R100XE: The BMW R80G/S evolution we deserve

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
The BMW R80G/S created a new genre of motorcycling when it first appeared, and is considered an icon today. The ‘GS’ designation is still a staple of BMW’s range, but it’s evolved a lot since 1980—both technologically and visually. By 1987, the R100GS already had a very different vibe to its predecessor, and the modern GS machines carry almost none of the original’s DNA.

Robert Sabel of Roughchild Motorcycles in California wonders what a modern G/S would look like if that wasn’t the case. What if the R80G/S got better… but still looked the same? That was the inspiration behind his latest project—a bike he’s dubbed the ‘R100XE.’

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Based in downtown LA, Robert leads a team of four that only works on BMWs, and specializes in classic airheads. Their client on this project was the CEO of a publicly traded tech company who has a deep love for the brand.

“He used to work in a motorcycle shop as a kid and lusted after a Singer-style BMW airhead,” explains Robert. “He currently owns the new R1250GS and an R100GS Paris Dakar. He’s experienced the woes of buying a used bike and difficulties of keeping it on the road. This bike had to be top shelf, safe and reliable, with room to stick his wife on the back.”

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
“The goal was a ‘continuation’ model of the R80G/S: What if BMW manufactured that bike today? He left all of the design decisions to me—even allowing me to choose the color.”

To the untrained eye, the R100XE looks like a lightly fettled R80G/S with a black paint job. But it’s actually one heck of a sleeper. For starters, it’s not an R80G/S at all… Robert and his team actually started with a 1993 BMW R100R—picked for its stronger motor, and newer mono-shock Paralever swingarm design.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Finding the parts to dress it up like an R80G/S wasn’t hard. Roughchild have been operating in LA for eleven years now, and they had all the necessary parts sitting on their shelves. So the fuel tank, headlight nacelle and front fender are all OEM R80G/S parts.

The subframe’s an R80G/S part too, but it’s been modified to suit the R100R’s main frame. Up top is a custom seat, made to look like the original, but slightly shorter. The rear fender consists of an Acerbis unit, blended with the stock rear fender to offer full coverage.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Roughchild also gave the boxer motor a kick in the pants. It’s been rebuilt and treated to a twin-spark conversion, with a Silent Hektik ignition system.

It’s also now sporting Mikuni VM34 carbs with Uni pod filters, and a brushed stainless steel exhaust from Staintune. There’s a custom sump guard mounted to the stock R100R oil pan, and a nifty lockbox hand-made to sit on top of the transmission.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Next, the BMW needed appropriate running gear. Up front are the forks and brakes from a 2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200XE. The adjustable Showa forks were rebuilt to the same length as the factory R80G/S forks, and are held by a set of custom triple trees (from Cognito Moto) that also hold the headlight housing.

The Triumph’s Brembo radial calipers are hooked up to custom stainless brake lines, linked to a brass Y-piece connector. That connector actually comes from a 1966 Porsche 911, and includes a pressure-operated brake light switch. An R80G/S master cylinder does duty on the control side.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Out back is an Öhlins shock with an external reservoir. The wheels are a combination of BMW hubs, stainless steel spokes, and Akront rims in period correct G/S sizes; 21” in front, 17” out back. Aggressive Continental TKC80 tires offer the right balance of on- and off-road grip.

There’s nothing Roughchild didn’t update on this airhead. That classic headlight bucket houses a modern LED light up front, and a GPS speedo from Speedhut, with a custom face, up top. There are also ‘telltale’ LEDs from Kat Dash, Renthal handlebars, and Barkbuster Jet hand guards with integrated led turn signals.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
The switches are OEM R80G/S items, rewired to work with Motogadget’s mo.unit blue—a Bluetooth-enabled control unit around which the whole bike is wired. It now runs with a Shorai Lithium-ion battery (stashed under the tank), and a keyless ignition.

Finishing touches include a license plate light and rear turn signals from Rizoma, burly off-road foot pegs and factory R80G/S mirrors. There’s also a Unit Garage canvas saddlebag, attached to a mounting system from KlickFix. And since practicality was high on the list, this G/S has a center stand and crash bars, too.

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor
Robert opted to wrap his client’s build in Jeep’s terrific Rhino Gray color, with a bunch of parts redone in black. It turned out to be a good call, because his client actually has a Rhino Gray Jeep.

By drawing on experience, and mixing together the right parts in the right way, Robert and his crew have built a rugged, good looking and, most importantly, capable classic boxer. Simple and purposeful, the R100XE is a great ‘what if’—an exercise in alternative BMW history, if you will.

