Speed Read, February 26, 2023

The latest motorcycle news, customs and electric race bikes.
Deus ex Machina returns to their roots with a no-nonsense Kawasaki W650. We also profile a Honda CB550 café racer, a Kawasaki KZ400 restomod and RGNT’s all-electric ice land speed record-breaker.

Custom Kawasaki W650 by Deus ex Machina
Kawasaki W650 by Deus ex Machina It feels like we don’t see that many Kawasaki W650 customs around as we used to, and more’s the pity. The plucky little twin is a joy to ride; easy going with one of the best-looking engines around. And it’s fun to customize, too.

Deus Ex Machina has been building custom W650s since the Australian shop’s early days. So it’s refreshing to see head wrench Jeremy Tagand return to the platform, with a tidy custom W650 nicknamed ‘Goldy.’

Custom Kawasaki W650 by Deus ex Machina
If you’ve been following Deus’ work for a while, you’ll recognize some of Jeremy’s signature W650 mods. The banana seat is a popular aftermarket part, while the handmade side covers recall Deus’ early W650 builds. An aluminum TT-style fuel tank sits up top, with a cutout that traces a line over the top of the engine.

Custom Kawasaki W650 by Deus ex Machina
The stock 19F/18R wheels are wrapped in dual-sport rubber from Pirelli, with stainless steel fenders floating above them. Jeremy’s seen to the W650’s biggest weakness—its rear shocks—with a pair of custom-built Icon units.

Other upgrades include a pair of DNA pod filters, and a two-into-one exhaust from SC Project in Italy. The LED headlight is a Highsider part, the turn signals and rear three-in-one LEDs are from Purpose Built Moto, and the speedo’s Daytona item. New handlebars wear Vans grips and Rizoma bar-end mirrors.

Custom Kawasaki W650 by Deus ex Machina
Compact and minimal, Goldy is the perfect blueprint for anyone that wants to mod their W650, without shedding an iota of its approachable nature. More of these please, Jeremy. [Deus ex Machina]

Honda CB550 café racer by Skog Moto
Honda CB550 by Skog Motorcycles It’s hard to imagine a better donor for an archetypal café racer than a Honda CB. You could argue that the new wave café racer scene was built on Honda CB750s, CB550s and CB450s.

This tidy Honda CB550 comes from Dave Skogerson in Seattle, Washington. It’s quintessential café fare; stripped to the bare essentials and “built to ride,” as he puts it.

Honda CB550 café racer by Skog Moto
Sensibly, Dave kicked the project off with an engine rebuild. The heads were ported and polished, the clutch was rebuilt with a Barnett kit, and anything beyond its sell-by date was replaced. Dave ditched the airbox for a row of velocity stacks and fitted four-into-one headers from MotoGP Werks, then tuned the fueling to squeeze the maximum performance from the inline four.

Honda CB550 café racer by Skog Moto
The Honda also had its wiring redone, and upgraded with a Motogadget controller, a modern ignition and a tiny Lithium-ion battery. The suspension was overhauled, with Hagon springs inside the OEM forks and new Hagon shocks out back, and the wheels were rebuilt. They wear modern Continental ContiGo! treads, while a number of tweaks to the brakes help to slow them down.

Shedding weight was high on Dave’s agenda too, so he de-tabbed the frame and installed lightweight aluminum yokes up front. The CB550 tank is the only piece of stock bodywork remaining. The tail section is an aluminum unit from Bedlam Werks, and the side covers and fenders are now in the bin.

Honda CB550 café racer by Skog Moto
The entire bike is delightfully minimalistic, wearing only what it needs and nothing more. Woodcraft clip-ons, a pair of aftermarket gauges and a classic 5 3/4” headlight adorn the front, with tiny Motogadget turn signals fitted at both ends. Tarozzi rear-sets round out the kit.

