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ART ATTACK: Ian Barry’s Cataclysmic Café Racers

Ian Barry named this bike “The White."

Ian named this bike “The White, ” perhaps because of its 100% polished surfaces that creates its monochromatic visual impact.

Photo Credit: Paul Garson

Paul Garson
August 29, 2013
Filed under Latest News, Retro + Vintage Motorcycle Reviews, Rider Magazine Blog

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Perhaps some would call it a “crime of passion” to “recycle” classic British bikes into “works of art,” but perhaps there’s significant leeway when the custom creations are for the most salvaged bits and pieces reconfigured into scratch built and streetable “one-offs.” Then again, do bikes—nut and bolt mechanical gizmos filled with goopy oil—deserve to be placed on pedestals and acclaimied as works of art? The answer is self-evident when you first lay eyes on the three motorcycles seen here. The trio of glistening, gleaming, yet fully funcitonal motorcycles come with relatively simple names for all that went into their making—The White, The Black, The Kestrel. More on the names later.

Every part, excluding engine, carburetors and tires, is literally cut from blocks of metal. Even the leftover metal shavings are “recycled” into framed artworks hung alongside them when they appeared at the upscale Michael Kohn Gallery on the hip side of Los Angeles. The first three of the ten proposed custom bike builds by Los Angeles-based industrial designer, artist, and motorcycle engineer Ian Barry made their art gallery debut appearance in late July 2013. The rolling masterpieces each have 1,000-3,000 hours poured into their hand-crafted aluminum, stainless steel and titanium creation—one bike built per year. The gallery describes Ian’s work as “continuing Ian’s exploration of symbolism, power and speed, using motorcycles as the translating mechanism.”

“The White" is based around a 1967 500cc single cylinder Velocette “Squish Head” high performance Venom Thruxton engine.

“The White” is the most recently completed project. It’s based around a 1967 500cc single cylinder Velocette “Squish Head” high performance Venom Thruxton engine.

Ian, who traces his bike riding lineage to his great-grandparents in Holland, works out of a Hollywood stuido called Falcon Motorcycles founded in 2008 by Ian and with his partner Amaryllis Knight. The shop appears part sculptor’s lair, part gearhead sanctuary, part inventor’s science lab. It’s filled with vintage tools as well as those Ian designed and built himself including a massive English wheel for creating beautiful bends in metal, a device he recycled from a 1950s dough making machine. Speaking to the motivation behind his bike building, he says, “I’ve always been completely obsessed with English bikes. The first motorcycle I bought was a 1967 Bonneville all in pieces when I was 18. After getting plenty of advice and help from the Old Timers, I eventually got it back together. Then it was on to BSAs and Nortons, and the obsession hasn’t stopped.”

As for the choice of shop names, one day he caught a glimpse of a falconer, a trainer of the birds, the image on his computer screen. Seems his fiancee, Amaryllis, shares an interest in the feathered speed demons. It started when Amaryllis had competed in the London To Mongolia car rally, at one point spending time with a falconer when she was making her way through Kazakhstan during the race. Says Ian, “It was this that made us think of the name Falcon—the fastest animal on earth. We couldn’t believe that nobody had taken the name yet, so we claimed it.”

Parts of “The Kestrel Falcon” were modified from original pieces or custom made.

Parts of “The Kestrel Falcon” were modified from original pieces or custom made including the hand bent exhaust pipes, handlebars, levers, forward controls, fender, license plate holder, and seat, even many of the fasteners.

While his Falcon Motorcycles are built for customers, including his special “art” series, they are all fully functional, road worthy macines. But Ian obviously also views motorcycles from an artistic plane. Speaking about each engine he builds, he says, “I make the engines the focus, because in and of themselves, they are symbolic and they have a rhetorical quality. The engine isn’t a static material. It’s about propulsion and potential.”

In addition to a very select client list, his “motorcycle aesthetic” has earned Ian numerous awards includes honors at the U.S. 2008 Legend of the Motorcycle International Concours and at the prestigous Quail Motorcycle Concours for both 2010 and 2011.

