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Speed Read, August 21, 2022

The latest motorcycle news and customs
There’s something for everyone this week. We kick off with a pre-unit Triumph bobber, then cover two classic Kawasaki Zeds and a ground-up Norton bobber. Finishing things off: a Panhead chopper from Born Free’s first ever female invited builder.

Triumph TR5 Trophy by Black Cycles and PopBang Classics
Triumph TR5 Trophy by Black Cycles and PopBang Classics We’re suckers for vintage Triumphs—especially when they’re as well executed as this stunning example. It comes from Black Cycles in Brisbane, Australia, who was handed a 70 percent complete 1950 Triumph TR5 Trophy and tasked with turning it into a tidy bobber.

Triumph TR5 Trophy by Black Cycles and PopBang Classics
Shop boss Noel Muller was all too happy to oblige, but admits that he’s no au fait with this particular era of Triumph motors. So he roped in Justin at PopBang Classics on Australia’s Gold Coast to take on half of the project. All the fabrication and customization was Noel’s job, with Justin handling the engine and transmission work.

Mods include changes to the frame, a peanut tank, and a solo leaf-sprung seat with a Union Jack motif stitched into it. The cockpit features custom-made one-piece bars, with knurled grips, integrated switches and an internal throttle. The speedo’s been recessed into a special pocket at the front of the tank.

Triumph TR5 Trophy by Black Cycles and PopBang Classics
The bike also features combination Kellermann turn signals and taillights, a Bates-style headlight, custom fenders and a bunch of smaller machined details.

Justin not only rebuilt the pre-unit motor and transmission, but also rewired the bike, laced up a set of alloy rims with stainless steel spokes, and supplied a bunch of parts. As a final touch, he also laid down some gold leaf stripes to complement the one-off green paint.


There’s little to quibble about on this handsome pre-unit Triumph. If you ask us, Noel and Justin should team up more often. [More]

Kawasaki Z1000 café racer by Jerem Motorcycles
Kawasaki Z1000 by Jerem Motorcycles Fans of classic Kawasaki Zeds would probably baulk at the idea of turning a Kawasaki Z1000 into a café racer. But Frenchman Jérémie Duchampt has done the classic four-cylinder monster justice here, with a spec sheet that’d even make purists blush.

This 1981-model Z1000J wears the forks from a BMW R1200R, along with a 17” BMW front wheel and a set of Brembo M40 brake calipers. Out back is a Kawasaki ZRX1100 swingarm, hooked up to a pair of refurbished Öhlins shocks. The 17” rear wheel is new too; it wears a 180-width tire, with an offset front sprocket to keep the chain in line.


Jérémie rebuilt the engine, then stripped the carbs and treated them to an ultrasonic clean. He also removed the airbox, and built a custom four-into-one intake to connect an oversized filter. A set of modified four-into-one exhaust headers run into a Delkevic silencer.

Higher up, Jérémie built a new subframe, then topped it off with a custom fiberglass tail section, with a vintage-style tail light poking out the back. Just in front of it is the fuel tank from a Kawasaki Z650—a sleeker choice than the OEM Z1000 unit.


The electrics were reworked around a Motogadget control unit, with the keyless ignition and speedo also coming from the German electrics company. There’s LED lighting all-round, with the turn signals attached to custom CNC-machined stalks.

Jérémie outsourced the paint and upholstery, opting for a classic (and tastefully done) off-white Martini livery, with complementary stitching on the seat.


The frame was done in a gloss black, with parts like the engine and swingarm finished in a satin black. A matching Martini logo on the helmet adds a finishing touch. [Jerem Motorcycles | Images by Jonathan Silène]

Custom Kawasaki Z1-R by Nitron and Bull Dock
Kawasaki Z1-R by Nitron and Bull Dock Our bud Geoff Baldwin over at Return of the Café Racers recently took a deep dive on the iconic Kawasaki Z1-R. Neck deep in the internet he found this: a jaw-dropping resto mod from a few years ago, built by Japan’s Bull Dock for the UK suspension company, Nitron.

Custom Kawasaki Z1-R by Nitron and Bull Dock
The bike was built to showcase Nitron’s products, so giving it a performance edge was a no-brainer. Bull Dock started by stripping their 1978-model donor down, then truing and reinforcing the frame. They also reworked the subframe, and swapped the swingarm for a longer aluminum version.

Nitron supplied a set of right-side-up 43 mm black chrome forks with custom internals, along with a pair of their NTR R3 shocks for the back. They’re attached to adjustable mounts, so that the geometry can be fine-tuned for different scenarios. The wheels are 17” carbon fiber race numbers from Lavorante, and the brakes are Brembos.

