Et pendant ce temps, ailleurs sur la toile…
KUPFERNICKEL. BMW R80 build by Jason Ralls & Rogue Motorcycles

Words and photos by Jeremy Hammer 

“I didn’t know if it was going to be fantastic or a frankenstein,” are the words that rolled out of Jason Ralls mouth as he reflected on his first-ever custom motorcycle – a 1979 BMW R80 that’s strikingly different, yet beautifully elegant at the same time. A dabbler in building boats and Australian muscle cars, a custom motorcycle had so far eluded Jason until his interest was peaked by a mate’s R80 project. Not one to mess around, Rallsy picked up his very own rusted out, wasp-infested, BMW R80 just three weeks later, serving as the donor for his elaborate ideas.

“I was building cars, then I built a boat, and I thought I haven’t built a motorcycle yet,” Jason explained. “My mate had a BMW R80 built for his dad and had it customised for his 60th birthday, I thought it was pretty cool – a few weeks later he showed me one for sale, so went and bought it.”

While a project of this calibre can often take extended periods of time, a looming deadline to make the 2018 RIDE ON custom bike show in Perth meant a considerable number of overtime hours were spent to complete it. Rallsy trawled through the internet for inspiration, honing down his thousands of ideas to develop a storyboard before enlisting the help of renowned Western Australian builder Billy Kuyken of Rogue Motorcycles.

“It was probably around a five to six-month process concepting and designing – going through thousands of BMWs and cafe racers seeing what I liked and what I didn’t like,” Rallsy continued. “I had about 60 or 70 pages of parts that I’d chop and change to conceptualize a design. I narrowed that down to two or three per part on the bikes, and that’s when I went to Billy and told him what I wanted to create.”

The copper-dipped frame immediately draws the eye and is unquestionably the staple of the motorcycle. Billy welded on a subframe and stripped any unnecessary lugs and welds, preparing a flawless surface for the dipping process – which would later prove to be a headache for the pair. With many avenues rejected, they were finally able to source a shop willing to dip the chassis, and Custom Modifications delivered in a big way.

“I wanted it to be something different,” he added. “I didn’t want another black frame, and some of the standout builds I’ve seen, there’s something different about the frame – whether that’s fabrication or the paint work. Paint just didn’t cut it, so I had it dipped in copper – the decision from there was to polish it, or let it oxidise. We decided to keep it polished.”

Rogue Motorcycles undertook the core of the build, handling the major modifications – such as the frame and blasting, spraying and detailing the engine – along with taking care of the majority of parts installation and customization. The Perth-based shop crafted a new seat pan that was later upholstered by BeyondTrim, while they also fitted fenders on the front and rear with custom brackets

The battery box has been stripped, a pair of rear-sets have been installed, and Moose indicators that double up as taillights have been fitted. The tank has received a fresh coat of paint with elegant pinstriping, and the wheels have been refurbished and installed with a pair of Firestone tires. Completing the bike is a set of headers and exhaust system, which boosts the bike’s character and unleashes the beautiful note of the Boxer engine.

“I’m very proud of how it’s come out,” Jason reflects. “ When I had all these ideas in my head, I didn’t know if it was going to be fantastic or a frankenstein. I was really happy that in the end, it’s generally fantastic and only a few people think it’s frankenstein. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to come up with, conceptualize and create.”


[ Rogue Motorcycles | Instagram ]


50 Years Ago | We ventured, only a small step in the vastness of the Universe, beyond our earthly home. A journey of 3 days over a quarter million miles to our neighbor the Moon. A scheme so daring and difficult it gave us a glimpse of what was possible as a race when minds and courage come together. This iconic photograph taken by Neil Armstrong of Buzz Aldrin shows a man standing on a grey dusty plain under a black sky lit by a bright sun. We really are amazing… it’s just a shame a a civilization we’re quite dumb some of the time too…

Heading to the surface

The Eagle has wings | So said Neil Armstrong as the LM separates from the CM on its way to the lunar surface fifty years ago today. Its spidery and seemed ungainly form was spare and ideally suited to the vacuum of space.
RACE TO THE CLOUDS: 2008 Yamaha YZ450F

Written by Martin Hodgson

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb joins the Isle of Man TT as the two most prestigious and legendary time trials in all of motorsport. The ‘Race to the Clouds’ pits man and machine against 156 unique turns on the way to climbing nearly 5000ft in altitude before reaching the summit, high in the Rocky Mountains, some 14000ft above sea level. The demands on the motorcycle are only exceeded by those on the body and tragically some won’t make it home. But for Thomas Kendall the call of the mountain was strong and he re-built his 2008 Yamaha YZ450F in preparation for his first attack on the lightweight class.

