IF YOU SUFFER from lower back problems, look away now, because all of this week’s Speed Read selects wear clip-on handlebars. We’ve got a Krauser BMW R100 café racer from Poland, a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 café racer from America, and a Norton Commando drag racer. We conclude with a new retro-styled factory sportbike that’s emerged from China.
Krauser BMW R100 by Warkot Motorcycles Genuine Krauser parts are getting harder and harder to find these days, so Warkot Motorcycles really lucked out when a BMW R100 with a striking Krauser four-valve head conversion arrived at their workshop. But that’s not the only thing that’s special about this machine—even though the Polish outfit has been building custom bikes for years, this is their first café racer.
The venerable and versatile BMW R100 was stripped, and the engine was cleaned and rebuilt, ready for decades of service. Pod filters were slipped onto the Bing carbs and twin custom exhausts now hang from the cylinder heads.
Up top, a larger /5-series BMW airhead tank was sourced and installed for a more vintage BMW look. The headlight is original, but it’s mounted to the rebuilt forks by way of custom brackets.
The whole frame was de-tabbed and given a fresh coat of black paint, as was the custom rear subframe. A new seat is perched atop it, trimmed in cognac leather. The under-seat area is free of clutter, thanks to the simplified electronics, which are now run by a full suite of Motogadget components.
Warkot also picked Motogadget items for the speedo, bar-end mirrors and turn signals, and rear ‘three-in-one’ LEDs. Lower down, the factory wheels were painted black and wrapped in fresh Firestones. Six-piston Beringer calipers sit on adapter plates up front, plumbed in with new HEL braided brake lines, while new YSS shocks prop up the rear.
The fuel tank and custom-made fenders were all painting in Porsche 356 brown, completing the vintage café racer vibe in style. “The bike sounds awesome, accelerates great, and is very fun to ride,” the Warkot team tells us. “Building this motorcycle was a big challenge for us, but also gave us a lot of joy and satisfaction.”
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 by Shed Motorcycles Royal Enfield’s twin-cylinder 650s are arguably some of the best value retro-styled motorcycles on the planet. The platform is incredibly versatile too, and it doesn’t take much to make them look and perform even better. Alberto Benito, a Spanish expat living in Providence, USA, shares that opinion.
“I fell in love with custom bike projects thanks to blogs, magazines, and social media,” says Alberto. “I considered purchasing a custom bike, but then thought, ‘Why don’t I build one instead?’”
With his mind made up, Alberto went out and bought a 2021 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (known as the INT650 in the US). Suffice to say, the bike didn’t remain in its original condition for long.
Alberto first purchased a solo seat from the Enfield accessory catalog, in the style of the Interceptor’s stablemate, the Continental GT. He trimmed the subframe for a more aggressive look, and finished the end off with a slim LED taillight. A slew of parts from K-Speed in Thailand then arrived—including new side covers, finned engine covers, rear-set foot pegs, and a fuel tank strap.
The upright handlebar setup of the Interceptor was replaced with low-slung CNC clip-ons, and the headlight was converted to LED with integrated turn signals. The factory gauge cluster was shelved in favor of a Motogadget Motoscope Tiny Speedster speedometer. Rizoma bar-end mirrors and Biltwell Inc. grips maintain the low-profile front end.
Chunky Shinko Superclassic E270 tires were spooned on, with longer Bitubo shocks and a new front fender installed to accommodate said chunk. The final piece of the puzzle was a custom exhaust, painted in matte black. Not only is it 60% lighter than the stock cans, but it also unleashes the full audio potential of the 270-degree parallel twin.
Alberto went into this project with little to no fabrication experience, a limited budget, and a small workspace. But he’s proven himself smart and resourceful—and he’s certainly got good taste. [Shed Motorcycles]
Norton Commando by Jets Forever The Norton Commando is up there with some of the best classic motorcycles ever made. From the iconic English-made 360-degree parallel twin to the innovative isolastic engine mounts and good looks, the Commando has it all. While we prefer classic or restomodded Commandos, some builders like to push the envelope.
Jeff Duval and his Jets Forever workshop have just unveiled this—their ‘Monterey Class MkIV Commando.’ Monterey Class is a category of drag racing for bikes that sit halfway between road racers and dedicated quarter-mile drag bikes. Jeff has always been a fan of the category, so he set about building his own Monterey bike.
As with a lot of machines that line up on the drag strip, Jeff and a dedicated team of experts and enthusiasts started from scratch with this build. Jeff’s friend John Parry built the frame by hand in a custom jig using chromoly steel. The 37-degree rake angle is massively different from a factory Commando, but a big rake helps with stability at high speed—which is what this build is all about.
The front section of the frame is 5” longer than a normal Commando. 35mm Ceriani adjustable forks were slipped into polished fork clamps, with a custom tubular swingarm installed out back. Beringer brake calipers were installed front and rear for extra stopping power, gripping ISR discs.
The 21F/18R wheelset is from Apollo Wheels in LA, and is wrapped in Avon rubber. The exquisite tail section, stretched tank, and bikini fairing are all custom.
The late-model Commando engine, complete with its left side shift pedal, was built by Pete Lovall. The heads were gas-flowed, the crank was lightened and a 4S cam was installed. 34mm Smoothbore concentric carbs fuel the beast, and the hot gases exit through Commando SS-style headers and aftermarket slash-cut mufflers.
Bikes of this style aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we can still admire the incredible amount of precision and workmanship that went into the build. Jeff hasn’t said how fast the old Brit is, but we reckon it would wipe the floor with a factory Commando. [Source]
Zeths ZFR 525 R Avenger With the café-custom craze hitting some of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, the styles of the 60s and 70s are here to stay. Royal Enfield, Triumph, and Moto Guzzi all continue to produce the modern classics that have buoyed their sales in recent years. Honda, Yamaha, and Husqvarna have also dipped their toes in the retro market, but with a decidedly more neo-classic twist closer associated with the late 70s and 80s.
Extrapolating this trajectory through the decades, it must mean that the late 80s and early 90s are next in line, right? Yes, and we’re here for it.
Meet the Zeths ZFR 525 R Avenger. We’d never heard of Zeths before today, but they’ve been producing bikes for the Chinese market since 2016. Perusing their website shows two svelte bobbers, akin to a small-displacement Zero Engineering chopper, but they’re also developing a 1000 cc V-twin engine.
Skipping a few decades from their 50s-style bobbers, the Zeths ZFR 525 R is small-displacement retro sportbike with miles of early-90s style. Powered by a 494cc parallel twin (perhaps a Honda CB500 clone), Zeths is claiming around 50hp with 50 Nm of torque. The upside-down forks, aluminum frame, and single-sided swingarm are all positive signs; the radial-mounted twin front brakes and ABS, even more so.
We adore the twin round headlights and the smooth lines of the fairing. The tank is just modern enough for our taste, as is the sculpted tail section and single reverse cone muffler. No, there aren’t any wings or flying buttresses (we’re looking at you, Ducati), but that’s the whole point.
If the return of retro sportbikes is wrong, then we don’t want to be right. [Source]