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Custom of the Week: Royal Enfield Bobber by KR Customs

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Should Royal Enfield build a classic 500 Bobber?

WITH THE SUCCESS OF TRIUMPH’S Bonneville Bobber, it’s a wonder more manufacturers aren’t pushing out factory bobbers. But the Royal Enfield Classic 500 is close to the mark, with a timeless, minimal design that’s a little on the utilitarian side.

This bob-job from KR Customs is a superb example of what could be done, if Royal Enfield were feeling daring. And KR Customs are even based in the same city as Royal Enfield’s HQ—Chennai, India.

The shop opened its doors a few years ago, when founder Krish Rajan was relocated to Chennai by the IT company he worked for. A lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, he decided to build his first custom bike, but couldn’t find anyone to help him do it.

“For the most part, custom bike shops were still an esoteric notion in most parts of India,” he explains. “After scratching around for a year to build a custom bike, I finally decided to take the plunge and start my own shop.”

“I must say, somewhere the ‘bike gods’ were smiling, because a chance meeting led me to Suresh and his father. They are old time mechanics, who have spent over 35 years working with Royal Enfield bikes.”

Krish acquired a second hand lathe, a gas welder and a pipe bender, and KR Customs was born. And even though Krish still holds down his day job, this is already their fourth build.

The brief came via a casual phone conversation with their client, Vikas. He’s from Mysore, and was looking for custom shops in and around Bangalore when he stumbled upon KR’s website. The deal was cemented when Vikas and Krish discovered that they shared similar backgrounds and both had studied in North America before moving back to India.

“We decided to make a bobber/tracker,” says Krish. “Vikas provided some design cues: he wanted a vintage look, but with some modern touches. Like keeping the EFI pump, the original forks, and so on.”

It only took a few days to source a suitable donor—a three-year-old Royal Enfield Classic 500. The KR Customs crew stripped it right down to the frame and engine, then started the rebuild with the rear end.

KR have a ‘dual mono shock’ design that they’ve used in the past; a design that utilizes two shocks mounted right next to each other, with a custom three-point pivot system. For this build, they decided to tweak this to run as a true mono shock. Then they swapped the swing arm for a custom-built unit, made 4” longer to accommodate the new rear shock.

Needless to say, the Enfield’s subframe found its way into the trash, and a solo seat is now perched on a cantilevered leaf spring mount. The leaf spring is a 1950s replica part, but the actual seat was built in-house.

The Enfield’s original side boxes are gone too, replaced by a single battery box that houses an Anti-Gravity Lithium-ion battery.

Extra consideration went into the 500’s wheelset too. The guys laced up a 18” front and 16” rear, wrapping them in Firestone Deluxe Champions. But they wanted the wheels to have a seriously vintage vibe, so they rebuilt a pair of Enfield drum hubs from the 50s.

The front brake’s a true drum setup now, but there’s a disc brake out back. The vintage rear hub had to be put through the lathe to balance it, and modded to accept a disc and sprocket.

For the tank, Krish and his mechanics tried a few custom options, before settling on an OEM Triumph Street Twin unit. Krish found it on eBay while visiting the US, but the fitting was easier said than done: the guys had to cut and shut the bottom of the tank to accommodate the stock Enfield fuel pump.

“The tank is fairly shallow,” explains Krish, “so we had to place it about two inches higher on the back tube. That’s why the overall stance of the bike looks a bit more aggressive now.”

The cockpit’s been kept low and lean to match, with a set of drag bars adorned with a Biltwell Inc. throttle and grips. For switches, the team used a set of simple push buttons, mounted in custom-made billet aluminum housings. There’s also a Bates-style headlight and Posh turn signals. And the triple trees are off a Honda CX500—chosen because they have a small notch at the front that made tucking the speedo in a touch easier.

KR Customs kept paint simple with a subtle black and white scheme. The engine casings were blasted and polished, and the custom-made exhaust and fenders finished in black.

“On a breezy day we decided to take the bike out for a spin on the sea-facing east coast road,” says Krish. “It rode like a champ—far exceeding our expectation. And the two best aspects of the bike—its sound and ride quality—you can’t see in the pictures.”

Chennai, are you listening?


This article first appeared on Bike Exif. It’s republished here with permission.

