Forget mods v rockers. The new battle is mods v restomods. So what’s better, an obsessively modified off-road bike or a ground-up reimagined restomod? The restomod market is bulging with new versions of old machines. You might think that threatens the work of the more traditional motorbike modifier, working with an existing machine to transform it into a unique custom bike. We'd say the two can exist side by side, but what do we know? Decide for yourself whether it's a mod or restomod off-roader for you with these two brilliant machines.
This is one special modified Suzuki. Its noir-ish looks are a tribute to the original Man in Black, Johnny Cash - and its meticulous build spanned several personal crises. The bike's modifier is Sebastian ‘Seba’ Achaval, an Argentinian working in New York who had to interrupt the project while he underwent treatment for cancer. He's now recovered - and, you might say, the 'bike is a triumphant statement of vigorous life.
Achaval only got the job after the bike's original modifier himself had to withdraw to deal with issues arriving in his life, so this is a project that surely embodies human resilience in the face of adversity. Suitably, the DR-Z400SM is an off-road machine, modified not only for its striking looks but to overcome whatever obstacles are put in its way.
To the bike itself: most striking is the architecture to the rear of the Suzuki, incorporating an entirely new sub-frame for the rear, incorporating a fresh saddle in Alcantara that's less solo cafe racer more in the just-about-big-enough for a passenger style. Neat flush LED strips to the rear of the saddle take care of lighting duties.
A new fuel tank, from a Yamaha SR500 adds to the bike's tall-riding look. A sleek single radiator - sourced from a Honda CBR500 after a long search - replaces the SR500's twin radiator set-up, adhering to the minimal sleek style of this custom and ideal for New York's hot summers. A Ducati scrambler provided the front headlight, while bars and clamps are by Rizoma. Everywhere you look, wiring has been concealed or re-routed for a cleaner line.
Finally, there is the powder coated black finish - by Peach Pit Painting - contrasting nicely with the gold wheel rims and other detailing. Would Johnny Cash approve? We'd say so.
Yann Bakonyi was on a road trip in California's Joshua Tree National Park when he had an idea. What if this journey wasn't securely in a Jeep SUV, but on two wheels, relishing the fresh air on the perfect 21st century adventure machine? The seeds for the restomod Honda TransAlp were planted.
Bakonyi is lead designer at customisers Viba and back at work he set about creating the dream adventure machine, beginning with a venerable 1987 Honda XL 600V Transalp which had seen better days. Part of the key of the sleek look of the final machine is Viba's expertise in 3D printing, here used heavily to modify the fairing on the front of the Honda, not least to accommodate LED spotlights. The windscreen is taller too, featuring a Joshua Tree topographic map to the interior, a neat touch.
Wheels feature Excel rims relaced with new spokes and wearing Avon TrekRider 50/50 rubber, the better to deal with both tarmac and off-road conditions. The LED headlight, fittingly, is sourced from a Jeep. Handlebars are by LSL handlebars with grips by Daytona Sakura.
The colourway pays tribute to California sunsets, while the Katakana symbols to the tank spell out "Transalp" and are testament to Bukoni's fascination for all things Japanese. The final look tells the story: this bike doesn't feel at all like a 1980s Transalp at all, but something entirely new, in the restomod tradition. Our only question: which mountain road to adventure on next?