Old Empire Motorcycles are anything but old, and it’s great to see up and coming builders creating classic machines with such refinement and attention to detail on the south side of their 40s. When we met OEM’s Alec we had been expecting a flat cap and deep grooved lines of experience around the eyes, but instead we were greeted by a cool young guy with tons of passion and enthusiasm, building a very cool business around timeless custom bikes. These guys are ones to watch.
So far they’ve been building bikes around the Enfield Bullet 500 – although you may have noticed their CB250 Vulcan at the BSMC Event (coming soon). The donor for this build is a Royal Enfield 2002 Classic 500 Bullet. They love the simple design and the flexible platform it provides, one that can give you a lean classic drop-bar bobber/boadtracker hybrid like the one in these pages, or end up as a cafe racer, or even a hard-ridden FlatTracker like Sideburn’s “Sushi-Eater”.
The nacelle houses all the unsightly electrics perfectly and is complimented by OEM’s own custom bars which are designed to mimic the shape of the housing exactly. Acres of leather adorn the bike from the little leather knee pads on the tank to the handmade battery satchel and fusebox.
The guys bill this latest build, the “Fox”, as the first of a series of five Enfield based customs inspired by the “Pup’ which they built previously. The bike has been lowered around 2-3 inches requiring significant machining on the front end to achieve the correct stance. The original rear shocks have been replaced with a set of shorter Hagon units.
The classic nacelle has been retained but the pilot lights have been turned into indicators while the the headlight has been tinted and peaked.
The bars might look like your usual ace bars but they’re hand made, nickel plated ‘Sturney’ bars made to fit the Royal Enfield housing exactly, incorporating a slight drop for a more racy riding position.
The Brooks saddle has been retained to keep the lines of the bike slim and uncluttered, and to compliment the leather kneepads and Brooks-wrapped grips.
Well-hidden led indicators are tucked under the seat leading down to OEM’s handmade battery satchels and leather covered electrics box.
The bodywork on the bike includes a highly modified Harley Sportster tank, with indents for the leather panels and OEM’s own weld-in brass filler caps, as well as short fenders, front and rear.
Other sweet details include a specially machined distributor cover to match the fins on the blacked and then polished barrel. The metallic paint finish and powdercoat was specified by the customer who wanted it dark blue, which works surprising well with brown leather and brass fittings.
The guys tell us the Fox handles surprisingly well now the centre of gravity is lower and the suspension a little stiffer. Sound, fueling – and performance – are helped out by a new Amal carb and custom exhaust.
This build also acts as a showcase for future builds beyond the Fox range, which they will be offering in staged levels for both the Electra X and EFI models.
As you’ll see from the photos, all the leatherwork, and the OEM website, the guys also plan to support their builds and the Old Empire Motorcycles brand with attire and they’ll have more when their online shop opens. If they transfer their passion, enthusiasm and attention to detail to all their gear then we expect them to do really well.