On the bucket list of events we want to attend, the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show is at the top. The one-day show is legendary because it attracts the best builders from Japan—and some quite extraordinary customs.
A few days ago, one of the standouts of the 2015 show was this KTM RC8. Yes, a 173hp plastic-clad superbike—but re-imagined by master builder Shiro Nakajima.
Nakajima-san used to head up Ritmo Sereno—an outfit known for its classy BMW and Guzzi resto-mods. Since leaving, he’s relocated to the USA and established 46Works, where he carries on that fine tradition.
The RC8 project was commissioned by KTM Japan. It’s a good match for the 46Works vibe—bikes that look good on the street, but ride well on the track. So the first item on Shiro’s agenda was a few laps of the Tsukuba circuit.
Pleased with how the KTM RC8 performed, Shiro quickly decided that his work should not compromise the bike’s good ergonomics—or add any weight. The plan was to maintain rideability, but give the bike a facelift with a neo-café aesthetic.
Stripping the RC8 down revealed a surprisingly simple layout to build on. But Shiro still had his work cut out.
The first job was to create a new fuel tank—one that would wrap around the KTM’s stock air box. Shiro painstakingly fabricated the tank out of aluminum, transplanting the fuel pump to inside it in the process.
The tail unit’s hand-made too; it’s propped up on a one-off, aluminum subframe. RazzleDazzle handled the upholstery.
The RC8’s borrowed some parts too. The front wheel is a Yamaha hub laced to an Excel rim, and the rear wheel is from another, undisclosed KTM model. Wheel and brake disc spacers had to be machined to match everything up.
Ditching the fairing left the radiator exposed and vulnerable in a crash, so Shiro rounded out the new bodywork with a pair of serpentine radiator shrouds. (The 46Works blog catalogs the build process in detail.)
The cockpit sports Battle Factory clip-ons, and a Motogadget speedo and turn signals. There’s a Posh headlight just ahead, and a Daytona LED tail light at the rear. A modified Ducati front fender has been mounted too.
Shiro’s handiwork is everywhere, right down to the asymmetrical heel guards. But nothing caught our eye quite like that exhaust. It’s a completely bespoke titanium system, weighing a mere 3.5kg. Together with the other mods, it’s brought the KTM’s weight down by 20kg.
The final touch: a classy paint job by Stupid Crown, with just the right amount of bare metal shining through, and a touch of orange to hint at the bike’s origins.
A 20kg weight reduction on a track bike in disguise is not to be scoffed at. Chuck in a serious dose of park-outside-the-café style, and we’re hooked.