'18 CB 550

This bike was featured on Pipeburn.com Click Here to have a look!

Through the years of building at Kott Motorcycles, there are certain design queues that repeat themselves. Even though a policy of non repetition of past builds is in place, certain "models" have emerged as a result of time tested proportional ideas. This particular 1975 Honda CB 550, which I'm simply referring to as the '18, resembles what has become my favorite stance for any of the CB models which Kott Motorcycles is known for.

The most prominent feature is the CB 750 SuperSport fuel tank. The reason for this choice of fuel tank is the overwhelming aesthetic fullness and presence it promotes for an otherwise unassuming and fairly docile (rider friendly) motorcycle. The nearly hyperbolic angularity of the tank against the upright motor and balanced wheel base, creates the opportunity for an equally aggressive, hand made, steel seat which optimizes overall machine proportions.

In an attempt to almost compartmentalize and frame the motor, a four into one header and custom slash cut muffler were used to create a nuanced aesthetic of  front heaviness to the bike. This front heaviness allowed for the rear half of the bike to remain clean and free of encumbrance while highlighting its own features. A number of rare, surviving, hand made parts from the 70's brought a special intrigue to the unauthored, rear disc brake assembly. These parts were refined along with proprietary hand made rear sets in order to pay homage to the original and thoughtful designs which are too many to mention.  Additional intentionality toward proportion was used to bury the headlight as close to the triple clamp as possible while finalizing the reach of the seat to just above the end of the rear axle line.

The customer which requested this bike brought in a simple picture of an older BMW, painted with an obvious custom shade of green. This photo was used as the cornerstone to create a simple, understated and timeless color scheme including an olive brown leather upholstery and reserved chrome plating.

The most difficult part of the build was certainly trying to facilitate and restore the hand made parts that made up the unique components of the custom rear disc brake assembly. Immersing yourself into the mind behind proprietary design, when not one of your own, can be challenging and rewarding especially when you believe you've done justice by leaving it as good or better than you found it. The most rewarding aspect of the build is the implementation of another thoughtful and truly unique addition to the portfolio of Kott builds, which I hope will stand the test of time.

2015 Triumph Thruxton RR

This bike was featured on BikeEXIF.com (Click here to view)

From his home base in California, Dustin Kott’s earned a reputation for building café racers with exceptional proportions. So when Ryan Reynolds was looking to add another bike to his already enviable collection, Dustin got the call.

The star of the upcoming Deadpool movie is an avid motorcyclist, with a taste for classically-styled machines. (His collection includes numbers from Deus and Raccia Motorcycles). Now he was looking to transform a 2014-model, fuel-injected Triumph Thruxton.

It’s not a make or model we’re used to seeing from Kott Motorcycles, but that didn’t deter Dustin. “The end goal was to transform the linear and aesthetic proportions of the machine to accommodate Ryan’s special requests,” he says, “and to reveal exactly what lay dormant within the modern Thruxton’s unrealized potential.”

Dustin’s first step was to ride the Thruxton to get a feel for the stock machine. “After the first ride the idea was not so much to fix the machine,” he explains, “but rather enhance the ride to allow the rider to feel more engaged, more required, and maybe slightly less docile.”

The biggest issue, in Dustin’s mind, was the lack of of a cohesive line from the Thruxton’s steering stem to its tail—particularly the frame’s drop from the tank to the seat. So he set about modifying the frame to perfect its linear flow—adding some neat perforated steel panels in the process.

As a side effect, Dustin now had space to stash away the Thruxton’s wiring harness, ECU, fuse box, fuel injection module and downsized lithium battery. Which then highlighted the next challenge: the Thruxton’s in-tank fuel pump.

Dustin wanted to fit a vintage Japanese tank to the Triumph, and settled on a late model Yamaha XS1100 unit. “Some may feel that fitting a Japanese tank to a British motorcycle is the final insult. But our thinking was that of dimensional and aesthetic liberty.

“It allowed for a taller tank-height-to-triple-clamp ratio, which always gives the impression of desirable fullness.”

