custom revolution



From Denver, CO, USA


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Like the mythical Phoenix, Ronin rose from the ashes of a dead motorcycle brand – Buell – and emerged a transformed creature of mesmerizing appearance. The Ronin origin story goes back to the day Mike Mayberry saw an ad in Cycle World for the new Buell 1125R that included a photo of a bare machine with no tank or fairing, which he thought was super cool…until he saw the bodywork. He said, “We can do better than that,” and his business partner challenged him to prove it!

It took a team of four to design and build that first proof-of-concept using rapid prototyping. They called it “Ronin,” after a samurai who’s lost his master, which is a poetic appellation for all those remarkable Buells left adrift when the company went bust. With such a name it followed that, like the Japanese tale “Chūshingura,” they had to build 47. The idea for production was tabled for two years, as the original prototype had to be re-engineered for actual manufacture, not 3D printing; it then took another two years to make new Ronin models and molds. It was a different team that brought the Ronin to a production-ready state, and all agreed “not to make it about the guys,” although it took six designer/fabricators and several subcontractors to make the bike a reality. “We built a team, and wanted the story to be about the bike, with our group in the background, so nobody knew who or how many we were. We chose to do PR that way, thinking it would be fun…” said nobody in particular.

Then the Ronin was subjected to the the ultimate test: the Pike’s Peak Hillclimb, the most kickass-dangerous race in the USA. In 2015 they used an EBR 1190RX engine, and set about “adding lightness” to every part. The resulting racer, christened “Ōishi Yoshio” (the leader of t he 47 Ronin), has one-off machined aluminum forks, nacelle, and handlebars, Brembo racing brakes, and carbon fiber wheels and bodywork. The bike weighs only 405lbs – 55lbs less than the roadster – and the engine puts out 185hp. The paint was inspired by the ‘80s anime Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, and Pike’s Peak veteran Travis Newbold was asked to race it. “Ōishi Yoshio” lived again, and the Ronin beat every other bike but a factory-backed Honda CBR 1000RR, a simply remarkable accomplishment from a micro-manufacturer with a radical chassis.

“Ōishi Yoshio” was featured on BikeEXIF and Jalopnik.

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