Where to look on your Yamaha cruiser if you’re always seeing oil on your garage floor
The world of custom motorcycles is full of beautiful machines, but many of them see little mileage. While that doesn’t stop us from admiring them, we’re suckers for bikes that are designed to be ridden in anger.
Right now, we’re hooked on this BMW R nineT flat track weapon, built by Dan Riley. Based in Burnsville, Minnesota, Dan’s a freelance graphic and product designer who operates as Gunn Design.
The project kicked off in April last year, when Ola Stenegärd himself (then BMW Motorrad’s Head of Vehicle Design, now at Indian) reached out to Dan about customizing an R nineT Pure. Dan’s been riding since age four, so building a show pony was never an option.
Since then, this hooligan racer-slash-street tracker—dubbed ‘Maxx Headroom’—has gone through multiple rounds of changes, and spent as much time on display as it has on the race track.
It’s been shown at Sturgis, Wheels & Waves California, The One Show, The Handbuilt Show and Glemseck 101, and raced at almost all of them.
Most of Dan’s changes have been focused on shedding weight, adding performance, and improving ergonomics: all critical elements of flat track racing. He’s done most of the work himself, all from an area in his design studio where he can “build bikes and get messy.”
The R nineT’s stock bodywork has been replaced, and the new fuel tank is from a 1990 Honda CB400. It was a tricky job: Dan had to cut the bottom section off the OEM tank, and weld it to the Honda tank to get it to fit.
He also fitted a Vortex fuel cap, and modded the fuel pump slightly.
Out back, there’s a carbon fiber flat track tail, modeled on a Ron Wood design, but altered to suit Dan’s taste.
It’s clear coated for a gloss finish and topped off with a custom leather seat pad from Saddlemen, complete with an embroidered Gunn logo. Dan tells us he didn’t need to tweak the subframe much, apart from some tab edits.
Lower down, the R nineT now rolls on a set of typical 19” flat track wheels. Woody’s Wheel Works built the set for Dan, using custom orange anodized hubs laced to custom-drilled Sun rims, and shod with Dunlop rubber.
At first, Dan couldn’t get the rear wheel to fit the space available—but then he switched to a 3.5” wide rim, which flattened the tire out just enough to make it work.
The front suspension is stock, but there’s a custom Race Tech G3-S shock doing duty at the rear. Dan’s upgraded the front brake rotor, and added Magura HC3 master cylinders for both the brake and clutch.
Rocket Exhaust helped Dan out on the custom pipework, which consists of twin stainless steel headers running up into MX-style, carbon-tipped mufflers. Dan also removed the airbox and installed a pair of K&N filters—and then realized the BMW didn’t run as great.
So he installed a RapidBike Tuner, in a bid to squeeze more (and smoother) power from the boxer. “I haven’t had it on a dyno with the new setup,” he tells us, but seat-of-the-pants feel from the tune is noticeable.”
“I had to do something, given the totally changed-up intake and exhaust system. BMW people told me at Glemseck that the stock air box makes the most power…and that’s what Nate Kern was running when he beat me.”
Dan’s new cockpit setup is all about maximum control. He’s fitted ProTaper handlebars on adjustable Rox risers, and removed all the switches he doesn’t need. He’s also deleted the stock bike’s ABS system, and uninstalled the heated grips.
The overall wiring changes are minimal though. The speedo’s still in play, and Dan’s fitted a small LED taillight at the back. He’s also got an LED headlight that he can plug in quickly if he wants to take to the streets.
Maxx Headroom is a stellar case study for form following function. There’s nothing precious or fussy about it—it’s a raw machine, built to be thrashed.
Plus we’re pretty sure that if we give Dan enough time, he’ll find more ways to make his R nineT lighter, faster and better.
A motorcycle trip with the missus is a great way to unwind and connect. Some women don’t have the urge to ride their own bikes, and feel more comfortable as a passenger. There’s something so intimate about riding two-up with your better half. You dig her arms wrapped tightly wrapped around your waist. And she feels the much-needed closeness of grabbing her man tightly. Win-win!
