BMW R45 by Ton-Up Garage

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This custom BMW R45 by Portuguese outfit Ton-Up Garage is a pitch-perfect retro throwback.

Drawing inspiration from the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s, Ton-Up garage aims to design custom motorcycles that celebrate the golden era of motor sports. For this recent creation, they turned to the 35hp, 473 cc boxer twin engine of a BMW R45 to make a stylish city bike. They fabricated a new sub-frame, which complements the new rear shock and forks, created a new headlight grill, mounted a pair of matching enduro fenders, and swapped out the original wheels for some spoked-rims and knobby tires. To complete the look, the bike was finished with a classic cream and brown paint job.

If you’d like to see more from Ton-Up Garage, or buy the bike you see here, check out their website: tonupgarage.com

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Motorcycle Camping in the High Sierras

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Memorial Day weekend, Los Angeles, Saturday morning. Under a dull grey sky, our fully loaded BMW GSs charged up the on-ramp and merged onto I-5 North. The weekend warriors were just starting to filter onto the road with their roof-racked station wagons and pop-trailers, but it’d still be a few hours before the happy-go-lucky glampers were out. This left us plenty of time to blitz up the big empty slab of concrete that lay between us and the Sierras.

While any well-trained sales reps will attempt to convince you otherwise, the fact is that any motorcycle can be used for camping. Whether you’re riding a Honda Rebel or a brand new GS Adventure, the only thing the type of motorcycle determines is the style of camping you’re able to enjoy. The smaller the bike, the more you’ll need to embrace the minimalist backpacking method. The bigger the bike, the closer you can get to that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style of pseudo-car-camping. Which, is more or less the approach we took.

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Both my 1150 GS, and my friend’s 1200 GS, were loaded to the hilt with stuffed panniers and stuffed duffle bags on top of those panniers. This may or may not have been due to the fact we were both riding two-up with our respective girlfriends. If couple camping is a delicate art, than double date couple camping has got to be some next-level shit. So, to smooth out any potential bumps, we decided to bring as many creature comforts as we could carry. Full size pillows? Sure. Mexican blanket doormat for the tent? Why not? Both a french press and a stove-top percolator? Let’s not take any chances with the coffee… Ultimately though, when it comes to camping, the most important thing to have is the right attitude, which thankfully everyone had in spades.

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Traveling on Route 99, there isn’t much between Los Angeles and Fresno worth mentioning, other than the space of land exists, it’s entirely flat, it’s always hot, and invariably smells like cow manure. However, after picking up the Route 168 out of Fresno, the topography starts to perk up, the temperature cools down, and the crisp smell of pine replaces the methane-laden dung fumes that hang in the valley below. All in all, it was a much welcomed change.

We made our way up the winding mountain road towards Shaver and Huntington Lakes, where we bore witness to the withering effect of California’s drought. Entire marinas, with hundreds of empty boat slips, now sat firmly on dry land, while pontoon party boats wallowed about in the remaining muddy waters like indifferent hippos at a watering hole.

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We reached our camp site just after 3pm. After many long hours sitting on the motorcycle, it’s amazing how refreshing it can be to sit on another surface that’s not a motorcycle. A picnic bench for instance, or, the top of a pannier, and even the ground, as dirty and rough as it is, seems to hold a new and completely satisfying comfort that was previously overlooked.

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After our posteriors had adequately recovered, we set about putting up camp. Tents were erected, fire wood was procured, and a one-pot dinner was prepared under the resilient glow of a butane burner. Things were really coming together, although it wasn’t until the third or fourth campfire-grade cocktail that the “vacation” part of the vacation really started to kick in.

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The next morning we had big plans: Mono Creek Hot Springs were just on the other side of Kaiser Pass and we intended to check it out. According to the Butler Maps I had brought, the Kaiser Pass Road was supposed to be gold, and gold it was. This scraggily single-lane road effortlessly weaves its way through the Ponderosa and Jeffery pines, opening up at times to offer sweeping vistas of the Sierras before ducking back into a twisty ravine of monolith granite. The road conditions are a little rough for a dedicated street bike, with crumbling asphalt and occasional sand washes in some places, but for anyone with a dual sport bike or a questionable sense of judgment, the road was 20 miles of alpine heaven.

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Mono Creek Hot Spring didn’t disappoint either. We took a nice long soak in one of the twelve open air springs located in the area. Many of the springs have been developed with man-made concrete tubs, but a few of the more remote ones remain untouched. With a water temperature of only 100 degrees, our particular spring was technically-speaking only a “warm” spring, but the water felt just fine to us.

