Our 8th show at Tobacco Dock the other weekend really felt like a game changer but at the same time it reminded us of why we enjoy working within this industry so much.
We had the chance to bump into old friends we’d made many years ago, just as the then new wave (perhaps now just custom will suffice) scene was spreading like wildfire throughout the capital.
Andrea and Simon, the duo behind Sette Nero were around long before riding buffed-up Beemers was considered cool. Andrea built his first back in 2003. That’s way back! Johnny Wilkinson had just slipped one passed the stopwatch and Ewan & Charley hadn’t even set off on their first trip yet – that long ago! The guys have full time jobs as a furniture maker and sculptor so the bikes play a definite second fiddle in terms of workshop time. That’s one excuse for the excruciatingly long gaps between builds, the other is a self confessed bout of “fiddling disorder”.
Scintilla was born in a Deptford pub, over a pint and an eBay listing for a tatty R80, mechanically the donor was strong but the rest was in a sorry state. Obviously the entire bike was completely stripped and refreshed before the real work could commence. A brace of Mikuni carbs and a free-flow stainless exhaust were added as the only performance mods. A good few kilos have made the recycle bin so it’ll feel like a few extra ponies have been installed.
Having worked with fibreglass previously Andrea and Simon wanted to try their hand at forming an aluminium tank. There’s an English wheel in the studio so after shaping foam into a rough silhouette and then making a plaster mould they got busy with the sheets of ally, telling us “we look-up to Shinya Kimura for inspiration, particularly in regards to the fact that his bikes are “honest “ whereby the welds, bodywork and details are explicitly exposed, somehow organic. We also like the lines used by Valtoron, again the use of the material is somehow raw but beautifully refined and I guess that we would like to add Revival Cycles as source of inspiration for their radical approach to machining and detail.”
The seat pan was made using the same skills and equipment, this time though in stainless steel. The mudguards could have been just a click away but have instead been beaten and wheeled into a classic shape. I like the intentional conduit running power to the rear light, like a beaded edge – nice touch. Hiding things is soooo last year.
Actually it’s not, it’s just better to hide the ugly stuff, like gargantuan switchgear. A completely new wiring harness replaces the corroded original and now runs a full Motogadget system, including minimal bar switches.
The furniture produced in the workshop is high end stuff you’d expect to find in London’s super fancy hotels so there are a few toys kicking around with which to make trick bits. The knurled foot pegs and brake reservoir were turned on the lathe along with a host of bosses for the myriad of handmade brackets.
Andrea and Simon aren’t pro builders, they’re just two friends having a beer after work while indulging in a passion for old Beemers – the holy grail right. There’s not a lot new in the world of airhead customising but there’s just something about that exposed boxer motor that keeps people coming back for another go. Now finished the plan is to enjoy Scintilla for part of the summer before finding it a new home…. plans are already afoot for a fully faired version and eBay has already yielded an R100.
This article first appeared in The Bike Shed; It’s republished here with permission.