Gifts For Your Motorcycle Passenger
I’m always looking for gear that will make my wife’s trip more enjoyable for use either on or off the bike come trip-planning time. You know, the things that will make her continue wanting to take two-wheeled treks for many years to come. She’s always looking for goodies too, so we charted out a list of great gifts for a motorcycle passenger. Some of these products aren’t necessarily moto-specific, but they’re definitely applicable to pampering and gearing up your gal for living her best life on the back seat of your motorcycle.
Riding a motorcycle in the cold can zap the energy right out of you, so if you’re feeling cold you can bet that your motorcycle passenger does too. The Conqueco heated jacket is a great pick for staying warm while riding and comes in a slim-fit cut to fit underneath your passenger’s preferred riding jacket. The Conqueco riding jacket comes with its own power supply that can also be used to charge a phone or GPS navigation unit.
Apple’s AirPods are a great gift for on and off the bike usage, if the person you’re giving them to has an Apple product to maximize their functionality. Access Siri, take phone calls, and listen to your music, straight from your device.
Stock motorcycle seats are notorious for being hard and uncomfortable, and even seats on bikes made for touring are only marginally more comfortable. The Airhawk Cushion looks to alleviate the back and butt aches your passenger feels with patented air cell technology that helps ease pressure points and vibration fatigue on longer rides.
Plastic bottles end up leaching harmful chemicals into the liquid they contain. Avoid the chemicals, and taste, of plastic and invest in a reusable water bottle. We recommend this Healthy Human insulated water bottle that can keep your and your passenger’s drinks cold for 24 hours.
Some motorcycle riders like the added utility of running saddlebags, a top case, or any kind of luggage on their bikes, and some of you don’t. Some of you like the aesthetic and the lines of the bike, and want to keep it simple, but you can’t get past the fact that when you are going on a long ride you need to bring things along with you. The Scarleton backpack gives your passenger a stylish option while also giving you a place to keep your wallet, phone, first-aid kit, and tire patch kit.
It’s handy to keep tools on your bike when you go on a long ride. There are a hundred different bolts and parts that could vibrate off your bike and become a hazard to you and your passenger. Always be prepared for that situation and have your riding partner take this tool fold in her bag on your rides.
15 goodies to keep the missus happy
Any list of the world’s most desirable motorcycles is likely to include the MV Agusta 750S. If you fall under the spell of the iconic inline four, you’ll need at least $60,000 to put a good example in your garage.
Produced in the first half of the 1970s, the 750S was tricky to ride, three times the price of a Honda CB750 and more at home on the track than the road. But it looked amazing, and it still looks good today.
The Tributo looks just as good, and it’s also much more than a pretty re-skin of a factory MV. Everything that surrounds the 109 hp, three-cylinder motor is custom—from the traditional-style frame to the suspension.
The tubular double-cradle frame looks old school, right down to the loop that extends over the rear fender. But it’s likely to be much stiffer than the 750S original: it’s fashioned out of 30 mm ChroMoly steel tubing, TIG-welded, and with a more modern geometry.
The forks look like Cerianis lifted from a 1970s GP bike, but despite the traditional construction, they’re a modern design by the German specialist Oram.
They’re CNC machined from aluminum alloy, fully adjustable, and measure 43 mm in diameter.
Rake is set to a sporty 25 degrees—just half a degree more relaxed than the latest Brutale 800 chassis geometry. Trail is a shorter 3.35 inches compared to the Brutale’s 4.05.
Oram supplied the shocks too, which are also adjustable. They’re hooked up to a box-section double-sided swingarm, built using the same 25CrMo4 steel as the frame. (The final drive is via chain, rather than shaft.)
The 18-inch wheels come from the Milan-based specialist JoNich. Measuring 2.50 at the front and 4.50 at the back, they’re built up from aluminum rims and stainless steel spokes. The rubber is surprisingly modern: Metzeler’s Racetec RR K1 compound, which is more commonly found on trackday bikes.
