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Custom Motorcycles UK: A Guide

Ready to dive into the world of custom but you're not quite sure where to begin? Take a look over our dedicated custom motorcycle long read. We give handy advice on what magazines to subscribe to, website to visit, shows to attend and an extensive list of some of the greatest custom workshops across the UK!

Welcome to the Custom Motorcycle Scene!

Individuality and quality are two words that perfectly summarise the new-wave custom bike scene that’s taking motorcycle world by storm. Where sports and high performance bikes have traditionally been the most popular, the customised and modified bikes are now widely idolised.

There are just so many elements that make a beautiful custom bike; from the concept, welding, paintwork, stance and frame to all of the bits you can’t see! The beauty of the bike modification game is that it’s all about personal choice and preference, making what YOU love, be that a café racer to a chopper bobber.

From the head to the shed, custom motorcycles are about a vision. A slick finish is often desired but it’s not all about perfection, diversity is key and the only rule is there are no rules.

With venues such as the Bike Shed MC, shows like KICKBACK, websites such as BikeEXIF and new magazines such as Built, ready to cater for custom bike enthusiasts; bike building and modifications are only growing in popularity – and we love it…

custom motorcycle

Where can I go and see custom bikes?

The custom motorcycle scene is booming in the UK, so you will be able to find smaller events near you featuring a smaller selection on custom bikes. If you want to find somewhere absolutely dripping with them, then you need to get yourself down to some of the larger events…

Kickback show

Bike Shed London Show

Assembly Motorcycle Show

Malle Mile

These shows haven’t been around for long but each year they’re growing in size and popularity, this is where you want to come if you want to see the cutting-edge of custom bikes, like you’ve never seen before. You won’t see the same bike twice, trust us!

The shows usually hold competitions to win trophies, categories usually include: best chopper, best sportster and many mores. It’s all about celebrating the beauty of engineering, craftsmanship and design work by the people most passionate.

Custom Motorcycles
Custom Motorcycles

You’ll see the likes of Royal Enfield, Triumph and other British brands along with BMW who are embracing the custom scene displaying their latest machines. Custom certainly something the bigger brands are trying their hand at these days.

Lots of mainstream biking shows now have a dedicated custom section too, such as Motorcycle News (MCN) and others. It’s a growing trend in the market right now, so it’s the best place to go for some inspiration.

Where can I read about custom bikes?

There’s a vast array of websites and magazines out there for you to check out if you’re new to the custom scene. Even the big boys from Bauer Media (the company behind MCN) are getting involved, they released Built magazine in early 2018 and it’s well worth a look.

We’ve picked some of our favourite magazines and website from across the globe that all share the same passions – customisation! No magazine or site is the same, but they all invite you to join in the fun.

You can find a few recommended sites and magazines below and if you’ve got some suggestions, stick them in the comments box at the bottom of the page…

BUILT
Handcrafted Motorcycles

What’s it all about?

Built magazine is, quite simply, all about celebrating the beauty of handcrafted custom motorcycles. Each issue focuses on a different topic, lifestyle, range or model as well as including advice, upcoming events and much more.

If you’re a rider who dares to be different then a subscription with Built could be the one for you. It doesn’t matter what your custom ride is; scrambler, tracker, bobber or café racer – you’ll find something tailored for you.

Built Magazine Front Cover
Built Magazine Front Cover

Built magazine costs just £3.50 per month for your edition to be delivered on your doorstop for your custom biking fix. Alternatively, if you’re feeling super green and techy then you can also subscribe to just the digital edition.

100% Biker
A custom bike magazine, custom built for bikers 

What’s it all about?

Launched back in 1999, 100% Biker has been dominating the custom bike magazine scene for almost 20 years. 100% Biker is all about showcasing the best of the best custom machines from the UK and across the world, all machines feature including streetfighters, chopper and rats.

