It’s tempting to buy a custom bike on looks alone. And many people do: as every good chef knows, people eat with their eyes.
But unless you have a lot of mechanical experience, it’s hard to tell how well a bike is built. Or what problems may be lurking under a slick, powder coated surface.
We’d have no qualms buying a bike from London’s Urban Rider though, because they’ve just added renowned mechanic Mario Dengra to their roster.
Dengra is highly regarded in the English capital: until five months ago, he was chief mechanic at CRC Motorcycles. And this Kawasaki W650 is the first build from Urban Rider to bear his name.
It’s the perfect bike for a city rider who likes a bit of the rough stuff too. It’s compact, stylish and reliable, with thoughtful off-the-shelf upgrades that improve the off-road ability as well as the looks.
The parallel twin motor is 16 years old. So it’s been rebuilt and fitted with Ramair filters for a little extra poke.
New stainless steel high pipes, fabricated in-house, free up the breathing even further. (They’re terminated with Biltwell’s simple, good-value Mini Mufflers.) Power hits the rear sprocket via high-performance DID chain.
Dengra has paid attention to the stoppers too, fitting an LSL front disc and HEL brake lines. The cockpit gets an upgrade with billet aluminum levers, Tomaselli bars, Biltwell grips and a Motogadget Tiny speedo.
The big-ticket items are the custom seat (plush, with room for a passenger), the 18-inch gold anodized rims and the classy black and gold paint. But otherwise, this is a classic ‘real world’ custom, built to a price and designed to be ridden.
The W650 is thin on the ground in the US, but you can pick up a mint example for the equivalent of $5,000 in England. And with a skilled mechanic and few tasteful mods, Kawasaki’s homage to classic British iron becomes a stylish, adept machine for dusty country lanes as well as tight city streets.