Roughchild Motorcycles | Facebook | Instagram | Images by (and with special thanks to) John Ryan Hebert

A custom BMW R80G/S built with a R100 donor

Speed Read, 29 November 2020

The latest motorcycle news and customs
An oddball selection this week, with a Ducati x Lamborghini limited edition, an electrified Kawasaki G3, a Super73 e-bike given the BMX treatment by ICON, and a range of pet toys from … Indian Motorcycle. Let’s start with the most conventional news, which is the release of the new Honda Rebel 1100 cruiser.

The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100
Honda Rebel 1100 The rumor mill has been in overdrive about this bike for a while, and it’s finally broken cover. The biggest ever Rebel uses a modified version of the current liquid-cooled Africa Twin engine, and if you hate gearchanging, you can specify it with a DCT transmission rather than a conventional six speed ‘box.

The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100
On paper it, looks good. Curb weight is a reasonable 487 pounds (220 kilos) and the seat height is just 27.5 inches. Power output is a hefty 87 horses, cruise control is standard, and the price is a remarkable $9,299 for the six-speed manual. That’s $700 less than the Harley Sportster Iron 1200 and over $3,000 less than the ABS version of the Indian Scout.

The downside to the bargain? The styling doesn’t fit the established American cruiser genre, and that’s going to put some buyers off.

The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100
Honda knows it too: “Since the Rebel 1100 out performs just about any cruiser, we didn’t fall into the trap of just making it look like grandpa’s sled either. Forget the chrome-and-fringe bling: this Rebel is a whole new take on how a cruiser should look.”

It’s a brave move from Honda. The new Rebel will almost certainly be great to ride, and it’ll have Honda reliability as standard too. But will that be enough to convert image-focused Harley and Indian buyers? We’ll be following this one with interest. [Rebel 1100 product page]

Electric Kawasaki G3
Aaron Laniosz’s electric Kawasaki G3 A year ago, an electric Honda S90 conversion by Aaron Laniosz caught our eye. Built for less than $1,000, it won the global Deus Bike Build-Off competition.

Aaron didn’t rest on his laurels though. “As soon as I finished the S90, I was eager to start working on my second motorcycle,” he reports. “I wanted it to be much faster than the first. And it needed a similarly small frame, because I would be working again in my studio apartment!”

Electric Kawasaki G3
Aaron spooted a 1974 Kawasaki G3 going for $300 on Craigslist for $300, with brand new tires and tubes. He stripped the tank down to bare metal, cut down the rear fender, mounted a pair of Krator handlebars, and fabricated a custom cowl. The foot pegs are also mounted further back on the swingarm, to stretch the riding position.

The brushless DC electric motor is a Chinese-made QS138 with 3000W, widely available for around $500. The programmable Votol EM-150s controller can plug into a computer, to adjust settings such as throttle response—a big step up from the Honda in both power and sophistication.

Electric Kawasaki G3
“The programmable controller gives the bike the feeling of a hod rod,” says Aaron, but the original drum brakes and suspension are a weak link. “Any any speed over 50mph a thrilling feat!”

The 72V, 21Ah battery supplies just enough power for a spirited 25-mile trip, but that might change as Aaron develops the bike further. “It’ll continue to evolve as long as I own it,” he says, “an unfinished hot rod, in contrast to polished and perfect electric motorcycle projects.” Follow Aaron’s progress on his Instagram page.

Indian Motorcycle dog accessories
Treat your pets with Indian motorcycle gifts We see some odd stuff in our inbox, but this one takes the [dog] biscuit. Indian has just released a range of canine-related gifts including bandanas, collars and leashes, plus playtime toys and a feeding bowl set.

Indian motorcycle t-shirt for dogs
There’s even a T-shirt, that staple of the moto industry. Indian has helpfully provided a detailed sizing guide to ensure that your mutt enjoys a flattering fit.

Indian Motorcycle dog accessories
The most creative item in the range is a Pull Toy: a rope attached to a rubber Indian ‘tank’ that has little holes in it for hiding pet treats. Looks like Indian’s commitment to shaking up the American v-twin market knows no bounds.

Ducati Diavel 1260 Lamborghini
Ducati Diavel 1260 Lamborghini In a week that finally saw the death of the mighty Yamaha V-Max, Ducati has just extended its power cruiser range. It announced a 630-unit limited edition Diavel, which will be sold for $31,995 in the US. The Diavel 1260 Lamborghini is a homage to the new Lamborghini Siàn FKP 37 supercar, itself a limited edition that will be available in only 63 units.

