A 160-horsepower Ducati hot rod, a truly unique KTM motocross conversion, and a tribute to the iconic Ron Wood ‘big tube’ tracker, based on the Norton Commando. It’s all about performance this week.
Yamaha XS400 by Real Moto Co. A shop’s first build will often set the tone or design language for the creations to follow. Some spinning the spanners may quickly nail the aesthetic for which they’ll be known, but other first timers often miss a beat. Often—but not always.
One look at this Yamaha 1981 XS400, the first bike to roll out of the freshly minted Real Moto Co., and you’d think Dan Stabbings and Jacob Speis had been at it for years. Credit their backgrounds in structural steel fabrication and graphic design (respectively) for the end result of what started as a $600 Craigslist find.
Originally Dan and Jacob had intended to spruce up the neglected XS, get it running reliably and flip it for some quick cash. Some 300 hours of work later and RMC001 was born. The tank and side covers were quickly swapped for those from a more svelte 1979 XS, and Dan’s metalwork skills were put to good use on the subframe and rear hoop before his hand-rolled tail was mounted.
Paint choice became a sticking point for the partners, but the combination of traditional Yammie racing patterns and a color poached from a MkII VW Golf fit this cafe racer perfectly. So, what’s next boys? No pressure. [More]
Ducati Monster 1200R by Young Guns Speed Shop The Monster 1200 is about as laser focused as a naked bike can be. In terms of raw performance, its 160 horsepower L-Twin is second only to Aprilia’s symphonic Tuono. But that didn’t stop Nik Heer and his mates from Switzerland’s Young Guns Speed Shop from tossing one on the bench to see if they could improve things.
It’s described as a hybrid between a GP bike and a contemporary cafe racer. But we see ‘Pandora’ more as equal parts beauty and lunacy. The beauty is thanks to the splendid work the Young Guns have performed on the new subframe and the exquisite fiberglass bodywork. More than just eye candy though, the monocoque tank, seat and tail unit hide all of the electrics—while also serving as a twin-chamber, 9-litre fuel cell, split twixt fore and aft.
The big radiator that was fitted in the Bologna factory was swapped for a slimmer, more efficient unit, which keeps this Duc’s profile as slim as it is squat. The changes not only shed some heft, but thanks to touches like a custom set of megaphones keeping the swingarm warm, also add some extra oomph. And that, dear friends, is sheer lunacy. [More]
KTM 250 SX-F by Engineered to Slide We imagine swinging our own legs over most builds featured on these pages. But I dare say, no fantasy ride has conjured the devil on our shoulder with such immediacy as this KTM 250 SX-F.
It’s from Geelong, Australia, via Nigel Petrie and his shop Engineered to Slide. After speaking with a friend about a dirt bike build, Nigel was handed a box of KTM parts. Once the cleaning, sorting and minor assembly was over, Nigel fired up the Austrian machine and started plotting a plan for the build. He wanted it to be fun and a touch different from the norm, but the supermoto hoops he fitted had given the motocrosser a strange stance that needed help.
Rather than simply up-size the rims, Nigel’s remedy was to add a pair of expertly TIG-welded tanks, flanking a seat stolen from a different KTM.
This cleaned up the lines dramatically and enhanced Nigel’s spartan subframe work as well. The slicks were swapped for knobbies and HiRider was born. Or as Nigel would say, “We took a box of parts and some sheet metal and came up with a good time on two wheels. It’s as simple as that.” [More]
Yamaha XS650 by White Collar Bike As their name implies, the lads at White Collar Bike don’t simply cobble parts around an engine and call it a motorcycle: Over the years Ram Ram Januar and his Indonesian crew have created some truly jaw dropping builds. This time, they’ve turned back to petrol power, and transformed a Yamaha XS650 into a scrambled tank they’ve christened ‘Mishka.’
Outside of the parallel twin powering this build, little has been left untouched. Deburred, detabbed and flattened, the subframe and revised swingarm showcase WCB’s creativity with ‘Duo-cross’-style rear suspension. Of course, those twin piggybacks are almost routine in comparison to the leading link set-up employed up front. The decision to go this route undoubtedly hinders off-road performance, but Mishka’s brutish appearance makes us think she prefers to plow through obstacles, rather than bounce over them.
Any heft is only visual, though—thanks to a murdered-out finish. All excess has been stripped and binned, and the carbon fiber work looks second to none. I’d personally lose the skull indicators, but in the spirit of Halloween, we’ll give them a pass. [More]
Norton MM by 72 Motorcycles Limited-run custom builds can be a tricky thing to nail. Instead of catering to a single client, the design and fabrication needs to hit the high notes with a multitude of potential buyers. The finished products also need OE-levels of fit, finish and reliability.
You’d think working with a brand spanking new donor would ease the process, but for perfectionists like Jamie Ireson and Merry Michau of the UK’s 72 Motorcycles, it just meant they had cleaner parts to throw out. Working with a dozen new Norton Commandos, Jamie and Merry essentially scrapped everything during the creation of their MM, even the frame. That’s because they wanted to create a tribute to the Ron Wood’s Ascot Champion “Big Tube” tracker and it demanded, well, big tubes.
Working from a CAD design, the MM’s frame is designed to hold its oil in the large diameter spine, and rely on the 961cc twin as a stressed member. The MM also features a bespoke fuel tank, crafted from four welded pieces of sheet metal, and an elegantly frenched-in LED taillight. Some of my favorite touches, though, are those impeccably machined intake trumpets that look ready to swallow the world.
Rumor has it there are still a few MMs left, should you have some space in the shed. [More]