Today, we’re thrilled to present our Top 10 Custom Motorcycles of 2018 as judged by you, our readership. Your visits, likes, comments, and shares serve as votes, and we ranked these bikes according to their popularity among our readership. This is the most objective ranking we could achieve.
We noticed a few big themes in this year’s 10 Best:
- Non-Cafe Racers: Same as last year, only one of the bikes on this year’s list could really be termed a “cafe racer”…and it’s a Honda Gold Wing!
- Thumpers: Fully half of the bikes in this year’s Top 10 are air-cooled single cylinders. It seems you guys love the rugged simplicity of the four-stroke thumper.
- Two-Strokes: As in times past, two-strokes are also well represented, with a pair of RD350-powered builds on the list.
Don’t see one of your favorite bikes? Stay tuned for our 2018 Best Scrambler & Trackers and 2018 Best Cafe Racers lists coming soon!
Without further ado, here are our Top 10 Custom Bikes of 2018, presented in alphabetical order by builder.
Rune Kellberg is a 33 year-old single father who spends his spare time in his workshop, 85 Speed Shop, with his 6 year-old son. When it came time for his fourth build, Rune decided on a 1977 GL1000 Goldwing. Rune had always wanted to build a custom ‘Wing for himself. After all, at 190 cm tall — about 6’3″ — Rune had to take his size into account. The Goldwing proved the perfect fit — a “man-size cafe racer” for the tall Dane, and the only “cafe racer” to make our Top Ten.
This year, we were thrilled to discover of the Sotomonte brothers of Colombia’s Ace Custom Shop, who founded their workshop in 2013 along with friend Andrés Cabrales. Though they build everything from salt racers to table lamps, they specialize in motorcycles. After we featured their Yamaha WR250 tracker, which won the races at the Custom Built Show, they showed us this blacked-out Honda XR400 custom. The client’s design brief was simple — “mean” — and the Ace Custom crew was happy to oblige. They managed to transform this reliable but staid motard into one of the meanest trackers / scramblers we’ve seen, along with some electrical and maintenance help from Andrés Cabrales and Bmotos.
Andrew Andrada of Ape Customs works out of his home garage in Roxas City, Philippines. Soon after customizing his first personal bike, build inquiries started coming in. Andrada got together with a mechanic friend and they opened Ape Customs. The Yamaha XTZ125 is a small dual-sport built for markets where on/off-road capability is a necessity. It has an air-cooled, SOHC engine built for low maintenance in harsh conditions and offers around 10 inches of ground clearance and 7 inches of suspension travel — not bad for a 125cc machine. Ape Customs built this Yamaha XTZ125 to display in the garage of a friend, transforming a capable but bland factory platform into an aggressive street tracker with loads of attitude.
Bold Motorcycles is the creation of two long-time friends, Pedro and João, who live in Sertã, Portugal — located in the middle of the nation’s longest, most mythical road: the Nacional 2. Here we have their third build, “B003”, a Yamaha XT600 scrambler built for friend and photographer Ricardo Santos (@sr.s4ntos). Ricardo gave the two-man crew just one directive, that his scrambler be “dry green”. The crew opted for a traditional dual-sport scrambler build with some lovely details, such as the side projector light and leather appointments, and the XT struck a chord with our readers, becoming one of the most popular builds of 2018.
We could not be more proud of 24 year old Jake Drummond of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who built this two-stroke flyer in a corner of his father’s hangar. He spent two years on the build, using the RD as a way to test his skills and push his limits. He could not even weld when he started the project, but he continued pushing himself to learn, doing every last bit of work himself. The bike is inspired by boardtrackers and dirt jump mountain bikes, echoes of which you can see in the design. Well damn done, Jake!
Operating out of his shed in Wales, Andrew Greenland continues to turn out some of the most incredible Honda big single builds on the planet. His custom Hondas hark back to the glory days of the Honda XL and XR racers at Baja and Dakar, and they have the well-sorted look of factory specials. As to why he built this slightly more street-oriented NX650 Dominator, he answered slightly tongue-in-cheek: “Wanted a bike I could reach the floor on.” That’s been accomplished with a fat 17-inch front wheel, while the rest of the bike was been brought up to speed with a rebuilt motor and “new everything.”
One of our favorite builders in all the Southern Hemisphere is Revolt Cycles of the Philippines, who have a knack for transforming rugged utility machines into beautiful scramblers and trackers. Such is the case for this Honda TMX — or Tricycle Model X-treme — an air-cooled utility bike popular in the Philippines, where its power and ruggedness make it ideal for sidecar or “tricycle” work. The result here is Revolt Cycles’ 34th build, “Sunny,” a Honda TMX 150 Supremo brat / tracker / scrambler built for an Australian client.
The Revolt Cycles crew is back with a second build that made this year’s Top 10. While the RVLT crew mainly focuses on small displacement builds, they were tasked, in this case, with transforming a rather boring factory cruiser into a bull of a sports bobber, stripping down the Kawa and beefing it up in all the right areas. The result is the aptly-named “Toro,” which has turned out to be one of the year’s surprise hits, with loads of new and repeat traffic. What’s more, it’s the only “bobber” to make the list.
About five years ago, Brian Gingerich and his partner started a small shop to work on their “collection” of 75+ vintage barn finds. When they discovered how much people liked hanging the shop, they decided to open Spoken Moto in Bend, Oregon — a working moto shop, coffeehouse, taproom, and music venue under one roof. The concept for this build was born when Brian saw an RD350 motor sitting on the shop floor next to a stripped, mid-2000’s Yamaha YZ motocross chassis. The result is “Zed” — a nitrous-boosted, two-stroke twin supermoto that we can only hope we’d be brave enough to ride!
At the 2017 Handbuilt Show, we had the opportunity to meet Texas young gun Colt Wrangler, who has become one of our favorite young custom builders. Colt built this 1971 Honda CL175 scrambler for Bexar Goods Co. Pronounced “Bear,” they are the creative collaboration of a small team of craftsmen based in Bexar County, Texas — the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The Bexar Goods Co. crew needed a small, lightweight dual sport that could be packed inside their Airstream-based mobile brick-and-mortar storefront, and this incredible Honda CL scrambler became Colt’s first commissioned build!