It is encouraging to know that several of our custom builds have made it across the pond to the birthplace of the Cafe Racer. In order to celebrate the proportions of the vintage racing influence that English bikes have always possessed, I decided to use a GS 650 fuel tank for this build. It's overwhelming proportions, especially in contrast with the seat design, gave the bike the impression of forward momentum. To bring some American influence to the bike I modified the muffler into a shortened slash cut style. I was able to install a custom baffle in order to adhere to UK noise standards but still give the machine a menacing exhaust note. This bike features a new proprietary speedometer mounting system that incorporates the gauge itself and neutral/ flasher indication lights. The Excel shouldered wheels, Avon venom tires and classic maple maroon leather gave this bike an identity all its own. Upon receiving the finished build, the owner remarked that not only had we met his standards of quality but we exceeded it greatly. This is and continues to be the goal of Kott Motorcycles.
I saw the color for this bike on an a 64 Ford Falcon. I immediately fell in love! Every build starts with a multitude of features and focal points. Sometimes you can build an entire machine around just one special feature. This bike really started to take shape after arranging the color scheme, front drum brake, and Italian slip on muffler. During the design process you find yourself wanting to implement these special features so as to create the machine around them. As with all Kott builds the motor was immediately disassembled for an overhaul. The next phase of the build included the fabrication of new fuel tank mounts for the 750SS tank. The seat was then constructed to neatly tuck the downsized battery and redesigned wiring and charging system underneath it. The pipe offered some challenges when trying to establish an aggressive angularity. The custom rearsets were repositioned to allow for the new muffler angle. In using the original stock headlight bucket we were able to tuck the headlight assembly tightly into place. And with the use of our custom altered headlight brackets, any unwanted vacancy in design was avoided. The front drum brake was from a CB 350 model and really brought a simplicity to the machine. With the use of a fork brace, any deviation in handling was addressed. The final touch was the classic mid sixties silver/ blue paint scheme against a red/brown leather upholstery for the seat. I really love the overall look and feel of this machine that became known as Falcon blue.
It is not often that I am afforded the opportunity to build a motorcycle for myself. As much as I promote and endorse my clients participation in the conception of there own machine, it is refreshing to execute on ideas that can lay dormant in your minds eye. Ideas can flourish in an environment that is not constrained with monetary parameters, which I feel was exactly the state of affairs that were present during the infantile stages of this project.
Starting with the dedication to the elimination of any type of mid frame oil tank that the dry sump 750 engine requires was first on the list. The aluminum seat cowl was constructed to not only support riding position but to allow a sufficient volume for an oil supply. The leather upholstery was then stitched to a removable steel pan that allowed for access to the fuel tank rear mount. Neatly arranged underneath the custom fitted GS 750 fuel tank is where all of the required electronics found there final positioning. The battery, regulator/rectifier unit, starter switch and terminal connector block were all able to fit beneath the cavernous tunnel of this eclectic tank fitment. One of the biggest challenges was the fitment of a Triumph T-120R conical drum brake hub into a stock Honda front end, that also featured our new exposed front spring design. With the machining of stainless split-lock wheel spacers the concept soon became a reality and added a rich and unique aesthetic dynamic to the front end assembly. The selection of shouldered aluminum wheels and stainless spokes along with Avon tires continued to pay homage to English styling and influence. With final finish options including a timeless classic silver paint with hand pinstriped maroon accents along with matching oxblood leather this bike became an immediate hit with shop patrons. After being featured on Velocity channels Naked Speed premier, it quickly transferred hands to a client who now owns several Kott custom Builds!
