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.


Alec Sharp is the guy behind Old Empire Motorcycles. The firm is based in Diss, Norfolk.


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 bars

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

Micro switches

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

Demeanour customs

Jake Robbins vintage engineering

Ekquire motorcycles

Amal carburettors,

Framingham motorcycles

Alloy polishing services

MP sodablasting

Morley Brothers paint

Specialised polishing services

Avon tyres

Chris Tullet exhausts

moto phoenix

Solow Choppers

gauge repairs.com

Venhill cables

Auto electric supply

Morris oils

Seastar superbikes.

Photography: Onna Wieringa, Jon Mortimer, Richard Stow



Old Empire Motorcycles

— Dexxion


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