Drum brakes are not going to cut it with this level of performance, so the Tributo is anchored by 320 mm Brembo dual discs and four-piston calipers at the front.
The rear disc is a 230 mm Brembo, with a two-piston setup. Discacciati supplies the clutch and brake master cylinders.
The tricolore color scheme is all present and correct, including the iconic red leather seat and the gorgeous tank, which echoes the disco volante (‘flying saucer’) design of yore. Even the Monza-style filler cap looks period correct, and the tachometer (from race brand Scitsu) is timeless.
Performance, however, will be on a par with a middleweight 21st century sportbike. In other words, it’ll be more than adequate for 90% of riders and virtually all road conditions. Maintenance should be easy: Bosch fuel injection is much less hassle than four Dell’Orto carbs.
The Tributo is not the first time Magni has taken inspiration from the 750S, though. Five years ago, the Magni Storia [back left, above] was launched—essentially a kit that fits the Brutale 1090 and costs around €8,000 (US$9,100).
To our eyes, the Tributo is an even more successful concept. And it’s not vaporware: a quick chat with Giovanni Magni reveals that he’s taking orders already, and production is ready to start pronto.
The build cost depends on customer spec, but Giovanni puts the starting price at €36,000 excluding taxes—around $41,000. In other words, it’s a half to two-thirds of what you’d pay for a good original 750S.
That sounds like excellent value to us. Your money buys a high quality motorcycle, hand built in small numbers, with a reliable modern drivetrain. And the provenance is good too: Magni’s links to MV Agusta stretch back to 1950, when Giovanni’s father Arturo joined MV’s racing department.
The history of the two companies has been entwined ever since, and we’re delighted to see the relationship continuing.
The Tributo has just rocketed to the very top of our Want List.
Cooling Jade – Hype of Science?
To be completely honest, I am always pretty skeptical of a “new” discovery or process that claims to be better at, in this case, cooling. It can be very easy to manipulate tests and results of testing in a very controlled environment to produce the results needed to make a strong statement such as, “decreases the skin surface temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit”.
In too many cases, the manufacturer is testing the product under controls which will rarely, if ever, apply to use in the real world. With this in mind, I was determined to research the concept of COOLJADE and see if there was any real science behind it.
And I am glad to report that there is definitely some science to back up the name and the statement made by the Super Seer Corporation of Evergreen, Colorado.
How It Works
Sweating is your body’s natural means of cooling. The sweat that is on your skin is basically water in its liquid form. This liquid is cooler than your body temperature so it begins to draw heat from your body. As the temperature of the liquid increases, it then becomes vapor which releases the heat and helps to cool your body.
The trick is to capture as much liquid as possible against your body so that it can efficiently cool your skin. If the sweat is wiped from your skin or drips off, you lose its cooling benefit. And this is where the COOLJADE technology comes into play.
Any fabric that is designed to be used in a hot environment needs to be thin and breathable to provide maximum comfort to consumers. But that same thin material also needs to be extremely absorbent.
The desired goal is to capture as much sweat from the body as possible for evaporation and maximum cooling benefit. When the micro crushed jade particles are infused into the fabric, they provide an exponential increase in the fabrics absorbent quality.
In short, the jade particles are greatly increasing the surface area of the fabric but on a microscopic level that is undetectable to the human eye or even the human touch. This infusion makes it possible for the Cool Cap to offer super-efficient evaporation and cooling for a riders head and in some cases that increase evaporation can actually decrease the skin temperature by 10 degrees.
So in the case of the Cool Cap from the Super Seer Corporation, this is not just a claim from an ultra-controlled test environment, this product will provide better cooling in the real world.
My past experience had been with a Nike brand skull cap and several Under Armor skull caps. On average, I was paying about $17 – $20 each for the other major brand caps, so the $20 price tag on the Cool Cap is very reasonable considering the fact that I found it to be a superior product.