For most of its near hundred-year history, the climb up Pikes Peak was a mixture of gravel and paved roads. But by the end of 2011 the road up the mountain had been given a coat of asphalt all the way to the top. But the brutal climb, rising altitude and sheer diversity of the corners mean the versatility of Naked and Supermoto bikes has them selected over the typical road race machines. In the lightweight class, motorcycles with either two or four-stroke engines that do not exceed two cylinders, with a displacement of up to 500cc can be entered.

But while most select a factory Supermoto bike and modify it to suit, Tom was already road racing his YZ back in California. So sticking with what he knows he underwent the enormous task of re-purposing the Yamaha to not only meet the rule book but to be capable of doing the job, quickly and safely. “This provided the opportunity to build something unique for the lightweight class… the bike became a mashup of super-single and tracker style,” Tom explains.

The stock aluminum chassis remains, but most of what makes the YZ such a good performer off-road would have to go to bring it up to speed for the run up the hill. The entire front end is replaced by a Yamaha R6 setup, with the upper triple clamp with risers machined by CNC gurus Cognito Moto. On top, Tom stuck a set of Renthal Fat Bars equipped with a Brembo RCS master cylinder and lever combo and Woodcraft lever guards.

The all-important foot controls are Valter Moto R1 rearsets that fit the bike thanks to a set of custom adapters. With braking taken care of by a single R6 caliper and wave rotor at the front, Brembo rear setup and HEL lines to help prevent fade. The rear shock is one of the single most important changes to a race bike and no expense was spared with a custom made Ohlins TTX unit called on for duties. An Ohlins steering damper also helps tame the beast and the bike rolls on an R6 front and Galespeed rear wheel.

The stock 449cc five-valve DOHC liquid-cooled engine is considered powerful and yet tractable, but that’s just not enough to climb Pikes Peak. Cracking the engine open Tom has kitted her out with a high compression Wiseco piston. With the head now sporting a pair of Hot Cams stage 2 bump sticks, Kibblewhite SS valves and valve springs, all fed by a Lectron Fuel Systems carburetor with a Graves Motorsport carb catch tank.

But making power is one thing, keeping the engine alive is another and a Boyesen water pump and Tusk oversize radiators help keep things cool. Sounding great, boosting power and looking a treat is the full DRD titanium exhaust. While a Wiseco clutch basket holds the power and an STM slipper clutch prevents the rear wheel locking on heavy downshifts. All of which are made smooth as silk with a Graves ignition module and Dynojet quick-shifter.

The bodywork is all about functionality, but Tom’s ride still looks trick as hell thanks to his clever selection of parts. The modified KTM RC390 belly pan is not only for the look and aero but also catches any fluids should the engine let go. Up top the fuel tank is hidden underneath a Roland Sands super single tank cover. With an Airtech Streamlining tracker seat featuring carbon mounts and only the barest of padding. While an R6 carbon front fender and custom carbon pipe guard keep the weight low on this already super-slim machine.

Painted up in blue and with his custom carbon number plates and sideboards in place Tom was ready for the trip to Colorado. A bunch of safety wire and a few sets of Metzeler slicks and it was time to twist the throttle. The Yamaha ran flawlessly all week and in his rookie year, Mr. Kendall cracked the 12min mark with a stunning 11.50 in trying conditions. Sadly the 97th running of the PPIHC ended in tragedy with the four-time winner and all-round great guy Carlin Dunne killed on the very last turn as he was set to eclipse the overall record on his prototype V4 Ducati. It’s a cruel reminder of just how dangerous the event is, but racers have it in their blood and Tom will return in 2020 with an all-new bike to catch the clouds even faster again.


I feel the need…

He’s Dangerous | The official trailer for the sequel to Top Gun was released today. Called Top Gun Maverick it stars Tom Cruise as the titular character – this time an aged fighter pilot rather than a brash young jock. Kawasaki motorcycles feature again. A brief sighting of the original Ninja 900 as well as a speeding Ninja H2. The Need for Speed.
SUPERSIZED. Yamaha XT1100 by Slowbuilt.

To say the Yamaha XT500 is a legendary bike would be an understatement. More than 40 years later, it is still one of the best thumpers in motorcycle history. After winning the Paris to Dakar rally shortly after its release in 1976, it paved the way for future enduro and off-road bikes. But what if it was released today as a larger capacity scrambler? Jesper Johansen from Slowbuilt in Copenhagen, Denmark, wanted to build a larger capacity XT with all the retro cues of the original classic – only bigger. “I always loved twin shocks dirt bikes,” he explains. “Especially the Yamaha XT500 and HL500 – had a few over the years, especially the white 1976 model XT with the iconic tank decals.”