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Custom of the Week: Harley-Davidson ‘XG750R’ Street Rod Flat Tracker by Noise Cycles

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IF YOU LIKE WEAVING through city traffic during the week, and then blasting through the twisties on your days off, the Street Rod is probably the best Harley for you.

We found it to be surprisingly sharp and agile, with a warmed-up version of the regular Street engine delivering 69 frisky horses.

Scott Jones of Noise Cycles likes the Street Rod. And his new ‘XG750R’ tracker version has got us wondering what a factory Harley tracker would look like—if Milwaukee decided to counter the threat posed by Indian’s FTR1200.

Scott is one of the top bike builders in the USA, and despite coming from the chopper side of the tracks, he’s been bitten by the dirt bug. Last year he built himself a racebike based on the regular Street 750: “It started out as just the basic XG,” says Scott. “So this year, I built one using the Street Rod—which has a 27 degree neck instead of 31 degrees.”

That simple change alone made a huge difference. “This one feels so much better and easier to ride. Still 500 pounds, but more nimble.”

Those of you who were riding in the early 80s may feel a slight sense of déjà vu with this bike, and you’d be right. The left-side exhaust mimics the placement of the Harley-Davidson XR1000 pipes, and the paint by Matt Ross (with pin striping by Jen Hallett Art) is a nod to the slate grey used on many XR1000s too.

Scott’s not going to be dicing for the lead with pros like Jared Mees or Brad Baker in the American Flat Track Twins series. He’s in it just for the hell of it, and enjoying every moment.

But he’s also inadvertently given us a pointer on what a Harley Street Tracker might look like. And it wouldn’t be a difficult bike for the factory to replicate, Red Bull catch can aside. Any takers?

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Custom of the Week: KTM ‘950SMR’ by Max Hazan

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THERE’S A DEFINITE STYLE to a Hazan Motorworks bike: a hint of steampunk, lots of beautifully twisted and burnished metal, and impossibly elegant proportions.

It’s an expensive endeavor, and Max operates in the same rarified atmosphere as Ian Barry of Falcon and the Japanese moto-artist Chicara Nagata.

Luckily, there are collectors and museums that have the funds to commission bikes like this, so the rest of us can enjoy them vicariously. But what happens when Max builds a bike for himself, with his own money?

This KTM is the answer. It’s a far cry from his previous KTM build, the supercharged 520 that now resides in the Haas Motorcycle Gallery in Dallas. But it’s a killer track machine, and just the thing Max needs when he wants to blow off steam.

Surprisingly, ‘950SMR’ is the first bike that Max has built for himself. So it was done in the down time between the projects that pay his bills. (“I completely lost track of how much time went into it.”)

The base is a 2005-spec 950 SM. It’s a tall bike—which suits Max’s lofty physique—with around 98 horsepower in stock trim, 17-inch wheels, and a dry weight of just 191 kilos (421 pounds). Contemporary road testers raved about the performance and fun factor.

“It’s possibly the ugliest bike KTM made with that motor,” Max admits. “But the bones were there. The KTM was carbureted from the factory, which let me simplify the design by avoiding EFI parts.”

Stylistically, it’s no flight of fancy: just a well-sorted bike with terrifically simple bodywork and a sophisticated warm grey and white paint scheme. “I wanted the bike to look ‘factory’,” says Max.

“I wanted it to have fenders and bodywork, and not look like a KTM that was chopped. With almost everything being rearranged, it was a lot more work than it looks like. But I guess that was the idea.”

It might be hard to believe, but Max has pulled around 100 pounds—45 kilos—off the 950 SM. (“It was built like a tank.”)

So what’s it like to ride? “It has a huge amount of engine braking,” he says. “It’s geared for about 120mph in sixth, and was in need of a slipper clutch to smooth out downshifts in the lower gears. But I just found myself ‘backing it in’ wherever I was going, as soon as I installed it.”

Everything about this KTM screams ‘track machine,’ but it’s actually 100% street legal. “It’s wired for lights and turn signals, and has a full setup that can be taken on or off in a few minutes,” says Max. “But I just prefer looking at it like this.”

It’s certainly a looker. But unlike many customs from premier league builders, Max’s KTM offers visceral as well as visual pleasures. We can’t imagine Max releasing a kit version of these mods, but if you have one of KTM’s big supermotos in your garage, there’s a ton of inspiration to be gained right here.


This article was first published on Bike Exif; For more details, photos and generally more awesome everything, visit Bike Exif.

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