The Cool Cap
The Cool Cap is made from a ventilated COOL JADE mesh fabric that provides great airflow. Think of the mesh fabric that is used for jackets that allow for almost complete airflow and doesn’t ripple or flap in the wind, and that is similar to these caps.
The shape of the cap is fairly typical as it is comprised of four triangular pieces and then a solid band of fabric at the base. But what is very unique about the Cool Cap is the awesome flatlock seams which allow the cap to stretch for a comfortable custom fit.
This stretch fabric also eliminates the need for any elastic which can cause irritation under a helmet. In addition, these seams are precisely finished on the inside of the cap so there are no rough areas or even a noticeable difference in thickness. This is an important feature for riders who have very short hair or no hair, as thick seams can cause abrasions, blisters, and discomfort when wearing a snug helmet for a long period of time.
Comfort and function are the most important features in any skull cap but the Cool Cap doesn’t stop with just those two great benefits. Due to the unique fabric and construction, this cap is one size fits all. I know, we have heard that a lot when it comes to motorcycle gear but this time you can really buy into the statement.
I wear an extra-small helmet or sometimes a small depending on the style and manufacturer. On the other end of the spectrum, my husband wears an extra-large helmet in most brands, but we were both able to wear the same Cool Cap very comfortably. Obviously, the Cool Cap fit us each a little differently but it was still very functional. I did end up tucking the edges of the baseband slightly at my ears but had no issues with it becoming bulky.
In addition to being infused with jade particles, the cap also has a special anti-odor compound woven into the fabric which deters microbe growth and helps to fight odor build up in your helmet.
I am also very happy that the Cool Cap is machine washable. Living in a hot climate, I was forced to do a lot of hand washing of other skull caps in the past. But these chemical-free caps can be thrown in a washing machine and will air dry very quickly to be ready for your next ride.
Currently, the Cool Cap is offered in a black COOLJADE infused mesh fabric with blue stitching. And in case you are wondering, the black material offers SPF 50 protection.
- The S-7001-1 model has no logo imprint.
- The S-7001-2 through S-7001-7 offer a variety of logo imprint options on the front and back of the cap which are related to law enforcement.
All of the caps are offered to law enforcement officers as well as civilian riders who want to show their support for the men and women in blue.
My experience with the Cool Cap has been in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees and in a full face helmet. Phoenix is said to have a dry heat but I do know that when wearing other caps under my helmet, the fabric and especially the elastic band and the base of the cap would become soaked with sweat and would not evaporate very well in my helmet.
I never had that issue with the Cool Cap. The Cool Cap provides great evaporative cooling even in the tight fit of my full face helmet. I also noticed that the lining of my helmet was drier than when I had used other brands of the cap. And even though the Cool Cap uses no elastic bands, it remained in place and very comfortable even during longer rides.
In the past, I have noticed that sweat build up in the other caps would cause my head to itch and even to cause some abrasion issues but that never happened when wearing the Cool Cap. I will continue to wear the Cool Cap and don’t foresee ever having a reason to try another type of cap.
A Potential Miss
For this hands-on test, I was able to wear the Cool Cap for a little over a month in pretty warm conditions. I also washed the cap several times due to the weather conditions. At this point, I am still very satisfied with the Cool Cap. As I mentioned before, the caps are being worn by my husband and myself, which provides some drastically different testing.
In my case, I am wondering if the cap will continue to remain a comfortable fit on the small end of the spectrum and not stretch out while my husband hopes that this does not shrink over time. But at this point, about 6 washes into their lifetime, they are holding their shape and elasticity very well.
I am surprisingly happy with the Cool Cap. I never expected the dramatic differences as compared to other caps and it is well worth the $20 price.
As I noted at the beginning of this review, I was very skeptical of the 10 degrees cooler claim. But after reading about the technology and then experiencing the Cool Cap, I am very happy to have access to the product. The cost is very reasonable and the product will definitely enhance my rides in hot weather.
