Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

Engineered to Slide’s ’08 KTM 250 Café

Posted on February 9, 2013 by Andrew in Café Racer. 47 comments

Here’s a story that has more twists and turns than a drift racer’s wet dream. You see, we first eyed this bike when it appeared on the front cover of the Australian Just Bikes Magazine all the way back in August of last year. We tried to get in touch with the owner via text message and email, but only managed to get a single reply before the trail went cold. We were was lost. Why wasn’t this guy getting back to us? Frustrated, we went to the owner’s website and began to read up on the bike’s builder – a guy called ‘Nigel’. Then the penny drops. ‘State drift car champion,’ the site says. And V8 Supercar demonstration driver. And TopGear Live demonstration driver, drift racing car builder, and custom bike builder. Phew. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Nigel Petrie – builder of the world’s baddest KTM café, and quite possibly Australia’s busiest person.

Here’s some more on the bike and the man, taken from his website. “I am Nigel Petrie and Engineered to Slide is a snapshot of my life. Born in 1983 I was exposed to all forms of motorsport and car culture. I appreciate everything automotive and have grown a deep respect for the work that goes into each and every component. It’s been the one constant in my life, the strongest desires to have what I wanted transpired into building something instead of buying it.

I’ve owned this 2008 KTM 250EXCF since new and always swapped it from Dirt to Supermoto whenever I felt the need. I wanted to try something different and the project KTM Café was born.”

Rear cowl is removable and contains the battery

“The tank was the main challenge of the project. One thing I’ve learnt is anything can be made from metal, it’s just a matter of how much patience you have. After trawling the net and finding nothing that would suit the KTM frame, I decided to build one from scratch. Two days into it and I almost gave up. I try and rush everything and sometimes you just can’t – this tank required patience and persistence. To get me through, I started thinking about the final product and how much more fun my KTM will be to me; it’s a new bike for around $400 that’s already got rego and is practically ready to go.”

A little bit of Austria, a whole lot of Australia

“With lowered suspension, clip on’s, headlight, sheet metal tank, seat and tail I have transformed my bike into a much more relaxed and fun bike to ride. I knew the transformation to Café styling would subdue the bike’s handling but I was surprised at how it hasn’t lost its Supermoto or Motocross roots, I can still ride the bike hard and feel comfortable with it moving beneath me.”


“being on a bike is freedom, but being on a bike
you sculpted yourself is another thing altogether”


“I have not been able to get off the bike since that first test ride. Being on a bike is freedom, but being on a bike you sculpted yourself is another thing altogether. It’s a sense of achievement; a mechanical symphony of parts working together because you arranged them that way.”

(Photos courtesy of John Jovic Photography)

  • Elsayal

    The tank isn’t really what I’d call “Professional Workmanship”. The idea is ok but it looks like someone threw some sheetmetal, a grinder and a welder into a bucket, filled it with old grease, hooked up 220V and let er rip…

  • dimidi

    This is about the ugliest bodywork I’ve ever seen on a custom motorbike…

  • Darrell Schneider

    I love to see the small displacement art work, pretty cool.

  • Bradley Callan

    i like this bike, always have. The fun factor would be awesome, but he should stick to building his hilux 😉

    • Hilux? Thing you might have the wrong blog…

      • Bradley Callan

        i was talking about his blog, he’s building a drift ute from the ground up.

  • the comments below me are clearly people that do not understand coolness! the artistic roughness and crudeness puts this bike in a class of cool of its own…. now you guys can go hop on your store bought candy customs and only dream what its like to feel the way Nigel does…

    • Paco

      A total Ray Charles special! Nigel can build this with his eyes closed for $400 dollars, that’s pretty damn cool.

  • Swiss

    Not bad as “after” photos of a bike which just crashed into a scap metal yard.

  • Swiss

    Just add neck bolts.

  • New Haven Neil

    With a ‘Lyta’ tank and a decent tailpiece that would be an awesome bike. I don’t get the ‘art’ of rough work, just a personal thing, if he likes it that way it’s fine, just not my bag. Love the rest of it though, it even has proper tyres, although aybe the angle of the silencer could match that of the frame? I’d love a ride on it though…! Might only be a 250 but it’ll probably leave a Sportser for dead…….

  • A

    I would have liked to see a more sculpted and less blocky seat fairing, and perhaps see the overall stance lowered slightly to give it a more muscular and less “leggy” look, but overall it’s a cool idea and interesting project!

    • nathas909

      I have been thinking about how to actually say what I wanted about this bike, but you have said it perfectly…. So I will times two your comment.
      The idea is great and it would be a hoot to blast around on, but it just does not flow right.