100% Biker cover all of the best events happening in the custom scene, whatever’s on is in the magazine. They also make sure you’re involved too, you can submit pictures, stories and jokes to the mag as well, and it all makes for a fun read.

100% Biker Magazine Front Cover
100% Biker Magazine Front Cover

The magazine is published 13 times a year, and it costs just under £40 for the yearly subscription to drop on your door each month.

Back Street Heroes 
For hard-core customisation fans

What’s it all about?

Back Street Heroes launched its first publication back in 1983, since then they’ve been filling the motorcycling world with all the best custom machines, feature builds, ‘How To’ articles and readers’ rides!

Another popular feature of the magazine is the rally and show reviews showcasing the best custom bikes out there right now. If you’re a real custom fanatic then this could be the magazine for you.

Back Street Heroes Magazine Front Cover
Back Street Heroes Magazine Front Cover

SIDEBURN Magazine

What’s it all about?

SIDEBURN is an independent motorcycle magazine launched back in 2008, and it didn’t take long for the magazine to grow a cult following.

Producing four unique issues a year, SIDEBURN are dedicated to providing the best biking content on the scene right now; issues cover everything from track racing to road trips, off-road adventures to art and photography. Each article is made with care knowing it’ll appeal to its audience.

Sideburn magazine

SIDEBURN also produce a range of clothing, art prints and much more.

SIDEBURN offer an 8 issue subscription (2 years) with a free SIDEBURN t-shirt for just £55.

Iron & Air Magazine 

What’s it all about?

The promise behind Iron & Air is to tell the stories of those truly passionate and dedicated to their motorcycles, especially those modified. We all know that being a motorcyclist means your life is entwined with tales to be told to all.

The American based publication has become a household name for motorcyclists across the globe; it costs just $19.95 for 114 pages of motorcycle adventures and storytelling, once a quarter.

Bike Exif: Café racer, scrambler and custom motorcycles

Bike Exif is all about showcasing the world’s most exciting motorcycles including café races, bobbers and scramblers. Founded in 2008 by Chris Hunter, Bike Exif is your new go-to for all things motorcycling imagery.

Over the years, Bike Exif have created quite the following and are now the chosen site by many big manufacturers, including BMW, Harley-Davidson and Yamaha to reveal their latest custom builds.

But what does the Exif mean, we hear you cry? It stands for ‘Exchangeable Image File format’ it’s a nod to their focus on good photography, as well as the quality builds.

You can purchase Bike Exif in print; however it’s best to follow their story online via Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.

Did you know that the best of Bike Exif appears in every issue of Iron & Air?

BikeBound

If custom, classic and retro motorcycles are your cup of tea then head over to Bike Bound. The site is founded by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts so it’s a great place to get involved whether you’re building your first machine out of your shed or garage, or you’re a pro!

The site is split into two main sections; custom and vintage bikes, representing some of the finest machinery from across the globe. Although BikeBound is an American based site it still provides lots of inclusive information.

Silodrome Gasoline Culture

If you’re one for all things automotive then head over to Silodrome, the site covers everything from motorbikes, cars, boats to clothing, films and art. Although there’s a heavy focus on motorcycling, they literally dabble in everything and anything cool.

Where does the name come from?

Well ‘Silodrome’ is a fun-fair carnival stunt show more commonly known as the ‘Wall of Death’ to us.  The vertical velodromes that were constructed for the stunt were built in the countryside from old grain ‘silos’ which, consequently, lead to the name ‘silodrome’.

The main shift is on custom build projects, be that from a shed build between a father and son duo to a more professional set up building bikes to race and display. Not only that, Silodrome are big fans of café races with a whole dedicated category to them.

Motofire.com

Motofire pride themselves on featuring the best of motorcycling, not the same old predictable stuff you’ll already find dished out. The site was set up by biking friends who are all about fun, freedom and being part of something special.

