Kawasaki W650

The Kawasaki W650 is a motorcycle that quickly earned itself a place amongst the modern breed of retro motorcycles with 21st-century engineering – a genre that has consistently out-performed manufacturer’s expectations since it began in the late 1990s.

The similarity between the Kawasaki W650 and the Triumphs of the late ’60s is no mistake, in fact I’ve heard from seasoned motorcycle journalists who’ve quietly admitted to occasionally confusing them from a distance. Much of the popularity of the W650 comes from the fact that it’s a best of both worlds offering – you get the styling of classic British iron with the bullet-proof reliability of a modern Japanese motorcycle.

The custom W650 you see here is the work of Brent Giesbrecht from Motovida – a Canadian custom motorcycle garage based out of British Columbia that specialises in turning out vintage-inspired motorcycles with a strong focus on practical rideabilty.

It rolled into the garage as a stock 2000 model year Kawasaki W650 with just over 50,000 Kms on the odometer – it was in good condition throughout so all that was really needed was a deep clean and engine tune before the build began. The side and valve covers were sent off for powder-coating, the fenders and signals were then binned in favour of some smaller, lighter parts and a more compact set of blinkers and tail lights were added.

The seat was trimmed top and bottom to reduce the upswept look of the original – it was then re-upholstered with diamond stitch, chosen to pair with the leather knee pads on either side of the fuel tank. Brent spent many hours taking the fuel tank down to bare metal, then hand sanding it to get the grain to follow the tank contour – it was finished off with two ivory stripes and a satin clear by painter Todd Regier.

To complete the bike a set of drag bars was added, along with shortened cables and rubber grips. The finished build is a clean-looking bike that’d fit into any decade from 1960 to the present day and it has a seat that’ll appeal to those of you who always complain that modern customs have seats too skinny for anything even remotely resembling long distance riding.

Photography by Darren Hull.

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Two Moto Co. Tee

Two Moto Co. was founded in 2011 by designer Seth Ferris, it’s a boutique company that specialises in selling low volume designs – like the t-shirt you see here. Although it’s a little hard to tell in the image above due to it being black-on-black, the tools on the front of the shirt are rising out of the breast pocket – a fantastic little design touch that caught my eye last week.

If you’d like to buy this tee or see more of Seth’s work over at Two Moto Co, you can click here to visit the store.

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The Red Pig Print

The story of the Red Pig is one of those automotive legends that deserves its own feature film, for those unfamiliar with the story it goes something like this:

In 1969 a a small local automotive tuning company in Germany called “AMG” got their hands on a Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 – a large sedan popular with non-benevolent middle eastern dictators. For reasons still unknown they decided to turn the car into a racer, the engine was enlarged to 6.8 litres and power at the rear wheels was boosted to 420.

The Red Pig was then entered into the 1971 24 Hours of Spa where it took a second place over all – stunning the field who had laughed the Mercedes out of Parc Ferme the day before. The torque produced by the engine was such that the team had to replace tires repeatedly during the race, as well as top up fuel which was being consumed at a rate slightly higher than 1mpg. Im the years after its retirement from racing the Spa Red Pig was sold to French company Matra who used it to test jet fighter tires and landing gear.

This print by World Shut Your Mouth shows the best angle of the Red Pig, it measures 24″ x 18″ and it’s individually silkscreened by Kansas City’s La Cucaracha Press on a heavy French Paper stock. The run is limited to 50 distributed prints and each will be signed and numbered.

Grab yours here

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Top 5 Cafe Racers On eBay This Week

The first “Top 5 Cafe Racers” collection was published last week and it was far more popular than I had initially anticipated – over 4,000 people read it in the first 7 days and I’ve been contacted by a number of readers who asked me to make it a regular feature – so here we are.

This week’s collection has quite a bit of variety, the oldest motorcycle is from 1974 and the newest is from 2010 – all of the bikes are immediately identifiable as cafe racers, and all of them would make a handsome addition to the garage.

Click here to view the full collection

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Relentless – Documentary

Relentless: The Global Formula Racing Pursuit of Perfection is a film from the Oregon State University covering their Formula SAE racing team, you may not have heard of Formula SAE before, I hadn’t either until recently, it’s a special low-cost series developed by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) as a a student design competition. As you can imagine, the competition is fierce and many of the outstanding engineers find themselves working for significant global racing teams upon graduation.

This film is a look inside the OSU team and it’ll be fascinating to anyone with an interest in motor racing or automotive engineering, the film runs just over 35 minutes in length – meaning it should last about 1 cup of coffee.

