MUSHASHI: A CUSTOM TVS RONIN BY SMOKED GARAGE

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IT’S BECOME COMMON practice for major OEMs to launch new bikes by showing off custom versions of them. And we’re here for it—especially when those companies pick the right workshops, and the results turn out this good.

 

You’re looking at a custom TVS Ronin—a brand new 225 cc modern retro, customized to great effect by our friends Smoked Garage in Indonesia. If you don’t know the TVS Motor Company, you really should. They’re India’s third-largest manufacturer, sell three million units a year and own Norton.

 

To celebrate the release of the Ronin, they handed four bikes over to some of the world’s best custom shops. Smoked made the cut—and responded with a custom beach scrambler as sharp as a katana.

 

The Ronin is best describes as an accessible single-cylinder retro-styled standard. It looks charming as heck out of the box, but also comes loaded with modern amenities like ABS, rider modes and Bluetooth connectivity. And, as Smoked has shown, it’s got potential for customization too.

 

Taking inspiration from the Ronin’s designation, Smoked designed the bike as a homage to Miyamoto Musashi. Born in 1584, Musashi was a writer, philosopher and rōnin; a samurai without a master. He is widely considered a kensei; a swordsman of legendary skill, directly translated as ‘sword saint.’

 

The bottom half of Smoked’s custom Ronin is typical fat-tire beach cruiser fare. The bike’s stock 17” wheels were swapped for a 120-wide 18” front hoop, and a chunky 180-wide 14” rear. But the conversion was far from plug-and-play.

 

Enamored with the Ronin’s stock frame, Smoked figured that a rework of the front forks and a swingarm stretch would do the trick. So they simply lowered the original front forks a bit to perfect the bike’s stance.

 

The rear end was a more tedious affair. First, the crew fabricated an extended swingarm with enough space for the fat rear tire. But they soon realized that the new setup was clashing with the OEM mono-shock arrangement.

 

After much back-and-forth, Smoked figured that a horizontal suspension system would do the trick, with the added side-effect of being almost invisible. Neither the front nor rear suspension tweaks were guesstimates either; Smoked put both to the test to make sure that the bike would still handle well.

 

Smoked turned their attention to the bodywork next, and it’s here that the samurai parallels became a priority.

 

Similar to how samurai carry two swords, the fuel tank cover and front air ducts were shaped to look like two blades cutting through the air. The curved blade of a katana, and its tapered tip, informed the silhouette of the custom tail section.

 

Rounding out the bodywork is a full set of carbon fiber wheel covers. Smoked added them to reduce the amount of drag coming off the wheels—though they did leave gaps on the front covers, to minimize the effect of crosswinds during highway riding.

 

With most of the big stuff ticked off, all that was left to do was sort out the finer details—like the lighting. The team bounced around a bunch of headlight ideas, but in the end, actually circled back to using the original TVS headlight. A custom stone guard was built, with a ‘T’ design that matches the daytime running light on the OEM unit.

 

Smoked also wanted to install a pair of LED fog lights lower down, which in turn prompted them to build a pair of fork guards. The TVS Ronin’s original speedo and switches are still in play; since they include everything the rider needs to pair their smartphone and switch rider modes, Smoked deemed it wise to leave them alone. They did move the speedo to the side of the bike though, to clean up the cockpit.

 

The final piece of the puzzle was the exhaust. Smoked started by building a short, low-slung exhaust—but it ended up messing with the bike’s sleek aesthetic. So they built a bash plate that would not only hide the exhaust, but also protect the engine from wayward stones.

 

Opting for a raw aluminum finish to emphasize the contours of the tank cover, Smoked finished the rest of the bike in black, with a handful of gold accents riffing off the front forks. The effect is striking—this custom Ronin is minimalist, sharp, and somehow serious and playful at the same time.

 

Finally, Smoked rolled the bike off the bench, out of the workshop, and into the surrounding roads, beaches and jungles. They’re happy to report that the bike is a total hoot to ride, no matter the terrain.

 

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