Since 2009, we’ve dug through our stats at the end of every year to see which bikes our readers liked the most. The annual Top 10 is a purely objective list—the two-wheeled equivalent of a Billboard chart.
But there are always some builders who didn’t quite make it in, or inexplicably flew under the radar. So, for the second year running, here’s an Editor’s Choice. This time it’s 15 (rather than 10) builders we think deserved more recognition. They’re presented in alphabetical order, by builder’s name.
Builder Wenley Andrews Location Sydney, Australia Bike Honda CBR954RR Fireblade Why Streetfighters aren’t our thing, but heavens above, this brutal CBR is something else. Wenley added the front-end and swing arm from a Honda VFR, and fitted a massive 240-section tire out back. Subtle it ain’t, but it also wins the Rear Of The Year award.
Builder Bunker Customs Location Istanbul, Turkey Bike Yamaha XSR700 Why The XSR700 is a stonkingly good bike, according to nearly all who ride it. The Uzer brothers took it to the next level with crisp new bodywork and performance upgrades, including Super Ténére wheels, MT-09 forks and a one-off exhaust plumbed into an Akrapovič catalytic convertor.
Builder Cherry’s Company Location Tokyo, Japan Bike Harley-Davidson Street 750 Why Kaichiroh Kurosu usually spanners on older Harleys, but he worked a special kind of magic on the Street 750. Virtually every part of the bike is hand-fabricated, with only the front half of the frame remaining intact. And then there’s that turbocharger …
Builder Clutch Custom Location Paris, France Bike BMW R nineT Why Willie Knoll, an American in Paris, is one of those builders with the ‘eye.’ His machines always have simple lines and perfect stance, and we can’t find a bad angle on this R nineT. The new bodywork and 18-inch wheels are the obvious changes, but the close-up detail and craftsmanship is mesmerizing too.
Builder Diamond Atelier Location Munich, Germany Bike BMW R100R Why Every bike from Tom Konecny and Pablo Steigleder is a delight. They’re unpredictable, but also totally focused on the tiny details that can make or break a build. In a world saturated with airhead customs, this one stands out—and not just because of the paint color.
Builder Eastern Spirit Location Węgrowska, Poland Bike Suzuki GS550 Why New builds from Lukas and Sylwester are few and far between, but invariably hit the spot. They have the classic café racer vibe absolutely locked down—and who’d have thought a late 70s Suzuki GS 550E could look so good?
Builder FCR Original Location Poitou-Charentes, France Bike Triumph Bonneville Why FCR are known for their performance-oriented customs, but they knocked the ball out of the park with this classic Brat build. ‘Sunrising’ doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a stylish boulevard cruiser, but with a nickel-plated frame and Ceriani rims, it has a remarkably elegant and timeless feel.
Builder ICON Motosports Location Portland, USA Bike Suzuki GSX-R750 Why Collectible 1980s sportbikes are not the best candidates for the grinder. But ICON has always zigged when other zag, and we reckon ‘Major Tom’ is the best build yet from Kurt Walter’s crew. With a Kawasaki ZX-7R front end and solid aluminum V-Rod wheels, it’s full of contradictions—but strangely appealing.
Builder Jamesville Location Slangerup, Denmark Bike Harley-Davidson FX Super Glide Why The old school bobbers and choppers that have made James Roper-Caldbeck famous are not our usual fare, but the quality is obvious. This café’d Shovel, however, is right up our street—and one of the coolest slabs of Milwaukee muscle we’ve ever seen.
Builder Fred ‘Krugger’ Bertrand Location Liege, Belgium Bike Yamaha SR400 Why Fred has won the AMD World Championship of bike building not once, but twice—with outlandish show bikes that subvert that genre. This SR400 commissioned by Yamaha Europe shows that he can still do the basics amazingly well. Built with the help of MotoGP mechanic Bernard Ansiau (above right), it’s possibly the fastest SR400 on the road, thanks to an Aisin supercharger.
Builder Marcus Moto Design Location Stockholm, Sweden Bike Honda CRF450 Tracker Why Engineer Marcus Carlsson likes bikes that are “unique or a bit weird,” and so do we. This is a barely street legal racer, right down to the battery-powered lights, and cooler than an ice-cold shot of aquavit.
Builder Moto Adonis Location Roosendaal, Holland Bike Yamaha XV750 Why The XV series has been elevated to icon status in the custom world, thanks to the illustrious American builders Classified Moto and Greg Hageman. But Dutchman Daan Borsje has crashed the party with this stunning streetfighter-tinged XV750. Daan was only 27 years old when he built this bike—making him one of the most exciting young talents on the Euro scene.
Builder PRAËM Location Paris, France Bike BMW S 1000 RR Why Brothers Sylvain and Florent Berneron stunned us with their futuristic Honda RC51 and then turned up the gas for this even more desirable Beemer. Optimus PRAËM was commissioned by BMW Motorrad France, and sports new bodywork inspired by 1980s endurance racers. Mechanical mods (including carbon wheels) have trimmed the avoirdupois by 20 kilos (44 pounds).
Builder Scheffers Engineering Location Velfjord, Norway Bike Yamaha GTS 1000 Why Roel Scheffers lives in the land of the midnight sun, and a five-hour drive from the nearest city. That didn’t stop him building the most technically interesting motorcycle we saw in 2016. He’s added new rear suspension, a 136 horsepower FZR1000 engine, and bodywork that lowers the machine to just 32 inches in height. Madness, in the finest possible way.
Builder Roland Snel Location Amsterdam, The Netherlands Bike Yamaha TR1 Why We’d never heard of the TR1, a V-twin tourer from the 1980s, until we saw this very sharp café racer racer from Holland. Roland works for Yamaha, and despite not being a professional mechanic, has turned out a build we reckon even Greg Hageman would be proud of.
Builder Urban Motor Location Berlin, Germany Bike 1964 Jawa 350 Why Perhaps the most original build of the year, this steampunk sprint bike was created for the Glemseck 101 races. Only the engine remains from the original Jawa, installed into a custom chassis. The extraordinary bodywork was designed by Henry Schulze and built by Marvin Diehl of KRT Framework; Jules Verne would have loved it.
That’s our pick from a spectacularly good year. What’s yours?