Click here to learn more about the OSU Formula SAE Team.

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Stereo Tube Amplifier Kit

Vacuum tube based amplifiers have been making a significant comeback over the past 10 years or so, they were ubiquitous before the invention of the transistor – which due to its low cost and ease of manufacture quickly replaced tubes in almost all applications. The reason vacuum tubes have seen such a return to favour is slightly controversial (as is everything in the world of the audiophile), but many peer-reviewed studies have shown conclusively the tube amplifiers do have significant benefits over their solid state relatives.

As with most things in the field of high-end stereos, tube amps are expensive – usually eye-wateringly so. One of the most effective and entertaining ways of avoiding a lot of the associated costs is to buy a kit and spend an afternoon in the shed with a soldering iron, you’ll save a tonne of money over a shop bought amp and you’ll be able to rest assured that the assembly was done properly. This kit contains everything you need to build the Elekit TU-8200 Stereo Tube Amp – all you need to complete it is plenty of solder and a healthy dose of patience.

Grab yours here

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Mini Cooper S Cutaway Wallpaper

This is a cutaway of the now legendary #52 Mini Cooper S driven to victory at the 1965 Monte Carlo Rallye by the Timo Mäkinen / Paul Easter team. The variety seen in the field of cars that entered in ’65 was extraordinary, the second and third place finishers were Eugen Böhringer / Rolf Wütherich in a Porsche 904 and Pat Moss / Ann Wisdom in a Saab 96 – it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see that much variety in an international level rally event again.

If you’d like to download the cutaway in full resolution you can click here (it measures 2048 x 1411 pixels) and if you’d like to see some actual footage of the 1965 Rallye you can click here.

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#19 Daypack by Kilo Gear

The #19 Daypack by Kilo Gear is a backpack with an integrated tool roll, specifically designed for motorcyclists who like (or need) to keep their tools on hand. Each #19 is made from a combination of waterproof 16oz rubber backed waxed canvas and full grain leather, the zippers are heavy duty brass RiRi and it has an adjustable-height chest strap to keep the bag comfortably in place regardless of your size or riding style.

Grab yours here

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Yamaha XJR 1300 by Keino Cycles

The Yamaha XJR 1300 is what I like to imagine the Kraken would ride, if it rose from the ocean and decided that its campaign of terror would be a lot more fun if conducted from the saddle of a motorcycle.

The XJR series from Yamaha needs no introduction for fans of balls-to-the-wall, hairy-chested motorcycles that’ll peel the enamel off your teeth – for everyone else, here’s a brief catch up: The Yamaha XJR 1200 was originally released in 1994 and quickly developed a cult following in every country in which it was sold, in 1999 the model series was updated with the XJR 1300 – this was a further distilled version that separated the men from the boys, but still made them both cry.

The XJR 1300 you see here is the result of a collaboration between NYC based Japanese custom motorcycle builder Keinosuke “Keino” Sasaki and Yamaha as a part of their Yard Built project. Keino set about disassembling the bike before beginning the rebuild process, the first order of business was an entirely new front suspension set up with a custom, adjustable mono-springer, this was paired with a pair of adjustable rear springs to give the rider a high level of control over handling characteristics.

The front and rear brakes were replaced with Brembo units to improve stopping power and the stock fuel tank was removed and replaced with a lower and slimmer version, the rear sub-frame was then removed and replaced with a custom rear cowling and single seat.

Looking at the completed bike, it seems a shame that Yamaha doesn’t ship a version of the XJR 1300 that looks just like this – although to be fair it does look like the sort of thing that’d chew up and spit out any rider without the ability to wrangle its considerable brawn.

Click here to see more from Keinosuke “Keino” Sasaki, or click here to see more from the Yamaha Yard Built project.

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Harrier Drop Tank Boardroom Desk

I can only imagine that Bond villains could potentially have difficultly sourcing suitably cinematic furniture to kit out their volcano lairs, although on retrospect I guess this could also apply to hedge fund managers, political lobbyists and certain petite North Korean dictators.

Fortunately for the above mentioned scoundrels a company called Hangar 54 specialises in creating furniture from retired aviation parts – including in this case, a Harrier drop tank that’s been turned into a boardroom desk. It can comfortably accommodate 10 people (11 if you put the boss at the pointy end) and it’s currently for sale by Hangar 54, the price isn’t immediately available but as the old saying goes, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Click here to visit Hangar 54.

The CEO’s chair you see at the desk was featured here on Silodrome a few weeks ago, you can click here to read about it.

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