Old Empire Imperial Ducati Typhoon
▲ Remember John Reed aka Uncle Bunt? He was the UK's premier custom bike builder back in the 1970s and 80s, a man who was always pushing the envelope and daring to be very different. Well there's more than a touch of Reed in Alec Sharp's work. Distinct. Surprising. And challenging. Watch this new contender closely.
Sharp is one of those rare custom bike builders with energy, vision and flair. His latest creation is the above 1995 Ducati 900ss artfully re-crafted into the tubular belle pictured here.
That's him immediately below, by the way, astride the bike. It's a machine bristling with subtlety, and stuffed with almost obsessive detail. We've met his type before. Alchemists. Perfectionists. And mechanical contortionists. That's how they create these weird and wonderful shapes that your brain struggles to unravel.
This board track style Ducati took around two years to complete, not as a project for a customer, but simply as a piece of personal indulgence.
It's also an award-winning bike that picked up a trophy or two at the 2014 Salon Privy which marked this creation as an "Extrodinary Motorcycle", which we assume means "Extraordinary". Or are we missing something?
It's not the most practical bike, neither in real terms nor within its own terms. That four-leading shoe front anchor is going to overwhelm the girder fork, and the riding position is likely to offer cramped comfort for anyone larger than, say, a hunt jockey.
But that's not the point with machines such as this. Rather, this is a motorcycle that occupies the space between reality and fiction, between the possible and the improbable, between fine art and practical mobility. A set of slicks wouldn't hurt it, mind. But beyond that, we wouldn't change anything.
The bike has since been sold, by the way, but here's the lowdown on this lowdowner.
1995 Ducati 900ss
Heavily modified frame
Custom girder forks
Custom speedo and tacho
Custom brass headlight
21’’ front wheel four-leading shoe drum brake
21’’ rear wheel single leading shoe drum brake
Custom bevel gear throttle
Stainless inverted levers
Twin Amal GP3 carburettors
Custom stainless exhaust system
Handmade rear sets
Handmade leather grips
Leather battery satchel
Leather electrical side pouches
Custom twin tanks/w knee pads
Custom fuel lines/taps/filters
Custom single to twin pull units
Custom braided wiring loom
Custom pull-type starter
Custom ignition and lights switch
Avon Roadrider tyres
Handmade ‘go faster’ rear pegs
Pressed steel black and silver plate
Handmade headlight shroud
Alec gives due credit to the other members of the orchestra that helped make this steel and aluminium symphony possible. But there's no arguing about who the composer and conductor is.
Black Shuck Kustoms
Jake Robbins vintage engineering
Alloy polishing services
Morley Brothers paint
Specialised polishing services
Chris Tullet exhausts
Auto electric supply
Photography: Onna Wieringa, Jon Mortimer, Richard Stow
Copyright Sump Publishing 2014