- Great Airflow
- Good Wicking
- 50 SPF Protection from Black Fabric
- No Elastic to Bind
- Extreme Comfort
- COOLJADE Natural Cooling Feature
- Machine Washable
- Potentially Less Durable
- No Color Choices
- Could Lose Stretch After Repeated Washing
- Manufacturer: Super Seer Corporation
- Price (When Tested): $20
- Made In: USA (designed and manufactured in Colorado)
- Alternative models & colors: Multiple logo designs on black mesh
- Sizes: One Size Fits All
- Review Date: September 2018
Super Seer Cool Cap Image Gallery
A Bimota DB1 restomod with a 70s vibe, a BMW R80 built for the dunes of Dubai, and a limited edition Ural sidecar with a built-in drone. How’s that for eclectic?
BMW R80 dune basher by Dust Motorcycles Many customs live pampered lives: brought out at the weekend, and garaged when it rains. But this R80 is destined for a life in the dry heat of Dubai, blasting down dirt roads and over dunes.
It’s the work of the aptly named British shop, Dust Motorcycles, and it’s been heavily modified to cope with the fine, white sand of the Arabian desert. That means the airbox is now a pre-81 item—no pod filters here—and the forks have been upgraded to tougher Suzuki DR650 items.
Dust have converted the monolever to a twin shock setup with Öhlins suspenders, fitted an aluminum sump guard and high pipes, and welded tough off-road pegs onto the stock hangers. Freshly shod with Pirelli MT43 rubber and featuring a full suite of Motogadget electronics, this is a custom that’s more about the go than the show. [More]
Bimota DB1 restomod by Made In Italy Just over a year ago, reports surfaced that Bimota was closing its doors for the last time. But it appears that the oft-troubled boutique maker was merely shifting location a few hundred meters down the road.
We’re hoping that Bimota really is in good health, because the Rimini company has produced some stunning machines such 1973. One of our favorites is the DB1 built in the late 80s, which was the first Ducati-powered Bimota.
Customizing a DB1 sounds like heresy, but this delightful restomod was a bodged-up mess when it arrived in John Fallon’s workshop.
“I wanted to build a DB1 to the same high standards as Bimota would have,” says John. “but in a style they may have used if it was conceived in the 1970s rather than the ’80s.”
We reckon the finished article looks stunning in these shots by Chippy Wood (top) and Amy Shore (above). Return Of The Café Racers has the story.
Film: ‘The Salt Flats – Eleven Ninety Eight’ Does the world need another film about the Bonneville Salt Flats? This one is a little different, because the star is one of the best custom bike builders on the planet—Max Hazan.
The man behind the camera is Brit Josh Allen, who’s been working on the upcoming Oil In The Blood documentary feature film. He flew to the US to follow Max (above right) and his friend Gerald Harrison as they headed out to Utah with a Ducati 1198.
This isn’t one of those super-organized record attempts with teams of mechanics and a bike running on custom-blended race gas. It’s just Max and Gerry ‘having a crack at it’—and seeing the event from the perspective of newcomers, who also happen to know rather a lot about motorcycles.
Josh has kindly put together a trailer to give readers a sneak peek. To see the full movie, head over to his website after the film premieres on November 3.
Triumph Bonneville T120 by BAAK Motocyclette BAAK is one of our favorite French workshops. Their machines always have an effortless style and beautiful finish—so much so, we put their BMW R nineT into our 2019 wall calendar.
The BAAK crew also have a collective head for business, and sell a range of classy parts that allow you to gradually transform the look of your bike bit-by-bit. Occasionally a request comes along for a complete transformation, and that’s what happened here.
BAAK’s client Xavier wanted a multi-purpose version of the Bonneville T120, with tires that would work off road and well as on. BAAK gave his Bonnie a chic British look, mixing a deep green paint with brown leather.
