It’s all about café racers this week, with a Harley Sportster from Thailand, a Triumph Thruxton from Hong Kong and a BMW boxer from the UK. Plus, a stock standard Ducati MH900E with one mile on the clock is up for sale.
Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight by FatBoy Design and Slayer House Last week, we reported that The Motor Co. had built their last Evo Sporty. This week, two Thai design studios are reminding us that it’ll remain popular for years to come, with one of the most radical custom Sportsters we’ve seen.
The project was conceived by Chakkaphan ‘Mark’ Rungsukcharoen at FatBoy Design, who wanted a bike to display at the 2022 Bangkok Hot Rod Custom Show. Taking heavy inspiration from the Lamborghini Murcielago SV owned by his father, Mark wanted to partner with a workshop that specialized in carbon fiber. So he roped in Nattapat Janyapanich at Slayer House.
The team had just 60 days to transform a bone stock Sportster Forty-Eight into the wild, automotive-influenced machine you’re looking at here. The idea was to build a modern café racer with a strong track performance vibe, while blending in the design language of hyper cars. Or, as Nattapat puts it, “to present Harley-Davidson in a new way, to reach a new generation with a craze for speed.”
Mark and Nattapat started by sketching out their ideas, before 3D scanning the stock bike and designing the whole project digitally. Nattapat then 3D-printed molds for the bodywork, over which the final carbon fiber parts were vacuum formed. The list includes the Sportster’s sharp new fairing, a two-piece tank cover that sits over a steel reservoir, and the flat track-esque tail section.
The bodywork’s complemented by a host of 3D-printed details, including grills, air intakes, and fins below and above the tail. Instead of painting the bike, Mark opted to adorn the carbon fiber parts with a set of race-inspired decals.
Mark also treated the base bike to a laundry list of performance upgrades. Up front are a set of shortened Showa forks, held in place by CNC-machined yokes. A set of longer-than-stock Öhlins piggyback shocks prop up the rear.
The wheels are from Roland Sands Design, and the brake calipers sport yellow paint as a nod to Lamborghini. Other bits include Performance Machine brake discs, FatBoy Design clip-ons and rear-sets, Performance Machine levers and switch housings, and a speedo relocation bracket and grips from RSD.
The engine wears a smorgasbord of goodies, including an Evolution Industries open primary, a chain conversion with FatBoy sprockets, and ‘transparent’ derby and camshaft covers from Figure Machine. A Two Brothers exhaust system, Performance Machine intake and ECU tune unleash a little more power.
Mark and Nattapat got the bike to the Bangkok Hot Rod Custom Show on time, and walked away with the ‘Best Café Racer’ award, along with a judge’s ‘Best in Show’ pick from none other than Shiro Nakajima at 46Works.
Now that that’s done, the bike’s being set up for its next objective: track racing. [Source]
Triumph Thruxton by Angry Lane The current model Triumph Thruxton is one of the best factory café racers on the market today, with little that needs changing or upgrading. But the same can’t be said for its predecessors. Earlier Thruxton models had the right look, but were awkward to ride and lacked the refinement of today’s iteration.
This 2007-model Thruxton from Angry Lane doesn’t suffer from those problems though. Angry Lane is an upmarket leather business run by French expats and brothers, Guillaume and Ben Barras. When they’re not designing stylish leather good and apparel, they build custom motorcycles.
The owner of this particular Thruxton brought it in with a very specific goal in mind. He was happy to spend money on it, but didn’t want anything wild. Instead, since the bike is his daily runner, he wanted to keep the cosmetic changes tasteful and restrained, and shift the emphasis to modern performance and reliability.
The biggest visual hit, other than the muted paint job, is the new rear section. Angry Lane shortened the subframe and welded in a kicked-up loop, then added an aluminum cowl with a bespoke LED tail light. The generously padded seat (for a café racer) features Ferrari-inspired leather upholstery.
The Thruxton’s new running gear includes Öhlins suspension, with custom 17” wheels from Canyon, wrapped in Pirelli Angel GT tires. Beringer brake discs and calipers handle stopping duties, thanks to a custom caliper bracket from Lossa Engineering.
Angry Lane also ditched the air box for a pair of K&N Filters, then rebuilt and re-jetted the carbs. The mufflers are from the American Triumph modern classics specialist, British Customs, and the entire exhaust system has been ceramic coated black.
