Story: Martin Becker
Images Courtesy of MB Cycles
Our goal here on this site is to truly never do anything “by the book”. Whatever works.. works! So here is a feature of not only a beautiful machine, but a look into the mind of the man behind the madness…enjoy -RC
In a German city, well-known for its precision mechanical engineering, lies a top-class custom bike builder….
MB Cycles Heidelberg is well known across Europe for it’s top class custom builds but who it the
driving force behind the name?
Martn Becker is not one to talk up his past successes but afer a few glasses of wine ofered
some insight to his somewhat chequered past – and where he sees himself headed in the
He explains: “I grew up in a small town in Germany. My dad died when I was seven years old.
My mother was heartbroken and not at her best healthwise so I was prety much on my own
from an early age with an elder brother which meant a few crashed bikes and cars, some litle
explosions and other stories I’d rather not get into right now!”
Inspired by the lads around him and his brother who already wrenched and rode motorcycles,
Martn started customizing bicycles as a kid then at age 13 he got his frst moped. “It was a gif
and since I didn’t have the cash for petrol, I made it run on turpentne or other fammable
liquids,” he says.
When he was 16 Martn scored an apprentceship as a motorbike mechanic which he broke of six months later ????WHY QUIT THE BIKE OB???? (because im not intersted in working anything this tme….it feels like a waste of tme, instead completed an apprentceship as a carpenter?? WHY CHOOSE THIS????…. not because I want to be a carpenter,it was more that I have to to anything …my masterpiece at the end of the apprentceship was a cofn in my measurements to use as a closet Being qualifed, and in full-tme work allowed him to buy an XT500 which of course he pimped ??? DETAILS????….nothing special ..short reartail,loud
pipes,extrem lowering the whole bike but then somehow lost track with bikes for a while, opted out of military service ???WHY???….i didnt want to go to the army… horrible to imagine standing up at 5 o.clock in the morning and do the whole day what an Idiot with an poor cap tell me but did the community service opton and, when that was done, bought an old
Mercedes postal bus and lived a hippie-goa life working on Christmas markets for a couple of weeks every winter to earn money for trips to India, Burma, Nepal and Thailand.
“I’d sleep on the foor of trains next to stnking toilets for nights on end to travel these
countries. I was robbed by contentous apes in India, saw dead bodies in the streets and rivers of Calcuta, experienced the poverty of these countries and their impact on human life. But I also enjoyed breathtaking beaches, wild partes and a life without obligatons in a clay hut
during sunset. I rode through southern India for weeks on a rented 500ccm Bullet…from Goa to Hampi, from Hampi to Puna.
“On my last trip to Rajasthan/Pushkar I met some locals with surprisingly cool custom bikes and since the Britsh brand had just been taken over a few years earlier, most of them were of course Royal Enfelds. I bought two 500cc Bullets, rebuilt them with the help of some Indians
and imported them to Germany where the agency of employment was already knocking on my door!”
Back home, he announced that he would like to start his own business as a motorcycle dealer. For the frst six months he rented a small garage and worked on mostly Japanese motorcycles. Then he moved into an old freight yard where he hardly was able to aford the rent of 100 bucks a month. The frst years he repaired delivery scooters and distributed party fyers to earn
some extra bucks ??NOT SURE WHAT PARTY FLYERS ARE???. ..the Flyers where for all Partys and events in the Whole Area of Heidelberg ,Frankfurt ,Stutgart etc.
Then, step by step, clients came in so Martn was at last able to live from hand to mouth. “In 2007 the German magazine ‘Custombike’ got interested in my work and what was known at the tme as B-Bikes turned into MB Cycles and my workshop – and workload – grew in size over
the next few years
Since 2001 I’ve worked from scratching pennies to being able to aford a decent life by building custom bikes. “I like variety so it’s choppers, racers, bobbers…whatever! Some of my bikes are hard to defne. I don’t want to customize them to death…they just get this very indefnable and recognizable look that makes you wanna race the shit out of them!
“My hobbyhorse are V-twins ???WHAT IS IT HE LIKES ABOUT THEM COMPARED TO OTHER BIKE???…the whole Bad Boy image Harley had when I started to love them,The Sound,the unperfecton, the “King of the Road” Feeling you have on it, mostly with original rigid frames.
Why? It’s simple and nothing new that the restrictons in Germany are getng worse year by
year and old Harleys, or those with afermarket frames like Santee or VG, allow me to build
bikes with a certain amount of freedom.”
Bike Cliff Notes!
Sirko the owner of the “Flaming Star“ Panhead bought allready three MB
Cycles. This one is the fourthed and number five allready is in Planing. The first time we meet was when i had the „Great Kärcher Machine“for sale. Sirko came from the other side of the country into my shop to see what is going on there. From the first seeing it was a great realition and we become friends. He took the Great Kärcher Machine directly with him and bought also „The
Harvester“ Evo Hardtail Chopper. After a while he brought his Road King in my Shop to selling it. After 3 weeks the bike was sold and we start the „Flaming Star“ Panhead. For his Wife Ulrike this time it was important to get a bike with two seats. Ok it s not easy to build a two seat bike which is still looking cool.
But i think we make a good solution. The Next Bike allready is in the make. I will get a fully engraved Alumimium Gastank and have to build the Bike arround it. ….why not.
This Time it will be a real skinny Softail.