The English Bulldog is popularly used to represent England or the United Kingdom. And this motorcycle named Bulldog s quite representative of the work of north Suffolk, UK based Old Empire Motorcycles. A custom, like their other creations, not born to conform and follow a specific and unique school of thoughts and design, but instead marrying several influences on the same chassis. In this case, adding some sport bike touches to retro classic bobber styling. Not easy when your canvas is a 1998 Yamaha Virago VX 535, a donor bike chosen only because it has been languishing too long in a corner of the shop.
For what is now his 7th creation, 25-year old Alec Sharp took inspiration from a real Bulldog – not the dog – but a famous 1920’s British Royal Air Force single-seat biplane fighter. The idea was to express the same stocky but strong appearance. We all know that with unlimited time and money one can turn everything in anything. But Old Empire Motorcycles is still a young small shop without the luxury of no deadline and of no budget limit. So, when you fire the cutting disc you better off be right at the your 1st try. And it’s where is the merit of this bike. Done fast, right, turning an un-loved stock motorcycle into something many of you would love to keep in their garage for trips around town and weekend blasts.
On this stock Virago all the workings of the bike, that is the fuel pump, filters, electrics etc are all mounted underneath the seat. They were relocated into a dummy retro Japanese sports bike tank of unknown origin replacing the factory ugly ‘mustang’ type tank mounted on the backbone. Monotony of the top tank was broken by making indents covered with fine mesh, a theme extended to the cowling surrounding the twin headlights. The riding position of A Virago 535 is feet forward with the controls mounted on what are effectively crash bars mounted onto the engine,. Sharp thought that they actually look quite good and left them alone, instead reworking the rear end, lowering it and installing a set of dummy mini shocks that are simply solid struts chromed, partly painted to mimic the beefy USD front end. Both 16’ wheels were re-laced and wrapped in Avon SM MK2 tires. To compliment the chunky look and stance of the bike, beefy 2.5” stainless pipes were fabricated at the shop. Nice leather touches include the fuel tank covers, the side panels and all the grips and pegs bound in hand tooled leather. Paint job is the work of Black Shuck Kustoms.