Ducati Diavel 1260 Lamborghini
The hybrid FKP 37 is the most powerful Lamborghini ever produced, with 819 hp on tap, but the mods to the Diavel are mostly cosmetic. The bodywork and air intake on the Diavel have been tweaked to mimic the Lamborghini’s lines, the vehicles are finished in the same paint, and the wheels of both machines share styling cues too.

Ducati Diavel 1260 Lamborghini
The two brands are both based in the Emilia-Romagna region, but the connection goes deeper in the financial sense because both are ultimately owned by Audi (and therefore VW).

Ducati Diavel 1260 Lamborghini
Every few years, rumors fly about Audi jettisoning its Italian companies, and VW has recently hinted that the group might restructure its Italian subsidiaries. The obvious reason for that would be to spin them off. Which leaves us wondering if the Ducati/ Lamborghini hookup is a way to showcase the synchonicity between the two brands…

Custom SUPER73-S1 by ICON Motosports
Super73-S1 by ICON Motosports The SoCal brand Super73 has sent a jolt through the electric bike scene. Since 2016, they’ve been making rugged little urban cruisers with a range of up to 75 miles and a top speed of up to 28 mph.

The bikes are inspired by the small motorcycles that were popular with West Coast bike builders in the 1970s, and Super73 now has an additional link to the mainstream moto scene: they’ve hooked up with our friends at ICON for a one-off called ‘Chromo Steezy.’

Custom SUPER73-S1 by ICON Motosports
The ICON-modified bike is an S1 model, which means it has a removable 768 watt-hour battery, an LED headlight and brake light, and a rear cargo rack. The design is so minimalist, it’s hard to believe it’s not a vintage pushbike rehash.

The Portland crew have given it an 80s-inspired BMW treatment that goes beyond paint and powdercoating. They’ve moved the BB shell back about three inches, fabricated new head tube and fork dropout gussets, and installed a ‘seat tube.’ The grips are from ODI and the rubber is from Vee Tire Co.

Custom SUPER73-S1 by ICON Motosports
“It’s the feeling of a smooth summertime ride and a fully charged battery,” the ICON guys report. They gave the bike to local rider Chester Blacksmith—watch as he takes us on a tour of Portland and hits all the spots required for a party rockin’ time.

A Riva for the Road: An Indian Scout sidecar from France

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
Few modes of transportation can rival the elegance of the wooden boats made by the renowned Italian company Riva. But what if you could capture that sophistication in a well-executed classic sidecar rig?

That’s exactly what the French sidecar specialists, Alternative Sidecar, have just done. Based in Ablon-sur-Seine (about ten miles from the Parisian city center), their latest build pairs a modern Indian Scout with a new version of one of their existing sidecar designs. Except this one’s been finished with luxurious leather and wood finishes.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
To pull it off, Alternative Sidecar roped in Jacques Jouvin of Atelier JAB—a carpenter that specializes in automotive work. Jacques has experience creating wooden trim for cars, motorcycles and sidecars, and has even built his own wooden Yamaha XS650 cafe racer.

With the team assembled, all that was left was to find a suitable donor. They settled on a current-model Indian Scout 1200, and sourced one from the Indian dealership in Valence.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
Alternative Sidecar hadn’t built a rig on a Scout until now—but luckily they’ve been building sidecars for modern classics for five years already. So they took their existing ‘Gran’Large’ design and reworked it to sit lower, and to match up with the Scout’s proportions.

Their proprietary attachment system doesn’t require any frame mods on the parent bike, which means that they can now offer this new ‘Gran’Sport’ unit as a kit.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
All of Alternative Sidecar’s rigs use frames and attachment arms made from MIG-welded steel pipe. They also use a ‘big wheel’ design with a swing arm and shock, for maximum comfort. This particular unit’s using a Hagon shock, plus a Brembo disc brake that’s linked to the bike’s rear brake pedal.

The bike itself has been fitted with stiffer fork springs, and a stronger set of rear shocks from Shock Factory to match.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
Other sidecar features include a 50-liter trunk, and a full complement of LED lighting. It’s also sporting a Brooklands-style windscreen, and a chrome grab handle and footrest. Alternative Sidecar have even built in a USB charge port, and there’s a cover for when you want to protect the interior.

But it’s that Riva-inspired wood trim that steals the show. Working with solid mahogany as a primary wood, and sycamore for stripe inlays, Jacques hand-shaped the floor and outer step, and added a stripe that runs down the front. He also made new armrests, and backings for a set of custom badges.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
But Jacques isn’t the only master craftsman that laid hands on this project. There’s a leather artisan near Alternative Sidecar’s HQ who specializes in car interiors; he handled the stunning burgundy leather upholstery.