Luckily the XS tank had enough internal space to retrofit the Triumph’s fuel pump inside. Plus, the vacant space between the frame’s backbone and the tank’s tunnel turned out to be a great place to stick the ignition switch.

To finish off the bodywork, Dustin fabricated one of his signature, round bar constructed tail units. Any electrical components that hadn’t already found a home were relocated to under the cowl, and a discreet LED taillight installed.

The focus then shifted to the bike’s handling. Keeping things British, Dustin fitted a pair of high-performance Hagon shocks and Avon tires. He then designed new rearset plates around the Thruxton’s frame down tubes, improving the riding position in the process. Up front, clip-ons were an obvious choice, paired with the original controls.

To wring the maximum performance out of the Triumph twin, the EFI was remapped and the stock exhaust system swapped for a stainless steel Arrow two-into-one system. “It sounds absolutely brutal at speed,” says Dustin. The airbox also gave way to velocity stacks.

Dustin’s handiwork is evident throughout the build—from the subtle inner rear fender to the custom-made exhaust and engine mounts.

When it came to finishing options, Dustin wanted to stick with a factory Thruxton vibe, “while redefining the overall stance and ride-ability.” To match the brushed metal casings, the majority of new components were given a brushed nickel or aluminum appearance.

There’s brandy-wine paint on the tank and tail, enhanced with pewter gold pinstriping. And reddish brown leather covering over the seat foam. All beautifully done.

One little detail is missing, though: the speedo. Instead, painted in a neat script onto the headlight bucket, are the immortal words ‘Live Fast’. It’s a typically neat and sympathetic touch from Kott, and sums up the spirit of traditional café racers.

Looks like Mr Reynolds has a knack for choosing builders as well as scripts.

‘75 Honda CB550

This bike was featured on Pipeburn.com (Click here to view) - Written by Martin Hodgson.

The phrase “unfinished project, 95% complete” is one you often see when trawling the internet to find an old car or bike to buy. The machine in question often looks like it’s ready to roll, comes at a bargain price and ‘how hard can that last five percent really be to finish?’ you say to yourself. Ah, the horror stories! Five percent often turns out to be closer to fifty and then there is the real zinger; those last few parts you need, they’re not available any more or “only needs a new battery to start” proves to be a full engine rebuild, wiring nightmare or both. Even complete show bikes that appear in magazines are passed off this way – but that’s where Kott Motorcycles is different. Dustin spends just as much time restoring his builds to perfection as he does customising them and this slick as black ice ‘75 CB550 is no different.

The man behind Kott Motorcycles explains, “The most difficult aspect of building a vintage motorcycle is the restorative process. Years of neglect and mechanical fatigue can create problematic troubleshooting scenarios, unusable parts due to damage or wear and extensive costs concerning replacements. The bikes that are built in my shop are certainly equal parts restoration and customization but I think the restorative process is often overlooked when considering the finished build.”

The ’70s range of CB Honda’s is a truly mixed bag; the styling was often similar to give cheap, small capacity bikes, the big dollar look. But capacity alone didn’t tell the whole story and while the CB550 is certainly the middle child to the big daddy 750 model it has plenty going in its favour. “Still equipped with enough motor to get the rider both in and out of trouble, the enjoyable ride quality that the 550 promotes lends itself very well to a Downtown lane splitting motorcycle. With a few subtle changes I believe we were able to alleviate the anaemic proportions of the stock machine while introducing timeless design queues from other legendary motorcycles.”

Which is exactly what a CB550 deserves, a classic super sport machine given a Kott premium finish. The standard frame has been cut back, not only reducing the unsightly rear overhang but giving the machine more sporty proportions. Ground, sanded and smoothed the frame finished out in black defies the cheap, $1000 purchase price it commanded in its day. But as good as the frame and swingarm restoration is it merely provides a base for the incredible metal work that Kott has become known for.

The tank has been swapped out for a CB750SS unit of the same vintage and the transformation it gives its little brother is remarkable. Functional and friendly Japanese lines morph into European exotica. Which is in no small part due to the many hours of hands on work that Kott has spent on the item. The knee dents are uniform and perfect in their lines and proportions. While the tanks metal is straighter than the day it left the factory and sits perfectly over the frame.