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Once our bodies warmed up enough to start affecting our hubris, we decided it would be a capital idea to take a swim in the nearby, and perennially frigid, San Joaquin River. Jumping into a mountain river (the water of which was probably melting snow not 45 minutes ago) has got to be the closest thing to taking an adrenaline shot to the heart. Both of which probably have an equal chance of inducing cardiac arrest. However, for those who take the plunge, there awaits a feeling of total rejuvenation, bordering on rebirth, which is reserved for both the very brave and the very foolish alike.

With our skin tingling and our lips still blue, we swapped out our wet bathing suits for the warm, dry comfort of our motorcycle pants and jackets. Rarely does such heavy gear feel so good on a warm afternoon.

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The sun was hanging low in the sky and the shadows were growing long, and all agreed it was time to start heading back. It had been a long full day. As the shivery excitement of the river left our bones, a new excitement took its place. We still had Kaiser Pass Road to look forwards to on the ride back, this time in reverse, and that was really something to get excited about.

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Aether Gear Featured in this Story:
Skyline Motorcycle JacketCanyon Motorcycle JacketMerino Neck GaiterL/S HenleyWelded Duffel BagAlta

All photos by Megan McDuffie 

Barstow Goggles by 100%

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Makers of premium motor sport accessories, 100% has added the retro-leaning Barstow Goggle to their impressive lineup of products.

Inspired by the legendary Barstow to Vegas desert race that ran from 1965 to 1989, these new goggles pay tribute to that classic era of off-road motorcycling. Designed with a vintage style but sporting state-of-the-art features, these goggles combine a timeless look with safety and performance.

The Barstow is available in two different versions: the Classic Dirt and Legend Road. For more information, visit 100%’s website at: ridebarstow.com

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Johammer J1

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The Johammer J1 is the first production electric motorcycle with a range over 200 kilometers.

Designed and produced is Austria, the J1 uses an innovative energy supply system that gives the bike its unparalleled range – not to mention its unusual geometry. Its many notable design features include: electric motor integrated directly into the rear wheel, hub center steering front wheel, wishbone style suspension, and side mirrors that offer high-resolution displays of speed and range.

The Johammer J1 is available in two versions, $31,000 or $34,500, depending on the size battery pack you opt for.

For more information about the Johammer J1 at visit: johammer.com

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Motorcycle Helmet Mount

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These custom oak mounts have been designed to store your extra motorcycle helmets.

Instead of storing your helmet in a bag in the garage, why not put them on display? These functional mounts can accommodate either a 3/4 or full face helmets and are a great way to air out your lid  between rides.

Hand built by Brandon Cameron of Texas, each mount is made using reclaimed oak and chromed steel.  Limited number are available for the price of $65 each.

Check out his Etsy shop at etsy.com

[via Silodrome]

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Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket

Designed by AETHER and constructed by SPIDI, the Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket combines a modern aesthetic with the finest in old-world leatherwork.

With its rugged yet refined style, advanced protective padding, and Italian motorcycle racing pedigree, the Eclipse is designed to be the showpiece of any urban rider’s wardrobe.

The Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket is now available for purchase. Check out the product page for more details.

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Lotus C-01

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With a futuristic look, the Lotus C-01 motorcycle is the latest from renowned automotive designer Daniel Simon.

Daniel Simon has done work for Lamborghini and Bugatti in the past, and was the designer behind the Lightcycle in the 2010 remake of Tron as well as the Bubbleship in the 2013 film Oblivion. This blend of real world practicality and imaginative sci-fi vision can be readily seen in the Lotus C-o1.

For the power planet, KTM RC8′s 200hp V-Twin engine was selected and was combined with a 6 gear transmission and a traditional chain drive. Inverted carbon forks have been fitted in the front while twin adjustable shock absorbers handle the load in the back. Twin-disc front brakes and a single-disc rear brake give the bike it’s stopping power. However, the main aesthetic appeal of the bike is its carbon fiber body work and extremely long wheel base.

Lotus does not yet have a price listed, although they have stated that they will be limiting production to only 100 bikes globally.

F0r more information about the Lotus C-01, visit Lotus Motorcycle.


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BMW R1100 GS “Desert Scrambler”

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Cafe Racer Dreams from Madrid has transformed a BMW R1100 GS into an “Desert Scrambler”

Unlike customizing a typical airhead model, Cafe Racer Dreams has taken on the ambitious challenge of converting a more modern oilhead. Without a traditional frame to speak of and layer after layer of intricately connected electronics, this conversion was no small task. The build is still a work-in-progress, so there is not much information about it. Check in on CRD’s website for more updates.

