Speed Read, March 19, 2023

The latest motorcycle news, customs and auctions.
Your weekly dose of moto-goodness kicks off with two motorcycles that put the “Speed” in “Speed Read.” We start with a supercharged vintage Triumph drag bike, then follow it up with a peek at the new KTM Super Duke RR. Bringing us home are a cheeky Suzuki DR650 street tracker, and a rare Swiss-made, Ducati-powered scrambler.

Supercharged Triumph drag bike by Weems
Supercharged Triumph 750 drag bike by Weems Motor Co. What, really, is a motorcycle? In its purest form, we’d say it’s a frame, two wheels and an engine. So the drag bike that Jared Weems of Weems Motor Co. has built here is effectively the quintessential motorcycle. What it lacks in bodywork, it makes up for in length… and power.

Supercharged Triumph drag bike by Weems
That’s because this incredible machine was built for one purpose—to rip down a drag strip, fast AF. But what exactly is it?

Well, it’s a supercharged 1956 Triumph 650 motor, bolted to a hand-built frame that has been stretched five inches with a 2.5” drop at the neck. The backbone of the frame is the oil tank, while the two ‘tanks’ on either side house the fuel. The bars are custom, as are the internal clutch and throttle systems.

Supercharged Triumph drag bike by Weems
It runs on alcohol, which is cooler than regular gasoline (both physically and metaphorically). That means that Jared could get away with shaving the cooling fins from the heads, thus saving precious ounces of weight. With new aluminum cylinders (bumping the displacement up to 750 cc), the engine looks utterly unique.

There are plenty of details to enjoy. Note the exposed rocker arms and pushrods, and the clear window that exposes the cam gears and oil pump. It’s mechanical art at its best.

Supercharged Triumph drag bike by Weems
As if that isn’t enough, Jared also bolted an AMR300 supercharger to it, running a 1:1 ratio at 6 lbs of boost. It’s got a rare Wal Phillips mechanical fuel injection system, too. Rounding out the spec are authentic Invader wheels, with an extended and widened swingarm.

Not surprisingly, Jared took out the top spot for ‘Best Competition Motorcycle’ at the last Born Free show. There’s only one thing left to do now; actually run the bike down the drag strip to see what it can really do. [Via]

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke RR
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR Like an invading force of seafaring rapscallions, KTM agrees that the more Rs, the better. This is the 2023 Super Duke RR, and its numbers are astounding. It’s a two-wheeled pirate ship that would leave even the Black Pearl dead in the ocean.

The Super Duke RR’s 1,301 cc V-twin produces 140 Nm of torque and 180 hp, while the entire machine weighs 180 kilos [397 lbs]. Math was never my strong suite, but even I can recognize a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio when I see it. It certainly puts the “Hyper” in Hyper Naked.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke RR
Putting all that power down to the road requires top-shelf suspension, which KTM were happy to supply. Up front is a set of WP APEX PRO 7548 close cartridge forks, tailor-made for the RR. The back end is held in check by a WP APEX PRO 7746 shock absorber, and KTM also threw in a WP APEX PRO 7117 steering damper for good measure.

How did KTM shave 11 kg from the 1290 Super Duke R Evo that preceded the RR? Extensive use of carbon fiber, for a start. The subframe, single seat, and all the body panels are made of carbon.

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke RR
The wheels are ultralight forged units, and the standard battery has been replaced with a lightweight lithium-ion battery. A full Akrapovič EVO line exhaust is also available for the bike as an optional extra.

Look, we all know that KTMs aren’t the prettiest of bikes—but we can’t deny their pursuit of form. The RR is angular, aggressive and, frankly, kinda scary-looking. But that’s the idea behind a Hyper Naked, right?

2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke RR
You also can’t argue with how nicely the bright orange frame pops against all that carbon. That, and the fact that it makes 180 horses. Numbers are limited to just 500 units—so if you’ve always dreamed of becoming a pirate, now is your time. [KTM]

Custom Suzuki DR650 by 485 Designs
Suzuki DR650 by 485 Designs I don’t know if it’s coincidence, internet algorithms spying on me or both, but I’ve seen a number of tasty Suzuki DR650s for sale lately. The reliable, go anywhere, do anything motorcycle is also a popular base for custom builds—from retro adventure bikes to café racers, and everything in between.

Custom Suzuki DR650 by 485 Designs
However, above all they make for good street trackers and supermotos. Someone who shares this sentiment is Nick Mercer of 485 Designs. He’s based out of Colorado, and this is his excellently-proportioned custom DR650.

To be honest, there isn’t much of the original DR left—only the main frame, engine and swingarm remain. The plastic bodywork is gone, replaced by metal, metal and more metal.

Custom Suzuki DR650 by 485 Designs
The front end is from a Suzuki GSX-R, complete with twin Tokico brakes; a huge improvement over the stock DR650 single disc. The front end has lowered the ride height considerably, as has the new 17” front wheel. A new set of ProTaper Contour bars were bolted on too, along with a full set of electrical upgrades.

The tank (painted black and gold to match the new front end and wheels) is from a KZ-model Kawasaki. The engine looks mostly stock, which isn’t a bad thing due to the incredible amount of weight it looks like Nick has shaved off the ol’ bush basher.

Custom Suzuki DR650 by 485 Designs
Nick did fabricate a new stainless steel exhaust for the bike though, because, well, look at it. It’s perfect. The whole factory back end went in the bin, replaced by a custom subframe which Nick has ingeniously cantilevered over the back tyre.

With a matching 17” rear tyre, shod in sticky modern rubber, it has been reported that this thing absolutely rails through the canyons. It’s easy to see why. [Via]

Vintage Condor A350 on auction at Bonhams
On auction: A rare Condor A350 We love a good vintage Italian motorcycle and this one is high up on the ‘pretty cool’ list. This is a Condor A350—and if you’ve never heard of them, that’s ok, neither had we until now. Luckily, our buddy Ben Branch over at Silodrome is a master of unearthing obscure motorcycles.

The Condor A350 was built in Switzerland (of all places) for the Swiss Army, with production starting in the 1970s. Who knew the Swiss had much more at their disposal than just a cool multi-tool? That said, that’s kind of the whole purpose of the Condor A350—tough, reliable and long-lasting, you could say this is the motorcycling cousin of the Victorinox Swiss Champ.

Vintage Condor A350 on auction at Bonhams
Everything was built in Switzerland except for the engine and suspension. For those items, Switzerland looked to Italy, with Ducati supplying a 350 cc engine and Marzocchi originally supplying the suspension (before Condor switched to Koni).

The cooling fins on the 90-degree bevel-driven overhead cam engines are immediately recognizable as Ducatis. The Ducati 350 Scrambler engines were all specced for Condor with a lower 8.2:1 compression ratio for when the army had to run lower octane fuels. The mufflers were designed to be as quiet and stealthy as possible; they were even coated in a non-reflective aluminum-based white paint.

Vintage Condor A350 on auction at Bonhams
Condor made about 3,000 A350s and, amazingly, they were being used by the Swiss Army up until the 1990s. After they were retired they were offered for sale to the general public, making them very cool collector’s items.

If you’d like to own a piece of interesting motorcycling history then you’re in luck—this particular example is for sale through The Market by Bonhams right now. We can’t help but feel that the price guide of $1,500 t0 $2,000 doesn’t quite reflect how cool this bike really is. So go ahead, grab yourself a cheap-ish future collectable. [Via]

Vintage Condor A350 on auction at Bonhams

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