MotoGuzzi Le Mans Mk II "Airforce" by Death Machines of London

Motorcyle as a work of art?

There is a hashtag on Instagram #motorcycleart… And that makes me think… Can a motorcycle be considered a work of art? My English skill doesn’t allow me to elaborate deeply into some philosophical discussion with my own words. I need to get to some external sources and quotes to sound smarter… So let’s go.

Let’s start with “what is art”?

Many words have been written on the topic so far. I do have few favorite answers to this question, that might add up to some conclusion in the end.

Most academic definition of Art:

The expression or application of creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting, drawing, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

– Oxford English Dictionary (1600s)

Let’s stop here for a moment. As this is perfect. Cliche… but right on point.

Motorcycles are all about emotions. It’s one of the last bastions of machine craziness, impulse, adventure – in a modern normalized world of rules, regulations, and “ecoterrorism”. So is a motorcycle art? Not in general…

A motorcycle is (most often) a mass product. Carefully designed for function, safety rules and looks, of course. But looking good, even looking very good, doesn’t make it art. There are many well-designed motorcycles on the market today. But they are just nice looking objects… multiplied in the factory. Giving a rider tons of emotions, and a personal relevance due to a shared history and nostalgia… but it’s not art, yet.

We need a little more here…

The imitator is a poor kind of creature. If the man who paints only the tree, or flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photographer.

James McNeill Whistler “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” (1890)

Ok. Obviously, mass production needs to give space to individuality and customization. But individuality itself – doesn’t produce art if it’s a copy or a reflection…

The craftsman knows what he wants to make before he makes it.…The making of a work of art…is a strange and risky business in which the maker never knows quite what he is making until he makes it.

R.G. Collingwood “The Principles of Art” (1938)

Does individuality plus a personal touch of an inspiration makes a true artist? Works for me.

You can agree that all custom builds are unique, made of passion, vision (client’s or personal)… Most of them have a “hook” of some sort (either engineering or aesthetics). That a cafe racer project without fenders is more of style than function. That a coffee machine themed chopper is one of a kind. And some motives are so crazy and unique… But it’s not enough.

The beauty of the topic is that it cannot be measured and solved with few lines of text and 3 quotes. There are many more quotes to use here. But it’s also not the point. You can have all the ingredients: proportions, quality, uniqueness, perfection, details, vision, craft. But still, it doesn’t need to work. I’d say that one thing is still missing from the recipe, for a motorcycle to become a work of art…

Let’s call this: the x-factor

“Something” that makes You stop for a moment to admire the craft, the design, the colors – anything… everything a little longer. That stays in mind for a while longer than an average custom motorcycle. And it’s the exact point for this something to be undefined (X).

Below You’ll find few examples of such builds – that work for me. Seeing hundreds of builds, I find these few – extraordinary and inspiring.

Moto Guzzi Le Mans MkII “Airforce”

This aircraft inspired, pure metal madness is a true work of art. Quite recently released made a lot of noise around the custom scene.


Auto Fabrica Type 8 CX500

This build was already featured here. Surprising how one can take a most commonly modified, kind of boring motorcycle… and do something fresh…

Auto FabricaType 8 CX 500

Source:   (PS. Type 6 build is also cool)

Vibrazioni Design… pick one 🙂

Guys in welders masks. I can’t decide which one of their bikes is the one. I like all of them… Guys are crazy… making art from old oil barrels + they’re Italian. What more could You want? 🙂 IMHO they are the best and most consistent builders regarding the “artsy” aspect. I like to get back to their website to look at what they are working on…

Vertigo - Vibrazioni Moto Guzzi Audace

Source: (build featured here)