One good thing about the so-called new custom scene is that, thanks to new media like the one you’re about to read, the world of custom motorcycles is growing on one hand while it’s getting smaller on the other. Growing since new people with fresh ideas from all over the world are attracted, getting smaller since the internet and social media turn the world into a global village. Now, I know that every coin has its flip side, but I think in this case the pros outweigh the cons.
Twenty years earlier, you had to walk to the shop to choose out of a small batch of magazines about the subject. You learned news about your local scene, maybe a few pictures from further away but mostly, that was it. Yes, you weren’t overwhelmed by dozens of new bikes on a daily basis and I admit that this can become a bit annoying sometimes. But on the other hand, I bet every one of us can remember at least a handful of bikes, often from far out in the sticks, we definitely would have missed without the new media. Speaking for myself, I don’t want to miss a single one of these bikes. Further, you can bet your a.. you would have missed this Royal Enfield bobber from J&D Customs in Vadodara, India some 25 years ago.
Jay Patel from said J&D Customs had built a few bikes before but it wasn’t until now that he laid hands on a Royal Enfield, the pride and joy of his native sub-continent. Preparing got a bit out of control since it took Jay and the future owner a whole year to elaborate a direction for the build (I wonder if the customer was female?). Mostly because they discussed the subject entirely on the phone (it’s got to be a woman!) The actual build time of 9 months seems like peanuts compared to that.
Jay wanted to go the extra-mile on this job and demonstrate his skills. That’s why the 350cc Royal Enfield Thunderbird engine is the only thing on this bike that wasn’t made from scratch. Starting with the gas tank; this resembles the stock part but was completely handmade to fit the future line of the bike. Dual fuel caps as well as chrome trimming were added to complete the look. A linkage suspension system, vaguely resembling a girder fork, was mounted in the front while the frame was turned into a hard-tail.
True to the motto; 'If you want something done right, do it yourself!' , Jay took one week of TIG welding classes after local welders told him his idea for an exhaust was unfeasible. Now that’s what I call commitment! Speaking of the extra-mile, Jay opted for a perimeter braking system on his Royal Enfield. It took him nearly 3 months to fabricate the necessary parts, but in combination with the classic Firestone Deluxe tires, nothing could possibly come closer to the idea of combining old with new.
The whole wiring was reduced and shortened in order to be hidden in the small box below the seat. The ignition key, the starter push button as well as the kill and light switches were relocated onto that same box as well. Footrests, grips and levers were handmade by J&D as well but the most outstanding feature on this bike has to be the jockey shift/suicide clutch combination. The future owner wanted to have such a set up to grab everyone’s attention (ok, probably not a woman after all). A two-tone, diamond stitched leather seat completes the picture.
So, to all the critics of the new media and custom hype out there: I admit you might be right in some points, but I guess in the end everyone can pick his own cherries from the big cake. You just need to focus on the things you like and forget about all the rest. But bikes like this prove you should not ignore the ideas and skills of newcomers.