To complement the change where a once gaudy two-up seat once sat is now another Kott metal work masterpiece. The hand formed steel tail section and seat pan are minimal and yet flawless in their execution. There is no endless layers of bondo here, just old-fashioned craftsmanship that’s about doing things right. Topped with a seat stitched from oak brown distressed leather it creates a tasteful antiquated feel. But on this build it is pretty hard to avoid that thick, glossy and brilliant black paint.

There is a depth to the finish that instantly takes you back to times when manufacturers weren’t trying to cut corners on cost. Now paint is sprayed on sparingly and you can almost wipe it off, but deep British black gives the CB550 a level of class it has no right to have. “To further the subtlety of the design inspiration, a black Kott decal was captured beneath the thick clear coat of the gloss black paint to create a unique redundant effect.”

But nothing sets off black in a classic fashion like chrome done just right. But rather than just splash it around on fenders and tacky trinkets, Kott found a better way. “The most challenging aspect of the build was the front end modification. Custom machined spring retainers were designed in order to expose the front suspension springs. The classic look was inspired by the infamous Norton Manx race machines.”

A set of CB350 twin springs were chromed and an ABS spacer machined to prevent contact between the spring and the triple clamp. “The aluminium cup was designed to promote a seamless flow from the fork slider to the cup itself.” The end result is incredible; a fully functional and reliable Honda telescopic fork setup with the look that comes from only the most exclusive vintage motorcycles. With the upper clamp polished and the lower clamp finished in black, along with a polished brake caliper, the contrast in the two distinct finishes is perfectly weighted.

Out back a set of quality Hagon shocks gives a matching look, black in colour with chrome progressive springs. “Excel shouldered aluminium wheels were re-laced with stainless spokes to bring a brightness and refinement to the bottom half of the creation.” These are matched to heavily polished hubs and components for the rear brake. While the front end features a twin disc setup that has been crossed drilled in a wave pattern. Wrapping things up are a set of vintage look tyres that give the period appearance without compromising performance.

That get up and go comes courtesy of the brilliantly restored 544cc, two valve Honda four engine that would spin up like a maniac for its day. Like a true super sport it revs and does it quickly, not providing the full grunt of its big brother, but more than enough to put a smile on your face. Externally the engine is a mix of incredibly polished parts and side covers and highly detailed alloy. The bank of four Keihin carbs now breathes effortlessly through a set of pod filters. But any time you look at that engine it’s impossible not to be blown away by the stunning four into one exhaust.

Having put so much effort into building such a high level machine, Kott as he does on all his builds, uses only the bare essential accessories. But just like the rest of his work it’s incredible; the pegs that are a mix of custom parts and re-purposed original items are as good as it gets in the industry. While the new clip-ons wear only what you need for a day of canyon carving, classic grips, mint levers and an era correct master cylinder.

“My favourite part of the build was the fact that this was the second Kott custom motorcycle ordered from the same client. A unique motorcycle entrusted to a capable, caring and discerning customer.” Which is proof positive that things aren’t done to 95% at Kott Motorcycles; whether it’s the restoration, running or customisation it’s all done to the highest of standards. It’s why Dustin Kott has become such a heavily respected builder in the game and with results like this, who can argue.

‘75 Honda CB400F

This bike was featured on Pipeburn.com (Click here to view) - Written by Martin Hodgson.

For all of the custom motorcycle shops that litter the globe there are but a few whose brand recognition truly is industry wide. While some rely on their logo for that acknowledgement others create machines so distinct you instantly know who crafted them. But for Dustin Kott of California’s Kott Motorcycles there is a rare subtlety and artistic vision that is hard to readily define and yet instantly recognisable. It is the work of a man who plies many a trade and expresses his creative side in rolling metal masterpieces. Often from Honda’s CB range they are infused with vintage British styling and customised with pure class. His latest work is based on the short-lived Honda CB400F from the ’70s and it delivers a level of sophistication you’d never expect from the old commuter classic.