The pin striping was laid down by Taka Hira—a well-respected striper in France with over 40 years experience. It sits on a green base with just a hint of flake, with gold tank logos that were hand-painted by Studio Kallico.

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim
From the color palette to the materials used, this elegant sidecar rig is so well judged it hurts. If we had a 1960s Riva Aquarama moored nearby, this is the bike we’d pick to ride down to it.

Alternative Sidecar Instagram

Indian Scout sidecar with wooden trim

 

Friday Inspiration, Vol. 262

A super-fun, short film bringing together drumming and running/scrambling in Boulder’s Flatirons, two things that Kyle Richardson excels at (OK, I guess that’s actually three things)(video)

I wish Helen Rosner had been able to turn this into a story, because the history of Chuck E. Cheese is full of some pretty wild shit

Runners or people doing holiday shopping for friends or family who might be runners: I had a bunch of I Love/Hate Running hats made, that you can actually wear while running, and they’re available now until we run out

“People keep asking me how I went from 143 followers to 150 in just 6 months.”

I am late to this site, but I am enjoying going down the rabbit hole of all the Unofficial Transit Maps people have created

This is a hell of an essay about carving a turkey, and about family, and growing up

New York Times online access is now free for high school students and teachers through September 1, 2021

If you want to help conserve public lands, here’s a quick petition you can sign (thanks, Sarah)

And hey:
These Friday Inspiration posts are able to continue thanks to the handful of wonderful people who support Semi-Rad on Patreon for as little as $2 a month. If you’d like to join them, click here for more info—you’ll also get access to the Patreon-only posts I write, as well as discounts to my shop and other free stuff.

—Brendan

The post Friday Inspiration, Vol. 262 appeared first on semi-rad.com.

Suka-Tune: A Yamaha TW200 From Deus Japan

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
The Japanese have a profound love for motorsport and craftsmanship. Linguistic and geographic isolation has fostered unique styles and trends over the years, from the over-the-top Bōsōzoku bikes of the 80s and 90s to the minimalistic brat builds popularized by Go Takamine.

But there’s another, lesser-known custom genre that permeated the Land of the Rising Sun during the 90s: the ‘Suka-Tune’ style.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
We’d never heard of it either. It takes its name from the Japanese word Sukeru—meaning ‘see-through’ or ‘transparent’—and Suka-Tune scoots were characterized by their stripped-down yet still functional nature. They borrowed traits from other genres to create utilitarian two-wheelers for the streets of Japan.

Though the genre’s popularity has declined over the last few decades, Tomoyuki Soeda, head wrench at Deus in Japan, has decided to return to the idiosyncratic and spartan street scramblers his latest one-off build.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
Called ‘Dirt Dauber,’ the project began its life as a 2002 Yamaha TW200—the undisputed platform of choice for ‘90s Suka-Tuners according to Soeda—before being stripped down to a rolling chassis.

In typical Suka-Tune fashion, the chassis, subframe, and just about everything else on the bike is on full display. The TW200 is devoid of any side panels, covers, or extraneous bodywork of any kind.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
In a bid to bolster handling, the Trail Way’s budget-friendly suspension setup has been swapped out for a high-performance arrangement. An inverted GSX-R front-end is slotted into one-off triples, and an adjustable mono-shock is mated to a swingarm that’s been stretched by nearly 4” (or 10cm).

The Gixxer’s upside-down fork also comes with upgraded stopping power in the form of Brembo brakes with a 40mm caliper.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
The most noteworthy addition to the big-wheeled single, however, is a new dual-subframe.

The bespoke framework includes a short subframe supporting the rider, while under/behind it is a custom trellis-style unit bolted onto the main chassis. This provides extra structural integrity to accommodate two-up travel.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
Both sections of the frame have been topped with a one-off seat made from a combination of smooth and distressed vintage leathers, with red accent stitching and brown piping.

Below the main seat is a discreetly hidden, wedge-shaped electronics box. Beneath the pillion is an Italian-made under-tail superbike muffler from GPR Exhausts. Though it follows a similar path to the stock component, the header on this TW200 is actually a custom part, and at the intake end is an FCR carb.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
A trellis-style wraparound license-plate holder complements the trellis subframe, and the extended swing-arm has been equipped with a pair of industrial looking folding passenger foot-pegs.

The 196cc Japanese dual-sport has also been treated to an new cockpit. Gone are the stock handlebars, with a high-and-wide item off a 1960s CB450 now mounted on a set of risers before being outfitted with vintage-style switchgear and rubber grips. Motogadget m.blaze indicators poke out from both bar ends.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
A simple tachometer now provides the Yamaha’s sole instrumentation, and there’s a single round mirror fixed to the right side of the bars to keep everything street legal.

