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Kawasaki GT550 – Auto Fabrica

Posted on June 6, 2013 by Andrew in Café Racer. 30 comments

Less is more. It’s a phrase that’s tossed around with more reckless abandon than an SUV being driven by a texting teenager. Most builders think that stripping the indicators and mirrors off of their latest project bike gives them a ‘clean and minimal’ look. But we’re here to tell you that as far as minimal goes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Want to see the other 90% beneath the surface? Look no further than the inaugural build from London’s Auto Fabrica – their ‘Type One’.

Here’s Bujar – one half of Auto Fabrica’s dynamic duo. “We started in January 2013. The company consists of myself and my brother Gaz. Both are professional designers; Gaz is involved in Product Design and I have graduated last year from Automotive Design. Our builds go through a lot of design process and changes and get developed  throughout. We manufacture our own parts in house and all of our work is done in 2mm aluminum and hand beaten and formed in house by us. We also offer aqua blasting service in house and almost all of our parts are taking through this process to give that unpainted, original OEM finish.”

“It started life as a ugly duckling Kawasaki GT550. The reason we chose this bike is because we haven’t seen a GT550 get any decent treatment in the past and the fact that it’s a shaft driven 4 cylinder I thought was pretty cool – it had that concept bike feel. We stripped the bike completely, trimmed and cut the frame, cut tank mounting points below the top tubes so we could get the seat right up close to the tank.”

“The tank was modified to get a flush and smooth finish and also to raise it 25mm from the rear to get a much better stance. We used Hagon rear shocks which were 30mm above standard, we also dropped the forks an inch which gave us the desired stance, matching the original sketches and renders.”

The seat was made in house. The intention was to keep it as clean as possible and also have a solid unit – you can actually lift the bike from the rear seat. The rear light is integrated in the back to give it that cool 80’s look. The foam and leather unit is a 3 piece which bolts onto the seat and can be removed easily. Again this was to get a very high quality look and feel to the bike.”


“A professional automotive colour and trim designer helped with the paint selection and the leather used”


“The speedo is a refurbed Honda unit. I redesigned the face and also exposed the brass needle which picks up on a few other subtle brass touches on the bike. A professional automotive colour and trim designer helped with the paint selection and the leather used.

In terms of the overall look and feel of the bike we are very happy – considering this is our first build we learned a lot. As a general approach to customizing bikes, I think we focus a lot on subtle details that only become apparent once you spend a bit more time around them.”

  • nathas909

    I really dig this one, it is a very smooth and clean looking bike.
    But genuine questions, does a front fender that small and that close to the tire do anything? Does it actually do the job of “fending” off rain and dirt etc or it just works as a fork brace? I am interested, as I like the look and want the same on my bike, but I do not want to ride with Shanghai road crime flicking in my face.

    • bjax

      From the look of it, I’d say it keeps the grime off the fork tubes and not much more.

    • alec

      fork brace, got to have it

    • Lewn

      I’ve tried a fender that small, it does a little, often there’s a fork brace under it so taking the whole fender off completely isn’t worth it, Shanghai filth in your lungs and food is probably more of a concern than flicking up in your face, especially the milk.

    • Woodie

      UK bikes must have a front “Mudguard” by law. Same with Pushbikes, but most people ignore that. I like this. I used to ride a GT550 when I was couriering.. didn’t look as good as this.

  • bjax

    What? Sidecovers and an airbox! This looks great. Just the right amount of bright stuff balanced with black.

  • prollyright

    Beautiful, nice small touches. Balanced tank / tail look. I like the 4 to 4 pipes, what kind of silencers are those or did you just make them?

    • Boondoggle

      Actually, 3 into 4 pipes, but you’re right, they’re gorgeous.

      • R_Melaun

        Look again. Photo number four shows four head pipes. The others show two megaphones each side.

        • Boondoggle

          Aargh, That’s what I get for multitasking. You’re right of course. I hate to admit it but I read gt550 and thought I was looking at a Suzuki. Now that I’ve read the article I see I’ve missed the whole point. Jeez, this bike has been transformed.

          • R_Melaun

            It happens to the best of us. No worries. Cheers.

  • revdub

    Just absolutely beautiful!!

  • durp

    Absolutely love. So beautifully done.

  • Holy eye candy. Best matched tank/tail/seat of 2013? I think so. At a glance, you’d think this bike is a late-prototype bike bound for production; it’s just so classy and clean. Perfect color choices. I love the exhaust routing, size, and shape. Very well done, gents.

  • Stefano Venier

    Bravo bellissima.

  • First build and they skipped all the usual and unfunctional trends.
    Bujar & Gaz have great potential I think.

  • Really like what you did with the tank – no ugly factory seam at the edges. This is a very well crafted build – it looks like a factory concept bike.

  • BoxerFanatic

    That is very good. very slick, cohesive, and innovative. Not just a rehash of the same usual trends.

    I would gladly own a bike like that. Very nice.

  • The Badger

    Nice work, no slab seat or pipewrap, proper tyres. Lovely.

  • JimmyR14

    I almost bought a Kawasaki GT550 a year or so back for a project. Trouble was, I rode a couple and they were the most gutless thing’s I have ever ridden! Sounded like I was going 100, look down and the speedo says 30. I hope the Auto Fabrica boys get more grunt out of theirs because it looks amazing. It also looks like a great bike to give this treatment to.

    • coldsunshine

      Kawasaki claims 50 bhp and a 110 mph top speed, but I wonder. A 4 stroke with 2 valves per cylinder doesn’t sound that fast. Maybe perfectly tuned???

  • Kevin

    Very well done guys !

  • Clean, simple, very well balanced and classy! Beautiful job!! No pipewrap, antique tires or featureless flat seat! There is a God! Can’t wait to see the next build.

    • coldsunshine

      I concur. There is a time and place for that stuff (maybe,) but this certainly would not be it. Heck, even Comstars have their time and place (maybe.)

  • Lewn

    Tiiiight build.

    Top-side tins and colors are just awesome. the balance of the bike is excellent. Exhaust is great, but would it be sweeter in chrome or nickel?

  • coldsunshine

    Nice stance and well proportioned. Nice seeing brown leather used. I’d ride this til my butt fell off. No engine mods to try and get a little more power or top end speed? Nice use of black on the side covers so as not to break the line. I didn’t even notice they were there at first.

  • AMartin

    Truly a gorgeous bike. Love the tank.

  • Frederic Janssen

    This bike is, to me, a model for a custom cafe build. it is really beautiful!
    It would hurt to see it getting dirty, but i’d kill to ride it 🙂

  • i really, really like the tail, and the paint on this. very clean!

  • kob

    Which Hagon Road did you use? 350mm or 370? 360 are not listet by Hagon.
    Color from the bike?
    my email