Slowbuilt is a small custom shop based in the heart of Copenhagen. Jesper named it after his personal mantra: good things take time. “I don’t want to rush the builds because the best things take time. I mainly do custom modifications and service on older metric bikes.”

Jesper has an impressive stash of motorcycles – over 12 at the moment – and one of these bikes turned out to be the perfect donor for his supersized XT project. “In my garage was a Yamaha XV920 Virago rat bike with a XV1100 engine that I found 4 years ago and didn’t know which way to go with it.” After playing around with it in Photoshop, Jesper decided the monster XXXT would work. “The aesthetic and proportions were really important to me. That’s why I built it in Photoshop first. Nice to know if the idea works or not.”

With Jesper happy with how it looked on the screen, it was time to start the surgery. The original bike was a beat up old 1987 XV920 with a 1999 XV1100 engine – which was the only thing in good condition. Jesper started by stripping the bike right down and making a custom rear sub frame with a modified XT250 seat that had the right enduro proportions.

Next he sourced parts from multiple Yamaha models to create the ultimate Yamaha bitsa. He used an XS650 front wheel, a modified XV535 rear hub, a XV750 fuel tank and custom alloy side panels. “I also used as many XT500 parts I had laying around, like the fenders, lights and so on. So now it rides on 17” at the rear and 19” up front, fitted with TCK 80 tires.”

After Jesper was finished removing everything that wasn’t a necessity, the bike had lost an incredible 60kg (130 pounds). “With a curb weight of only 160kg it handles like a dream. Much more like an XT, which makes it perfect for some light off-roading.”

Slowbuilt has created a bulletproof daily driver that is fun in the city and can handle the fast roads as well as some dirt – and it wouldn’t look out of place in a Yamaha showroom. As for the bike’s future, Jesper plans to roam the streets of Copenhagen for a while and then put the bike up for sale – to fund the next project, of course.

[ Slowbuilt  | Instagram | Photography by Thomas Skou ]

Mirrored Moon

On Reflection | all photography releases by NASA shows how beautiful the ventures into space truly are. The LM Eagle reflecting the cratered surface is like a delicate Faberge egg balanced over a rugged plain.

Un pneu dans la tombe
Une Honda CB 400 Four cafe-racer, que s’apelerio… « La chaude pisse » !

Une Honda CB 400 Four cafe-racer, que s'apelerio... "La chaude pisse" !

Née en 1975, abandonnée dans les années 80, requinquée par nos camarades ces derniers mois, cette Honda CB 400 Four cafe-racer a voyagé comme une vilaine maladie honteuse… On fait de bonnes rencontres à Dijon, lors de nos virées aux Coupes Moto Légende ; surtout à l’heure de l’apéro ! Cette année, autour d’un petit […]

L’article Une Honda CB 400 Four cafe-racer, que s’apelerio… « La chaude pisse » ! est apparu en premier sur Un pneu dans la tombe.

La Route de Tremola

La Route de Tremola entre le col du San Gottardo et la commune d’Airolo est quelque chose de complètement fou. Le départ s’effectue à Airolo à une altitude de 1175 m et 14 km plus loin, vous arrivez au col du San Gottardo à une altitude de 2091 m. Déjà, la pente est sympathique mais quand en plus vous décidez d’emprunter la Route de Tremola pour gravir ce col, vous roulez alors sur un morceau d’histoire. Construite de 1827 à 1832 avec son lot d’ouvrages d’art pour accompagner ses méandres, recouverte de milliers de pavés de 5 cm de côté remarquablement bien encastrés les uns dans les autres, surtout depuis la rénovation de cette route en 1953, la Route de Tremola offre le record de vibrations pour qui ose s’aventurer sur ses pavés.

C’est précisément ce que Xavier et Fabien ont décidé de faire lundi soir, après une journée entière passée sur les cols du centre de la Suisse, ils ont remis leur moteurs en route et sont repartis vers Airolo par cette route unique avant de remonter en filmant leur exploit depuis la moto de Xavier. Deux Harley sur les pavés de la Tremola, un film à vous donner envie d’aller y faire un tour dès que possible. Enjoy!

Crédit vidéo Xavier G.

Cet article fut rédigé et publié pour la première fois sur Virage8 le 17 juillet 2019

L’article La Route de Tremola est apparu en premier sur Virage8.


