Go bikes, not show bikes
A significant part of the custom scene appears to be heading down a form over function dead end. Here at Bike we think this a bad thing. Spain’s Bottpower do too…
THE NEW BREED of café racers and scramblers are at risk of following the evolutionary route of choppers and birds of paradise. As each builder strives to stand out from the crowd and attract a mate – in motorcycle terms that’s someone who is going to buy the bike or commission a build – they become more outrageous and only good at attracting attention. The beardy curators and I are stunned by the creations, but for different reasons. They become aroused by the sheet metal work and lustre of the five-foot long dustbin fairing, while I’m amazed that anyone thought 13mm of ground clearance was a good idea. I’ve seen bikes that ‘taste makers’ fawn over, but make zero sense in dynamic terms. Yes, welding the carb to the intake manifold does away with the ‘unsightly’ rubber and Jubilee clip, but how do you, ‘y’know, service the carb? The answer is, you don’t, and it doesn’t matter, because it’ll never be ridden. The proliferation of pointless baubles by, and for, people who have forgotten the purpose of the motorcycle is on the increase. The Bike Shed-style custom crowd have to check it doesn’t end up this way. The scene these pages often concerns themselves with started with people turning unloved and devalued postclassics into urban buzzbombs. To labour the bird analogy, the scene began loving sparrows, developed a penchant for magpies and has now become obsessed with peacocks. The recent Down & Out/ Yamaha/bike project (p53) left some of the staff slightly underwhelmed where it had the opposite affect on me. I’m way beyond saturation point for show bikes. I’m interested in go bikes. This view is shared by some, at least, and that has created the exciting landscape of custom builders wishing to differentiate themselves from the herd by proving the bikes they build haul ass. One such company is Spain’s Bottpower. The name, I’m guessing, comes from an affection for the Battle of the Twins race bikes, nothing to do with flatulence, because Bottpower focus on making chassis and body parts to transform fuel-in-frame Buells into spine-framed 21st century street trackers. The company is headed by David Sanchez, a WSB and Moto2 level telemetry specialist. His modest firm had sold dozens of the frame kits before Sanchez decided to pit one of them against the daunting 156 corners of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Regular, road-going Bott XR1S are designed to use long wheelbase XB12S as donors. They retain the engine, oil-carrying swingarm, wheels, brakes, front end and clocks, unless the new owner wishes to fit different cycle components, then everything is fair game.
‘The proliferation of pointless baubles by, and for, people who have forgotten the purpose of the motorcycle is on the increase’
The Pikes Peak special uses the same huge diameter spine frame, but the company got hold of a pair of XB-RR motors, Buell’s race-only twin, for this project. The XB-RR has downdraught throttle bodies. They caused problems with the spine frame, but Bott solidmodelled, then 3D printed a solution, before having replacements machined. Considering the challenge of the race, a point-to-point time trial that ends at 4302m above sea level, Bott improved everything. The wheels are carbon from Rotobox, the forks have composite sliders, bodywork is carbon, but the Buell swingarm is utilised. These engines are dry sump and require a separate oil tank. What looks like the oil tank on this bike is carrying the petrol, the petrol tank is the airbox… The project was backed by British luggage firm, Kriega, and the rider is Pikes Peak regular Travis Newbold. He came second overall in the motorcycle class in 2015, on another Buell-powered oddball, the Ronin. This year, from a field of 29 starters, he came fourth overall and first in his class. And the Bottpower XR1R looked fabulous doing it. Remember, make a bike shiny and the public will fall over themselves to gawp, slackjawed at it, but form without function is mere titillation.
No ve foot long dustbin fairing here Hi techery for the high Peak