Ian named one bike “The White,” perhaps because of its 100 percent polished surfaces that create its monochromatic visual impact. It’s based around a 1967 500cc single cylinder Velocette “Squish Head” high performance Venom Thruxton engine. Only about 1,000 Thruxtons were produced between 1967 and the end of production in early 1971. The “Squish Heads” were far rarer as they were very special and very limited (perhaps only six) factory built race motors, the same design that brought Velocette a major victory at the famous 1967 Isle of Mann TT race.

“The Black” by Ian Berry includes a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow engine

“The Black” includes a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow engine, Avon tires, Borrani 21-inch WM1 wheel, and Borrani 20” WM2 wheel.

Another motorcycle, “The Kestrel Falcon,” is made of parts that were modified from original pieces or custom made including the hand bent exhaust pipes, handlebars, levers, forward controls, fender, license plate holder and seat, even many of the fasteners. It was inspired by one the fastest animals in nature, the Kestrel, a bird of prey and member of the falcon family.

The art gallery’s brochure description of “The Black” includes a list of its “ingredients” that reads: “Acrylic, 7075 +6061 T6 aluminum, brass, 954 bronze alloy, copper, cloth, enamel, epoxy, glass, leather, light-emitting diodes, nickel, Pyrex, stainless steel, steel, titanium, white gold leaf, 1952 Vincent Black Shadow engine, Avon tires, Borrani 21-inch WM1 wheel, Borrani 20” WM2 wheel.” Plus the bike’s dimensions: 33x30x80 inches—in case you planned to have it framed.

Are the bikes for sale? Yes, and Ian can build you rumbling, rolling artwork that you can both hang in your dining room and then blast down the Autobahn or any road for that matter. All it takes is a healthy respect for the investment of time and talent that goes into his true “one-offs.”

For more information, visit Falconmotorcycles.com.

Ian Barry's "The White" may be the pinacle of custom bike building.

The pinacle of custom bike building? Perhaps the sharply pointed support stand says it all.

The White features GP race carburetors and alloy Borrani wheels.

The world’s sexiest swingarm? Minimalism meets maximum expression in Ian’s one-off frame and jewel-like like fittings, motor mounts and hardware.The bike also features GP race carburetors and alloy Borrani wheels.

The Kestrel Falcon

Handlebars have 1920s boardtrack racer look, and bike is kickstart only as are all the bikes. Note the beautiful radius of custom pipes.

Fitments include a BSA-A-10 transmission, Suzuki GS500 clutch...

Fitments include a BSA-A-10 transmission, Suzuki GS500 clutch and mix of vintage Firestone and Avon Venom tires.

The Falcon Motorcycles workshop

Seen mounted on the wall in the background is 200 lb. of metal shavings swept from the Falcon Motorcycles workshop floor….aluminum, bronze alloy, stainless steel….framed and titled. And yes, it’s for sale.

The engine on The Kestrel Falcon.

The engine on “The Kestrel Falcon.”

The back view of the Kestrel Falcon.

The back view of the Kestrel Falcon.

"The Kestrel Falcon" and "The Black".

“The Kestrel Falcon” (background) and “The Black” (foreground).

Ian Barry fashions everything on these custom motorcycles.

Ian Barry fashions everything from the oil tanks to the exhaust systems to the control levers and countless other components.

The “bifurcation” of the gas tank treatment seems to give "The Black" a “dual personality”

The dramatic “bifurcation” of the gas tank treatment seems to give this bike a “dual personality” with one side of the gas tank appearing stock while the other side seems split open to reveal its inner mechanical core highlighted by the upswept and massive GP carb.

The Black.

The Black.

The author drools over "The White" bike.

The author drools over The White bike.

Comments

3 Responses to “ART ATTACK: Ian Barry’s Cataclysmic Café Racers”

  1. Anthony on August 29th, 2013 4:56 pm

    All I can say is WOW, what beautiful craftsmanship.

    [Reply]

  2. Juan on September 17th, 2014 5:24 pm

    ….
    Great pics and read otherwise! Thanks for sharing, I came to this site looking to learn more about the “White.”

    [Reply]

    Rider Magazine Reply:

    Thank you for your comments Juan. We have made the caption changes.

    [Reply]

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!





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