Moonship Cutaway | beautiful technical illustration of the Command Module. The three astronauts traveled to the moon and back in the claustrophobic confines of this vessel. Though in zero-g it became very slightly more voluminous. They also had the Lunar Module which was docked to the nose of the LM for more elbow room. The CM is the only piece of hardware that made it back to earth.
WORK OF ART: ‘Bauhaus 100’ BMW F 850GS by Krautmotors

Written by Martin Hodgson

Exactly a hundred years ago German architect Walter Gropius founded Staatliches Bauhaus, an art school whose philosophy was based on Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning ‘total work of art’. The institution would become incredibly influential in all areas of art and design and although it closed 80 years ago at the outbreak of World War II, its students would spread the philosophy around the globe. So to celebrate the centennial anniversary BMW commissioned artist and bike builder extraordinaire Rolf Reick of Krautmotors to build a motorcycle that would honour all the school represents. Presenting “Bauhaus 100”, a combination of BMW’s old and new, it’s a tribute and masterpiece.

Rolf is a graduate industrial designer and head of a private school for product design and multimedia, who also runs the very successful Krautmotors workshop in Heidelberg. But when he’s not drawing, teaching or building bikes, he’s out racing his BMWs in events like the Sultans of Sprint series. Clearly he was the perfect man for the job and with the unveiling scheduled for the BMW Motorrad Days at the start of July, Rolf began sketching his design as the snow fell in January.

From the outset all parties agreed that the project would be the perfect way to show off the all-new engine from the recently released BMW F850 GS. It’s an amazing piece of kit, but modern engines with water cooling and a tremendous amount of electronics are not the easiest thing to work with on a custom; let alone making them look good. So to balance the advanced technology of the driveline, Rolf went back in time and selected a BMW R60/6 as the basis for the frame.

From his hand-drawn sketches the design is then rendered into a digital model before Rolf sets about creating the real thing and overcoming the endless hurdles that such a project invariably presents. “At the end of the day, the gut determines where the project is going to go and the head has to deal with the problems, but the two work quite well together,” he smiles. First up was handling the frame and here inspiration was drawn from Marcel Breuer’s ‘Lounge Chair’, a former student of the Bauhaus in the ’20s.

To achieve the look, the back end of the frame was removed and a rigid rear end created. Before the upper loop was widened and smoothed out, all to capture the lines of the inspiration while being both functional and capable of holding the new engine. To ensure the final welds were themselves a work of art, master coachbuilder Jochen Lehmann, also known as the “Tin Fairy” from Malsch in Baden-Württemberg, laid down each bead with absolute precision.

Next up was the tank and always the perfectionist Rolf tell us he’ll scrap any part if it’s not right for the build. “No matter if you’ve worked on it for one week or one month, if it doesn’t work, you have to get rid of it and start over.” Again with a nod to the ‘Lounge Chair’ the tank and seat is a single piece, with the tail hovering out in the air like Breuer’s creation and even the stitch pattern drawn from the times. But no matter how artistic he gets, Rolf still insists on functionality and the metal holds plenty of go-juice.

Supporting the front end the girder forks continue the theme and are the perfect match for a rigid rear. It’s not the first set that Rolf has built, so he knew exactly the right shock setup to pick and the dimensions to use for the design. With Jochen back at the welder, Rolf made up the bars to top the forks and they’re finished out with an internal fender to beautifully match the bodywork. While getting things rolling are classic 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels with custom moon discs and wrapped up in vintage rubber.

Now the all-new 850cc parallel-twin engine could be bolted in and packing 100hp it’s got plenty of go. Mikuni carbs are fitted to simplify the fuelling and while Rolf set about crafting a one-off exhaust system, Christoph Liepelt and Marco Rose from BMW Motorrad visited and created a wiring harness to get it fired up. Completed in less than six months “Bauhaus 100” is an incredible tribute and for Rolf “to build something as a designer in recognition of Bauhaus is a great honour.” But don’t think it’s just a static display, as the passionate drag racer is preparing to fire his masterpiece down the 1/8th mile in a smoked filled salute to German art and engineering!


[ Krautmotors | Instagram | Photography by Marc Holstein and Christine Gabler ]

Standing Room Only

LEM | Lunar (Excursion) Module. Three days after embarking on the Trans Lunar Injection the Apollo spacecraft entered orbit around the Moon. Separating from the Command Service Module the LM descended to the surface with the Commander and Pilot standing at these controls in their full spacesuits. The descent and landing is well documented as one of the coolest pieces of flying by anyone anywhere. Like landing a telephone box, using the computing power of a Casio scientific calculator, onto a grey dust surface under a black sky…. with diminishing fuel and alarms going off.
BRAT RACE. Kawasaki KZ440 by AMP Motorcycles

Written by Martin Hodgson

Take a project of any kind, particularly the weekend tinkering approach, and for generations the world over Fathers and Sons have been swinging the tools together. Whether they’re building a barn, restoring the young lad’s first car or making motorcycles, it’s as much about the relationship as the final result. But somewhere along this journey for Michael Posenauer and his son Allen things stepped up a level and they now run a shop called AMP Motorcycles in Germany. Now from the bones of Michael’s first bike comes this 1982 Kawasaki KZ440 LTD that’s been given a full Brat-Bob makeover.

