The latest build from Fuel Motorcycles has cut its teeth in the retro Dakar rally
Super-cool custom builds and must-buy riding kit
A1999 Kawasaki W650 has proved to be the perfect canvas for Spanish custom kings, Fuel Motorcycles, as shown by their latest build – the Fuel Catalina GP. Inspired by the Triumph motorcycles that were typically ridden in American deserts in the 1960s, the bike has a distinctive period aesthetic, which oozes a charm and appeal that will definitely turn heads.
“The choice of the Kawasaki W650 was no accident,” says builder Karles Vives. “Kawasaki locked in the retro look so perfectly that even Triumph fans often need a double-take to distinguish one from a period Meriden bike, so the W650 was ideal for our project.”
The original tank was kept and the seat unit was replaced with an item based on those popular at the time as it has plenty of padding and gives room to move on the machine.
Adjustable fork internals from HFS replaced the stock items and give the bike better off-road capability, while YSS took care of the rear shocks. Highrise enduro handlebars and handmade off-road footpegs also help the bike’s handling when it comes to the rough stuff and allow the rider to stand up for better control.
“The paintwork and stickers were added with a patina that would come from the passage of time, so you have the impression of seeing a bike straight out of a ’60s time machine. “To get that vintage sled look just right, we also fabricated a pair of mid-height, shotgun-styled exhausts that are completed with internal db killers,” said Vives.
Finishing the bike is a luggage frame that will accept a saddle bag for carrying those desert essentials, and off-road tyres helped to add that final touch to the 650.
Thankfully there’s enough go to match the show. After its completition, the bike took part in Scram Africa – a 2500km tour of North Africa that takes on dirt, dunes and mountain roads – acting like a sort of retro Dakar rally. There are few sterner tests for it, and if seeing it has set your mind on racing, it’s up for sale over on www.fuelmotorcycles.eu.
You don’t need anything more than a speedo...
It’s no show pony – this W650-based special is a desert racer Paint and stickers come pre-aged Deeply itemdeeplydeeplypaddedseatmimics1960sitemspadded seat mimics 1960s items