Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - oldem­pire­mo­tor­cy­cles.com

Old Em­pire Mo­tor­cy­cles were founded by Alec Sharp and Rafe Pugh, about four years ago as a be­spoke cus­tom builder with the in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing a hand­ful of one-off ma­chines an­nu­ally to the very high­est stan­dards.

Op­er­at­ing out of an im­pres­sive yet charm­ingly rus­tic work­shop/ of­fice build­ing in a con­verted barn in the glo­ri­ous Bri­tish coun­try­side near Diss, Nor­folk, its de­sign themes, as its name sug­gests, are Great Bri­tish au­to­mo­tive, aero­nau­tic and mar­itime his­tory. Think: Su­per­ma­rine Spit­fire, 1930s Bent­leys, Brooks bi­cy­cle sad­dles, brown leather and hand-turned brass fit­tings with a dash of steam punk thrown in and you’ll start to get the idea. On top of that, the aim is to de­sign and cre­ate as many of their com­po­nents as pos­si­ble in Bri­tain – ei­ther on site or through an ex­ten­sive net­work of crafts­men.

The re­sult­ing ma­chines have so far have proved both un­like any other and im­pres­sively suc­cess­ful – enough to start earn­ing com­mis­sions from the likes of Tri­umph. To date, around 15 bikes have been com­pleted, rang­ing from the Royal En­field-based ‘Pup’, to the Kawasaki W650-de­rived ‘Mer­lin’, to the Du­cati Ss-pow­ered ‘Ty­phoon’ (and, yes, there is a de­lib­er­ately Bri­tish air­craft theme to the bikes’ names so the lat­ter is more Hawker than Eurofighter). Most have been fea­tured in mag­a­zines and on web­sites around the world; many have been award win­ners in their own right.

In ad­di­tion to bikes (which, with prices start­ing at well over £20K are not within reach of ev­ery­body), OEM also cre­ate and sell, via their slick web­site, a range of not just cloth­ing but also smaller, in­di­vid­ual cus­tom items, such as their leather grips and brass fuel caps which, start­ing at just over £ 100, are far more ac­ces­si­ble to most.

Sharp (right) and Pugh are build­ing their own very spe­cial lit­tle em­pire

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