Despite being the older of the pair, Michael didn’t get into bikes heavily until later in his life journey. Calling Uwe Kostrewas of Hombrese Bikes a friend certainly helped fuel the fire, and in love with Uwe’s Suzuki GN400 custom build, Michael took to eBay while away on vacation. Here he began the search for his first bike to be a project and before he’d even arrived home he’d won the auction and the Kawasaki was parked up at AMP HQ in Offenbach, Germany.

Setting off with son Allen for the 2015 edition of the Wheels and Waves in Biarritz the pair gave the Kwaka a few upgrades and modifications and set off on their way. Then over recent years the AMP headquarters, formerly an old office building turned into a garage, started to become more serious and turning out some beautiful bikes. So with the 2019 edition of the Wheels and Waves approaching the KZ440 was picked to undergo a full makeover for the event.

Up on the bench and the whole bike, including the not so old upgrades were removed leaving just the bare frame. With four more years on their skill set the Father and Son team had plenty more tricks they wanted to show off. “We decided to build a clean looking bike but no well-behaved cafe racer (we also love cafe racers) but a badass bobber styled bike which is fun to ride and attracts attention,” Allen Smiles.

So to get that clean look started the entire frame was smoothed out, all the unrequired tabs and brackets removed and the rear shortened. With the frame design in mind, rather than go the traditional bobber solo seat the pair decided to instead cover the rear with a cowl. Hand made from aluminium the smooth lines and rounded surface does a brilliant job at disguising the ’80s steel underneath. While the piece is topped off with a seat that was both shaped and upholstered in house, with alcantara to finish.

The stock tank is not a bad looking item, but wanting to emphasise the bobbed look the decision was made to use a 2.2-gallon chopper unit. Normally placed over the backbone of a Harley, it required considerable surgery before it sat neatly on the back of the KZ. Then mounts were fabricated to bolt it down and some more surgery performed so as to fit a custom filler cap. Not done there, Michael continued the fab work to relocate the new fuel taps and you realise this is not a bolt on affair.

Before the bike could be turned into a roller, the stock rims and frame were sent out for powder coating in black. While the paint was laid down on the tins, a mix of satin grey and gloss black stripes. Piecing it back together new shocks were thrown on the rear and the front forks cleaned up, fitted with gaiters and topped with a set of LSL bars. Before Allen set out on the laborious task of building a wiring loom from scratch, using high-end RACETRONICS components and speedo for an uber clean look.

The 443cc engine has been left standard internally, with new gaskets and oil thrown in and a coat of black paint and a polish bringing the look up to scratch. But to give it a rorty sound the stock airbox is gone and both carbs draw breath via pod filters, with the exhaust a fully custom built set of pipes finishing in a screaming muffler all fabricated by Michael. The old school Shinko tires were unapologetically chosen for their style and the little Brat-Bob was done. Then all that was left to do was for Father and Son to saddle up and ride for Biarritz as their every growing bond takes them out on the road to cross Western Europe once again!

[ AMP Motorcycles | Photography by Marc Holstein ]

Field and Sky

Besting the Summer Heat | A sharp start this morning whilst the cool air was still around. A low light angle picks out the rural landscape in stark contrasting shadows. A hayfield has been harvested and baled for fodder. The khaki hue of the Tiger sits comfortably in the countryside scene.

Toys for Tots

Start ’em young | Available at Target for 4-7 year olds here is a ride on Beemer GS adventure bike for the tot who needs to explore their back yard. Dual sport E-bike?

Making Hay

Gravel Road | A balmy Friday evening beckons the Tiger up into Lake County where a sinking sun gives a final glow to the grassy fields. I explored down a short lane through horse country and found this bucolic scene.


Partir, c’est mourir un peu mais c’est surtout vivre, beaucoup ! Partir en vacances, c’est une forme de soulagement, de salut de notre âme, de notre esprit, de notre corps. C’est l’appel du large, de la découverte, du renouveau.

Tant d’efforts répétés tout au long de l’année, tant de journées travaillées avec acharnement et engagement. Tant de rencontres, de vécus, de moments forts, petits et grands. Partir en vacances est la plus belle des récompenses, le cadeau d’une année pleine et intense.

Excellentes vacances à toutes et à tous où que vos roues vous emmènent ! Nous aurons plaisir à vous retrouver dès notre retour un de ces jours de la seconde moitié du mois d’août.