The 1977 and 1978 single overhead cam CB’s incorporated several changes to the earlier models. Not all of these changes were well received but some of those changes can be enhanced to make the best machine possible. The later model frames and swingarms were slightly longer than the earlier models and elongated the wheel base of these machines. Garrett at Relic Motorcycles fabricated an exended swingarm that enhanced the already additional length and gave this bike a menacing drag bike look. A look that lent itself well to the dark overtones of the black paint scheme and the timelessness of subtly placed copper and distressed brown leather. I feel that the headlight placement of this bike was also ideal. On a number of my past builds I have often been haunted by the inevitable void that is created with the elimination of the original bulky speedo and tach arrangement. The intentionality of shortening the headlight brackets and using a smaller headlight bucket gave this bike a tidy and well packaged look. An additional experiment with the truncated seat length proved in my opinion to give the bike a sense of animated proportions that offered the machine the look of an almost floating tank and seat combination once again harkening to the vintage drag stance.
The temptation often arises at the shop to experiment with a multitude of color arrangements that have not been implemented on past builds. As a dedication to never duplicating any past builds, this bike forced us to delve into a new direction for finish options. The Brit racing green inspiration for the build was an obvious go to once the bike started to take shape. The next obvious choice was the use of subtle brass highlights and tan leather to give the bike a prestigious character. The handling on this 550 was considered with the implementation of a three rotor braking design. One can see the sanitary arrangement and tight clearances of the rear master cylinder and remote reservoir used to make the modification possible. The fullness of the super sport 550 fuel tank continues to prove itself as a viable and versatile tank option to define the prominent stance of any custom build. Our proprietary rearset design fits snugly and effortlessly in the SS frame rail arrangement and the slash cut pipe gave a look and exhaust tone that is succinct and original. All in all this machine became a nimble and responsive motorcycle that is a thrill to ride!
With the ever increasing popularity of the cb350 platform lending itself to the culture of simplicity, this 350 I believe is our best simplified version yet. I have said before and still maintain a belief that riding a small and relatively underpowered motorcycle as hard and as fast as possible is often the most noteworthy and memorable two wheeled experience that one can have. This 350, endearingly named after the chap that has commissioned three custom Kott builds, is no exception to this unspoken rule.
The stance of this machine is predominantly defined by the use of the under appreciated CB350 four fuel tank. As a proprietary approach, a custom seat was then fabricated to match and complement the fuel tank selection. The pressed steel frame of the cb350 can present some fitment challenges when taking a custom approach but the hand made nickel plated rearsets fit directly into the original passenger peg plate location, got lucky with that one! Polished aluminum Excel wheels and stainless spokes brought a much needed aesthetic fullness to the bottom half of this petite machine. Suspended with the original front exposed springs and custom Works rear shocks this bike handles as great as it looks! With a timeless gloss black paint scheme and custom ivory white striping, immaculate Mikuni carbs and a completely electronic ignition unit I believe that a new plateau has been reached with the café inspiration of this little buzz box. So much fun to ride! That is what this is all about.
Tremendous efforts were put into this second-to-none collaborative build. Winner of the "Best Cafe" award at the 2012 5th Annual VVMC Motorcycle Event. This bike has caught the attention of Pipeburn.com, a renowned motorcycle blog, and is still capturing the attention of onlookers who appreciate the blending of old and new technologies. The bike has earned its name due to its copper finishes which have been left to the elements.
The Charcoal/Brown 750 is representative of our moderately customized 2014 version of the infamous cb750. With the intention of essentially creating a ”brand new” forty year old motorcycle every aspect of this build, and every Kott build for that matter, is carefully scrutinized. The process of the build starts at the stripped down, modified, and powder coated frame. Fitted with relaced wheels and new tires, hand made seat and rearsets. New electrical wiring, nanophosphate battery and solid state components. Complete engine tune and carb rebuild along with a aluminum oil tank. A charcoal gray paint scheme and vintage chestnut leather allowed this bike to represent a timeless and classic approach toward a re-purposed and re-imagined standard motorcycle.