Cafe Racer Dreams is based out of Madrid, Spain. See some of their previous work here: caferacerdreams.com.es

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Deluxe Tool Roll by Union Garage NYC

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The Deluxe Tool Roll by Union Garage NYC is a motorcycle maintenance kit that draws inspiration from the past while embracing the future.

The Deluxe Tool Roll is based around the legendary BMW factory tool kit that came standard with the company’s air-cooled twins. Unlike most other kits on the market, Union Garage’s comes fully stocked with a wide assortment of tools that have been painstakingly selected for function, versatility, and quality. Included are a pair of Leatherman pliers, Bondhus L-bend Allen keys, an ultra-compact micro ratchet wrench with a 20-pieced hardened steel bit set, Heyco-brand open-end wrenches and a compact test light. The kit also includes some nice extras, like a Moleskin maintenance log and American made tire-pressure gauge.

The roll itself has been constructed from waxed cotton with leather reinforcements and is designed to fit in the under-seat tray on most BMW airheads.  Small enough to carry with you for emergency road-side repairs but comprehensive enough for routine maintenance in the shop, this a great kit for any metric motorcycle owner.

For more information on the Deluxe Tool Roll take a look a the video below and then head over to Union Garage’s website: uniongaragenyc.com.

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A Mojave Solstice

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We were climbing a rough section of trail on the outskirts of Joshua Tree National Park, our knobby tires bouncing from one skull-sized rock to the next. Most of us had made it to the top of the pass when we heard Palmer, who was riding sweep, begin his ascent. Things were going well at first, with his powerful 1200GS clambering over the loose rocks, but halfway up the rocky wash his metal pannier hooked a piece of granite the size of an end table and the bike suddenly swung round like a rodeo bull. The RPMs spiked, the tires turned sideways, and from inside a cloud of dust and flailing limbs came the clamor of a 500 lb. bike hitting the ground. It was at this exact moment that the trip officially became an adventure.

Early that morning we had set out from Los Angeles under dark, overcast skies. Our group consisted of a small contingent from Aether: founders Jonah and Palmer, Brandt, and myself. We were joined by Davide, founder of Shelter Half, and Sinuhe, long time senior photographer for Overland Journal and outdoorsman at large.

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It was the eve of the Winter Solstice, but before we were forced to succumb to the holiday spirit in full, we decided to escape into the desert for one last motorcycle trip to cap off the year. We planned to ride east of Palm Springs, cut north across Joshua Tree, then continue on to the Mojave Preserve before finally spending the night at a secret campsite (courtesy of Sinuhe).

The trip began like every other road trip from Los Angeles: a grueling hump across endless miles of freeway. However, the dullness was broken up by intermittent rain showers, which lifted a layer of oil off the road and caused our tires to shimmy and shake. So in addition to being wet we were also very much awake. Thankfully, the skies cleared as we turned off the highway outside Coachella and we headed north into the sun-drenched mountains.

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Where the crumbling pavement of the desert road ended, we continued. Our route now took the form of a double track trail that became less and less defined as we went. About midway through, where the terrain got particularly rough, is where Palmer took his tumble.

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Damage to the rider was minimal (a bruised shin), but the bike suffered a dented pannier, broken mirror, and dislodged toggle switch that kept the horn permanently depressed. This issue was immediately remedied with a rock, which was readily offered by Davide. We all lent a hand to help reposition the bike, which was now facing downhill, and enjoyed a few laughs recalling the incident. Then, undaunted and with renewed energy, Palmer jumped back in the saddle and rode the rest of way up. The caravan pressed on.

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We made our way out of the mountains and onto the sandy trails of the Joshua Tree basin. Riding a motorcycle over deep sand requires a mixture of skill, faith, and black magic. More than a few of us, myself included, dumped our bikes in spectacular slow motion. Finally, with the sun hanging low on the horizon, we arrived at a paved crossroad. After two hours of plodding through sand, asphalt under the tires never felt so good.

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We had a brief fuel stop in the desolate town of Amboy before making a beeline to our campsite inside the Mojave Preserve. The stars were just starting to poke through the purple twilit sky as we pulled our bikes into camp. We set up our tents, got a fire going, and settled down for a well earned dinner. We had been riding for over 10 hours and it felt good to pour a glass of whiskey and take a seat by the fire.

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Back in Los Angeles people were dashing about in feverish preparation for Christmas: hanging up lights, braving crowded shopping malls, and entertaining relatives. We would have to return to that madness soon enough, but this evening we could kick back, have a laugh, relax, and start planning our next adventure.

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Photography by: Sinuhe Xavier
Originaly published (1/11/14) on The Mighty Motor