It doesn’t matter if you’re jetting along on a scooter or moped, or you’re saddled up on a monster machine, everyone shares the same love of motorcycling. The stories shared with you are like no other so if you’ve got an opinion or a review to be heard then send it over – it’s all about getting stuck in and enjoying yourself.

You can tune in with Motofire.com on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube too!

There are loads of other sites out there that focus on the passion behind custom motorcycles, take a look…

Uncrate

Hypebeast

HighSnobiety

Where can I buy a custom motorcycle?

You’ve subscribed to a custom magazine, you regularly visit a custom website, you’re a member of the Bike Shed and you’ve been to KICKBACK. It’s now time to get yourself a custom bike!

Places such as Autotrader and eBay could be a good place to start, as they allow you to search by custom style bikes. The same applies for MCN Bikes for Sale, simply search for ‘custom’ as your bike type.

If you’re looking for something a bit more special, our friends at the Bike Shed have a classified section where you can find some incredible machines, you can filter by build type too, choosing from pro-built, semi-pro or shed-built. There’s a bike to suit every budget from a couple of grand to tens of thousands.

motorcycle in garage

It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when doing your research, not all customised motorcycles will be to your taste, but it still doesn’t stop them from being an absolute work of art. You need to know what your custom bike is going to be for; chances are you’re not going to be taking down the M25 every day for work!

If you know your way round a tool-box then purchasing a bike that needs a bit more tinkering and tailoring to reach your desired taste is always a good idea, you can finish it off with your own personal touches.

UK Custom Bike Builders

If you’re looking for something a bit special, unique or specific to your requirements, then you could approach a custom motorcycle builder in the UK directly. You’ve got a massive amount of reputable builders to choose from; it’s about the style you’re after and ultimately your budget.

Depending on how much you want modified on your chosen motorcycle, the length of time can vary. If you’re just looking for some aesthetically pleasing looks like a new seat, some ape hangers or a fresh paint job then this can be done relatively quickly. However, if you’re all about ripping it apart back to the bare bones and building it up to your taste then it could take anything from a matter of months to a few years – but you can’t rush perfection, remember that!

Below we’ve listed some of our favourite custom builders from across the country…

Old Empire Motorcycles

Old Empire Motorcycles create one off British custom bikes that take their names from Great British automotive, aeronautic and maritime history – everything that is created by OEM is through undying passion for two wheels.

What makes Old Empire Motorcycles different? Well, they’re not strict on ‘styling rules’, it’s all about creating the best possible masterpiece with what they’ve got to work with. If you’ve got a certain style or must-have feature in mind then Old Empire Motorcycles will give it all they can to cater for you.

Old Empire logo

Working on all different manufacturer machines from Triumph to Honda’s and Yamaha’, you know you’re in safe and educated hands.

Check out their concept build step-by-step guide right here. In just three simple steps you could be on the way to having your dream motorcycle become a reality.

DeBolex Engineering

If you’re a big fan of the 50’s and 60’s racing era then you need to check out DeBolex Engineering! By removing the heavy steel bodywork and replacing it with lightweight aluminium, whilst tweaking away at the engine and chassis for that all improved ride.

The ethos followed by DeBolex is simply this: “not to tear up a great production bike to make something potentially harder or less practical to ride, but more to celebrate the efforts of the manufacturer by retaining the core of the bike and redressing it with new lightweight bodywork with some upgraded components.”

deBolex Energica
deBolex Energica

DeBolex Engineering was founded by Calum Pryce-Tidd, who had biker blood running through his veins before he could even walk. Both his father and grandfather were proud owners of Vincent motorcycles, and a very hands-on approach to all things automotive from; boats, classic cars and aircraft. All these things now play an aspect on the design and machines produce by the DeBolex team.

Auto Fabrica

Auto Fabrica was founded by two brothers, Bujar and Gazmend, back in 2013. Since then they’ve been busy designing, creating and building some of the most beautiful custom machines you’ll see on the market today.

