By Gareth Roberts - 05 Feb 14
Lean and mean, this dark destroyer is the masterwork of Piotr Franczak, better known in Warsaw as "Barnaba". An engineer by education, this is remarkably his first shed build. He was inspired whilst lying in a hospital bed after a nasty motorcycle accident. He had plenty of time to contemplate. Growing up in '80s Poland, Piotr's choice of ride had been somewhat agricultural with availability limited to the likes of MZ, WSK and Jawa's. Japanese bikes were rare and exotic beasts and unattainable to most people. Piotr reflected that modern bikes shrouded in plastic and electronics had lost their romance, and having enjoyed a life-changing road-trip in Vietnam on a simple and nimble Honda GL160, his focus sharpened on a stripped down custom Jap. Once up and walking again he got his hands on a tidy German '79 Yamaha XS400. The straight framed, kick-starting, air-cooled twin was the perfect donor for the cafe-racer to be. The engine and electrics were in pretty good shape, so after a thorough spring clean of the carbs, ignition and valves, he stripped it and got to work on shortening the frame. The frame, alongside the wheels and levers, were powder coated and the engine glass-blasted. The tank was de-badged and streamlined for a slicker look. New clip-ons, lights, and air filters were fitted along with a minimalist wrapped custom exhaust. The seat unit was fashioned from fibre-glass and the seat bespoke upholstered from foam rubber. Raised rear shocks were added to give an aggressive stance. The paint is simple and stealth; black, black and more black. The finishing is sublime. It took time, time, and more time along with a heavy dose of patience to get the carbs set-up just right, but once up and running, the bike delivers and some. Perfectly balanced and stripped down for business, this unfussy and razor sharp cafe-racer is perfect for tearing up the mean streets of Warsaw. It wasn't long before "Barnaba's Racer" drew a following and found a buyer. Piotr reluctantly parted company with his first-love to fund his second build. Big thanks to Barnaba for sharing his creation with us, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of his second venture!