The stocker’s small MX-style fuel cell was jettisoned in favor of a vintage item plucked off of a 1970s Yamaha trail bike donor, injecting some old-school flavor into an otherwise modern interpretation of a Suka-Tune build.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
The vibe is further helped along by the addition of a classic round headlight with a yellow lens and an antique circular taillight. Tomoyuki also opted to maintain certain stock aspects of the build that happen to jive well with the rest of the custom work, with the TW200’s punched-out skid-plate and ultra-chunky Bridgestone Trail Wing rubber remaining in play.

The final piece of the puzzle was figuring out the livery. Looking for a way to subtly pay homage to early TW200 models, Soeda selected a deep royal blue livery juxtaposed by a bright orange ‘Deus’ script logo.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
This contemporary re-imagining of the TW’s 1989 paint also includes a matching blue passenger subframe. The rest of the bike sports a combination of gloss and matte black components, plus a dash of bare metal—from the muffler, fork lowers, spokes, and cooling fins.

As the custom motorcycle world expands, it’s become increasingly difficult to build something that stands out as unique. But Soeda and his team have managed to do exactly that—and in spades.

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the Suka-Tune style by Deus Japan
Like a fine piece of art, the longer you spend taking in this build, the more the minor details jump out at you.

It may not share the same recognizable appeal as traditional scramblers or cafe racers, but the Suka-Tune genre is a style we hope to see much more of in the future.

Deus Japan | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Toyohiro Zenita

Custom Yamaha TW200 in the 'Suka-Tune' style by Deus Japan

How To Be Positive, Part 2

This is the second half of this illustrated mega-post (if you missed Part 1 last week, you can click here to read it).

Also, if you’d like to download the ebook, it is still available as a pay-what-you-want purchase via Gumroad. You can download it for free, but if you pay anything for it, I am donating 75% of the profits from the ebook to Feeding America, a nonprofit whose network of food banks is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. So if you pay for it, you get an ebook, someone in need gets some help. (As of this writing, we have raised almost $2,000 for Feeding America.)

If you’re not into ebooks, no worries, here’s Part 2:

handwritten text drawing of your dog's calendar handwritten text handwritten text drawing of a sinking shiphandwritten text handwritten text hand-drawn spectrum from 100 percent negativity to 100 percent positivity handwritten text handwritten text handwritten text handwritten text and instagram comment handwritten text handwritten text and timeline of social media evolution handwritten text and road sign

handwritten text handwritten text and silhouette of malcolm gladwell handwritten text hand-drawn check boxes handwritten text handwritten text and thought balloon handwritten text handwritten text inside smartphone handwritten text handwritten text

hand-drawn welcome to our pool sign handwritten text handwritten text and comparison of negative judgment of a person vs positive judgment of a person handwritten text and comparison of pessimism vs optimism handwritten text and comparison of pessimism vs optimism handwritten text and pie chart showing negativity handwritten text and pie chart showing positivity handwritten text and drawing of a positive person handwritten text

(If you’d like to download the ebook, here’s the link to do that.)

how to be positive by brendan leonard ebook cover

 

The post How To Be Positive, Part 2 appeared first on semi-rad.com.

Not Too Late: A Brat-Style Honda CB500 Four

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
Most custom projects are completed in a matter of months, or even weeks. But sometimes the story of a bike can stretch out to years or decades.

That’s the case with this delightful Honda CB500, which has spent the last 13 of its 46 years in the care of Italian enthusiast Pierluigi Intini, who lives in Rome. He bought it in 2007, when he was just 24. Pierluigi now knows the perky inline four inside out, and he’s transformed it not once, but twice.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
The Honda originally replaced an Aprilia 50cc scooter that he’d been riding since the age of 16, and it was a thoroughly researched decision. After tossing up between a Kawasaki Z500 and a CB, he opted for the Honda and went hunting in the classifieds. “I found it. A gold and black K1, about 20 km from my house.”

At that time, Pierluigi didn’t have a motorcycle license. He handed over €3300 [US$3,900] to the seller and asked him, “The first up and all the others down, right?” After figuring out the gears, he rode slowly home.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
The CB500 was not entirely original. It came with a 4-into-1 Marving exhaust and two seats—one original, and the other a ‘Giuliari’ seat that was used on the track back in the day. High handlebars had been fitted, and the tank sealed inside with Tankerite.

