Motorcycles

The Typhoon: An obsessively built steampunk board-track superbike

The Typhoon: An obsessively bu...
Old Empire Motorcycles Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike custom built without restrictions or restraint
Old Empire Motorcycles Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike custom built without restrictions or restraint
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Old Empire Motorcycles Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike custom built without restrictions or restraint
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Old Empire Motorcycles Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike custom built without restrictions or restraint
OEM Typhoon: Ducati 900SS motor and trellis frame
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OEM Typhoon: Ducati 900SS motor and trellis frame
OEM Typhoon: droopy board-tracker style handlebar
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OEM Typhoon: droopy board-tracker style handlebar
OEM Typhoon: sleek profile
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OEM Typhoon: sleek profile
OEM Typhoon: simple custom clocks
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OEM Typhoon: simple custom clocks
OEM Typhoon: drum brakes and razor-thin spoked wheels look great, but will make this a handful
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OEM Typhoon: drum brakes and razor-thin spoked wheels look great, but will make this a handful
OEM Typhoon: girder fork features adjustable friction damping
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OEM Typhoon: girder fork features adjustable friction damping
OEM Typhoon: if fat back ends are the hot thing in cruisers and custom sportsbikes, it's the total opposite with the Typhoon
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OEM Typhoon: if fat back ends are the hot thing in cruisers and custom sportsbikes, it's the total opposite with the Typhoon
OEM Typhoon: gives good cuddles
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OEM Typhoon: gives good cuddles
OEM Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike
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OEM Typhoon: a steampunk board-track superbike
OEM Typhoon: custom tank and steering head cap
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OEM Typhoon: custom tank and steering head cap
OEM Typhoon: leather battery satchel is nestled behind the motor
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OEM Typhoon: leather battery satchel is nestled behind the motor
View 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.

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.

OEM Typhoon: drum brakes and razor-thin spoked wheels look great, but will make this a handful
OEM Typhoon: drum brakes and razor-thin spoked wheels look great, but will make this a handful

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.

OEM Typhoon: custom tank and steering head cap
OEM Typhoon: custom tank and steering head cap

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.

OEM Typhoon: girder fork features adjustable friction damping
OEM Typhoon: girder fork features adjustable friction damping

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.

OEM Typhoon: if fat back ends are the hot thing in cruisers and custom sportsbikes, it's the total opposite with the Typhoon
OEM Typhoon: if fat back ends are the hot thing in cruisers and custom sportsbikes, it's the total opposite with the Typhoon

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:

The Typhoon

Source: Old Empire Motorcycles

View gallery - 12 images
6 comments
VincentWolf
Looks like something that went through a crusher.....ugly.
Wolf0579
Ugly thing. I never did find anything "steam-punk" interesting... it seemed like people being nostalgic for an unpleasant era they never laid eyes on in the first place.
keith14
Yuk it has a look only a mother could love!!
DaveBarr
Sorry but this sort of thing makes me shudder.
Catweazle
Well, that's certainly different! Looks like it could be a lot of fun too... Interesting to see it is fitted with inch and a half Amal GP slick bore racing carburettors, the best instruments ever made - so long as you can find someone who still knows how to set them up, that is...
possum1
Interesting stuff they are smoking ! Board track racers have NO BRAKES A well set up four leading shoe drum brake ( like on the front of this thing) will pull you up as good as a disc brake - so don't slag off at the stoppers us older riders lusted after ! And to agree with Catweazle, you better get a carby wizard to set those Amal's up !