Custom Kawasaki Z1-R by Nitron and Bull Dock
The Z-1R’s engine’s been given a bump too, with everything from a new head and valves, to new pistons and bored cylinders, bringing the capacity to 1,203 cc. There’s also a set of Mikuni carbs with velocity stacks, and a new engine management system. From the six-speed transmission and quick-shifter, to the large oil cooler and Win McCoy titanium exhaust, there’s a lot to lust after here.

As for the classic Kawasaki-shaped bodywork, it’s actually all custom. The fuel tank was shaped from aluminum, while the tail piece and side covers were made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic. As for the fairing and fenders, they’re all carbon fiber parts.

Custom Kawasaki Z1-R by Nitron and Bull Dock
Behind the fairing you’ll find a tidy carbon dash with a Stack tacho, a fuel gauge, a row of LED warning lights, and clip-ons fitted with modern Kawasaki switches. The top yoke is a one-off, and is linked to a steering damper.

The overall result? A 190 kilo superbike that makes 150 hp, and looks absolutely fabulous. [More]

Custom Norton Commando by Howard Askey
Norton Commando by Howard Askey New Zealander Howard Askey has just about all the skills you need to build a custom motorcycle. He’s spent time in the shed since his early childhood, and now designs maintenance tools for the aeronautical industry. Plus he spent 14 years working in the specialist automotive and race car industry in the UK.

Remarkably, this 1972 Norton Commando Combat is his first build—and it’s one heck of a debut. The project started five years ago, with a full year dedicated to sketches and CAD modeling. From there, Howard built a jig and set about building the Norton’s new frame.

Custom Norton Commando by Howard Askey
The frame was fabricated from chromoly tubing, with help from Autobend Ltd. in Christchurch. It follows a stunning ‘softail’ line, with a pair of inline Hagon shocks mounted under the seat. Up front are the forks from a Ducati M900 Monster.

The fenders are from Vintage Steel in Western Australia, while the headlight is a vintage Lucas part found at a swap meet, and upgraded with modern internals. Revival Cycles supplied the classic reverse levers, but Howard produced the internal twist grip throttle himself. The custom fuel tank is his own handiwork too.

Custom Norton Commando by Howard Askey
The 1972 750 cc Commando Combat engine received quite a few internal upgrades, starting with Howard’s own 270-degree billet crankshaft. Howard did the rough machining himself, but outsource the finishing work, and other jobs like the balancing. Just about everything inside the motor is new and upgrade; on the outside, you’ll find a Norvil belt drive and primary.

Custom Norton Commando by Howard Askey
Howard has a long list of parts he still has to build before he considers the bike complete, but it’s already turned heads at New Zealand bike shows. More importantly, it satisfies his desire to express himself through the art of custom motorcycles. [Info supplied by Uli Cloesen | Images by Melanie Smyth]

1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead chopper by Becky Goebel
1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead by Becky Goebel Becky ‘Axel’ Goebel doesn’t consider herself a custom builder, but we reckon she’s unnecessarily modest. After all she’s responsible for this spicy Panhead chopper—and she has the distinction of being the first female builder to be invited to the prestigious Born Free show.

1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead chopper by Becky Goebel
Axel kicked things off with nothing but the “guts” of the bike, as she puts it. She managed to source a 1948 Panhead motor, a 1947 transmission and a 1954 frame. Working out of Hawg Supply in Los Angeles, and with help from friends and the internet, she stripped everything and built this chopper from the ground up.

Cody Kemmet at Hawg helped on the engine rebuild, but Axel put in just as much work. “I was able to have my hands on every part of the internals,” she says. “So to me, that’s a very special motor.”

1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead chopper by Becky Goebel
Once the engine was rebuilt, the old pistons were melted down to make a few custom parts. Using 3D-printed molds, Axel cast the intake’s ‘bird deflector,’ and the kicker pedal. She also bent up a set of foot pegs and controls, and brazed a set of custom oil lines.

Parts like the front wheel and gas cap (and bung) came from her friends at Pangea Speed. The bike wears a springer fork and ape hangers up front, with tires from Dunlop.

1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead chopper by Becky Goebel
Alex outsourced the tank paint and seat upholstery, but figured that repainting the frame would be less effort than shipping it off somewhere. Two weeks later, she’d finally stripped, repaired, cleaned, primed and painted it.

The bike was done, and running, in time for Born Free—and it bagged an ‘Award of Excellence’ too. And to those that said she shouldn’t have been invited in the first place, Axel simply says, “thanks for the fire under my ass, haters.” [More]

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