Is the custom scene playing dirty? When our man on the road, Fabio Affuso, filed his El Solitario feature, we learnt that these trendiest of trendsetters insist off-road riding is the only place where real motorcycling freedom still exists. Then we’ve got mad Frenchman Julian Dupont inspiring us to get a dirt bike and explore the world without fear of speed cameras or traffic.
Yamaha promoted ‘Back to the Dirt’ as their theme for this year’s Yard Built competition – and our mates at Lamb Engineering won it hands down with their amazing XSR700 tribute to Bengt Aberg’s glorious H&L Yamaha 500GP motocrosser. Even Bike Shed embraced the dirt bike theme this year with a ‘dirt room’. Yeah, the DTRA flat track bikes have been part of the Tobacco Dock show before, but this was more than that – there were loads of off-road-inspired custom builds and some gorgeous Paris Dakar-styled off-roaders. Dainese even launched their Dakar-inspired Settantedue (72) ‘Dunes’ range of clothing.
How weird then, that earlier this year I bought a 1980s XT600 Tenere? I’d like to say I saw this off-road trend developing, but I’d be lying. I just spotted it in the corner of RAP Superbikes in London and was lucky enough to persuade the boss there to part-ex it for one of my Sportsters. Seems like a lot of other people are now thinking those long-travel, big-tanked dirt bikes of the 1980s have a lot of style.