You know the drill. Once we’ve processed the data and published our ranked list of the year’s best custom motorcycles, I throw it out the window and pick my personal favorites. And it’s never easy.
2022 has been a good year for the custom scene. My short list started with 42 motorcycles, all of them winners in their own right. In the interest of fairness, I then eliminated any bikes that already made our ranked list, and whittled the selection down.
The result is an eclectic list of customs that all stand out for their creativity, ingenuity and overall radness. As usual, they’re listed alphabetically by the builder’s name.
Dive in, and sound off in the comments if you agree (or disagree) with any of my choices.
Cheyne Speak’s Suzuki TS185 Kicking us off is a custom bike with one of the wildest liveries of the year. Australian custom builder Cheyne Speak has had a lifelong love for motocross and BMX, and it’s plastered all over this Suzuki TS185 street tracker.
The two-stroke Suzuki was pieced together from a basket case donor, using a mix of parts left over from other builds, secondhand finds and bits that friends had lying around. The build was guided by instinct; working without any sketches or renders, Cheyne simply made it up as he went. And his instincts are good.
The TS185 features a KTM 450 SX-F front end, a lengthened swingarm with Kawasaki shocks, and 19” Excel rims. Cheyne had to weld the KTM steering neck to the Suzuki frame, and had to invert the rear brake to make it fit. The engine’s had some light work done too, while the exhaust is a custom affair, pieced together with Pro Circuit muffler internals.
A Suzuki TM75 fuel tank sits up top, followed by a custom subframe that supports a super-slim aluminum tail section. The seat wears high density foam and a repurposed KTM seat cover. Visually compact and weighing just 198 lbs, Cheyne describes it as “a BMX with an engine.” [More]
CNCPT Moto R nineT CNCPT Moto is a new name on the scene, but the creative minds behind it are veterans. It’s a collaboration between Arjan van den Boom of Ironwood Motorcycles, and Timothy Somers of Powerbrick. The two launched CNCPT in spectacular fashion this year, with the release of this neo-futuristic BMW R nineT.
The sci-fi-looking bodywork was first shaped in clay, then digitized and 3D-printed in ASA thermoplastic. It’s a two-piece affair, and it attaches to the bike using the nineT’s existing mounting tabs. The hole through the center of it hosts a mesh cover that gives access to the bike’s air filter.
Lower down are new CNC-machined engine covers, and a generous belly pan. But this custom BMW isn’t just about style—the spec sheet will make your eyes water too.
The forks wear carbon fiber tubes from CeraCarbon with hydraulic cartridge internals, the wheels are 17” carbon fiber hoops from Rotobox and the tires are sticky Pirelli Diablo Superbike slicks. Beringer controls, and a Motogadget speedo and push buttons, round out the set.
The paint job is as sharp as the nineT’s stance. It wears a lush silver coat, with purple accents and a combination of Alcantara and leather on the seat. [More]
Dan Mickan’s Vinduro KTM It’s certainly been a year for colorful bikes—but we’re not complaining. This vibrant throwback came from Aussie Dan Mickan, but despite how retro it looks, it’s actually a modern motorcycle. Dan started with a 2015-model KTM 500 EXC Six Days, then gave it a mammoth dose of 1980s enduro style.
Dan admits that his workshop skills are limited, so he did what he could and farmed out the rest. For the subframe, he mocked up a design using conduit piping, then sent it to a local fabricator to build out of chromoly steel. Another artisan modified an 80s Honda XL 185 fuel tank to match the KTM’s frame—and to incorporate the OEM fuel pump.
The KTM also wears a blocky new seat, custom side covers and a couple of Acerbis plastic parts. The original air and battery boxes had to be modified too, to tuck them into the new subframe. But despite the changes, Dan took extra care to maintain the original ergonomics—so that the bike could still be ridden in anger.
Dan was so determined to get the KTM’s livery right, that he even hired a graphic designer to help him finalize the design. The graphics take inspiration from past KTMs, but also incorporate a nod to the Argentinian edition of the ISDE—something that the factory bike originally did too. [More]
Fuller Moto Vincent Black Flash Vincent engines and Egli frames go together like peanut butter and jelly—but this Egli-Vincent café racer from Fuller Moto takes the concept to another level. When Bryan Fuller’s shop got the job, they were supplied a bunch of separate parts instead of a complete donor bike. And that left the door open for Bryan’s imagination to flourish.
