Better Than The Real Thing?

May 15, 2020 | By Mike Seate

The current issue’s cover story has generated quite a bit of feedback from readers who were thrilled to see the intense level of craftsmanship and detail that goes into creating a show-winning Vincent V-twin replica. The two bikes featured were both built in the Iowa garage of Greg Hageman, a custom motorcycle wizard who has made a name for himself for transforming Yamaha’s venerable- but none too attractive- Virago cruiser into a unique breed of modern cafe racers. He was asked by Piano Man Billy Joel to craft an amazing Vincent Black Shadow replica from an XV920 Virago which is featured in the magazine. with similarities in design and engineering that are truly undeniable, it’s no surprise the Yamaha resembles the world’s best-known speedbike in more ways than you’d imagine. Both machines, despite being but several decades and a world apart, share frames without lower downtubes as they utilize the engine as stressed chassis members. Both deploy long-wheelbases to accommodate the loping, air-cooled V-twin engines and the bike that Greg built for Joel has been switched from a shaft final drive to a traditional chain making it more closely resemble its predecessor. However, we’ve heard from some serious Vincent purists who feel any attempts to make a Japanese motorcycle resemble a classic, iconic Britbike is a form of mechanical heresy.

We’re in the camp of folks who feel that custom motorbikes, be they choppers, racebikes or cafe racers, should have no such constraints. Build what you feel and ride the nuts (literally) off the damn thing is our philosophy. And with Vincents demanding mortgage-sized price tags these days (after a very brief price drop about a year ago) it makes sense to build a custom machine that replicates the experience while leaving a few coins in the bank account for a few gallons of petrol. Make up your own mind and let us know your thoughts. Vroom on!