The frame was modified in order to receive a 1976 750 SS fuel tank. The seat is a signature Kott hand built tail piece fabricated from round bar and sheet steel to pair well with the fuel tank. The modified frame was stripped to raw steel and powder coated with a gloss clear. The result was a golden gray appearance that was carried through the build with monochromatic intention. Brass highlights are tastefully presented throughout the build to add an antiquated and timeless appeal, carried into the rear hub and back of the seat by means of plated mesh steel. The motor is rebuilt to stock displacement and the carbs have been fully disassembled and restored with jetting accommodations for velocity stacks. A stainless steel four into one header was used to enhance performance.The rearsets incorporate the original Honda brake and shift levers welded to a Standoff per side in order to maintain a vintage appeal. The rearset plates are all cut by hand and fit only the bike for which they are intended. Braking power was considered and optimized with the addition of a second 3/8 drilled rotor with dual trailing calipers per side of the reversed fork tubes. A new feature of the build included a removable splash guard placed neatly between the frame rails to protect the intake velocity stacks. The headlight heralds from the 60s era pressed steel Honda design normally fitted to the SL 350s of the time. With shapely cut outs and modified headlight brackets the headlamp tied the triple clamp and fuel tank lines together tightly. Relaced with stainless spokes the Excel shouldered aluminum wheels and Avon tires gave the bottom half of the motorcycle a stout and sturdy look. A four cell battery is neatly tucked away under the seat cowl along with brand new solid state electronic components, fresh wiring and an L.E.D. Tail light. This bike was showcased at the annual Quail gathering m.c. show, was featured on BikeEXIF.com, and took best custom motorcycle at the annual Friends of Steve McQueen show.
During the build process there are influences that are often requested which we may have been used on other creations in the past. The policy at the shop continues to be one of originality for each and every machine. To incorporate a balance between innovative and historic ideas we have made an allowance for certain influences to permeate into an entirely new build.This particular 550, named ”Ink Blue 550” resonates with this philosophy.
Having already used this particular color on a well received cb350 platform, the decision was made to translate the same deep black and blue finish onto the 550 donor. The color was cleverly appropriated into the raw steel headers that have a rich blue hue from the exhaust exiting the freshly built 544cc engine. A standard rearset plate for the ”Iron Glimmer” powdercoated 550 frame continues to be a staple signature piece that facilitates the original triangulated frame rail for optimal ride position. As with all Kott builds a hand built seat cowl not only houses the brand new electrical system and battery but introduces a seamless line throughout the build and creates an ergonomically ideal seating arrangement. Knee indentations and handlebar cutouts have been carefully positioned to maximize the machines steering radius and to make an allowance for additional rider comfort. Along with the color and chassis features of this bike, black leather and minimal chrome accents have created an understated and classy appearance for another one of a kind motorcycle.
This build currently resides in Indiana and was shown in issue fourteen of Iron and Air magazine.
What I feel is most important about any finished bike, with this bike being no exception, are the components that are unseen. For instance, it is often taken for granted the neatly arranged and redundantly reliable custom wiring harness. This bike was fitted with a replaced electrical system designed for this machine only.
Ride quality is optimized only when each and every component is carefully selected to work in unison with the others. When these great lengths are taken, one can always expect excellent performance. I would describe the performance of this build as crisp and immediate. The ride quality is sturdy and the machine has an eagerness about it that is succinct and addictive.
This particular bike was showcased at the invitation-only 5th Annual ‘One’ show in Portland, Oregon. The most encouraging compliments were the ones that touted the timelessly classy stance of the build and the all-business approach toward balance, performance, and simplicity.
This particular bike started as a 1971 CB750 in very bad shape and in desperate need of a second chance and complete transformation. Due to the fact that the only usable components of the donor bike were the frame and the bottom case of the motor, the opportunity arose for the shop to implement some performance and aesthetic enhancements that had not been utilized prior. With an increasing interest toward vintage Japanese motorcycles and an appreciation for the cost that it takes to really make something that outperforms its previous potential, we are reaching an unprecedented congruence between value and price tag.
