There’s a lot to say about modern bikes. Motorcycles have hit some big technical milestones in the last decade. Better braking. Better electronics. And they’re faster — and easier to throw around the bends. But there’s a lot to be said for the motorbikes that came before. And the way that they were built. How they look. And the people who ride them. And rather than having a bike that’s identical to some famous racer’s — with all the advertising stickers to match — there’s a whole culture of motorcyclists that put literal blood, sweat, and tears into making bikes unique to them.
What is Custom Motorcycle Culture?
Custom motorcycle culture celebrates a subculture of the biking scene. This is where bespoke motorcycles, forgotten models, nostalgia-made-modern, and other dreams, all come to life. It’s about the pride of building a bike, customising it, and riding it — knowing it’s truly all your own.
While many (perhaps most) bikers are happy to buy something off the shelf, upgrade a part or two, and tweak some bits for comfort and a safer ride, custom bike enthusiasts spend their free time in garages, scouring for specific parts, learning to make new ones from scratch, and otherwise getting greasy.
It’s the desire to be unique. To be different. Custom motorcycles make the bike itself as much of an adventure as the rides it takes you on. These are years-in-the-making kinda dreams come true.
It’s hard to find people more dedicated to bikes.
Where to Get Your Custom Motorcycle Fix
Chances are, you already know what custom motorcycle culture is. It’s all over the place. And, by their nature, the bikes are pretty hard to ignore. The custom scene is celebrating a resurgence. And thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to see the wonders of the world. (Biking-wise.)
So here are a few recommendations to dig in deeper and really get your custom fix.
The Greasy Hands Preachers
Need a manifesto that speaks to your heart? “Wake up life every morning with your engine running.” The Greasy Hands Preachers is a documentary that explores the passion of motorcycle enthusiasts and their manual, greasy work to make dream bikes a reality. Custom bike culture, behind the scenes of all those snazzy Instagram pics.
Oil In The Blood
The name of the film is a huge clue for its focus: this is a documentary about the people who ride custom bikes. Yes, there’s plenty of bike porn to admire but this is a deep dive into the new wave of custom motorcycling and the people keeping traditional skills (and bikes) alive.
The name “Shed” should probably be a bit of a clue, yeah? Our partners at Bike Shed are never short of custom inspiration. We honestly think they do it for themselves, but why not benefit from the sheer quality of the bike porn on their blog and in their shop?
There are too many fantastic bike shops out there to list them all — or even try to create a proper roundup. But there’s only one custom shop that belongs to Keanu Reeves. Yes, that Keanu. Need we say more?
Their website doesn’t show off much, to be honest, but if you check their Facebook or Instagram pages you’ll find a jaw-dropping gallery of beautiful bikes. Sure, maybe you prefer Italian-made or British-made or whatever-made. But Arch makes us want a proper American custom. At the very least, Arch is on our “to visit” list in California.
Go on, be like Keanu.
Instagram Hashtags to Follow
So, you might have seen that we love a bit of Instagram ourselves. And custom motorbikes are definitely one of the reasons why. Here are a few of our favourite hashtags for you to follow and admire all the beautiful projects out there.
- #custombike (straightforward, yeah?)
- #custommotorcycles (also pretty easy to remember)
- #vintagemotorcycle (if it’s not a proper custom, it’s usually a decent remodel)
- #customcaferacer, #customsportbikes, pick your favourite #custom[typehere]
- #BikeShed (yes, THAT Bike Shed)
- #CustomClassifieds (don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
Custom Is What You Make It
Literally. Custom is made. It’s unique. If you don’t have a custom bike, don’t be alarmed. The next time you see your bike, you might want to change a thing or two. It’s OK. That’s just how it starts.
To you, custom bikes might celebrate the possibilities of what a bike can be. It can be an expression of individual style. Custom can be the rejection of some sort of mainstream, cookie-cutter, manufactured-to-fit-a-quota bikes. Or it can just be about the fact that they look cool as hell.
So there you have it. Some flicks for your downtime, places to go, bikes to admire, and oodles of inspiration straight to your smartphone. Or better yet, you could go out there and share your own custom! We’d love to see what you’re building.
Whether you’re a custom fan or an off-the-shelf kinda rider, it’s all about finding, riding, and enjoying the best bike for you. It makes the journey even sweeter.
Looking for a new route? #EnjoyEveryRide with BikeNav.