We’ve found the recipe for moto-goodness: take one Kawasaki W650, roll it through Tom Thöring’s workshop, and then wheel it in front of Marc Holstein’s lens. We got our first taste a few weeks ago—and now we’re back for seconds.
Operating as Schlachtwerk, Tom’s turned out his fair share of W650-based builds. But this is by far the most unusual yet, with seriously radical paint inspired by tattoo iconography.
Let’s get the mechanicals out of the way first. There are eight more horses going to the back wheel now, bringing the output up to 58 hp. According to Tom, that comes from swapping the airbox for K&N filters, rejetting the carbs, and fitting a two-into-one exhaust from the Schlachtwerk catalog.
“It isn’t a race bike,” says Tom, “but it’s a fun bike, with all the necessary features for daily use.”
As any race engineer will tell you, if you really want to make something faster, make it lighter. And this is where Tom’s W650 really shines—he’s trimmed it down to a mere 165kg, dry.
The W650 comes from the factory with both electric and kick-starters; one of Tom’s favorite tricks is to remove the former. “To remove the electric start with all components takes an hour, and saves nearly seven kilos,” he explains.
He’s employed other trickery to shed even more kilos—like borrowing a lighter swing arm from a Kawasaki Zephyr 550. There’s a smaller battery too, with the entire electrical system trimmed down and tucked out of sight.
The rest of the mods revolve around the client’s requests: A scrambler that can actually scramble, and would suit his proportions.
“The customer is a real big guy with long legs,” says Tom, “so I had to build the W650 much bigger than usual.”
To nail the ergonomics, Tom’s fitted a custom-made seat that sits 30mm higher than stock. It’s matched to LSL handlebars and risers, and a pair of serrated foot pegs.
Tom’s also gone to town on the suspension, brakes and wheels. Up front is a set of 43mm forks from a Triumph Tiger 885, held in place by CNC-machined triples. They’ve been shortened, and treated to a titanium nitride coating.
“This is a coating used by the superbikes at the end of the nineties,” explains Tom. “It reduces friction, the forks get more sensitive, and the biggest benefit: it looks fancy!”
Using the Tiger’s calipers, Tom’s also upgraded the front brake to a double-disc setup. He’s also converted the rear from drum to disc, using a BMW C1 single piston caliper with a 220mm disc.
The rear shocks are 360mm units from YSS, and the wheels are tubeless Kineo numbers in the W650’s stock sizes (19F/18R). Tom explains his choice of tire: “He wanted some real off-road tires, and the toughest tires I could use for legal road use are the Conti TKC80.”
A handful of tasty details are sprinkled throughout. There’s a neat bash plate, a scrambler-style headlight shroud, and abbreviated fenders at both ends. The turn signals are tiny LEDs, with the rear units doubling up as taillights. The speedo’s a tiny unit from Motogadget, matched up to a small LED panel for the bike’s dummy lights.
The final livery is sure to divide opinions, but it’s all been done according to brief. “He owns a custom Harley too, in fancy black and gold,” explains Tom, “So I had to use these colors with a very special paintjob.”
So black and gold dominate the bike, with hard parts like the main engine casing, exhaust and fenders getting the murdered-out treatment too. Brown leather on the seat and the tank kneepads adds a touch of contrast.
The unique tank and fairing artwork is all hand-drawn—a process that took a friend of Tom’s nearly three days to complete. “The customer wanted a tank that looks like it’s been tattooed, with the classic elements: skulls, dices, gears, spark plugs, chains, etcetera.”
Even if the color palette doesn’t speak to you, it’s hard to fault this bike. Who’d like to kick it into life and point it down the nearest fire road?