Speed Read, April 16, 2023

The latest motorcycle news and customs
We’re starting and ending with two color-matched Ducatis this week; a Ducati Pantah restomod from Australia, and a Ducati 749S custom from France. Wedged between them are a wood-clad Yamaha XS650, and the wildest supercharged Honda CBR900 we’ve ever laid eyes on.

Ducati Pantah restomod by Purpose Built Moto
Ducati Pantah by Purpose Built Moto We have a soft spot for red bikes with gold wheels—so this 1981 Ducati Pantah ticks all of our boxes. It’s the latest bike to roll out of Purpose Built Moto’s garage on Australia’s Gold Coast, and we couldn’t be happier that the PBM team is still pumping out the jams.

Tom Gilroy and his crew were approached by a customer who had owned this bike since the early 90s. He was after a sympathetic restoration—but Tom convinced him to make a few minor changes.

Ducati Pantah restomod by Purpose Built Moto
“I love the styling on these bikes—they scream 80s Euro-bike with their iconic shape,” says Tom. “But the lawman had gotten in the way, and made the visionary Ducati designers hide their beautiful work behind some pretty lackluster fenders and lighting.”

From the get-go, the team focused on shrinking the lighting and slimming down the back end. The front turn signals were streamlined into the fairing, and the whole rear fender assembly was removed. New lights and indicators (all from PBM’s own catalog of electric parts) were incorporated into the fiberglass seat for a svelte, smooth appearance.

Ducati Pantah restomod by Purpose Built Moto
The wheels were stripped down and fully restored, as was the suspension. The engine was torn down, inspected and rebuilt from the ground up—using newer components where possible—then polished to within an inch of its life. The Staintune exhaust system was fitted to the bike decades ago, so it too was restored and refitted.

The eye-popping red paint and silver pin striping was based on how the bike arrived at the workshop, having been repainted by the owner many moons ago. It’s a far cry from the original color scheme, but it’s no less classy.

Ducati Pantah restomod by Purpose Built Moto
A new seat was made by Timeless Auto Trim based on the original, but with a new Ducati logo embroidered into the back. To top it all off, a yellow-tinted, streamlined screen was fitted, along with a yellow headlight.

It’s another straight 10/10 from the Gold Coast crew. [Purpose Built Moto | Images by Brandan Trudinger]

Custom Yamaha XS650 by Atelier JAB
Yamaha XS650 by Atelier JAB Using wood on a motorcycle isn’t common—but the results can be spectacular. After all, Morgan used wood to construct the substructures on their cars for many decades. It’s easy to work with and visually stunning, especially in the hands of a true craftsperson.

That’s exactly what has happened here, on this 1978 Yamaha XS650 café racer, built by Jacques Jouvin of Atelier JAB from Avignon, France.

Custom Yamaha XS650 by Atelier JAB
Using his extensive knowledge of woodcraft, Jacques had an idea to combine some of his passions—wooden-hulled boats and motorcycles. If you’re thinking that he may have been inspired by the work of Riva, makers of luxurious runabouts and yachts, then you’d be right.

Jacques joined forces with a number of his designer friends, and the build commenced. After stripping the frame down and customizing the rear subframe, Jacques started on the bodywork. The details are light on where the fuel is, but we assume there is a fuel cell sitting underneath the stunningly crafted timber monocoque.

Custom Yamaha XS650 by Atelier JAB
Seeing as this was a special build, Jacques chose to use some special timber; Wenge. It’s a rare and endangered African wood from the Millettia Laurentii tree, and it was supplied by a fellow craftsman. Taking 10 months to create, and reinforced with aluminum, the bodywork is nothing short of incredible. 12 layers of UV-resistant varnish bring out the stunning grain.

The engine received a full rebuild, and every electrical component was replaced. A new wiring loom is completely hidden from sight, and the engine now breathes through a pair of K&N pod filters. The rear turn signals are particularly swish—they are LEDs, set into the rear subframe using orange methacrylate from a pair of 1970s door handles.

