Choppers are over and cafe racers are on their way out. We're seeing more tracker/scrambler-style bikes, but they still harken back to a bygone era that's more fashion than function. Icon isn't having it, and its latest pair of customs are pointing a way forward.
Naturally, the New Jack and Old Ghost are built to promote the latest additions to Icon's 1000 line of gear, but that's not a bad thing. Icon's been using its sub-brand as an excuse to put out a string of smart, imaginative customs that blend style, function, and a sick sense of humor. And for its latest builds, it picked a pair of '80s poster children to get ridiculous with.
The New Jack is based on an '82 Suzuki Katana. At the time, it was the world's fastest production motorcycle, with wind-tunnel honed bodywork and a 1,074cc engine. Between the performance and name recognition, it was enough keep the Katana alive well into the mid-2000s, and you can find them for a song today.
For the build, Icon didn't mess with the fairings, keeping the angular 80s style, complete with its hard edged overbite. But the radiator mounted in the square headlight surround hints at the engine work underneath.
The stock mill was swapped out for the 1,200cc four from a Bandit, boosting power, and requiring some frame retrofits using 1/4-inch plating.
The original swingarm was swapped for a more modern Katana piece, while the brakes were upgraded top to bottom and the suspension was brought up to modern standards with new internals.
The Old Ghost is the yin to the Katana's yang, an '84 Kawasaki GPZ900R that flirted in the same circles and kicked ass on track – namely the Isle of Man. This is the bike that made Ninja a household name, but a few years later it was outgunned by a new crop of superbikes, including the first of the GSXRs.
Nowadays, the GPZ900R is the kind of thing you find on Craigslist for less than a grand, missing its carbs, its pink slip, and its dignity. That made it a perfect candidate for the Icon build, starting with an engine overhaul, including a Wiseco big bore kit, along with K&N filters, an oil-cooler, and Racefit pipe.
The swingarm was swapped with a Roaring Toyz unit, while an Öhlins rear shock keeps things planted out back. EBC rotors were fitted at each end, and Icon says a pair of "bespoke billet" wheels are included, but doesn't say from where.
But the highlight of the Old Ghost is the custom LCD screen that takes the place of the gauges and comes packed with graphics to match its 80s origins.
Sure, Icon's aesthetic isn't for everyone, but that's the point. Bucking the big trends is a massive breath of fresh air in a stale custom world that's getting more me-too by the day, and if it means more freaks like these – and videos like this – we're on board.