L’article Vacances est apparu en premier sur Virage8.
RUNS IN THE BLOOD. 1977 Yamaha XT500

We all have family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation. Like expensive silverware, bone china plates, antique furniture and the most precious of all – motorcycles. We love a good story about a bike being in the family for decades and this is one of those tales. From as young as five years old, Jerrett Bellamy from Ontario, Canada, has been riding this exact Yamaha XT500 with his dad. “He made up some foot pegs that would clamp onto the frame so I could ride in front of him,” recalls Jerrett. “I can remember riding with him hanging onto the handlebar and us popping little wheelies.”

Jerrett and his mum with his dad’s XT500.

Jerrett’s dad ended up selling the bike to a local guy where it sat for 20 years in his shed. As luck would have it, his dad started working with the guy that had the bike. “We asked to buy it back a few times but the owner wanted to restore it. A couple of years later the owner told my dad and I to stop by and check it out. We pulled it out of his back shed where it had sat for 20 years or so. He pulled out the ownership, signed it, and gave the bike back to us for free!”

As soon as the XT500 made its way back into the family, Jerrett’s dad rebuilt the engine, then Jerrett tore into it to make it his own. The build was named ‘Project X-Tracker’ and was inspired by his history of riding and racing Flat Track, Supermoto, Off-road and BMX. “The goal was to mix modern performance with the original vintage styling to maintain the bike’s history,” he tells us. “My day job is a mechanical engineer. The rear brake & drive configuration was a personal engineering challenge to fit both on the same size of wheel. It may not be the most practical setup but it looks cool and was fun to build.”

So with the modern performance and vintage styling in mind, they swapped out the stock front forks with a 1996 Suzuki GXSR 750 – shaving off all the extra mounting brackets. To give it that flat track look, Jerrett went with a simple aluminum number board with an LED light bar recessed into it.

Keeping it clean and minimal on the bars, Jerrett used Motogadget bar end signals. Mini push button switches & Motogadget relay were used for signals. All wiring was routed through the ProTaper handlebars, which he rescued off a YZF250 dirt bike.

To increase the stopping power, a Brembo radial master cylinder was used – which was left over from a Supermoto race bike. Also used was a 6 piston caliper from a ZX6R and a 310mm rotor off a Triumph Trophy 1200. As for the rear braking, a GSXR master cylinder was chosen with a Brembo caliper from a Ducati Monster – making the ultimate bitsa braking.

The 19” front and rear wheels were one of the biggest challenges of the build. “The cast Yamaha front wheels had a custom machined hub for the disc brake and the rear wheel has incorporated the drive sprocket and brake rotor on the same side of the wheel. The rear wheel setup was one of my engineering challenges for the build. I had modelled everything in Solidworks 3D CAD to make it all work.”

When it came to the seat, Jerrett’s dad had luckily been a bit of a hoarder of motorcycle parts and still had the original Knight style fibreglass seat pan he used decades ago. “I made a fiberglass base to match the seat pan contour right to the rear of the fuel tank, then Haversack did the foam and leather seat.”

Project X-Tracker turned out better than Jerrett could have imagined. After spending 3 years building this bike in his spare time, using funds from his side hustle, this XT500 is going to stay in the family for the next generation to enjoy – his son already loves sitting on the bike with his dad, just like he did as a kid.


[ Jerrett Bellamy | Instagram | Side hustle | Photography by David Levitt ]


Command Module | Fifty Years ago this month three intrepid explorers headed off into a lunar rendezvous with destiny. Backed by countless engineers, scientists, mathematicians, computers (women who crunches the complex equations for orbital mechanics), skilled laborers, wives, budget analysts, lingerie manufacturers (the space suits required impeccable needlework); they headed beyond the surly bonds of earth atop the mighty Saturn V rocket. The cramped confines of the Command Module ‘Columbia’ took them the quarter million miles to our closest neighbor in the skies.
BAVARIA TO BEIJING. BMW R80 by Mandrill Garage

Written by Martin Hodgson

Beijing might be one of the world’s largest and oldest cities, with an ever-expanding motorcycle manufacturing industry, but that doesn’t mean its smooth sailing for the customisers who call it home. All the big companies have a presence there now, but that is a recent development, so when a client approached Mandrill Garage to build them a slick 1981 BMW R80, finding a donor bike let alone parts was a major challenge. Never fear, as the team of friends simply pooled their collective skills to craft a truly one of a kind BMW Vintage Racer from scratch.

With a growing custom scene emerging across China, like Mandrill, most builders have focussed on modern machinery as their base, not afforded the luxury of barn finds and a flourishing used bike market that many countries rely on. But with the world having gone BMW R series crazy it was only a matter of time before proprietor Luo Hao and his team were approached to perform their magic on one of the trusty old airheads.

