REB500 TOP BUILDS OF 2018
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
2018 has been a year of highs for Royal Enfield with the release of the much anticipated 650cc twins, a world tour enriching the brand through product launches including the Pegasus, Signals & 650ccs, RE rider journeys through India, Nepal & Thailand, the ever popular Royal Enfield Rider Mania reaching fever pitch & a plethora of original parts & gear on offer to compliment the current bikes available.
REB500 has capped off an amazing year also featuring in an Australian Rider Safety campaign with Stories of Bike, leading the 2018 Sydney Royal Enfield One Ride, launching REB500 on YouTube, Master of Ceremonies at the Sydney launch of the Royal Enfield Pegasus, leading the Sydney Enfield Riders at the 2018 Distinguished Ride & bringing it home as a guest of Royal Enfield attending Rider Mania in Goa India. All of this activity starts to slow down a little as we reach the silly season so I hope that you enjoy the countdown to what REB500 believes are the best custom Royal Enfield builds of 2018.
We put the call out in October for submissions for this year's REB500 Top Builds. Like every year, bikes that we feature & others that come to us via our good pals at Pipeburn are automatically up for consideration as we deem them of a super high standard (Thank you Scott & Andrew for use of some of the high quality images from Pipeburn). We've been blown away by how many submissions we've received from across the globe, close to 200 in total! You've not made it easy to pick a top 10 so we've made a decision to host a top 10 plus a list of 18 honorable mentions for bikes that we think are kick ass. 2 new categories appear also with Concept & restoration of the year. Congrats to all of the builders in the list. There are some amazing builds here & unfortunately not everyone can make the cut so please don't let this discourage you, keep on being awesome, creative & following your dreams.
A huge shout out to Royal Enfield, Eicher Motors, Royal Enfield Australia/New Zealand & Urban Moto Imports for their support throughout the year. I'll update you all in a separate post about the plans for REB500 2019 which will be huge!
This year's top build list is dedicated to Paul Ventura who was tragically taken from us earlier in the year. Paul was Royal Enfield's Product Strategy Manager & previous to that had time with Ducati & Honda. Paul was an absolute gentleman, possessed a superior knowledge of all things on 2 wheels & just an all round top guy. His legacy will be carried forward via the new Royal Enfield Continental GT 650cc model in Ventura Blue.
Vale Paul Ventura.
As always, if you have a build that you would like featured on REB500, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Old Empire Motorcycles - Interceptor 650cc Twin
As part of the global launch & hype reels for the new 650cc variants, Roayl Enfield approached OEM with a brief to create something that enhanced what was originally there without going too mad, and making sure the focal piece was the new twin engine.” To show off the new lump the bike was given a complete strip down with absolutely everything coming off that wasn’t going to be required and then some.
9. The 'Lock Stock' - Royal Enfield in house design 650cc Twin
The LockStock has minimal bodywork, but features an all-new chassis, and a redesigned single saddle, along with a nitrox oxide cyinder. Also new are the drag-spec tyres, drop-bar handlebar and a unique headlight with a projector lamp and a LED ring around it. Up front is an Ohlins upside down fork and Brembo calipers gripping the front disc brake. The rear is hard-tail and there's no shock, although there's a rear disc brake as well. We suspect the LockStock will be much more powerful than the stock 650 Twins, considering the purpose it's designed for, and the addition of the NOX cylinder will likely ensure it will reach speeds which will possibly make it the fastest Royal Enfield in business.
8. Analogue Mototrcycles 'Grasshopper' - 650cc Continental GT
Chicago based Analogue Motorcycles are no strangers when it comes to creating stunning Royal Enfield customs. Their track record includes the celebrated 2014 Continental GT Scrambler with custom fitted ice tires which is just incredible. The Grasshopper was a commissioned build by Royal Enfield as part of the 650cc launch. Whilst there are subtle nods to a scrambler/tracker build, there are super cool & aggressive supermoto lines here that go straight for the heart. This was one of the more popular builds with the REB500 audience with most of the love coming for the paint work & seat/cowl fabrication. This would be a killer ride in any concrete jungle.
7. Darizt’s ‘Royal Dirt’ Enfield Speedway Racer -
Indonesia’s Darizt Design (in my opinion) have absolutely nailed the design & paint in their recent build based on a Royal Enfield 350 setup, a speedway replica crowned ‘Royal Dirt’. Originally submitted as part of Royal Enfield Indonesia's Bike Build off, this beauty saw a second coming with an all new custom front end, exhaust & seat pan. The retro colorway is making me want to get my backside track-side & watch this baby go full tilt slideways all day!