There’s a classic speedometer inserted in the headlight, the fenders are neatly bobbed, the bars are wide and easy to manage, and the exhaust pipework is short and purposeful. It’s a bike full of neat touches and a strong custom look—but the kind of build that can be done relatively quickly. These guys know what they’re doing. [More]
Ural Air limited edition Ural sidecar motorcycles are like Land Rovers: they’ve rarely changed over the years, apart from trim levels and paint schemes and add-on equipment. In the past we’ve seen some inspired limited editions dreamt up by the US importers, and this latest one doesn’t disappoint.
The $17,999 ‘Ural Air’ has a compartment on the nose of the sidecar that opens with the push of a button to reveal a DJI Spark drone. The drone compartment is made by StrataSys, specialists in 3D printing, and was developed from scratch in just six weeks.
“What’s over the ridge? What’s just beyond your campsite? What obstacles lie ahead after a big storm?” the PR exhorts. “When the trail ends, or nightfall is looming, the rider or passenger becomes a pilot—sending out their eye in the sky to determine the best route or quickest escape.”
Just 40 units of the Ural Air will be built, and they’ll be in US dealerships next month. [More]
One of the BMW R nineT’s biggest strengths is its modular construction. You can unbolt the rear part of the frame, and unplug sections of the wiring harness without bricking the electronics. It’s good news for pro builders, and even better news for weekend warriors who want to change things up without too much sweat.
The German custom shop Hookie Co. has now exploited this feature with a sharp new scrambler kit for the BMW R nineT. And the bike you see here can be built in an afternoon by anyone with basic spanner skills.
Shop boss and lead designer Nico Müller explains how the project came about: “In the last three years, we’ve built a lot of motorcycles. But over this period we lost sight of Hookie’s roots: design, not the service or restoration of old motorcycles.”
“Now we’re re-organizing Hookie, and focusing more on design solutions based on modern motorcycles. This BMW R nineT Moto-Kit is the first step.”
Nico first fell for the R nineT when his team built the ‘Falcon.’ So he bought his own: a 2017-model R nineT Scrambler.
“I rode it for three months like it was, and than I started developing my personal favorite custom bike. A mix between tracker and scrambler: a look which is clean and straight, and with the option to quickly change the style.”
But this time round, Hookie weren’t interested in building a one-off, so they had to change their process. It wasn’t entirely new ground for the German crew, because they already produce a few bolt-on bits for the Honda CB750. But creating a full kit did have its challenges.
Nico had to create technical drawings and CAD renderings for each part, so that everything could be easily reproduced. And he experimented with new materials too, switching to carbon fiber for the fuel tank cover and seat pan.
The challenge was to develop bolt-on parts that wouldn’t require expert skill levels to fit, or any cutting, grinding or welding. So every part in the kit comes ready-painted or powder coated, and attaches to existing mounting points on the R nineT’s frame.
To install it, you’ll need to strip off the stock bike’s fuel tank, seat, full subframe, rear fender and rear light cluster. You’ll also need to ditch the OEM battery, a plastic cover that hides some wiring, and the air box.
The rebuild starts with a new full-length subframe that runs all the way up to the fuel tank’s original mounting points in front. Then you’ll need to transfer the fuel pump to a new fuel cell, which attaches to the new subframe via vibration-dampened fasteners.
A carbon fiber tank cover then goes over the fuel cell, held by three quarter-turn fasteners. The idea here, say Hookie, is to give customers a way to change up their R nineT’s color scheme in a heartbeat.
The kit ships with a matte black and gloss carbon finished cover, but the ‘Tricolor’ cover on Nico’s bike is available as an optional extra.
The rear half of the BMW is reworked with an electronics tray that doubles as a rear luggage plate. Up top is an Alcantara seat, sitting on a carbon fiber base. And just behind it, Hookie have added a handy little cargo strap from Snake. (In the shot below, it’s looped into a tail pack from Alms NYC.)
All the R nineT’s stock wiring and electrical bits are plug and play—but you’ll need to swap the stock battery for an Antigravity Lithium-ion unit, which you’ll need to source yourself. And since there’s no more air box, Hookie include a full set of K&N air filters and breathers.