Pierluigi got his license, learnt to ride properly, and spent the next few months fettling the bike, seeking out obscure spare parts and good mechanics. He restored the mechanicals and bodywork to factory spec, and got a certificate to prove it— from the Italian motorcycle federation that certifies historically interesting motorcycles.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
But the café racer bug had already bitten Pierluigi, and the flames were fanned even more after he saw the bikes in the mafia movie Romanzo Criminale. The day after he got historical interest approval, he bought period-correct Tommaselli clip-ons, and commissioned craftsman Michele Calbi to reproduce by hand a matching pair of rear-sets.

The bike followed Pierluigi from Rome to Naples and then to Copenhagen, always with the iconic ‘Roma’ number plate. And eventually it wore out.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
A couple of years ago, Pierluigi mustered the funds to carry out the final transformation, leading to the Japanese influence we see here.

The CB500 now has a traditional custom tweaks like a neatly looped rear frame from blacksmith Paolo Arivella, and a bespoke flat seat from the Rome specialist Selle Moto Cl Racing. But the other mods are less conventional. “I am 186 cm [6’1”] tall and she has always been a little too short for me. And I want it more ‘technological’. I like genre mixes, I want a hybrid.”

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
The Honda is now essentially a ‘modern brat’—with LED headlights, and a modern fuel gauge, clock, indicators, and stop light.

The suspension has been raised 45mm both front and back, with the forks rebuilt and new shocks installed. The brake system is all new, with the front brakes converted to dual disc.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
The engine has been completely rebuilt with 0.25 oversize pistons and grinding work on the heads. It’s fed by rebuilt and custom-jetted carbs, and exhales via new Silver Cerakote Sidewinder pipes from Carpy’s Café Racers, topped off with a shorty muffler from Dime City Cycles—who also supplied the LED headlight.

The front sprocket has gone down a tooth from 17 to 16, there’s a quick action throttle for faster response, and a Daytona electronic ignition keeps the spark nice and tight. The CB500 now has three dimmable LED instruments too: a rev counter, a clock, and a speedo with a GPS control unit for speed detection, all from Intellitronix. They’re mounted into a dashboard from Cognito Moto.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
Every metal part has been polished or refinished to as-good-as-new by Alessandro Pini Metal polishing. Pierluigi repainted the engine himself using a silver VHT coating, but entrusted the stunning green-and-black bodywork to the Campana paint shop in Rome.

“In the end, I got the result I was looking for,” says Pierluigi. He’s called the old Honda ‘La Fouat,’ which means ‘Not too late.’ “It’s 46 years of life. This is the result.”

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer
“Criticism and praise? There are always and necessarily both,” he says.

From us, it’s just praise. Pierluigi has created a stylish, timeless brat cafe that fits his physique and riding style, and should keep running for another four decades.

Images by Simone Galli.

Brat style Honda CB500 Four cafe racer

Speed Read, 22 November 2020

The latest motorcycle news and customs
A Ducati 848 that pays homage to the classic 750 SuperSport, a lean, mean and green Triumph Thruxton RS, and an easy-going BMW R650 scrambler. Plus we have news that BSA are set to resume production.

Ducati 848 cafe racer
Ducati 848 by JC Racing This is only the second Ducati superbike that Frenchman Jérémie Duchampt has customized—but he’s already cracked the code. Starting with a stock 2011-model Ducati 848 Evo, Jérémie decided to build a modern take on the classic 750 SuperSport.

This build is a clever mash-up of parts, along with some wild design ideas. The sharp fairing is a carbon fiber unit from designed Paolo Tesio’s company, Tex Design. Jérémie modified it to fit, and added a small Plexiglas headlight cover and screen to it.

Ducati 848 cafe racer
He also built an all-new subframe, then capped it off with a fiberglass tail section, made to spec by FF Prodesign. The tail and fairing both complement the OEM tank perfectly, creating a silhouette that tapers sharply towards the front. Smaller pieces in between, like new intake ducts, help tie everything together.

Ducati 848 cafe racer
The exhaust is particularly interesting—it runs up under the seat, but then exits on top of the tail hump rather than out the back. Jérémie also upgraded the Ducati with an Öhlins rear shock, a Lithium-ion battery, LED lighting and a bunch of carbon fiber trim pieces.

Topped off with a livery that’s straight out of 1975, this cafe racer is a compelling mash-up of old and new [JC Racing]

Custom Triumph Thruxton RS by Unikat
Triumph Thruxton RS by Unikat Motorworks The Triumph Thruxton RS is the most performance-oriented modern classic that Triumph sells. Its motor has the best tune of all Triumph’s Bonneville models, and it comes with adjustable Showa and Öhlins suspension out the box. But what if you want the Thruxton’s performance, but not its classic cafe racer looks?