The original 736cc motor was punched to an 820cc engine with a brand new moderately aggressive camshaft. The motor was fitted with reconditioned and re-jetted carburetors and velocity stacks. Brand new Excel shouldered aluminum wheels re-laced with custom cut stainless spokes paired well with the triple rotored brake design. The front brake incorporates a custom fit dual banjo manifold while the rear brake was specifically designed with a modern rear master cylinder and remote brake reservoir—all fitted neatly into the brake side rear set. The shortened and lowered front fender is held externally by hand-formed electroplated aluminum braces. The copper electroplating was carried throughout the build and is prominently featured in the rare Italian headlamp. The headlight was the perfect accompaniment to the aesthetic fullness of the XS1100 fuel tank. The hand-formed signature seat brought just the right length of color and balance to the overall wheelbase of the machine. The paint color was inspired by the 1963 Ford Galaxy’s paint swatch code called ‘Wimbledon White’. Between the paint selection and copper highlights, our very own aluminum oil tank, the cast iron finish of the motor against the walnut brown leather seat, and tasteful chrome highlights, there is nothing that I would have done differently on this build.
The RHCB820 was featured at The 5th annual invitation only ‘One Show’ in Portland, Oregon in February 2014 and will ultimately find its home in Denver, Colorado. If timing permits, this bike could be featured at one last invitational bike show.
Every year there is an arbitrary attempt to revisit builds that have been done in the past. The intention is to use similar aesthetics combined with new ideas or improvements to create a continually refined machine. We then have the opportunity to review two similar builds side by side to showcase improvements that have been made and also to reveal where refinements are necessary.
This particular build is the successor of several classic gloss black 500’s/550’s done in the not so recent past. The rapidity of new and improved concepts concerning handling, performance, comfort and aesthetics has led the shop to new opportunity and success. The dual rotor assembly led to a stout aesthetic fullness and vastly improved braking capability, coupled with a nickel plated rearset assembly for efficient rear drum actuation. The seat cowling was designed to create the necessary rider positioning but also to create space for a single regulator/rectifier unit and lithium iron battery. As design features flow from front to back, continuity should develop and repeat throughout the build. Hand and knee indentations were added for rider comfort and continued into the seat design. The nickel plating was used sparingly on this build in order to create a subtle touch that did not over power the simplicity of the build concept. The majority of the hardware used for the build was black zinc plating and stainless steel.
The name of this bike is indicative of the heat-treated steel that has been clear-coated to create a unique and raw finish. Several components from front to back and bottom to top have been given the warmth of nickel electroplating. Lastly, this is the second motorcycle on which Kott has showcased this aesthetic marbleized effect. The retrofitted front drum brake, the sweeping valance header pipe stemming from the freshly rebuilt 400 F motor, the infamously sought after 400 F tank, the handmade steel seat coupled with brown leather upholstery, and the stainless wheel spokes all create a series of warm finishes that give this bike an extremely unique appeal. As the original Burnt Nickel currently resides in Australia, the Burnt Nickel II is destined for Vancouver, Canada--both examples of Kott Motorcycles' world-wide presence.
This particular 350 came in the shop as a challenge to incorporate influences apart from the normal inspirations. The most important factors that define the stance are the upswept British handlebars, the custom flat two-seater style seat pan, and a generally revised stock look. In order to maintain an antiquated aesthetic, custom paint color was inspired by the original 1970's Honda paint code, and a well-worn walnut brown leather was used to handcraft the upholstery. The blacked-out rolling chassis brought an aggressive personality to a fairly docile small-capacity Honda twin. Even though the inspiration for this build was not based in the typical café form, the outcome of this build proved that we were able to take on new challenges and translate the skills of Kott Motorcycles onto a well-thought out, multi-purpose, dual rider.
Definition: ve·ri·tas English ver-i-tas, -tahs] noun Latin. Truth.
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two-pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed It”.
