Something that’s awesome about art pieces is that they don’t have to be static objects to forever hang on a wall, put into a case, or store on a hard drive. Some of the coolest art is both striking to observe but also functional. The piece of stunning art above is a real electric motorcycle with a battery and a motor. Though, it’s one you can’t ride on the street. This is the Box39 Guido, a fantastic one-off aluminum motorcycle named after a 17th-century painter. Even better, you can buy the Guido, so long as you have at least $90,000 burning a hole in your pocket.
The creator of this wonderful piece of art is Vlad Belyakov, the founder of Moscow-based custom motorcycle shop Box39. The Guido was partly a design inspired by a concept car and partly a technical showcase of what a Haas Automation 5-Axis Mill can do. This motorcycle is set to fall under the RM Sotheby’s hammer during the ModaMiami auction happening at the Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables on March 1 and March 2. You have just under a month to scrape up enough pennies and you’ll need at least 9 million of them because this bike is set to sell for between $90,000 to $150,000.
If you have that kind of cash or enough friends who want partial ownership, you’ll be getting a one-off bike that would likely be the talk of the town.
Vlad Belyakov has been a motorcycle nut for most of his life. When he was a kid, Belyakov drew custom Ural sidecars that he saw on the covers of magazines. Later, Belyakov took his first-ever motorcycle ride aboard one of those Urals. In an interview with Ultimate Motorcycling, Belyakov described his first ride on a Ural as “ridiculous.” Apparently, the sidecar rig didn’t have a suspension or any brakes. That’s hardcore.
Belyakov’s first motorcycle was a 1998 Honda Steed, a 398cc 30 HP V-twin-powered small metric cruiser designed to look like a classic American cruiser. That motorcycle would become Belyakov’s first custom, too, when he turned it into a bobber. Recalling that bike, Belyakov thinks the white and blue color scheme he chose was awful, but he never gave up.
In 2011, Belyakov opened up Box39 in Moscow and since then, Belyakov and his team have been customizing Harley-Davidsons. Box39 specializes in creating custom parts using three Haas Automation 5-Axis Mills. Ellison Technologies, a 5-axis machine provider, explains what the big deal is:
A 5-axis CNC machine is a particular kind of CNC machine that has the capacity to move a workpiece or cutting tool along five distinct axes at once. These machines are frequently used in sectors like aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturing that call for intricate and exact machining. A maker can produce intricate parts and components with high precision and accuracy using a 5-axis CNC machine.
The ability of 5-axis CNC machines to machine complicated shapes and geometries in a single setup is one of their main benefits. X, Y, and Z are the only three linear axes that traditional three-axis CNC machines can move along, making it challenging to produce complex shapes without numerous setups. A 5-axis CNC machine provides for more freedom and flexibility in machining because the cutting tool can move along two extra rotational axes (A and B). As a result, setup periods can be shortened, accuracy can be improved, and productivity can rise. Further increasing efficiency and lowering costs, 5-axis CNC machines frequently perform multiple tasks in a single setup.
Said another way, a traditional 3-axis CNC machine moves left to right on the X-axis, forward and back on the Y-axis, and up and down on the Z-axis. A 5-axis machine adds two more axes, tilt and rotation. Benefits include the ability to make more complex parts and make them faster using fewer machines.
Belyakov employs three Haas UMC-1000 5-axis milling machines, rigs that cost $200,000 or more each depending on where you get them. Box39 uses these machines to create single-piece wheels, swingarms, and other parts for custom motorcycle builds.
The Box39 Guido
As the story goes, Belyakov and Box39 were approached by Abamet, an Eastern European distributor of Haas Automation, to create a motorcycle for the 2018 World Customization Championship that showcased the abilities of the Haas UMC-1000.
Belyakov had a major inspiration for the project from the automotive world. In 2016, Rolls-Royce unveiled the futuristic 103EX concept, a lavish exercise into what a gigantic 19.4-foot Roller might look like in the not-too-distant future.
For Belyakov, the part of the Rolls-Royce 103EX concept that stuck out the most were the covered fenders, from Ultimate Motorcycling: “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.”
Belyakov’s creation would be as impressive as the Rolls-Royce, if not even more so. Box39’s crew fired up the Haas machines and after countless hours of work, they milled out a custom frame, swingarm, and girder-type front suspension out of aluminum. Also created in the machines is the Guido’s 17-inch rear wheel and 30-inch front wheel. The Box39 team says the front wheel took 200 hours of machining time.
That pales in comparison to the hand-formed aluminum body, which took four months to form into the beautiful shape you see on your screen. As another showcase of Belyakov’s handiwork, the tolerance between that front wheel and the bodywork is just one-eighth of an inch. As for the name, the Guido gets its name from the 17th-century Italian Baroque painter Guido Reni.
Now, Belyakov could have just stopped with making a piece of art, but he also wanted to make it functional. Belyakov added lithium batteries into the cavity under the body and an electric motor to power the rear wheel. Despite appearances, the Box39 team also added controls to the minimalistic handlebar. So, this motorcycle can be ridden, sort of. When you straddle the machine, it’ll scan your fingerprint before adjusting its suspension to your body.
However, Box39 notes that the Guido is not currently road-legal, and riding it comes with a couple of big caveats. The front wheel doesn’t turn much and the “speed/range are not suitable for public use.” Unfortunately, Box39 did not elaborate any further. Does “not suitable for public use” mean this is as slow as a Honda Motocompacto? Maybe it’s about as useful as a golf cart? Sadly, Box39 doesn’t provide any specs for the drivetrain.
Stan Pavlov of Henne Co., a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based dealer of Box39 parts and custom motorcycles finished with Box39 parts, acquired the motorcycle to showcase Belyakov’s work. After showcasing it for about a year, Henne Co. put the bike up for auction in 2021.
It’s unclear who owns the Guido now, but the bike has not ventured out of Florida. As I noted above, the Guido will roll across the RM Sotheby’s ModaMiami auction happening on March 1 and March 2 at the Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables. It’s being sold without reserve and when the hammer drops, the expected price range is between $90,000 and $150,000.
That’s a ton of money to spend on a motorcycle you can’t legally ride, but people have spent more on art. I’d also love to see someone upgrade the bits underneath to make it a real legal bike. Just imagine the Guido passing you on the highway! Most likely, the Guido will end up hidden away in a collection somewhere. At the very least, it’s always awesome to see this level of creativity put into metal.
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