Simple: you set Poland’s Unikat Motorworks loose on it. That’s what the owner of this Thruxton RS did, with a very simple brief. Unikat’s client wanted even more top shelf components, graffiti logos and a hit of lime green. The result might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is bold.

Custom Triumph Thruxton RS by Unikat
To give the Thruxton a less classic, burlier stance, Unikat shortened the tail and capped it off with a small custom-made cowl. They ditched the classic taillight assembly for a slim LED item, and fitted a stubby LED headlight up front to match. The tank is stock, but the Triumph’s lines are way different now.

Other upgrades include tubeless Kineo wire-spoked wheels, wrapped in Heidenau supermotard tires. Unikat stripped the front forks to have them anodized black, and swapped the rear shocks for high-end Bitubo units.

Custom Triumph Thruxton RS by Unikat
The stubby twin exhaust system looks like it runs straight through, but it actually has internal baffles, so that it sounds good without being obnoxiously loud.

Unikat also fitted new clip-ons, with Rizoma reservoirs and personalized Womet-Tech levers. But the biggest job was refinishing the smaller parts in black. The Thruxton RS is a modern bike, and stripping all the little parts off for powder coating (and putting them back) took much longer than expected. [Unikat Motorworks]

BSA Motorcycles
BSA reborn, and electric A historic British marque is set to resume production—but not as you’d expect. Indian billionaire (and chairman of Mahindra Group) Anand Mahindra has just outlined his plans for the Birmingham Small Arms brand. And it involves batteries.

Mahindra Group, which is the world’s largest tractor manufacturer, purchased BSA back in 2016, but there hasn’t been much talk about what they planned to do with it, until now. The plan is to set up a new facility in Oxford, England, and release two new models next year: an internal combustion motorcycle, followed by an electric one.

BSA Motorcycles
There are a couple of takeaways here. First off, this isn’t the first time Mahindra have dipped their toes in the motorcycle industry; they relaunched the Jawa brand two years ago. Secondly, the decision to develop and manufacture bikes in the UK is a smart one, since it’ll be hard for potential customers to imagine a BSA that isn’t made in Old Blighty.

But more than anything, it’s exciting to see another brand push into electric technology. Some die-hard vintage bike fans might scoff at an electric BSA—but we can’t wait to see how it turns out. [Source]

BMW R65 scrambler by Gas & Oil
BMW R65 by Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles Are there any new ways to customize classic BMW boxers? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to do them well. This 1983 R65 by Gas & Oil in the Czech Republic doesn’t break any new ground—but it’s attractive, tidy, and looks perfect as a classic daily runner.

BMW R65 scrambler by Gas & Oil
The biggest changes are a vintage Yamaha tank up top, a new leather seat, and a reworked subframe. Gas & Oil propped the rear up on a new pair of YSS shocks, and ditched the airbox for a pair of K&N filters. The battery’s been swapped for a smaller unit, and relocated to a custom-made box in front of the swingarm.

The cockpit’s kitted with high-and-wide Renthal bars and grips, and a single dial. Those are matched to the stock switches and controls, with a small chromed headlight out front.

BMW R65 scrambler by Gas & Oil
The overall vibe screams Sunday morning scrambler, but in a practical sense. There are no knobblies or pipe wrap here; just mild dual-purpose tires from Dunlop, and ceramic coated headers that terminate in a pair of classic ‘cigar’ mufflers. Oh, and it has fenders at both ends, too. [Gas & Oil Bespoke Motorcycles | Images by Ondřej Ždichynec]

BMW R65 scrambler by Gas & Oil

Add Lightness: A wild Harley Softail street tracker from SMCO

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
Suicide Machine Company build machines that go fast and turn well. Brothers Aaron and Shaun Guardado have a taste for speed, and it’s right there in their company slogan: “Fast Loud Deathproof.”

So when they were invited to build a custom Harley for this year’s Born Free show in Southern California, it wasn’t likely to be a chopper. Instead, SMCO took a Softail Standard, shaved 160 pounds [72 kilos] off it, and built a rapid street tracker that’s borderline insane.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
“The first step was to plan out where we could save the most weight,” says Aaron, “and improve the handling of the bike. We integrated components that we’ve used in our past from road racing, flat track racing, and previous builds—leaning towards strong, lightweight composites, and fabricating with aluminum and titanium.”

So in a bid to add as much lightness as possible, this Softail street tracker is loaded with carbon fiber parts.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
The wheels are 17” carbon Blackstone TEK items, supplied by Brocks Performance; a Ducati Diavel front, and a Ducati 959 rear. They’re shod with Pirelli Supercorsa TD rubber—a street legal tire designed for track use too.