Thankfully the stress of having a lack of parts available in the country was eased when the client gave Mandrill no instructions whatsoever and left them simply to build the bike as they saw fit. With an ’81 model never having been officially imported, one was eventually tracked down and entered the workshop to be stripped down. Only the engine, frame and wheels were kept, with the engine put on the bench for a rebuild and the frame placed in the jig to ensure it was straight and prepared for the changes to come.

“The idea was to make it very old style,” Luo tells us. “So the first thought that all agreed on was to fit the bike with a girder front end.” But rather than try and import one they made the decision to build it themselves. Every last piece was first drawn up by the in house graphic designer, before being entered into CAD. Then the upper and lower trees and top nut were machined from billet alloy by a large CNC operation nearby. While back at Mandrill the team made the legs, including the fittings to radially mount the brakes.

The rear end has undergone a similar change, but this time old technology makes way for new with the swingarm totally redesigned to convert it to a mono-shock operation. Once again placed in a purpose-built jig, a perfect fabrication that is absolutely arrow straight is the result, with a factory look to the finish. The frame was next on the bench with the subframe rebuilt and narrowed to suit the bodywork to come. While other changes to the main frame include additional bracing, detabbing and rearset mounts.

As this was all going on, the rest of the team swarmed around the BMW like busy bees and had begun the design for the all new bodywork. Wanting to bring the overall weight down and capture the vintage racer look the decision was made to build it from aluminium. The custom tank gives a slight nod to the R design, but with far more rounded curves, sculpted front and even a recess to allow the rider’s helmet to get low when tucking in. The tail section is no less impressive, with first class metal work resulting in one of the sharpest looking pieces you’re ever likely to see.

Before assembly could commence the paint needed to be laid down and while the blue covers the chassis it’s the tins that get special attention. “The paint and colour we use is a vintage BMW racing colour”, with plenty of flake thrown into the mix before the graphics, logos and race numbers are all laid down and polished to perfection. With the bodywork on the suspension front and rear is assembled with modern shocks at both ends, a GEARS Racing item built for the project controlling the new swingarm.

Prior to the 800cc boxer twin being bolted into place, it was given a thorough rebuild, along with the gearbox; before being polished to a brilliant shine. Rather than rebuild the factory carbs a set of Keihin PWK units are fitted up and each draws air through a machined velocity stack. The exhaust is a work of art, each cylinder has its own pipe all the way rearward, exiting under the seat with an internal baffle along the way. While an all new ignition system based on more modern CDI provides a strong spark.

Continuing on the electrical theme, everything is kept simple with a Motogadget m-Unit serving as the brains of the operation. With LED lighting utilised front and rear and only the best components mounted on the clip-ons. To finish the build the ‘snowflake’ front wheel is modified to accept twin floating discs, clamped by radial mounted Brembo brakes and all wrapped up in modern rubber. Without access to an endless array of parts, Mandrill Garage were forced to get creative and in doing so have crafted a truly custom BMW R80 that stands out from the ever-growing pack and would give most a read hot run on the track!


Un pneu dans la tombe
Unimotorcycle Drag Races : un pneu dans la boue !

Unimotorcycle Drag Races : un pneu dans la boue !

Le bonheur est dans le pré ? A Middelkerke, ça se pourrait, puisque c’est là qu’étaient venus le chercher les participants à l’édition 2018 des Unimotorcycle Drag Races… Alors, t’as planté comme une merde ta supersport japonaise ? T’as pété tout le train avant, et il ne te reste que l’arrière de ta bécane et […]

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Une boule de nerf pour dompteur, l’Abarth 595 Competizione

Elle fait partie de notre espace visuel depuis… 2007, à tel point qu’il semble qu’on l’a toujours connue. Je parle de la Fiat 500 de 3ème génération qui occupe nos rues en grand nombre, souvent l’auto préférée de nos compagnes grâce à son côté chic pas faiseur. Pour tout dire on y fait quasi plus attention sauf lorsque de certaines émane un son rageur que l’on croirait issu d’une auto bien plus puissante.

L’amateur porte alors un regard étonné sur ce qui est, pour lui, une citadine tranquille et découvre que la bouille bien sympathique et tranquille de la 500 s’est transformée : les roues ont grandi en largeur et diamètre, l’auto s’est rabaissée et des spoilers et diffuseurs arrières sont venus la rendre agressive. Si l’on ajoute à cela des peintures de guerre, on est en face d’une version Abarth autrement plus venimeuse comme l’indique le Scorpion, l’emblème de la marque. L’Abarth se décline en une multitude de modèles, de séries spéciales. Dans l’instant, le sommet de cette pyramide automobile est occupé par la 595 Competizione dont nous avons pu effectuer une prise en main.

