Not surprisingly, we don’t often see custom Vincents: They’re rare, and they sell for a fortune at auction. So when we heard that Keino Sasaki was working on one in his Brooklyn workshop, our ears pricked up.
Keino suspects that the rear frame and swingarm are from a 1948 bike, and the front end is from somewhere between 1951 and 1953. The engine is dated 1949, making it a ‘transitional’—a late Series B, or early Series C.
“I wanted to keep the integrity of the original chassis,” Keino tells us. “So it was a bit of a challenge to work around that limitation. Even though bike looks custom, it can be converted back to the original styling.
“Nothing was chopped off. Well, apart from the electric starter, which required a little machining!”
The rest of the motor has been lightened and weight-matched, and the transmission—which turned out to be damaged—has been strengthened and modified to suit a Bob Newby Racing multi-plate clutch and belt drive.
Then it was time for custom sheet metal and fabrication work. “The owner wanted to have creative input on how the bike looked. His company, the whiskey distillery Widow Jane, is just a few blocks from my shop,” says Keino.
After a lot of sketches, reference images and discussion, fabrication started. There’s a new tank and subframe, and the rear cowl now hides many of the electrical components.
An immaculate Series C Rapide sells for just over $100,000 these days. It’s hard to put a price on this bike, but it’s a one-off that will never be replicated.