Some of the finer details are left to the customer—like the rear light and turn signals. Nico’s opted for discreet LED units from Kellermann, and he’s added an LED Bates-style headlight up front. His bike’s customized further with bar-end mirrors and an off-the-shelf Arrow exhaust.
He’s also lowered it 30mm, using a lowering kit from Hyperpro—“I’m only 171 cm (5’7″) tall,” he reveals. His Scrambler is also wearing a few from-the-factory upgrades: tubeless spoked wheels, Metzeler Karoo 3 tires, and finned valve covers.
The R nineT Moto-Kit is designed to fit the R nineT Scrambler and Pure models, but Hookie tell us it’ll work on other R nineTs too. And at €6,900 (US$7,900) it’s fine value too.
Since everything’s designed to fit together, Hookie are only selling it as a complete package. But they’re planning to add more tank cover liveries and seat options to their catalog in the coming months—plus a café racer-style seat.
It’s one of the coolest BMW R nineT conversions out there, and also one of the raddest DIY kits we’ve ever come across. If we had an R nineT in the garage now, this would be high on the want list.
If you’re tempted, place your order via the Hookie website before the end of November—you can get a handy 10% off the price using the code ‘playhookie’.
The BMW R NineT Moto-Kit includes
Subframe (25mm steel tube)
Fuel tank with approx. 11 liters fuel capacity
2 x K&N Air filters SN-2530
1 x K&N Engine breather filter 62-1040
2 x K&N Air filter mesh covers SN-2530PK
Carbon fiber tank cover ‘Stealth’
Electronics tray (aluminum)
Alcantara seat on carbon fiber pan
Snake Cargo Strap with AustriAlpin Cobra quick release buckle
All hardware parts
By the time the nineties rolled around, the reputation of the Honda CB750 was losing its luster. The iconic straight four had softened, and the F2 model was more suited to cruising than blasting through canyons.
But the build quality and engineering was still top-notch, which makes the ‘Seven Fifty’ a good used buy today. This sleek build from Spain’s Bolt Motor Co. ditches the clunky styling and cranks up the dynamics with a major suspension upgrade.
“We built this for our friend Santiago, from Palma de Mallorca,” says Bolt boss Adrián Campos. “He wanted a classic look, but with all the modern elements—comfortable and easy to ride every day.”
The donor bike was in excellent condition: a 1995 F2, which means it has a 73 hp detuned version of the CBX750 mill—which is creamy smooth and torquey, and good for almost 130 mph (205 kph).
“The engine was in pretty good shape,” says Adrián. “We just changed the gaskets and overhauled the carbs.” But since Bolt shares its premises with one of Spain’s leading racecar builders, Adrián couldn’t resist adding K&N filter pods and a pair of stubby SuperTrapp mufflers too.
The stock Seven Fifty has safe if somewhat uninspiring handling, so Adrián has replaced the original 41mm forks and triples with newer (and beefier) units from a Ducati Monster.
The shocks have been upgraded to Hagon units that offer classic styling with modern performance, and the front monobloc brakes are from Brembo.
The stock cast wheels are gone, replaced by much more attractive spoked rims of uncertain original. “We don’t know what bike the wheels came from,” Adrián admits.
“We just bought two 17-inch wheels from the same motorcycle, widened the flanges, and fitted new spokes.” The chunky rubber is Continental’s TKC70 pattern.
The heavy lifting is in the frame, though. The back half of the tubing is all-new, from just behind the fuel tank to the end of the seat—including the shock mounts.
For many builders this would be quite a mission, but Bolt’s workshop effectively has access to all the tools of the race car operation. Still, even Adrián found it challenging.
A plush new seat, designed for comfort, sits atop the new framework—with gorgeous diamond contrast stitching and a simple strap across the middle.
Right ahead is a tank lifted from an early CB750, which probably dates to around 1970. The off-white paint is offset by deep green side panels and gold pinstripes, with a chromed tank badge that appears to be lifted from a 1960s-vintage Honda car—possibly an S800.
