Sportsbikes are all but dead. After bikers realised that riding a litre bike on public roads was akin to straightening that crooked picture in your hallway with the USS Nimitz, the bottom fell out of the global market. And while the more switched-on manufacturers have shifted their eggs to other baskets, it seems that the custom builders are again one step ahead. The recent rise of seriously capable machines with cafe racer influences is undeniable. Finally we’ve realised that fast bikes don’t have to rev to 18 grand and look like a reject robot from a Michael Bay film. And here’s a perfect example, via Rob Chappell from Canada’s Origin8or Custom Cycles.
“The idea behind the build was to make a modern-style cafe racer,” says shop owner Rob Chappell. “And since the 675R has some very sharp lines, a lot of the stock parts just had to go.” The factory headlight, fly screen and tail were the first to bite the dust.
Rob started the build at the back-end by unapologetically deleting pretty much all of the stock components. It now features a completely new sub-frame made from TIG welded DOM tubing as well as a brand new tail design, all created by Rob himself.
“I wanted the sub-frame to flow seamlessly with the tank as well as the tail. It follows the tank angles at the back and the lower support braces line up with the back of the seat. It took a few tries to get it just perfect, with lots of time on the manual lathe making the recessed bungs and many detailed notes on the bender angles for all the tubing.”
Once he was happy with the structure and look, he set about building a jig so he could re-create these once the bike itself was no longer around. The new structure also features support mounts for the ABS unit and a one-off stainless steel box under the seat to house the electronics. And before you ask, yes the battery is under the tail hump.
“For the tail, I designed it after taking a few photos of the sub-frame on the bike and playing with some lines in Adobe illustrator. I then finalized all of my designs on the computer and handed it off to my son who cut some wood forms on a CNC router out of MDF. Once I had the wood tail pieces at home, I spent time sanding and shaping it all by hand.”
Then it was finally time to send the wood form off to Rob’s brother at Tuffside so that a vacuum-formed tail unit could be made. He also stitched up the seat. Rob tells us that the plan is to offer the sub-frame and tail as a kit for other 675 owners, so naturally every detail had to be looked at carefully.
“When the seat was off in Vegas being made, I pulled off the wheels and rear shock, disassembled it and got ready to send it out for powder coating. The customer wanted the Triumph in green, so naturally I talked him into some gold for the accents. The wheels and shock coil now sport a ‘goldtastic’ powder finish and they really look incredible in the sun.”
With the parts out for powder Rob focused on the cafe’s smaller items that needed some attention, like a custom gauge mount to relocate them closer to the triples and a custom headlight mount to keep that slimline light in nice and tight. He also designed those cool new radiator covers. Starting with a cardboard template to get the shape just right, he then moved over to the computer for some final tweaking. Once he was happy, he sent them out for laser cutting out of fresh stainless steel. Then after some quick bends on his box pan break, they fit a treat.
“I have always loved the Cooper Smithing Co Fender designs and I’ve wanted to use Joe for a while. This build seemed perfect for it, as I wanted to tie in the front raw fender with the radiator covers and electronics box for some continuity. I took some rough dimensions and sent him the info. Since I didn’t plan on painting it, I requested aluminum for this one. In a few days he had sent back a photo of the finished hand-made part.”
About a week later it was in Rob’s hands, just in time too as the wheels were back from the powder coater. Loving the hand-made feel of the fender, Rob decided not to polish it any further as the idea of these bespoke parts interested him much more than slick, off the shelf chrome items. His final fabrication creation was the Triumph’s fender mount, and once again it was back to the lathe before he could send all the remaining items out for a final powdering.
“The paint work was handled by Mat Tobin at Jensen’s Custom, who I have worked with a few times before. Not being a huge green fan myself, I flipped to the back of the swatch book to find the darkest green there was. I wanted it to look stealthy at night but with a bit of sparkle and dance in the sun. I went with ‘Oxford green metallic’ and Mat was immediately off doing his thing on the racer. The bike was finished on the Mother’s Day weekend. Good thing my wife works shifts and is very understanding.” Customising skills to die for and the world’s most understanding wife. What hasn’t this guy got going for him?