Up in the cockpit you’ll find a LSL clip-ons, with a Motogadget speedo, grips, switches, and bar-end turn signals and mirrors. The crew rewired the bike with a Motogadget controller too, installing an Antigravity battery and a Mosfet regulator in the process. The Thruxton also wears an LED headlight, LSL rear sets, and a new bash plate and chain guard.
It might not be the most outrageous Triumph café racer out there, but that’s why we love it. Rather, it’s a classy sleeper that’ll go, stop and corner harder than your garden variety first-gen Thruxton. [Angry Lane]
BMW R80ST by Kunst Maschinenbau Boxer customs are a dime a dozen, but seldom do they take 700-plus hours to build. John Nixon had no interest in building a half-baked airhead when he took on this project though.
For his day job, John works as an armorer on Hollywood film sets. But thanks to his technical know-how and professional motor vehicle engineering training, he tinkers on bikes too. And when he does, he tends to go deep.
For this project, John took a 1984 BMW R80ST, and turned it into a classic concept bike of sorts. There are shades of classic race bikes and café racers here, but the real hook is that this boxer has been redesigned as a pure riding machine. Think of what HPN did to turn stock R-series BMWs into rally-ready machines, and apply that to a road bike, and you’ll have the right idea.
There’s too much work to list here, but highlights include the frame work, which involved stripping, bead-blasting, de-tabbing and then reinforcing it. John moved the engine mounts 25 mm forwards and 45 mm upwards to improve weight distribution, then welded in additional diagonal brackets. As a result, he had to make the lower frame members detachable, so that he could get the engine and transmission in and out.
Suspension upgrades include Race Tech internals for the stock forks, custom-made preload adjusters, a FlatRacer brace and a Toaster Tan yoke. A Harrison six-pot brake caliper runs up front, with a custom-built Wilbers shock installed at the back.
The bodywork includes a BMW R45 fuel tank, with a custom fairing and tail inspired by the iconic Ducati Imola design. The subframe is custom, while the seat wears Alcantara.
The engine was rebuilt by Richie Moore, who’s well-versed in making airhead motors fast. This one’s been bumped up to 980 cc with a laundry list of internal and external mods. The carbs are Dell’Orto PHMs, and the exhaust system is a hand-made stainless steel affair. We could go on for hours about the details, but we’ll sum it up by saying that this 1980s boxer now makes 90 hp at the wheel, and weighs just 160 kilos dry [353 lbs].
So what’s it like to ride? “It requires a booster battery to start it from cold, it ‘idles’ at 1,800 rpm and has total loss ignition,” says John. “It will run on pump fuel—if you flick the switch to ignition map ‘B’, but its natural diet is Sunoco 102 race fuel.
“That’s not the problem it seems, because you’ll run out of sparks before you run out of petrol. Maximum range is about 70 miles before the battery, and hence the ignition, dies—easily enough for a weekend on the track or a blast on a sunny Sunday. In short, you only get on this bike when you want to ride. You go out, you ride and, satisfied, you come home.”
If that appeals to you, this BMW is now for sale. Tempted? [Kunst Maschinenbau]
For Sale: Ducati MH900e The Ducati MH900e is arguably one of Pierre Terblanche’s biggest hits. The legendary South African motorcycle designer first penned it as a homage to Mike Hailwood’s 1978 race bike, putting his own spin on it rather than creating a direct replica.
Ducati showed the concept at the Intermot show in Munich, then ran a survey on their website to figure out if they should produce it. The response was positive, so the MH900e went into production, with only 2,000 units being produced.
1,000 of those were sold out via Ducati’s website in just 31 minutes… so finding a clean example for sale these days is a rare treat. And this one is very clean.
If you’ve been jonesing for an MH900e, it’s for sale right now over here at Iconic Motorbike Auctions. And it’s possibly the freshest example out there; turn the key, and you’ll spot that the odometer reads a mere 2 kilometers [less than a mile].
Numbered as “1200 of 2000,” this particular MH900e is completely stock and has never been ridden. It’s so green, in fact, that it still has the plastic protective bits that it came with from the factory. Heck, even the radiator is still wrapped up. Iconic got their hands on it via a shipment from Japan, and detailed it before putting it up for auction.
Oh, and if you’re wondering it it actually runs after sitting for two decades, hit the video below. Doesn’t that sound sweet?