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Getting Personal: The KTM Max Hazan Built For Himself

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
There’s a definite style to a Hazan Motorworks bike: a hint of steampunk, lots of beautifully twisted and burnished metal, and impossibly elegant proportions. It’s an expensive endeavor, and Max operates in the same rarified atmosphere as Ian Barry of Falcon and the Japanese moto-artist Chicara Nagata.

Luckily, there are collectors and museums that have the funds to commission bikes like this, so the rest of us can enjoy them vicariously. But what happens when Max builds a bike for himself, with his own money?

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
This KTM is the answer. It’s a far cry from his previous KTM build, the supercharged 520 that now resides in the Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas. But it’s a killer track machine, and just the thing Max needs when he wants to blow off steam.

“I’ve always wanted to build a liter-powered supermoto, and the KTM LC8 provided the perfect platform,” Max tells us. “The engine layout is a ‘V’ as opposed to the many L-twins out there, which lent itself well to this project.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
“Also, with the LC8 being a dry-sump motor, I was able to make a 1000cc supermoto that looks and feels like a 450—until you twist the throttle.”

Surprisingly, ‘950SMR’ is the first bike that Max has built for himself. So it was done in the down time between the projects that pay his bills. (“I completely lost track of how much time went into it.”)

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
The base is a 2005-spec 950 SM. It’s a tall bike—which suits Max’s lofty physique—with around 98 horsepower in stock trim, 17-inch wheels, and a dry weight of just 191 kilos (421 pounds). Contemporary road testers raved about the performance and fun factor.

“It’s possibly the ugliest bike KTM made with that motor,” Max admits. “But the bones were there. The KTM was carbureted from the factory, which let me simplify the design by avoiding EFI parts.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
Stylistically, it’s no flight of fancy: just a well-sorted bike with terrifically simple bodywork and a sophisticated warm grey and white paint scheme. “I wanted the bike to look ‘factory’,” says Max.

“I wanted it to have fenders and bodywork, and not look like a KTM that was chopped. With almost everything being rearranged, it was a lot more work than it looks like. But I guess that was the idea.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
From the wheels up, Hazan’s famed attention to detail is present and correct. “I love Marchesini 10-spoke wheels,” he confesses. “I would put them on my toaster if I could. There’s something about them wrapped in a set of slicks that just rubs me the right way.”

Since Max was building the KTM out of his pocket, he plumped for a set of magnesium Marchesinis from a CBR1000 race bike. The sizes are 17 x 6 and 16.5 x 3.5, and Max has machined the hubs, carriers and cush drive to squeeze them into the swingarm and forks.

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
The 950 SM frame and swingarm are mostly stock, but Max has relocated the top shock mount forward and downward to raise the rear of the KTM by 2.5 inches, reducing the rake. Pretty much everything else has been modified or built up from scratch.

“The biggest things to eliminate were the massive tanks that KTM adventure bikes use, holding fuel on either side of the frame,” says Max. “So I made a load-bearing fuel cell that took the place of the rear subframe. It holds about 2.5 gallons and also houses the electronics.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
New radiator cores were modified from the oversized units from a 520, which Max tweaked to work with the twin’s cooling system—aided by air ducting.

The oil tank on a 950 SM is located in front of the engine, below the radiator. Max has made an aluminum replacement that sits where a normal fuel tank would be, and although it looks small from above, it holds more than the stock tank.

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
The new bodywork is crafted from 6061 aluminum alloy. “It’s a simple design, but it took about five tries to find the right shape for each part,” Max reveals. “I’m a big fan of ‘simple and clean,’ but it can be one of the hardest things to do right.”

The exhaust was one of the easier components to make. “I knew where I wanted it to end up, and what characteristics it should have,” he says. “It’s thin wall 1.625” stainless steel, merging into 1.875” before flowing through an Akrapovič silencer.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
“I really wanted a system that sounded and performed well. So all the welds were back-purged and the transitions smoothed. Both primary tubes are (almost) equal length.”

The 950 SM was famous for its good handling, so Max has retained the stock WP suspension. “I just played with the valving, lowered the forks, and used stiffer springs and oil. But I went way softer on the shocks—the bike has shed a lot of weight and doesn’t need to support two-up riding any more.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
It might be hard to believe, but Max has pulled around 100 pounds—45 kilos—off the 950 SM. (“It was built like a tank.”)

So what’s it like to ride? “It has a huge amount of engine braking,” he says. “It’s geared for about 120mph in sixth, and was in need of a slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts in the lower gears. But I just found myself ‘backing it in’ wherever I was going, as soon as I installed it.”

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself
Everything about this KTM screams ‘track machine,’ but it’s actually 100% street legal. “It’s wired for lights and turn signals, and has a full setup that can be taken on or off in a few minutes,” says Max. “But I just prefer looking at it like this.”

It’s certainly a looker. But unlike many customs from premier league builders, Max’s KTM offers visceral as well as visual pleasures. We can’t imagine Max releasing a kit version of these mods, but if you have one of KTM’s big supermotos in your garage, there’s a ton of inspiration to be gained right here.

Hazan Motorworks | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Shaik Ridzwan

Getting Personal: The KTM 950 SM that Max Hazan built for himself

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