For Kott that love of motorcycles goes back as far as he can remember. Holding onto memories of sitting in front of his dad on a bike as early as two years old. It was from this time on he decided he never wanted to do anything else, motorcycles would be his game. Fast forward to 2016 and his long-held ambition has been fulfilled, with an incredible portfolio of builds. “The main objective of Kott Motorcycles is to simplify and bring functionality back into antiquated machines. It is of utmost importance to maintain a commitment to work that translates into one-of-a-kind motorcycles that perform as well as they appear.”

That commitment and the brand recognition built through his machines extends all the way to Hollywood where Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds fell in love with Kott’s work while browsing the internet. “There are a lot of builders these days, but there aren’t a lot of builders with that special thing,” enthuses the movie star about Kott’s work. But there was nothing special about the CB400F when it rolled into Kott’s small workshop in the LA area. With the Reynolds now build behind him the little Honda was to prove another challenge. “This machine came to the shop in a state of utter disrepair and neglect. Every part of this machine needed attention.”

But that has never worried Dustin; one of his great joys is not just customising bikes but taking old wrecks and breathing new life into them. “This particular motorcycle was given to the shop by the long-time single owner, to not only restore the bike but to reimagine what it could become.” Despite the obvious sentimental attachment, consultation was left to a minimum so Kott’s ideas could flow. But first the bike was taken back to a bare frame so it could be built up again like new. The frame received a number of modifications to accept the changes that were to come. One of those was a switch from the stock tank to the more desirable CJ360 unit.

But Kott didn’t just leave it as it came, his considerable metal work skills have again been put on display. The old tank is now arrow straight, has been reshaped to accept perfect knee dents and now fits the frame like a glove. “Our goal was to enhance what was already there with newer and more aggressive lines.” One thing that drew Kott to the CJ360 tank was it’s almost miniature 750SS lines that help to achieve some of those goals. Further to the aggressive and clean look is the clean-cut tail and shorter rear end. The seat is a signature Kott hand-built tail piece fabricated from round bar and sheet steel to match the tank lines brilliantly.

The paint work is all class with a two-tone scheme in black cherry and silver. There is the ever-present Kott logo, a sure sign of high quality and a simple machined filler cap. The colour scheme is off set with the use of jet black leather on the seat. Not only is it beautifully stitched but generous padding butting up against the tank provides for a far more comfortable ride than most. The headlight bucket receives a lick of the same cherry black paint and with the chrome bezel completes the uniform look, front to back. “The process of appropriating new lines and balance are critical to shaping a unique machine.”

With a slick bike taking shape, attention could turn to the engine that needed more than a little tender loving care. The square bore 408cc engine will happily rev to 10,000rpm and get there quickly. But for this particular example to do that Dustin had to treat the 2 valve head to a full top end rebuild. Externally the engine is now so clean you could eat off the thing. While a host of chrome parts, including the side covers give the cheap commuter a big dollar feel. The bank of four 20mm Mikuni carbs have been rebuilt, cleaned up and wear a little chrome of their own. The tops, the fuel bowls and the four individual filters all sport the shiny finish. But it’s the famous 4 into 1 exhaust of the 400F that truly takes the mechanical centre stage.

Not only is it one of the most beautiful systems to ever roll off a factory floor, Kott’s taken it to a new level. Coated in a body matching colour it flows rearward to a smooth chrome muffler that almost seems to float. That’s thanks to some clever hidden mounts that secure the system but are almost impossible to see. Equally as important to the classic simplicity of the mechanical package is the effort Kott has gone to hide the wiring. “The most difficult phase of this build was in the new placement of the electronics and coils.” Now hidden under the seat and with much of the unnecessary accessories shown the door, the late ’70s bike takes on a timeless 1930s simplicity.

But Kott also has an ability to re-imagine many of the existing parts to take on a whole new appearance and function. The foot controls are re-positioned on custom mounts with the cut down stock brake pedal a beautiful touch. Well machined components, exquisite linkages and brass bushing all combine to make for a brilliant singular part. The clip-ons bring the same level of style and sophistication, cheap Chinese copies these are not. They’re paired up with some classic black grips, minimalist buttons, a push-pull throttle and period correct master cylinder. But just the simple process of cleaning up the top triple clamp and polishing its finish transforms the once cluttered front end.