6. Young Guns Speed Shop 'Rohini' - Continental GT 650cc Twin
'Rohini' is one of the unsung heroes of this list coming in at number 6 as it is probably the most achievable look/mod that you could carry out overtime in your man-cave. This is by no means a dig at the build quality or presentation of the bike, but more of a compliment as to how clever & though out the design process was for this build. Whilst the bottom half looks to be mainly stock, the upper receives led lights all round, custom rear cowl & bikini upfront & an incredible tiger like motif that screams sexy. This build (to me) represents what the future holds for the new Continental GT 650cc platform as a donor bike for stunning builds. If this is one of the first off the ranks and serves as inspiration to others, then hold onto your hats for 2019 folks.
I LOVE THIS BIKE!
5. Lembinc’s ‘The Varial’ Bullet Boardtracker
Back to Indonesia & this 1930's Boardtracker has blown my mind. Whilst the nucleus of the stead is clearly visible, there are too many custom pieces, parts borrowed, re-tweaked & inspired from Suzukis & BSAs to mention. I'm told Lembinc’s head builder comes from a design background & toyed with this design for sometime before finally committing.
Thankfully for us he did!
4. Smoked Garage Indonesia 'SG411' - Himalayan 411cc
So now we are getting to the pointy end of the countdown & things are starting to heat up & I mean really heat up....so much so that there's a little smoke pouring out of this baby from Smoked Garage in Indonesia (sorry for the terrible Dad joke there). What we have here is a heavily modified Himalayan that is so far from its original state, it's almost creating a new genre of bike all by itself. This ScramTrackFighter (registered TM REB500) somehow combines the best of the above mentioned and makes us all want to form an un-orderly queue to ride this beast.
I've just recently purchased a Himalayan myself so please don't tell anyone that I'll be imagining I'm riding this when I'm hitting the trails!
3. Rough Crafts’ ‘Midas Royale’ - 650cc Twin
This Enduro Racing themed bombshell is a collaboration betwix the magnificent minds at Rough Crafts & Royal Enfield created as a showpiece for EICMA in Milan 2018 . With the all new Continental GT 650 as a base, it's clear to see there's not much of the original setup left. For this build Rough Crafts used 3D printing tech on most of the fairings, tank & molded parts. The exhaust perfectly showcases the new parallel 650 twin. I love how this build draws on the John Player Special racers of years gone by yet has created an all new standard/benchmark for a potential future racer. Why couldn't we see a league of 20 Royal Enfields lined up in a 650cc class all dressed to the 9s like this.
I'd buy a season pass!
2. Max Hazaan 'Muskett II' - Engine by Aniket Vardhan
I have the honor of calling Aniket Vardhan (the builder of the Musket VTwin - 2 Royal Enfield hearts combined to make a 1000cc Vtwin) a friend & when I heard that Max Hazan was using one of his creations as the power plant again for the Musket II, I almost fainted.
Lightening can strike the same place twice.
With the exception of some of the engine components, the majority of this build is hand built & fabricated in Max's NYC workshop. You'll notice the lack of break levers on this build which leads you to think, how the heck am I going to stop flying downtown across Broadway with Casey Neistat coming at me full tilt on his Boosted Board? A clever design of Max's introduces a dual break system on the right side of the engine that allows control of both the front & rear wheels. Nice huh! Max is no stranger to the pointy end of these countdowns & if you haven't already visited his website or googled his other works, do it & you're welcome.
1. Bandit9 Bobber 'Merlin' - Bullet 500cc
Simplicity. Style. Chrome.
'Melrin' from Bandit 9 has snuck in at the final hour to pip Max Hazan at the post for REB500's top build for 2018. Whilst the all chrome finish looks far from the bikes original state, the original Royal Enfield lines are honored, custom parts engineered & practicability instilled.