Custom Yamaha XS650 by Atelier JAB
The battery was relocated to under the swingarm and the frame was powder coated in silver chrome. It really pops against the dark wood grain and aluminum accents. A new front wheel (complete with a twin-leading shoe) was laced to the factory hub for a more classic look.

Sure, purists and anoraks probably won’t like it, but variety is the spice of life, right? As for the craftsmanship, you cannot deny that it is top notch. [More]

Supercharged Rau Honda CBR900 by Rocket Sprocket Customs
Supercharged Rau-Honda CBR900 by Rocket Sprocket Customs Rau frames were originally conceived by Manfred Rau, a German engineer. He made quite the name for himself back in the day by adapting frame construction technologies made famous by Fritz Egli and Bimota. His backbone-style frames were used to carry large-capacity Japanese four-cylinder engines, and they achieved great success on the racetrack.

What you’re looking at here is a Honda CBR900 engine, housed in a modified Rau Honda frame, and kitted with a slew of custom accoutrements for good measure. It’s the work of Andy Neuhold and friends, operating as Rocket Sprocket Customs out of Switzerland.

Supercharged Rau Honda CBR900 by Rocket Sprocket Customs
Any sourced the Rau Honda frame, shoehorned a CBR900 engine into place and slapped on the forks from a Suzuki GSX-R. A Ducati Monster S4R supplied the single-sided swingarm, rear shock and wheels.

As if the Honda power unit wasn’t supplying enough power from the start, Andy opted to adapt a Rotrex C15 supercharger. Fitted by Andy himself, it must’ve taken an age to work out how it was all supposed to go together.

Supercharged Rau Honda CBR900 by Rocket Sprocket Customs
From there, Andy turned to the bodywork, fabricating the tank, seat and mini headlight fairing all himself. He also created a new wiring loom from scratch, and upgraded a bunch of electronics along the way. The handlebars are from LSL and a Motogadget tiny speedometer is embedded in the top clamp.

Judging by the figures, we’d hazard a guess that this would absolutely rip down the strip—Andy’s goal was 180-200 hp, and the bike only weighs 440 lbs. But we don’t know quite how fast it is, because Andy ran into some serious engine trouble while running it at the 1/8th-mile airfield drag races at the Kilomètre Lancé in St. Moritz. All the best with the rebuild, Andy! [More]

Ducati 749S café racer by Jerem Motorcycles
Ducati 749S by Jerem Motorcycles In terms of aesthetics, the Pierre Terblanche-designed Ducati 749 was a wild departure from its predecessor, the 748. The sharp, angular bodywork and twin, stacked headlights were radically different to the smoother lines of the 748.

Ducati never made a naked version of the 749—but if they did, it might have looked something like this. Built by Frenchman Jeremie from his Jerem Motorcycles workshop, this café racer is his interpretation of a Ducati 749S.

Ducati 749S café racer by Jerem Motorcycles
Starting with a 749 Dark as a base, the first thing Jeremie did was remove the fairings. He then fitted a set of spoked wheels from Ducati’s SportClassic lineup, after machining parts to get them to fit. The front forks were reconditioned, and a custom front fairing with an oval headlight was mounted with custom brackets.

A custom windscreen was added to the fairing, with an Avia Compositi rev counter sitting front and center behind it. A set of clever CNC Rizoma wing mirrors were fitted; they look like aero wings when not in use, but can be rotated to function as intended when riding.


The frame was de-tabbed and chrome plated, along with the custom subframe. It supports a new rear hump, with the single seat upholstered in black leather by Yaya Brush Saddlery. The numberplate protrudes from the rear by way of a CNC aluminum bracket, and all the lighting has been upgraded to LED.

Ducati 749S café racer by Jerem Motorcycles
The engine remains factory, but it was repainted and visually upgraded by way of clear belt covers and clutch cover. The bodywork was painted in Panigale red, with chrome accents.

It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but we like the neo-retro touches. It’s part Monster, part sportbike, and almost certainly all fun. [Jerem Motorcycles Instagram]

Ducati 749S café racer by Jerem Motorcycles

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