That top clamp swings the factory front telescopic forks that have been rebuilt, polished and dropped through the trees. To ensure the bike sits flat the rear shocks have been swapped out for some classic British Hagon items. Their chrome finish is a perfect match for the heavily polished factory wheel hubs. While even the front brake caliper is now a mirror like finish and clamps a single drilled disc. The wheels have been relaced with new spokes onto brand new polished rims and the Kenda rubber strikes the perfect balance between form and function. There is no front fender but the neatly rolled numberplate support hanging from the rear axle tells you she’s ready for the road.

“Without really conferring with the customer the ideas that reached fruition were praised and well received. Missing the mark or coming up with a design that was not a success is humbling to say the least.” However there is no reason for Kott to feel anything but pride as he once again turns out a remarkable classic custom. The larger bikes in the CB range might be easier to customise for a vintage look. But that Dustin Kott can take the built to a budget factory 400F and leave it looking this good is a testament to the skill of a man who lives to restore bikes with the eye and touch of master artist.

OLD GOLD ‘78 Honda CB750 SuperSport

This Bike was featured at Pipeburn.com (Click here to view) - Written by Martin Hodgson.

For any artist there is a fine line between allowing yourself enough creative space to fulfil your passion and doing the work that puts food on the table. For Dustin Kott that involves the delicate balancing act of working at the major Hollywood studios while still giving time to his artistic endeavour, Kott Motorcycles. There is also the small fact that he’s a perfectionist, a time-consuming trait. But that hasn’t stopped him from proving you can in fact improve on perfection; four years since the completion of a Honda he called Ruby Red, Dustin’s back with an homage that raises the bar to all new heights. An elite level cafe racer, Ruby Gold is a 1978 Honda CB750 Super Sport that’s flawless in fit and finish.

“It’s a rare one for me to work on in that it is a 1978 Super Sport 750. I’ve historically avoided this particular year due to its ever-increasing stylistic queues harkening toward the 80’s era of motorcycles. With its stock Mag wheels, less attractive front end and tune proof carbs I usually pass on taking on this bike,” explains Kott. But with the bike shipped down to So Cal by its owner in Oregon, Dustin saw a unique challenge to build a sister bike to the previous 750 SS and show himself and the world how his building skills have evolved.

Like all Kott bikes this is a frame off affair with every nut and bolt inspected or replaced and nothing left to chance. While many builders add to their creations, so much of what Dustin does is about refining a motorcycle to its bare necessities and ensuring each component is perfect. It’s here that his metalworking skills take centre stage, the often maligned Super Sport tank now the focal point of this incredible machine. “While maintaining the original deep red hue of the original fuel tank, the inspiration was to carry the colour throughout the machine.”

As well as that flawless red paint flowing over the ‘bread loaf’ tank design it also finds a home on Kott’s signature tail-piece. The minimalist hump meticulously hand crafted out of metal in his shop, the lines are flawless from every angle. But it is perhaps the rear view that gives the best illustration of the way the tanks central hump has been complimented with a centre crease in the tail that gives you an idea of just how seriously Dustin takes his craft. “A replication of the original tank decal was introduced into the seat pan and oil tank for a very 70’s stock feel.”

That oil tank is a sight to behold, the external unit no distraction from the negative space that many seek to see evident in the void below the seat, but an incredible addition. Seeming to almost float in its location, each line matches with parallel perfection to the corresponding line on the frame. A machined filler cap, braided hoses and high ended automotive fittings ensure the piece isn’t let down in any way. The last of the paint work is reserved for the bucket of the classic headlight that wears a chrome bezel. While the seats dark chocolate-brown leather is stitched together with gold thread for the final touch of continuity.

But having gone to such lengths to make the visuals of the bike appeal, Dustin’s dislike for the stock wheels meant a change was a must. The switch from mag wheels to spoked items is no easy task, especially factoring in the rear normally supports a disc brake. The conversion got off to a good start with a 1975 K model rear hub located in the shops rafters. Then it was over to the lathe to make spacers and find a way to make the disc fit. The finished result looks like it was always meant to be with the wave pattern drilled rotors giving a distinctive custom touch.