C. S. Lewis
This quote caught our eye because C.S. Lewis heralds from The United Kingdom—the birthplace of the café racer culture. Even though he is not referring to the eclectic café racer scene he most certainly has a point. There appears to be no doubt that the stance and approach of the café style and functionality is permeating the mainstream motorcycle movement in terms of design and philosophy. It is extremely important to match the integrity of a custom build not only with what is visible but the quality of the components that are not seen. On this particular build the motor has been completely rebuilt. The ignition system was considered and optimized with the use of brand new Dyna coils and magnetic pick-up base plate. The internals of the carburetors have been carefully selected to work not only with the four into two header pipes but also with the custom velocity stacks. Neatly arranged under the seat cowl are brand new electronic components and a one-off heat shrunk wiring harness using all OEM connectors anchored to a riveted aluminum relocation table. As with all builds, the rear set plates were hand-crafted and thoughtfully positioned for ergonomic efficiency working in tandem with the hand-crafted steel seat pan and cowl for optimal rider position. Original Suzuki re-chromed wheels were re-laced with stainless custom cut spokes. The oil tank is of a parallelogram design that replicates the 55° and 125° triangulation of the Honda frame rails. Stainless steel feed and return hose was used in unison with leak-free A.N. fittings welded into the custom steel tank. In order to achieve a refined and elegant stance, this particular build incorporated the always useful 750 Supersport fuel tank complete with hand and knee indentations. The seat was made to just the right length for a continuous flow of color against the wheel base and overall length of the machine. Indentations were added to the seat to maintain a steady and comfortable aesthetic that paired well with the BMW charcoal gray paint selection. As a visual highlight, electroplated brass was incorporated sparingly to create a warm and antique finish and complements the RK gold O-ring high-performance drive chain and 17 tooth counter sprocket.
As with all builds done under the roof of Kott Motorcycles, a commitment to honest work that is well executed is a constant theme with every completed machine.
Often times the inspiration for a build can revolve around one single component. In the case of this 1976 CB 750, the rare and valuable four shoe front drum hub of the Suzuki Triple Two-Stroke Series became that very component.
Scarlet is an example of a classically styled and redundantly simplified archetype of a vintage race-inspired machine. The beauty of this build is in its simplicity. During the build process it seemed at times that this bike was so void of extraneous features, almost as if something were missing. However, as the build reached fruition, it became clear that its clean, unfettered appearance was not lacking anything and another heirloom rolled out of the shop.
It has been a great summer of builds at Kott Motorcycles. An active approach has been taken toward seeking out builds that are a challenge to translate into truly one-of-a-kind, well-balanced café racers as well as a commitment to always improving skill sets here at the shop. When this first year 1979 DOHC entered the shop, I initially had some reservations as to how and if there was anything that could be done to balance out this machine and to create more fluid lines. An immediate curiosity arose concerning the performance and technological advancements in comparison with the infamous SOHC 750 series. In order to optimize performance, the DOHC motor was completely disassembled and rebuilt from the transmission up. The engine cases were powder-coated and unique black chrome plating was used to accentuate components throughout the engine and the chassis. Necessary modifications were made to the carburetors in order to eliminate the clunky factory air box and to facilitate a set of K&N individual pod filters. Any enthusiasts familiar with this particular bike definitely know that the frame needs heavy modification in order to appropriate better lines. The last 6 inches of the frame including the rear fender gusset were removed in order to weld in a steel battery/electrical component table. To maintain a continuous straight line along the bottom edge of the frame, a custom steel-constructed seat was built to clear the shock towers and recapture the continuity. Again, in order to create a more vintage stance, a tank from a different Japanese manufacturer was used on the Honda frame to not only appropriate the tank height against the triple clamp but also to distract from the severity of the original tank angle. Custom Works rear-shocks were also added not just to improve handling but to raise the back-end of the bike up to a level line. Hand -cut rear-set plates were installed on the build to suit the ergonomic position of the rider. The overall design of the rear-sets incorporated re-purposed original actuation levers in order to maintain a vintage appeal. Among certain advantages, the most noteworthy is the wet sump design of the engine that allows the triangulation of the frame to remain open creating a desirable non-cumbersome aesthetic effect which is normally not achievable with a dry sump design that requires an oil tank. My favorite aspect of this particular build is not only that it looks like an engine with handlebars but I also believe that we captured the essence of marrying a vintage aesthetic with new technology thus creating a bike that has a modern day appeal.
