“I like art,” says Vlad Belyakov, founder of Box39, a custom motorcycle workshop in Moscow about 15 minutes north of the Kremlin.
It is no surprise that the striking “Guido is all about form, and only form,” according to Belyakov. The Russian electric-powered custom motorcycle is inspired by the Rolls-Royce 103EX concept car and named after 17th-century Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni.
“I was inspired by the front fender of RR 103EX since I saw the first sketch,” Belyakov relates. “I think this is amazing when you can’t understand how it works just because it is fully covered. After this, I made a decision to use this idea in a motorcycle.”
Guido’s raison d’être is to showcase the capabilities of Haas milling machines. “Originally, Guido was made for the Abamet company, the biggest Haas distribution company in east Europe. We want to show what you can create and build using Haas machinery. We have an inventory of three Haas UMC-1000 5-axis milling machines.”
The Haas mills, priced at $200k each, are typically working overtime on Box39’s staggeringly complex wheels and swingarms, which are sold in the United States by Ft. Lauderdale’s Henne Co. The front wheel of Guido, which is 30 inches in diameter, took 200 machine hours to manufacture. The tolerance between the wheel and the bodywork is about an eighth of an inch.
Oh, yes, the bodywork.
“The full aluminum body was built by hand in about four months,” Belyakov tells us. Inside, there is a custom girder suspension assembly.
Despite Belyakov’s protestations that Guido is only about form, the motorcycle can be ridden. There is a 17-inch rear wheel hiding under the bodywork, and it is driven by a battery-powered electric motor. “It wasn’t so difficult,” Belyakov admits, “because there is plenty of room under the body. We didn’t use big batteries.” Regardless, Belyakov allows that making Guido operatable was the most difficult part of the project. “But we did it,” he says proudly.
Yet, with all of the fantastic machining magic and aluminum bodywork formed by hand, Belyakov’s favorite part of Guido is something you might overlook—the headlight.
Belyakov’s motorcycling career started as a youngster drawing a custom Ural he saw on a magazine cover. The famous three-wheel brand also got him started riding motorcycles. “I remember that ride,” he says. “It was in the country. Urals are everywhere in Russia. This was a ridiculous experience—no suspension, no brakes, literally nothing.”
His first motorcycle was a 1998 Honda Steed—a 398cc V-twin cruiser that is very much like the Shadow series in the United States. Belyakov turned it into “a bobber painted in an awful white-blue color,” he recalls. “It was our first try.”
Inspired by television shows about motorcycles and cars, Belyakov started Box39 in 2011. Now, he and Box39 are popular in Russia thanks to custom Harley-Davidson builds featuring Hass-milled parts that are now available to the public.
Stan Pavlov of Henne is the man behind bringing Box39’s handiwork to the United States.
“Most of my life, I was involved in hot rodding,” Pavlov says, “even Bonneville racing—my big passion. Many times, I tried to run away from the automotive business, but after six or seven months, again, I have wrenches in my hands. About six years ago, I tried the motorcycle world and created one famous bike, though I can’t provide you this information because of non-disclosure. I will say only that one of these bikes was first in Pebble Beach.”
“But after four years in a row of metal shaping,” Pavlov continues, “I made a decision to leave a company and open my own small place with my old friend Mario, a very talented painter—but he doesn’t like to hear this. I’m very interested in new technologies such as CNC, but I need to learn, learn, and learn, and Box39 was the answer for me.”
“Vlad and I were working with the same people and to meet each other it was just a matter of time,” Pavlov says. “We had a dream with Vlad about a year ago that his company would come to the USA. I believe in his talent, but most I believe in his team. I know how it’s hard to manage a team full of talents. I know that his company is a real family and, for sure, I think that the future of motorcycle customization is machines. Maybe people still dream about traditional customization using a hammer, screwdriver, and bunch of swear words, but these days are passing. New wave—new school. Computers won.”
Henne sells finished custom motorcycles using Box39 parts—Piombo (based on the latest Harley-Davidson Breakout) and Giotto (using a 2014 or later V-Rod/Night Rod chassis). Enterprising owners of these models can also purchase kits and do their own builds. However, that’s another story for another time. Perhaps we will find an owner in Los Angeles and take a ride.
In the meantime, we will pass on taking a spin on the Box39 Guido and simply marvel at its simplicity.
Box39 Guido studio photography by Alexey Sulima
Box39 Guido Photo Gallery