Activating the new assembly is one of Kott’s favourite aspects of the build and a true amalgamation of old and new. “Even though the fitment of the Brembo master cylinder and associated linkages looks simple, the thought, balance, operation and simplicity required took quite a bit of thought.” Replicated on the left side for gear shifting, the Honda has a retro tech appeal with high-end function meeting classic looks. The rear suspension is given a quality upgrade with progressive rate spring over shocks, while modern Michelin rubber gives superb road holding wrapped around the gold colour matched rims.

By 1978 the single cam 750cc Honda four cylinder was in its last days but to keep the American market happy the Japanese engineers had made some special tweaks. And Dustin doesn’t let them down by giving the motor some extra hop and a factory fresh finish. A mix of black cases, metal finished barrels and chrome covers gives the engine the hot rod feel. While a set of Keihin CR carbs give it the fuelling it needs to give it the go. The headers are heat coated to match and finish out the back with a bark thanks to a raw steel reverse cone muffler.

A set of clip-on bars with twin cable throttle mechanism controls the power and things are kept clean and simple up front. A new set of levers, old school grips and braided lines get the job done without any fuss. The finished cafe racer is everything that was great about Ruby Red with the addition of four more years of Dustin’s evolution as a builder. “I like the concept of seeing two machines side by side from different eras of personal development. It gives one the opportunity to notice improvements and refinements amidst such similar outcomes.” It’s hard to see how things can get any better from here, but one thing about Kott Motorcycles is that when Hollywood isn’t calling, Dustin is constantly on the quest to go to an all new level.

1977 BMW R100/7

In the last year or so I have intentionally rolled back the pace at which custom projects leave the shop. I always hope to recognize the opportunity to place creative perspective back in the fore of my approach toward my custom builds. The proficiency of specializing in a particular brand of vintage machines is not only helpful, as a mostly one man shop, but also imperative if one is to keep ahead of the work load. The time for research and development is usually shelved in order to fulfill custom orders versus the alternative of maintaining a pace of less then controlled chaos. Having taken a proactive stance on minimizing output naturally created the opportunity and time to tackle my first BMW custom build.

The project started out as a stock 1977 BMW R100/7. With an unreasonably boring stance, color and seating arrangement, there was great certainty in needing to make a multitude of irreversible changes. The real inspiration came even before the bike was shipped to the shop. In the process of answering emails the request came through for a custom BMW build. I reminded the potential client that this was not only a machine which I had never built before but also had little to no knowledge of how to even approach or price this project. One short phone call later the customer simply stated that based on the gallery of bikes on the Kott Motorcycles website and some of the videos he had watched about the shop, that he implicitly trusted our capabilities and that we should move forward with the undertaking of the build. After an agreement was reached I was reminded that not unlike friends, motorcycles too were once strangers until you shake proverbial hands with them. Apart from the inspirational confidence that the client placed in the shops capability, inspiration came from the thought that our trademark stylistic approach would work just as well on the BMW as it had on any other brand or manufacturer we had customized before. Confidence, ultimately, turns out to be a cornerstone of inspiration.

We were not only commissioned for the build but also had the task of locating a donor machine for the client. The ever increasing scarcity of vintage bikes in general, due to higher demand and shortage of supply is occasionally staggering, especially when values are easily determined based upon potential and not actual condition. The first BMW donor that I found I felt a little lucky until literally, with cash in hand, the owner simply stated that it was no longer for sale. Thankfully the client was searching for a machine as well. The search was finally over once the 1977 model was located and shipped to the shop in fairly decent condition.