The kit included a reproduction Vincent Series C 1,000 cc motor, a reproduction Egli frame, and a bunch of key electrical components. Fuller Moto picked the parts they were going to keep, mocked up the chassis and then did the unthinkable—they hacked off the subframe in favor of a slimmer, handmade chromoly replacement.
It was a necessary move, given the look that the shop was after. From front to back, the Vincent wears a streamlined fairing, a Ducati Imola-style tank and a perfectly proportioned tail bump. From the front, the bike is impossibly svelte; from the side, it cuts a flawless and timeless silhouette, accentuated by the swooping stainless steel pipes.
There are tons of gorgeous little details to digest. The seat wears leather from an old jacket, while the 3D-printed windshield (yes, really) sits on a birdcage-style bracket. Rare and achingly beautiful, the Fuller Moto Vincent ‘Black Flash’ is a masterclass in café racer design. [More]
Kevin Bergeron’s Yamaha XT250 The worlds of motorcycles and bicycles often intersect—but the cross-pollination is seldom as drastic as it is with this machine. Created by Kevin Bergeron, a first responder that tinkers with bikes as a hobby, this scratch-built bobber’s frame blatantly draws inspiration from fixie bikes.
Kevin machined everything himself at home on either his lathe or mill—right down to the rigid forks, which feature the sort of single-crown design you’ll find on an old road bicycle. The 21” wheels are custom items, and the braking system is a hidden drive sprocket-mounted arrangement. Attached to the frame’s backbone is a pair of split tanks; one for fuel, and one for the electronics.
The build is powered by an 80s-model Yamaha XT250 engine. Kevin rebuilt it, then fabricated an exhaust header that sends gasses into the frame’s down tube, and out via a vent at the bottom right of the bike.
Renthal handlebars and Eclat grips are some of the few off-the-shelf parts on this bike. The internal throttle, front luggage rack and aluminum flashlight are all hand made, as is the woefully inadequate saddle. Kevin’s fixie-inspired bobber might not be particularly practical, but it’s still one of our favorite customs of 2022. [More]
Kingston Custom BMW R100 Kingston Customs’ Dirk Oehlerking is a regular fixture on our annual top 10 lists. It’s easy to see why—the German custom builder seems to spend his time finding ways to outdo himself on each project. Case in point: this elegant BMW R100.
Dirk’s been on an art deco bender over the past few years, and this build is the ultimate expression of his ever-evolving style. Dubbed ‘Hommage,’ it was built specifically for the Haas Moto Museum. Founder Bobby Haas commissioned it before he tragically passed away in 2021—the loss left Dirk devastated, but he eventually decided to complete the project in Bobby’s honor.
To build Hommage, Dirk stripped a BMW R100 down to its frame, then laid big cardboard sheets against it to create a life-sized sketch of his vision. All the bodywork was formed from 2 mm thick aluminum sheeting. It’s not the first time Dirk has wrapped an old boxer in all-encompassing bodywork, but it is the longest body he’s ever built.
The front and back sections are hinged, offering access to the BMW’s serviceable areas. Dirk also moved the bike’s intake further back, and fabricated inlets and exhausts that flow flawlessly with the design. Finer details include classic BMW kidney grills, a Porsche 356 Speedster mirror and carefully placed BMW roundels. [More]
Machine 1867 Suzuki Whenever we open an email from Edi Buffon, we expect to see something imaginative and over-the-top. And this turbo-charged Suzuki GS650 bobber did not disappoint.
The most remarkable thing about this machine, is that it was built on a nearly non-existent budget. Edi started with a GS650 engine that he already had in hand, then resolved to build a custom using only parts that were lying around his shop. The bits he needed to fill in the blanks were then made by hand.
The Suzuki mill’s been packed into a custom rigid frame, with a one-off front end that was inspired by early 1900s A. Drew and Co. Druid girder-style forks. Handmade bars are welded straight to the forks, and wear custom made grips and reverse levers. (Oh, and one of those levers controls the throttle.)
Edi also built the Suzuki’s split tanks and suspended tail section. Then he gave the GS650 mill a major boost, by building his own turbo system. With a downdraught Webber carb on the rider’s right, and the stubby exhaust on the left, Edi’s creation is as sketchy as it is awesome. [More]
Satomari Shovelhead Like most of Japan’s elite custom motorcycle builders, Yusaku Sato has a knack for seeing things that the rest of us can’t. Sato-san’s svelte shovelhead is a testament to this. Its lines are a touch unconventional—yet it’s pleasing to the eye, and tastefully finished.