Based over in Southend-on-Sea, the AF workshop can do it all under one roof, so if you like in the Essex/London area then it’s well worth a visit to see what they’re next project is.

AutoFabrica

The principles behind Auto Fabrica are pretty simple really:  “to harmoniously balance function and form while delivering outstanding and unique products. A meticulous eye for detail and high levels of craftsmanship is key to its foundations.”

Success grew quickly after the release of the Kawasaki based Type 1 and the Yamaha based Type 2, coverage from across the globe meant their hard work and brilliant concepts were in demand worldwide.

Death Machines of London

You’ve probably seen these builds creeping up at a lot of shows, magazines or across the interweb but they really are something special. So what’s the story behind Death Machines of London (DMOL)?

Well, when founder James was taken out on his uncle’s motorbike for the first time as a little kid, his Dad said to him “Motorcycles are death machines, son.” Low and behold, 30 years later and it was decided to name the company after those iconic words of wisdom. But no, they don’t actually make machines that are dangerous and death causing, just to clear that one up.

Death Machines of London
DMOL

All machines are crafted to the highest level, tuned to perfection and mechanical safety comes before anything else. All you need to do is take a look at the photos of some of the DMOL machines to see that these bikes are like no other on the market.

Carved wooden seats, hand beaten aluminium body work and solid brass accessories – those are just a few things that DMOL can throw into the mix, along with some blood, sweat and tears.

Down & Out Cafe Racers

‘Down & Out Café Racers’ are the heart of Bespoke Motorcycles dedicating time to crafting some beautiful machines. Based just on the outskirts of Sheffield, a lot of their time is spent designing and building BMW and Triumph Scramblers across the UK and Europe, with over 15 years’ experience this lot know what’s what!

Down and Out Motorcycles
Down and Out

Founded by Shaun Walker over 15 years’ ago, no job is too big or small for these guys, you can start from scratch or have your pre-owned machine pimped out to your hearts content. Alternatively, you have the option of buying parts online if you’re confident tinkering with your bike.

Along with running their own workshop, they’ve also got a shop that sells clothing too!

Muff Customs

Custom workshop come coffee shop, Muff is all about good bike and great food. It’s not only a great place to hang out but you can also watch the magic of modifications unfold in front of your eyes. This is a great place to visit if you’re in need of some inspiration, or you fancy a good-old fashion fry up and cuppa tea.

Muff custom workshop

Muff Custom is London’s first motorcycle cafe that’s dedicated to hand built custom machines, and you should check some of them out. They’re built for riding round the city with a hint of off-road/naked stylings to them. Muff have dominated the custom scene in recent years and you’ll often see their machines on display at shows.

BOLT

Founded by Andrew Almond in 2013, BOLT has become a big player in the custom scene.  You might recognise the name from their very popular clothing line, but they still keep their fingers oily in their dedicated garage and workshops building custom motorcycles, servicing and repairs.

BOLT custom

The BOLT workshops and garages are the central focus of what they do, where they can express their passion and skills for creating some of the most beautiful machines. They also offer courses so you can get a hands-on approach to learning new skills and applying those to your very own motorbike.

Don’t forget to check out their line of clothing, they also stock other brands including Bell, Deus Ex Machina, Malle and Wrench Monkees.

Krazy Horse

Krazy Horse was born back in 1996 after founder Paul Beamish was struggling to source bike parts locally to keep his hobby alive. It all started with a shed in the garden but years down the line and Krazy Horse now have three showrooms, two in Bury St Edmunds and one in London, displaying the very best of what they do.

The workshop not only builds their own custom motorcycles, but it also services and repairs bikes and classic cars alike. If you’re looking for some fine-tuning or modifications then you should check out Krazy Horse.

Krazy Horse

Back in 2016, Krazy Horse teamed up with Guy Martin to build a modified Indian Scout for his Wall of Death record attempt. Following that, Krazy Horse also run a Hooligan Series flat-track race team for Indian Motorcycles UK.