As with every machine that comes into the shop we approach the motor and fuel delivery systems first. The BMW motor was disassembled and quickly outfitted with new exhaust valves, rings, charging circuit and rotor. The original starter motor, which is about the same size as the one on my 1966 Ford pickup, was replaced by a new lightweight version that could still be cranked over by a battery that is literally a quarter of the size of the stock unit. We wired the bike from scratch and with the new high output stator and Reg/Rec unit, we were able to resolve the underperforming charging system in order to make this a much more user friendly machine. The next task was to improve ride quality and position. The stock front end was removed and replaced with a GSXR cartridge style inverted fork. The custom triple clamps, steering stem and front hub, all from the experts at Cognito Moto, were the absolute foundation for the ease of this retrofit. Custom hand cut rearset plates were fabricated to fit seamlessly around the swingarm mount to make them look as period factory as possible if there were such a thing. The tank choice, which came from a mid 90's Yamaha XJR, seemed extremely unlikely until its fitment solved all types of aesthetic and component placement issues. The sheer size of the tank matches the exaggerated proportions of the motor very well and also complemented the hand fabricated seat in a way that is appreciated from nearly every viewed angle of the bike. A fortunate find for the project was a rear spoked hub/differential. Some people may enjoy the look of the stock mag style wheels that the bike had upon entering the shop, but I am not one of those people. The spoked wheels gave the machine just the right amount of vintage styling to offset some of the more modern components used on the project.

Each custom build offers varying levels of resistance to effort. The most complicated aspects of the build allowed me to reach out to some very talented shops in order to achieve the best solutions. The custom rear subframe was an absolute necessity in establishing the narrow and nimble seat design. With tons of variables to consider like shock mounting location, correct suspension alignment and overall strength, I needed another set of eyes and hands for the creation of the custom subframe. Metal Lab Fab knocked out the professional jig and finished product in no time, allowing for improved style and sleekness of overall design. The next, and what felt like an insurmountable challenge, was placed in the more than capable hands of Cognitio Moto. The more research that I did in regards to the front end swap and upgrade, I realized that not only had these guys pretty much beat everyone to the punch, they had perfected their proprietary front hub design and triple clamp  assembly which the bike now proudly showcases.

My favorite aspect of this build, other then the fact that it turned out as good or better then how I had originally envisioned it, is the fact that there is now an established community of builders and shop owners that collectively, can build a machine that in its finished state, is truly unique.  There seem to be pockets of increasing interest that allow any builder, regardless of present skill level or amount of tools or equipment, to be able to allow a design to reach a certain level of fruition that otherwise may never have been realized. I think we can all see shifts in the stylistic appropriation and donor machine choice that not long ago may have been overlooked based on the fact that others hadn't made it through the wall yet or had any access to the support system of an ever increasing number of skilled craftsmen to help when needed.

I usually leave the name of my projects up to the client once delivery of the machine is finalized.

This particular project definitely falls under the category of what most would consider to be a traditional café racer.

Prusa 350

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. 

The stance of this machine is predominantly defined by the use of the under appreciatedCB350 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.

U.K. 550

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.

Falcon 550

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.

MJR (Ink Blue)

After a simple tweet from Lance Armstrong the shop was approached by several curious perspective future owners of our custom built Kott Motorcycles. MJR was just such a client. As a competitive cyclist in years past his curiosity peaked when Armstrong was photographed in the archetypal ergonomic seating position that cafe racers offer, so very similar to competition bicycles. He had to have one of his own!
This bike was another of the CB family to be finished in our cult classic Ink Blue paint scheme. With a growing number of requests for our new exposed front spring design on our 750 models, this project took on a character all its own with the paired dual rotor accompaniment up front. The fuel tank selection allowed for yet another non-stock future option for Cb750 modifications. This GS 650 tank and handmade seat cowl offered a new aggressiveness and angularity to the ever versatile CB 750 platform. With a custom stainless exhaust tip coupled with polished stainless rearsets, the finish of this machine was as organic as it was purposeful. Fitted with a speedo, mirror, and functioning indicators this machine allowed us to really explore tasteful and subtle solutions to improved utilitarianism and street legality. The use of progressive suspension in the rear promoted a handling dynamic that allows a vintage motorcycle to handle with an ease that simply was not available forty years ago!

Naked speed 750

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!

Black and Copper 550

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.

Green and Brass

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!

The Patina

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.

Charcoal / Brown 750

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.

Exec 550

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.

Ink Blue 550

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.

Red Pearl

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.