Shedding the custom bike clichés

Published: 25 May 2014

Since launching as a website designed to highlight some of the better and more unusual motorcycles being built within the burgeoning custom and cafe-race scene, the last eighteen months have seen The Bike Shed establish itself as a showcase event within the British motorcycling calendar.

Having expanded to a new venue in London's Tobacco Docks, the show drew a strong, mixed crowd of young, trendy ‘hipsters’ with their skinny jeans, beards and Biltwell Gringo helmets as well as the more - let’s say - ‘traditional’ biker who had all come to peruse the intriguing metal on display.

Bike from established custom houses such as Deus, Lamb Engineering, BMW R80/R100 specialist Kevill’s Speedshop and Krazy Horse customs - who brought along their own Krugger framed, ‘Eckerslike Flyer’ as well as the new Paton S1 ‘Strada’ - sat aside the newer wave of Old Empire Motorcycles, Foundry MC and the many others who have started to ride the revived, cafe-racer and custom wave.

Sitting in equal status to these smaller builders, large manufacturers too have begun to take notice of the event and Triumph Motorcycles brought a small and understated series of production and custom machines to display, as well as MotoGuzzi with several versions of their V7.

Clothing - as expected from an event so intertwined with the rising interest from the fashion world - was also in abundance, with Motolegends and Barbour showcasing their new lines alongside the more traditional and original brands from the cafe-racing heydays of the 50s and 60s.

As a spotlight shining onto the custom scene in its current incarnation, the show drew a fine but well-balanced line between celebration and cliché (if you turned a blind-eye to the in-situ barber cutting expensive quiffs all weekend) . And with angrier, more aggressive builds such as Death Spray Custom’s divisive ‘Black Polygon’, Desmosedici RR sitting in the same arena as the clean, symmetrical lines of Henry Coles' elegant, Gladstone Number 1, it’s clear that these are times of both vitality and progression within the bike-building world.