You’re more likely to spot an exotic sports car in Dubai than a classic custom motorcycle. Still, the bustling desert oasis hosts an eclectic blend of people—and a blossoming custom scene.
It’s also the home of Möto Dubai: a relatively young outfit that recently took top honours in the recent Bikers Cafe build-off, with this unconventional Royal Enfield.
Möto came together when South African Antonie Robertson and German Marco Möller connected over a Honda CB350 that the former had been working on in his apartment.
“I remember Antonie showing up at my house early one day with the frame,” says Marco, “and we set about cutting off the tabs and cleaning the welds up in my front yard. I think it was a week day, and I ended up being late for work. It was total fun.”
When Bikers Cafe Dubai and Royal Enfield UAE donated three Royal Enfield Bullet 500s for a build-off, the guys were invited to compete. At the same time, Marco and fellow German Frank Ortmann were in the process of setting up ‘möto space’ (a workshop and general moto-enthusiast hub), but it was far from ready.
So, for three months, möto worked their day jobs and spent nights in a dusty, half-finished workshop. “It was a tough stretch,” says Marco. “Work the day job, wrench till late, sleep a couple of hours, rinse, repeat!”
möto achieved a lot in those three months, reworking every aspect of the Bullet from the ground up. The bike was stripped down and the frame detabbed and redesigned. The backbone was extended, and an exquisite subframe built that now houses a recessed tail light, number plate light and turn signals.
The frame was also tweaked to take the new fuel tank—a “new old stock” 70s Honda unit, sourced from the US. A panel was fabricated on top of it to house a Motogadget Motoscope Mini speedo, along with the “idiot lights.”
The guys also ditched the Enfield’s EFI system and installed a Hitchcocks Motorcycles Amal carb conversion kit—allowing them to tidy up the wiring significantly. The new TCI was tucked into a custom-made housing between the swingarm and engine, and the battery moved to a new hand-made battery box. The stock, bulky ignition switch was retained though—just to keep the original Enfield-branded key in use.
The engine’s exterior received a significant refresh too, with the fins being hand filed to a perfect edge, painted and polished again. The unsightly starter motor was hidden behind a hand-shaped cover, before Marco spent the better part of sixty hours engraving various bits. A stunning, stainless-steel exhaust was welded up to top it off.
A Royal Enfield Electra front-end was fitted to give the bike a more scrambler feel, while keeping things brand-focussed. It’s matched to a set of new rear shocks from Dime City Cycles. The wheels are new too: they’re a pair of 18” Excel rims, laced up with stainless spokes by Buchanan’s in California and wrapped in Shinko rubber. möto polished up the hubs before sending them over, then polished the rims afterwards for a mixed, gloss-and-matte finish.
Up front, the original, boxy rear license plate mount was re-purposed to house the headlight and front turn signals. The cockpit’s finished off with refurbished Honda CB350 controls, internal wiring, Biltwell grips and a Nissin master cylinder with a Goodridge braided brake line.
When it came to the last few parts, Marco and Antonie’s attention to detail began bordering on obsessive. The rear wheel hugger is a completely custom affair, the foot controls consist of off-road parts welded to the stock mounts, and there’s even a hand-made bash guard, mounted on extended engine mount brackets.
And if you look really closely, you’ll notice various bolts, caps and bushes—each machined from either aluminum or stainless steel, and each serving a specific purpose. The final piece of the puzzle is the one-off seat—upholstered in locally-sourced camel leather.
It’s no surprise that möto took first place in the build-off, but Antonie and Marco’s pride in their project runs deeper than just a trophy. On the left hand side of the engine, the Royal Enfield now carries the initials “NSK”—a tribute to Nelson Suresh Kumar.
“Nelson was the Godfather of the UAE Royal Enfield scene,” explains Antonie, “and sadly passed away unexpectedly two years ago. He was a close friend to the growing alternative motorcycling scene in Dubai, and is widely missed by all who knew him.”
möto’s ‘NSK’ is fitting homage, and a worthy winner. Pat yourselves on the back, gentlemen.
Antonie and Marco would like to extend their thanks to the Dubai community who supported them, particularly Djalal from Gecko Motorcycles and Frank Ortman.