The Typhoon: An obsessively built steampunk board-track superbikeView gallery - 12 images
Old Empire Motorcycles, a custom builder from Norfolk, UK, spared no time or expense on this piece. Starting life as a Ducati 900SS, the Typhoon is a rolling monument to British craftsmanship, with a distinct retro-futuristic steampunk twist.
Old Empire Motorcycles is a British outfit, hailing from Norfolk, England. As a custom builder, the OEM team typically takes customer bikes and customises them to a brief and a budget. The results are great, the workmanship and materials are top notch, and the prevailing aesthetic is part Brough Superior, part leather satchel, part modern hipster cafe racer. An overabundance of grinder sparks in some of the promo videos dates them firmly in the skinny pants, burly bearded era of the mid-noughteens.
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But when you're building bikes to spec for a customer, you're working within restraints. So the OEM team occasionally makes something of their own, without any such limits. Meet the Typhoon.
The L-twin engine, and bits of the trellis frame here, were pulled from a Ducati 900SS Supersport. The rest very clearly isn't.
The attention to detail on this bike is pretty extraordinary. Let's pick the right handgrip on its droopy board tracker-style handlebar: It's thinly leather-wrapped, and features a reverse brake lever, a custom-machined thumb start and a bevel-driven throttle wire that looks a bit like a high-end bicycle bell.
Or there's the girder forks, finished in the same deep cherrywood paint job as the trellis frame and tank. They feature a friction-based damping system you can tighten and loosen with a pair of big, brass nuts about the size you'd need to ride this thing.
Typically, brakes just make you go slow, but the Old Empire team chose stylish drum brakes for the front and rear, which will do no such thing. Razor-thin tires and a hardtail back end will make whatever power that Ducati donk makes (it's about 85 horses in stock form) feel wildly excessive.
The brass bell headlamp and cute battery satchel, the handbuilt butt-wedge of a seat and huge brass steering stem cap – they all mesh together into some kind of retro-futuristic lightweight steampunk superbike, as pretty as it would be punishing to ride.
I'm not always a fan of impractical customs, but I reckon this one's a work of art, and the pick of a very nice British bunch over at the Old Empire Motorcycles website. Bravo, chaps.
Enjoy a short video below:
Source: Old Empire MotorcyclesView gallery - 12 images