Qu’apporte de plus cette Competizione par rapport à la Turismo qui la précède dans la gamme ? Tout d’abord le petit T-Jet 4 cylindres de seulement 1 368 cm3 mais soufflé par un gros turbo Garret, passe de 165 à 180 ch. (132 kW) au régime très raisonnable de 5 500 tr/min et le couple gagne 20 Nm (250 Nm) toujours à 3 000 tr/min.

Les différences techniques ne s’arrêtent pas là car la Competizione gagne aussi une transmission avec un autobloquant (en option), des disques de freins avant de grands diamètres (305 mm) pincés par des étriers Brembo spécifiques, un échappement Abarth (évidemment !) « Record Monza » et un système de filtre à air BMC. Force est de reconnaitre que les Italiens savent créer l’envie car « notre » 595 Competizione « Bleu Podio » (choisi parmi 14 coloris disponibles !) avec ses roues noires « Supersport » en 17′ (9 autres possibilités !) au travers desquelles on distingue les gros étriers Brembo 4 pistons couleur « Titane » (là encore 5 autres possibilités) a de l’allure ! L’aspect « sportive hargneuse » est renforcé par une face avant qui ne comporte pas moins de 6 optiques et des entrées d’airs béantes. L’arrière n’est pas en reste avec des extracteurs d’air, un diffuseur et 4 sorties d’échappements ! L’intérieur est à l’avenant et ne peut qu’émoustiller l’amateur du genre. Les sièges Sabelt, un peu moins connus du grand public, sont très appréciés dans le milieu de la compétition avec leurs assises en carbone. Les « nôtres » présentent un mélange cuir/alcantara marron très élégant, et incitent à y prendre place. On se trouve alors face à un volant à méplats comportant des inserts en carbone et un point milieu. Un pédalier, une boule de levier de vitesses en alu et des écussons Abarth omniprésents achèvent de planter le décor. Il est temps de faire ce pour quoi elle a été créée, rouler ! Dès la mise en route le caractère est confirmé, un grondement sourd émane de l’échappement accompagné de vives montées en régime. La boite de vitesses manuelle (séquentielle en option) ne comporte que 5 rapports, le levier tombe bien sous la main, le débattement est assez réduit et la sélection est précise, c’est un très bon point.

Le moins que l’on puisse dire est que le moteur est explosif ! En mode Sport il se comporte comme un moteur turbo d’ancienne génération avec une arrivée massive, voire brutale, de la puissance passé 3 000 tr/min à la manière de ma Renault 5 Turbo 2 d’il y a… longtemps ! Celle-ci ne faisait que 160 ch., l’Abarth en fait 20 de plus ! Cela surprend les premières fois puis l’on s’en amuse… tant que le revêtement de la route est parfait. En effet lorsque celui-ci se dégrade, le train avant du type Mc-Pherson dont on sait qu’il favorise le débattement mais est plus difficile à rigidifier, accouplé à des amortisseurs Koni aux lois d’amortissements trop fermes en compression et un peu trop lâches en détente, a bien du mal à maintenir les roues au sol et, malgré l’autobloquant, les pertes d’adhérences induisent un comportement sous vireur. Certes tout cela est très sportif et peu procurer des sensations mais n’est pas très efficace. Un bon point au freinage, très efficace et dosable, rassurant en rapport au caractère de la bête.  Ce galop d’essai est assurément trop court pour assimiler complétement le tempérament volcanique de l’Abarth 595 Competizione et mériterait d’être complété sur un plus long temps car, et pour certains c’est peut-être une des qualités de cette auto, elle demande à être assimilée, apprivoisée, comprise. Tout le contraire de la plupart des GTI actuelles si parfaites qu’elles paraissent accessibles à tout un chacun.

Crédits photos Alain Berson

Ce texte a été rédigé par Alain Berson et publié pour la première fois sur Virage8 le 10 juillet 2019

L’article Une boule de nerf pour dompteur, l’Abarth 595 Competizione est apparu en premier sur Virage8.


Mercredi, jour des enfants. De celles et ceux qui voient les adultes partir pour un Ride ou un Voyage et qui ne peuvent s’empêcher de penser que leur place est avec eux. Alors, ils s’élancent éperdument dans un run désespéré pour les accompagner puis ils les voient s’éloigner au loin, emmenés par le couple et la puissance de leur machine. Ainsi, va la vie, faite d’espoir, de satisfactions et de frustrations. La même frustration ou la même envie, qui pousseront ces enfants devenus adultes à passer à l’acte. La naissance d’une passion tient à si peu de choses…

Crédit photo inconnu

Cet article fut rédigé et publié pour la première fois sur Virage8 le 10 juillet 2019

L’article Mercredi est apparu en premier sur Virage8.