom paint or powder coating. I think many custom bikes are pretty hideous too. I’ve also been to a few custom car and bike shows and seen some pretty hideous big dollar creations and just wonder “why”. Now, I look back to my distant past and just cut them a little slack.

  61. pushrod pete says:

    If someone builds an ugly one-off, I really can’t get worked up. That’s their problem.

    Continuing to have MANUFACTURERS come out with ugly bike after ugly bike is much more depressing…

  62. Shaunock says:

    I would say that 75% of BikeEXIF content appeals to my PERSONAL taste. There are some that I struggle to comprehend but still appreciate the work that went into. Others I have no taste for however it’s likely someone out there would still like it.

    I’m not a fan of Harley customs (Aside from flat track), am I on the wrong side of this argument? I don’t think so, purely because my taste is different to others.

    I never thought a BMW K series could look good but the April 2018 Exif bike showed me that they can be beautiful. I personally believe that sites like BE and PB can’t afford to get too niche in a market this competitive. It’s worth displaying a broader range of customs to cater to a wider base of enthusiasts. This will inevitably result in some bikes being more appreciated than others by certain demographics.

    TL;DR, live and let live. As long as it’s quality.

  63. joe b says:

    Laughs, boy you said that right. When all this new paint everything black thing started, it was sacrilegious to do what they do now, to a “real” bike, like a 650 Triumph or other accepted collectible machine. No one really cared what you did with that old Honda CB350 you found in the dumpster. If you look back on the custom bike scened from around 2000 in Japan, USA has finally caught up with what they were doing then, maybe even surpassed them. There is nothing you cant do now, it doesnt matter. Anybody wonder why there is less interest in motorcycles?

  64. Pacer says:

    I no longer pay attention to the custom bike scene, but admit to buying the Bike EXIF calander. It makes for great garage art every January.

  65. Bozo says:

    I love you, Dirck.
    I thought I was all alone out here.
    There has also been SO MUCH destruction
    of old Japanese (and British) bikes,
    it makes me sad.
    Yes, the new bike destruction is also deplorable.
    Thank you for being rational and having sight.

    • Pacer says:

      Alot of 80s survivors have been sacrificed. Definitely unfortunate.

    • Shaunock says:

      So if a custom builder picks up a frame from a junkyard and turns it into a functioning bike, is it still destroyed?

      I’d rather see old bikes remain on the road even as customs than end up as landfill.

      • Pacer says:

        No doubt, but taking a survivor apart to fit some crap parts, a flat black paint job then selling on craiglist. That’s the downer.

  66. Scott says:

    Or maybe you have narrow tastes, limited vision, and want someone or something to look down on.

    That’s not really a maybe.

    These bikes get built both because some people want to built them, and enough other people want to see them built. And they shouldn’t give much of a s**t about what anyone else thinks.

    Are some crap? are many? Sure, why not. But so it goes with any creative endeavor. Are you also going to post a thread about how bad music is today?

    • Stratkat says:

      thats an interesting perspective, let me think about it for a second…
      nope, they suck.

    • MG3 says:

      Actually, Scott, popular music is pretty bad today, since you mention it. I just saw a ‘news’ item on the two biggest Tony nominated broadway shows for this year. ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘SpongeBob Square Pants’.. Nuff Said? That’s the state of our culture today and there’s nothing you or I can do about it, other than creating a new phenomenon that changes the landscape. I won’t dismiss anyone who has the guts and tenacity to create something they think is beautiful (art maybe?), but not everyone has that certain indefinable thing (talent) that can produce real art. Most ‘creators’ just flounder and eventually go back to their day jobs. Just check out the movie Amadeus. Being mediocre is a tough thing to swallow, but that’s pretty much what most of us are, whether we try to write a song, or build a custom motorcycle.

      But you know what, even if your mechanical creation gets a big shrug from everyone who sees it, you still get a lot out of the effort. I play the guitar, badly, but I keep playing because it keeps me in tune with music and makes me appreciate those who can play well.

      So keep building you builders! Keep trying, at least until the money runs out. You may not be a Mozart, but you’re probably miles ahead of the rest of us.