They also host monthly events at their sites, along with selling their own range of clothing too.

Foundry Motorcycle

All you need to do is to take a look at the ‘Our Builds’ page of the Foundry Motorcycle website to know that these guys LOVE motorcycles. From café racers to street trackers, Foundry take pride in every machine they design, create and modify. They’ve always got a new project under their belt, be it a bike for an upcoming event or a one-off custom design tailored to you.

Foundry Motorcycles

Foundry also offer 1-day workshops, run by the owner Tom, its sole focus is custom and classic motorcycles teaching you everything from carrying out those all-important maintenance checks to performing a service. All you need is you and your bike, it is well worth looking at!

Foundry also have their own range of clothing including tees, jumpers all the way to helmets, gloves and other protective gear.

Untitled Motorcycles

From London to San Francisco, Untitled Motorcycles create custom motorcycles that are perfect for everyday use; there’s no need to be hiding your pride and joy in the garage every time the weather looks a bit iffy. Untitled machines are known for their great individual stylings and brilliant mechanics.

Untitled motorcycles

Untitled was founded by Rex and Adam back in 2010, they originally worked on customising BMW air-head flat twins, as well as repairing, building and reviving classic British, German, Italian and Japanese machines.

The guys and girls at Untitled all share the same passions for beautifully crafted custom machines; no challenge is too big or small for them.

Twin Thing Custom Motorcycles

Twin brothers, Tim and Luke are the driving force behind TwinThing designing and building custom motorcycles from the UK and international markets.

The TwinThing workshop is based in Hampshire, UK were the team are constantly busy creating kickass custom bikes but they also work on specialist paint jobs, upholstery and repair jobs too.

Twin thing customs

If you’re looking for TwinThing to take over the reins of designing and building your future bike then it’ll take roughly four to six weeks in the making, but you can take your first steps by completing their Design Specification.

TwinThing also have their own merchandise brand, and bikes for sale.

Grizzly’s Custom Bikes

Founded in 1995, Grizzly Customs is now a leading independent Harley-Davidson specialist that offers the whole hog, from servicing, repairs, upgrades, MOTs, parts and accessories. Most importantly, Grizzly also offers unique, custom builds.

Based in Folkestone, the Grizzly team can work on Harley’s both old and new, without jeopardizing your warranty. The team is made up of Paul, Will and Alex – three proud owners of Harley’s, and absolute two wheel fanatics.

Grizzly custom bikes

Sickboyz Customs

Based on the outskirts of London, Sickboyz Customs specialise in designing and building custom motorcycles. The multi award winning manufacturer offer a ‘one stop shop’ set up meaning you’re taken through the whole process, from start to finish with as much involvement as you’d like, by the Sickboyz team.

Whatever you can conjure up in your mind Sickboyz will make it happen so whether you’re looking for a retro chopper or the latest Triumph Scrambler with the most epic paint job you’ve seen – Sickboyz are definitely worth a visit.

Shaw Speed & Custom

If you’re a big lover of Harley-Davidson’s then pay a visit to Shaw Speed and Custom – this isn’t your average Harley dealer.  They aim to design and create ‘rideable customs’ meaning that every bike they produce can be ridden to the owner’s hearts content without any worries.

Based in East Sussex, Shaw Speed have their own independent studio where all future clients are invited to come in and meet the team, look at previous projects and see how Shaw Speed really work.

Shaw speed custom

There are three core values objectives behind every build: attention to detail, rideability and that it blends with its owner. You have the ability to get as involved with the creation process as you like.

So you’ve finally got the bike of your dreams – hooray! Here comes the boring part; don’t forget to notify your insurer of any modifications and accessories that your new machine may have. It’s important to do this to make sure you’re correctly insured. At Devitt, we understand why bikers take time and care modifying their motorbikes to their specific taste so that’s why we have a long, extensive list of modifications and accessories to help you understand how it may effect your premium.