In keeping with the ‘modern classic’ vibe, Bolt have installed Renthal bars, plus period Brembo levers and Puig controls. To keep the cockpit super-clean, most switches and ancillaries are from Motogadget.
If you’ve been to the Balearic island of Mallorca, you’ll know how beautiful it is—especially when you hit the roads that head out from the tourist traps on the coast.
Anyone else feeling a twinge of jealousy for Santiago and his muy elegante new ride?
Commuter motorcycles don’t usually excel in the styling department, but they don’t need to either. As long as they’re cheap, sip fuel, and are dainty enough to weave through traffic, you’re good.
On the bustling roads of Taiwan, the commuter bike is king. One of the world’s largest manufacturers of scooters and small-capacity motorcycles, SYM, is headquartered there. And it’s also the home of Max Ma—the sole operator of Taipei-based custom house, 2LOUD.
In the short time that we’ve been following 2LOUD’s work, Max has consitently wowed us. This time, he’s created a stylish city runabout using the vanilla SYM Wolf 125. (It’s a smaller version of the Wolf 150 sold in the US for just under $3,000.)
And it does run about; the owner is an interior designer, who uses it to navigate Tapei’s crowded streets as she hops from project to project.
That meant Max had to do more than just make the SYM look pretty—it needed a performance boost too. “I hoped to make it elegant, refined and bright,” he tells us, “and make it more versatile.”
Max started by swapping out the 2007-model Wolf’s 125 cc motor for a 190 cc unit, sourced from an obscure Chinese manufacturer. The swap was reportedly not too hard—all Max had to do was fabricate a new engine mounting bracket.
“At first, I didn’t dare to use the Chinese-made engine,” he says. “But after a few friends used this engine, they gave it a good evaluation—and only then did I use it.”
A power boost alone wasn’t enough though. Max wanted to ensure the SYM stopped as well as it went, so he upgraded the front brake with a four-piston caliper from RPM, a 300 mm disc, and a Brembo master cylinder.
The wheels were swapped out for laced units: 21” up front, and 18” out back. Max lowered the front forks a touch to tweak the stance, then replaced the rear shocks with a pair lifted from a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883.
Max tells us the 883’s OEM spring rate worked out perfectly for the lighter SYM. The shocks are now hooked up to a longer-than-stock aftermarket swing arm.
Up top, Max shortened and looped the subframe and designed a new leather-covered seat to match, stitched with a classy vertical tuck-roll pattern. (Judging by the passenger pegs, it’s designed for two people…but only just.)
Lower down, Max cleared out the air box in favour of a pod filter, and rewired the SYM for a cleaner look. The steel side number boards are his handiwork, as is the leather and canvas bag mounted on the left. And the ignition’s been relocated to the right hand number board.
At a glance, the SYM’s fuel tank looks like a restored trail bike item from the 70s, but it’s actually been custom-made for this bike.
Many other parts are one-offs too—from the wide, tracker-style bars, right through to the stainless steel exhaust header and can. Heck, even the fuel tap’s lever has been crafted by hand.
Then there are the little bits in between: the exhaust hangar, the license plate bracket, and the nifty headlight mount that ‘hangs’ a 4½” light off the triples. Max has kept the cockpit as minimal as possible with Biltwell Inc. grips, a new throttle, and bare-bones switches.
Details like the 2LOUD badges on the seat and muffler give everything a factory fresh vibe.
Thanks to Max’s keen eye and skillful hands, this petite commuter is hardly recognisable any more. And isn’t that color scheme just flawless?
Max picked a white finish for the frame and swing arm, and a metallic silver as the base for the bodywork. Then he complemented it with orange, and white and gold striping. Zoom in, and you’ll notice that the gold is actually gold leaf—a subtle, but effective, detail.
To our eyes, this is the coolest commuter bike we’ve come across. And after all, who needs a 500-pound behemoth when you’re just nipping across town?