The paint job is equally restrained. The CB is mostly black, with a hit of brown on the seat and tasteful Honda ‘wing’ logos on the tank. [Via]

Kawasaki KZ400 restomod by Andy Greaser
Kawasaki KZ400 by Andy Greaser This 1978 Kawasaki KZ400 restomod belongs to longtime RevZilla Common Tread writer, Andy Greaser. Andy’s name has appeared in Common Tread bylines for about six years now, but he’s recently left the team to pursue new opportunities. And he’s going out with a bang—by using his last article to feature his very own bike.

To be fair, Andy’s article isn’t really about his bike. It’s about something else that we’re very passionate about; photography. Working with RevZilla staff photographer, Luke Darigan, Andy unpacks what it takes to commission a pro photographer to photograph your bike, with the express goal of having it featured on websites like Bike EXIF.

Kawasaki KZ400 restomod by Andy Greaser
Using Andy’s KZ400 as a model, Luke delivers a set of textbook glamor photos worthy of any website or magazine. Based off that process, Andy delivers sage advice to anyone that loves building custom motorcycles—but isn’t quite sure how to present their work to a wider audience. Whether you’re a builder or a photographer, it’s a must-read.

Kawasaki KZ400 restomod by Andy Greaser
As for the bike itself—it’s as unassuming as it is charming. It wears the fuel tank from an older KZ400, with its natural patina left intact, with a ‘bread loaf’ seat that uses recycled material from an old hot rod’s soft top. The fiberglass fenders are Triumph parts, and the rear shocks are aftermarket items, scalped from a Sportster.

The engine was treated to a top-end rebuild, with a new clutch and a row of Mikuni VM carbs, tuned for midrange power. Other changes include new wiring, Renthal bars, a vintage oil temp gauge, oversized exhaust flanges, and the Peterson Air Force Base (now Space Force Base) parking sticker from the bike’s past life.

Kawasaki KZ400 restomod by Andy Greaser
It’s not a wild custom by any means—but Andy knows that. “I’d say this KZ400 is a perfect example of a custom anyone could build at home with a MIG welder, some basic tools, and a little know-how,” he says. “I took my time and tried all kinds of ideas before finding solutions I liked.”

“You can avoid a lot of frustration by being honest about your motorcycle. Don’t waste time, don’t waste money, and don’t waste potential.” [Andy Greaser | Images by Luke Darigan]

Electric ice racing motorcycle by RGNT
RGNT sets new electric land speed record The Swedish electric motorcycle company RGNT has just set the new land speed record for an electric motorcycle on ice. And they did it with a motorcycle styled like a classic café racer, no less.

RGNT kicked off the ‘Aurora’ project with their own RGNT No. 1 Classic SE model. It’s effectively an electric retro standard, with slick styling that wouldn’t look out of place in a Triumph or Royal Enfield showroom. Working after hours and on weekends, they rebuilt it into a café racer that’s more racer than café.

Electric ice racing motorcycle by RGNT
The No. 1 Classic SE shed its original seat and fenders, but kept its ‘fuel tank.’ RGNT’s in-house team fabricated a lightweight fairing to cut through the air, equipping it with an HMI race screen. With studded tires, clip-ons to tuck the rider in tight, and a software hack to unlock another 9 kW from the motor, the crew was ready to race.

RGNT headed to the Svenska Motorsport Alliansen-sanctioned and -licensed Speed Weekend in Årsunda, Sweden this weekend to take Aurora to the ice. With RGNT engineer Timmy Eriksson behind the bars, RGNT set three new records with this bike, and a bone stock RGNT No. 1 Scrambler SE.

Electric ice racing motorcycle by RGNT
Those records are the fastest electric motorcycle on ice (155.14 km/h), the fastest electric A1 motorcycle (135.03 km/h) and the fastest electric motorcycle production model (114.3 km/h).

RGNT didn’t have to make their bike look this pretty to set those records, but they did it anyway, because aesthetics are baked into the company’s DNA. As their company motto reads; “Ride clean. Ride in style. 100% electric.” [RGNT Motorcycles]

Electric ice racing motorcycle by RGNT

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