Bandit9 list the full build specs as:
DISPLACEMENT: 499CC, AIR COOLED
MAX POWER: 27.2 BHP @ 5200 RPM
MAX TORQUE: 41.3 NM @ 4000 RPM
GEARS: 5 - WET CLUTCH
WEIGHT: 187 KG
FUEL CAPACITY: 14.5 LITRES
TOP SPEED: 140 KMH
CUSTOM HARDTAIL FRAME
STEEL TANK - MIRROR FINISH
CUSTOM HEADLIGHT - WHITE LIGHT
CUSTOM FORKS WITH EXTERNAL SUSPENSION
CUSTOM STEEL TRIPLE CLAMP
BALANCE SPRING SADDLE & INDEPENDENT SUSPENSION
STAINLESS STEEL FENDERS
CUSTOM ELECTRIC BOX
STEEL BRAKE/CLUTCH LEVERS
CUSTOM FOOTPEGS, GEAR SHIFTER, BRAKE LEVER
DUAL FUNCTION INDICATOR AND BRAKE LIGHT
CUSTOM DISC BRAKES
CUSTOM AIR FILTER
FLUSH GAS CAP
'Merlin' appears to have real world application/ride-ability and that's what got it the top spot. There is something about the Bullet vertical single and contrasting chrome lines that just gets me all jittery. Bandit9 has been dedicated to bring about a 2nd Jet Age through these highly stylized, radically designed motorcycles coveted by collectors and museums alike. We wanted to give like-minded people courage to create what may be deemed as absurd. Because they’re the ones who will change the course of humanity for the better. They’ll call us crazy today. Tomorrow - pioneer.
Congrats to Bandit9 & all of the top 10 builds for 2018. Like I said, it was super tough to chose between these awesome builds & we look forward to seeing what you'll do with the 650cc Twins once they go global!
Honorable mentions for top builds of 2018
While the competition was super hot this year for the top 10 spots, there were so many submission for 2018 that we just had to include a bunch more that captured creativity & the true essence of Pure Motorcycling.
From top left to right:
Auto Engina (Grease Monkey), Auto Engina (Phaedrus), Classic Riders Brasil (Continental GT 535), Command Co Moto (B5 Bullet), Revival Cycles (Desert Sled), KR Customs (Classic Bobber), Midlife Cycles (350TT), Zeus Customs (Continental GT 535), DJ Customs (24K HIGH), Martin Bembridge (SlumDog), Royal Enfield Sydney (Continental GT 535 Scrambler), PU Cycles Thailand (Continental GT 535), Motolook SNC Italy (Continental GT 535), Moto Exotica (2011 Classic 500), MK Designs India (FLIK - 2012 Classic 350), Dakar Himalayan (Royal Enfield build for Thailand Moto Show), Indian Motorcycle of Metro Milwaukee (Continental GT Flat Tracker), Mean Green Customs (Bullet Chopper).
Best Concept Bike of 2018
Well this one is a no-brainer really. Whilst the Twins were already announced the previous year (2017), Royal Enfield had to come up with something special for the 2018 EICMA Milan Motorcycle show and they literally had to employ a full time jaw pikeruperer (I'm sure that's a legit title) to assist the hoards of folk flocking to gaze upon its beauty.
I'm talking of course about the Royal Enfield Designed KX 838.
The KX certainly attracts a lot of attention with its blend of retro and modern styling. Of particular interest is the combination of the massive girder fork and headlight assembly that step cleanly away from RE’s focus on more historically based designs. The inspiration for this build is from the Royal Enfield KX of the late 1930s, a 1,140 cc V-Twin.
The 838cc Vtwin is not likely to go into production however...the reaction to this bike might make RE think twice!
Best Restoration of 2018
I wanted to close out the countdown with something super special, a piece of Royal Enfield history that you do not see every day. Whilst we are used to the classic styling of Royal Enfield, there was a period in the sixties that screamed for change, particularly in the UK where everything was 'groovy baby' with a hint of 'I need to add 748 mirrors to the front of my scooter' in the air.
Ladies & Gents I give you the rare as hen's teeth - 1966 Royal Enfield Fantabulous Scooter.
My friend Rahul Rane of Maharashtra State in India told me that there a approx 20-25 Fantabuli (?) in existence in India, most of which are tucked away under a tarp in varying conditions, waiting to be restored or owners just waiting for the right buyer.
Rahul stated that his 1966 175cc model with self & kick start is powered by the ever popular Viliars engine. The restoration was approx 7 months in the making with Rahul scouring India for parts to complete his project.
I can't tell you how many comments I see on Rahul's Facebook page asking if this is for sale. It's a rare gem & he has done an amazing job bringing it back to life. Every time I see this bike it makes me smile & I wish that RE would give a nod to this & bring it back!