Years ago I rode a 1972 XS 650, also known as the XS2 from Los Angeles, California to Sturgis, South Dakota. I was wearing a cheap rain suit from Walmart in the pouring rain going at least 100 MPH to dodge the inclement weather. When I stopped at a gas station some locals took one look at me and said "you were going so fast that your damn clothes are tearing off! You passed us like we were standing still"! These are my memories of the infamous XS 650 made famous by the legendary Kenny Roberts.
I decided to take on this project when it rolled into the shop because at the time when I owned my XS I simply did not possess the skills and knowledge to re-purpose it into a more sleek and refined machine. As a shop we have come to be known for our renditions of the Honda CB series so taking on a Yamaha was a testament to actively breaking paradigms of what is expected.
The 650 has the reputation of being the 'best Triumph that Triumph never made'. This being said, the Japanese mimicked the overall stance, footpeg position, tank design, and general engine shape. Without a closer look, the two are easily mistaken for one another. In paying homage to the parallel twin look that is so synonymous with English motorcycles, the great Norton Commando was the main influence in the design of this machine. In order to create a more aggressive stance and fluidity of frame lines a Yamaha XS 750 triple tank was fitted to the frame with some necessary tank mount alterations. With the factory indentations and the positioning of the hand crafted rearset plates, rider position was improved. The steel constructed seat pan and cowl copied and repeated the indentations of the tank for the sake of continuity, and created an ideal "pocket" so as to not have the rider slide off the seat under the torque of the 650 twin. In maintaining the inspiration of the English twin, extensions were added to the single header pipes for each cylinder and kicked up at a more aggressive angle per retro race machines of the era. Handling was considered with the fitment of shouldered and re-laced aluminum wheels, Hagon rear shocks, new fork springs and replaced swingarm bushings. An extra drilled rotor and caliper was added to the front end in order to optimize braking power and to assist the older technology of the rear drum brake. Under close scrutiny, those who are familiar with the XS 650 frame will see numerous modifications made to accommodate rearset positioning and beautification. As mentioned beforehand, the Norton Commando was emulated in many ways in order to a create a more well balanced and repurposed machine. The most noteworthy influence was in the jet black paint scheme that incorporated a hand-striped gold line to accentuate the shapes and shadows present on the bike.
The donor bike, a 1969 CB 350, has a rebuilt stock displacement motor that at its core runs as well as a CB 350 is known to. The fuel tank that was fitted from a Suzuki from the late '70's of a much larger capacity. The seat was constructed in the signature Kott design using round bar and sheet steel with a concept in mind to match the oversized tank with the in congruently small tail section as a throwback to the famed T.T. Manx racers. An extension was made for each individual exhaust pipe to create a more angular and aggressive exhaust stance. 4 1/2" Italian made CEV headlight was used in order to appropriate the smaller stature of the machine and to facilitate a downsized speedometer that runs off the original speedo cable all housed in a handmade headlight fairing that carried an aesthetic appropriation of color and fullness to the front of the machine. The powder-coated black wheels were fitted with stainless spokes and highly polished hubs, bringing new life to the rolling chassis. Heavy frame modifications, hand-cut rearsets, and a dedication to a well-balanced, great performing machine has provided a glimpse of an exciting new series of 2013 builds currently underway. It is always a challenge to have a blue finish on any machine that does not lend itself to a purple hue. This bike has been aptly nicknamed the 'ink blue 350' for its deep blue nearly black color. In its short life, this bike has been featured in several magazines and was awarded 1st place at the AHRMA sponsored annual event Corsa Moto Classica in Willow Springs, CA in April 2013. It has also been selected to be featured at the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in the exclusive Ton Up exhibit in August 2013.