The front forks are custom units from CeraCarbon with fully adjustable Öhlins internals. Both the upper and lower tubes are carbon fiber, with a ceramic coating bonded to the lowers for zero resistance.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
The Speed Merchant supplied a new swingarm, which is mated to a custom shock from Gears Racing. The entire subframe’s been rebuilt too.

With better suspension and rubber, SMCO chose to also upgrade the brakes. So they installed Brembo .484 CNC radial mount calipers, with full floating rotors from BrakeTech USA, and trick dry-break fittings from Core Moto. Even the paddock stand is ‘performance’ (it’s a carbon fiber unit from GDH Motorsport).

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
SMCO also eliminated all of the Harley’s steel bodywork, shaving off even more weight. Long time readers of Bike EXIF might recognize the monocoque bodywork—it was designed by Alex Earle, in the same style as his early Ducati flat tracker. Made entirely from carbon fiber and capped with a Saddlemen seat, it took a little modification to fit over the Softail’s bones.

There’s a ton of trick fabrication happening under the bodywork too. Fuel’s held in an aluminum cell with a quick-fill cap, and a carbon box houses a Speedcell Lithium-ion battery, while also supporting the seat.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
SMCO have experience extracting maximum performance from Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight power plant. “Our Road Glide Special from 2019 is cranking out over 130 hp and 145 Nm,” says Aaron. On this bike, they installed a cam, cam plate, oil pump, and adjustable pushrods from V-twin tuning gurus, S&S Cycle.

They also swapped the fuel injection for a 45 mm Mikuni carb. It’s fed by a modified air cleaner from San Diego Customs, with the SMCO logo machined into it by Horsepower Inc. Custom-made titanium exhaust headers run high and tight under the body’s side boards, into dual titanium Austin Racing mufflers.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
The bike’s also running a standalone ECU from The Speed Merchant, to make it work with the carb. It allowed Aaron and Shaun to ditch the stock wiring harness and can-bus system, setup their own wiring, and install CNC Racing’s Ducati Panigale switchgear.

The full parts spec on this performance-driven street tracker is eye watering. There’s a chain conversion with custom sprockets from CeraCarbon Racing, and mid foot controls that use carbon plates matched to Roland Sands Design pegs and shift levers.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
Up top are are ProTaper dirt track handlebars, narrowed and mounted on RSD risers, with Brembo RCS controls. The carbon fiber levers are from AEM Factory, as are the fluid reservoirs, which are ‘direct mount’ units that require no plumbing. There’s also an upgraded hydraulic clutch actuator from Baker Drivetrain.

A Baja Designs Squadron Pro LED handles headlight duties, with an FIM racing-style LED tail light setup below the tail.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
“This project challenged us to save weight anywhere we could,” says Aaron, “to increase the handling and performance. We also tried to keep anything we didn’t need off the bike. These factors always influence the overall design of our bikes.”

Unfortunately, this year’s Born Free show was postponed until next year, so the bike’s gone off to do a stint at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. But it’s no trailer queen—as soon as it’s done time at the museum, SMCO plan to unleash it on the track.

Harley-Davidson Softail street tracker by SMCO
“It’s amazing to ride. We lightened the bike by over 160 pounds with the carbon and titanium, and eliminating unnecessary parts. With the improved seating position and the increased performance of the engine, this is a real weapon.”

“It’s both street friendly for canyon riding, and ready to hit the track.”

Suicide Machine Co. | Instagram | Images by Jose Gallina

Friday Inspiration, Vol. 261

Simply three minutes of colorful outdoor fun here: (video)

Christoph Niemann, using drawings on beverage napkins, details his love affair with coffee, starting at age 5

I just learned that this oral history of Dazed and Confused published on Nov. 17 and I am pleasantly surprised that the title is Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused

I don’t know who (besides me) needs all this interesting information on subway maps, but here you go

The strange tale of the performance art project known as The Shitbike

I’m just saying you have 60 seconds for this video that starts with a guy pouring himself a glass of champagne and saying “Hi, my name is Tobin Mitnick and I’m a Jew Who Loves Trees, and today we’re gonna do a real casual pine cone review.”

This video, titled Guy Builds Veggie Garden For Family Of Groundhogs,” has 4.7 million views, and I am responsible for three of those so far this week (thanks, Anna)

And hey:
These Friday Inspiration posts are able to continue thanks to the handful of wonderful people who support Semi-Rad on Patreon for as little as $2 a month. If you’d like to join them, click here for more info—you’ll also get access to the Patreon-only posts I write, as well as discounts to my shop and other free stuff.

—Brendan

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