  • I like this bike the same way I like a James Trussart Steelcaster guitar. It’s raw, primitive, elemental, with a huge dose of wild factor. There is absolutely no excuse for not riding it – you can’t hurt it. Have you ever looked under the dustbin fairing of an old Garelli or NSU GP bike – same kind of sheet metal. Maybe not for everybody, but I like it.

    • revdub

      You said everything I wanted to say, manxman. Looks wild and fun to me!

    • Oldnbroken

      Interesting comparison, I always love a Tele with a metal body and quite like the roughness of this bike too.


  • JohnDoe

    Looks like another Ray Charles special 🙂

  • Ethal

    A front fender would help

  • DP Customs

    Really like the rims, hubs & rotors. Looks like a ton-o-fun to ride! Cheers from the DP’s!

    • Couldn’t think of a more “un-DPC” bike than this one… 😉

  • Barry

    That fell out of the ugly tree …

  • Saying the bodywork on this bike is “rough” is like saying that a bike from Mad Max is “dirty”. As I suspected, it’s obviously one of those bikes that really splits opinions…

    • New Haven Neil

      …and there’s no harm in that! Promotes discussion and ideas. Can I have the bike now please………………Isle of Man test? Pretty please????

  • ffjmoore

    “anything can be made from metal, it’s just a matter of how much patience you have”

    yeah but practice and skill is what makes something look good as well.

  • Lewn

    Looks like a massively fun bike to ride, but I really can’t understand the tins.

  • Blueline

    I love this bike. It’s so raw with it’s metallic patina, but looks so awesome. The stance is just right, and the wheels set it off.

    I think that to paint it, or to do anything to the finish it now has would take away from the bikes aesthetic value.

    I have always had a thing for bare sheet metal in automotive builds…

  • Mugget

    Always liked the idea of a lightweight single converted for road use, this bike looks great!

    I think anyone complaining about the welds is missing the bit about Nigel doing the metalwork himself… as he said he had to learn something to do this build. That’s a massive undertaking in itself.

    This makes me want to do a similar build, learning along the way and doing all the welding myself and as much metal as possible – just to make all the complainers suffer in their jocks.

  • arnold

    Yup, grind it up, bondo it up smooth, paint it up and shine it up.
    Then it wouldn’t be his business card, would it?

    • I dig the way he intergrated the radiators into the leading edges of the gas tank. And you’re right, pretty it up and it would look like every other bike in front of a dealership.

      • arnold

        To keep control of those compound curves, even skip welding is amazing to me.
        Especially, as you say, the fuel tank.

  • Scott Jeffers

    Lord Humongous is Australia’s busiest person.

  • Jacob Speis

    This reminds me of that “steampunk” mess from a few months back, which I believe was also a KTM. I get that this was about messing with body work, and I can appreciate the time that went into learning the skill, but plenty of us are doing that. It’s not necessarily worth looking at. The bike itself looks unfinished, especially because the rough body work on the top doesn’t match up with the clean mechanics and suspension that sit below it. I’m not knocking the builder, it’s more than I can do as far as metal work goes, but that said, it looks like it still needs 3 months worth of work to actually look like a finished bike.

    • Jacob Speis

      Oops, the steampunk KTM was on Bike Exif. My humblest apologies to the editing staff for confusing the two of you.

  • disqus_0nYRzw9X4E

    What a massive abortion this is.

  • tis


  • James Sinclair

    im into it in a big way

  • Adam Santella

    KTMs are cool. This guy is cool. This bike isn’t my taste, I’d say the exposed welding is kinda messy and the tank lines don’t match those smooth street tires or the frame. Round out the tank and rear a bit, paint it black with orange accents? more my style. But that could be seen as predictable and boring, so, regardless, its a cool bike.

  • IrnHed03

    What a Beaut! I'm impressed with your sheet metal work. It's sort of Preindustrial Desperate Bashing with strong Overtones of Basic "What'l it take to get ona road"! Perfect!

    Keep On Keepin On there Nigel!

  • barney

    Interesting way to deal with the ugliest part of water cooled bikes, – the radiator(s).
    Note I said interesting, not beautiful, nice etc. Once your bike wears radiators, you’ve already lost the beauty race. Which is why I guess Mocos down play them with copious plastic cladding, – the second ugliest part of water cooled bikes.

  • love this bike, ugly is good, paint stripper is the new black, why should lines be perfect? I will be stripping off in the garage this winter

  • Pingback: Cafe Racers()

  • Pingback: ‘No.55’ Honda CR500 Tracker - Adam Hedges & Earnest Co. -