Perhaps never before has the auto and motorcycling world collided in such a controversial fashion. Barend Massow Hemmes of M-Cycles is an artist as well as a motorcyclist, though not a traditional custom builder. The Leaper (aka Night Shadow) began its conceptual life as a marketing tool for Jaguar, but lived to forge its own path.
With the consent of Jaguar Cars Limited, and the help of two former dealers who provided Hemmes with Jaguar mascots, Hemmes has created the ultimate in animamorphic motorcycles. With a Buell Thunderbolt as a basis-and Polar Cycles in Doncaster, UK as a constructor-The Leaper is a custom motorcycle like no other.
A three-year project, Hemmes tells us that, "initially, the body was to be made from copper and then chromed." However, this proved impractical. In its stead, traditional fiberglass was employed, which "aided in keeping some of the weight off," according to Hemmes.
While the audacity of the bodywork is undoubtedly the star attraction, the lighting on The Leaper adds crucial accents.
"The mouth and eye section was removed and fitted with original features that I feel now complete The Leaper," Hemmes says. "The underbelly and eyes are illuminated by colored LEDs; these can be static or have a changing sequence. With the headlamp placed in the mouth, the bodywork was then finished in polished black lacquer."
Not purely a show bike, Hemmes has taken The Leaper to the streets. "The bike is road legal and roadworthy," he says. "I designed it around myself to ride, so you must be six-foot-plus to ride this bike. The riding position of this bike is more of a drag racing position.
The original idea was for the rider to be at one with the bike. With respect to speed, I have to date reached a speed of 65 mph, but, as this is more of an art piece designed for cruising, I am not prepared to push it."
Although Hemmes is not prepared to push it on the road, no one can argue that The Leaper does not press the limits of the motorcycle aesthetic.
Photography By Jan Letocha