At its heart is a 1982 80 ci Harley-Davidson shovelhead motor. The client specced the motor (because that’s his birth year), but left the rest up to Yusaku and the Satomari team. Their craftsmanship is evident everywhere—just check out the custom intake that feeds an S&S Cycle carb, or the rectangular exhaust outlets.
The chassis is custom too, matched to 41 mm forks and a 23” wheel up front, and a 17” Dyna wheel out back. A custom swingarm, modern shocks, and twin Performance Machine brake calipers finish off the rear.
A custom gas tank sits up top, playing host to the speedo and ignition barrel. Under the seat are a custom oil tank and a custom electrics box. From the narrow handlebars, to the elegantly integrated rear fender and the nautical-inspired paint, Satomari’s handsome chopper speaks for itself. [More]
Smyth Innovations Yamaha RD400 This cheeky custom RD400 from Smyth Innovations hits the nostalgia trifecta: two-strokes, flat trackers and Yamaha’s iconic speed block graphics. The Canadian shop is run by Cam Smyth—and the closer you look, the more his industrial design background shines through. Compact and blocky (but in a good way), this Yamaha is a refreshing cocktail of classic racing style and modern design principles.
The 1976-model Yamaha RD400 was barely roadworthy when it rolled into the Smyth shop, so the team had a lot of work to do. They treated the engine to a substantial rebuild, with trick parts like performance heads from HVC Cycle and a hydraulic clutch. New wiring, oversized Banshee intakes and a custom-built exhaust system all help the RD400 perform better.
19” Sun rims are attached to a set of Suzuki GSX-R600 forks up front, and a heavily modified 1981 Yamaha IT250 swingarm at the back. Higher up is a new subframe, with a shape that mimics the RD400’s original side covers. The tank’s an original RD400 part, retrofitted with a Kawasaki Ninja 650 filler neck and a flush-mount gas cap.
The yellow paint looks like a classic Yamaha hue, but it’s actually a modern reinterpretation from Yamaha’s 2006 50th anniversary bikes. A bespoke tail bump copies the tank’s basic form, with Alcantara on the seat adding a touch of class. With gold wheels and an audacious exhaust system, it scores high on the ‘must ride’ register. [More]
Tim Cumper’s three-wheeled BMW If the fact that a trike made our ranked top 10 list this year, then look away now—because our personal selection has its own three-wheeled BMW. We had no idea this machine existed until we saw it meandering around the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle at this year’s Malle Mile event. But once we laid eyes on it, we couldn’t get enough of it.
Tim Cumper works as a prototype model maker, so he’s well-versed in the art of creating imaginative things. But the motivation for this project was unexpected. Tim wanted to take a stab at sheet metal fabrication—and what better way to do it, than with a custom machine that required a lot of bodywork.
Drawing most of his inspiration from pre-war race cars, and a little from the Morgan 3 Wheeler, Tim sketched out multiple designs, before refining them with CAD software.
A 1:3 scale model was CNC-machined, wooden bucks were built, and the bike’s retro-futuristic body was formed from aluminum. The whole thing feels decidedly vintage Star Wars (if that’s a thing), and is stacked with thoughtful touches—like BMW 507-style side grills.
Lurking underneath is a 1993 BMW R100R Mystic, matched up the front-end from an ATV. The front wheels are Austin 7 parts, and the front and rear brakes come from their respective donors. A Kawasaki Versys windshield, a Triumph Bobber seat and a neatly-integrated Daytona speedo complete the list. [More]
EDITOR’S NOTE Our days are spent hunting for the best custom motorcycles on the planet. So it’s hard to narrow those down to just ten favorites each year—especially when the bikes ranked 11-15 are often just as good.
Three Ducatis landed just outside my top 10 this year; Cosentino Engineering’s Hypermono, Analog’s 1000 DS race bike, and Alex Earle’s burly Monster S4RS [above]. WalzWerk’s BMW R100RS (the shop’s 1000th build), also narrowly missed the cut.
But one motorcycle in particular deserves special mention. MotoRelic’s Schwinn-inspired Yamaha XS650 [above] was in the running until the very last minute, very nearly made it onto our primary top 10, and went gangbusters on our sister site, Iron & Air. If there was an award for the custom bike that made us smile the most in 2022, MotoRelic’s Sean Skinner would win it.
Once again, thanks to everyone in our Bike EXIF family; builders, photographers, writers, advertisers, and you, our beloved readers. Happy New Year, and see you again in a few days.