Motorcycling is an activity that is synonymous with individuality and flair, so it is hardly surprising that there is a long history of people building custom motorcycles dating all the way back to the early 1900s. This is currently on the rise again right now in the biking community and it is easy to see why as it can be such a fun and rewarding project to build your own ride.
One of the earliest custom motorbikes that is known is one built by Harold “Oily” Karslake who built what is known as “the Dreadnought” in 1902 which used the frame and engine from different machines along with unique scratch-built components. Around this time, many more people starting customizing and building their own bikes to stamp their own individuality on them as well as to improve different aspects of their performance.
Bobbers & Kustom Kulture
Customization has remained popular since then and gone through certain phases, such as “bobbers” in the 30s which involved stripping excess bodywork and removing the front fender. Drag racing and hot rod culture influenced customization in the 40s and 50s and “Kustom Kulture” arrived in the 50s with choppers appearing for the first time.
Fast forward to today and customization is as popular as ever and even more extreme than years gone by. This is, partly, due to shows like American Chopper and the fact that motorcycles have intersected with fashion, style and art. There are lots of motorcycle owners in today’s day and age and even those with multiple bikes, which means that proper coverage is always needed for riders.
Of course, the rise of social media has played a part in the soaring popularity of custom bikes and nowadays there are even competitions that encourage people to create the best custom bikes. Triumph UK is one such company with the Bonneville Build-Off Challenge for 2020 with 9 dealerships using in-house engineering skills and Triumph accessories to build beautiful and bespoke Bonnevilles. Fans can vote online at the dedicated website and learn all about each design. The bike that receives the most votes will be crowned the winner on the 28th of October on social media so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
There is a long and interesting history when it comes to building custom motorcycles which always reflect what is happening in the world. Bespoke bikes are as popular as ever today and this is evident with events like the Bonneville Build-Off Challenge which is sure to result in some stunning entries.