Drifter Bikes Phoenix
By Ross Sharp - 20 Aug 14
Paul "The Jerk" Stanner of Drifter Bikes is one of those proper Australians. He's been a pearl diver, crocodile farmer, surfer, drifter and beach bum. His dad is from England and back in the day was a Rocker and a biker, so Paul was destined to catch our unified customisation disease. 15 years ago he moved to the big smoke on the other side of the country and got a grown up job in Sydney. What spare time remained was spent in the backyard shed, building bikes for mates and mates of mates. Currently his 21 month old daughter is not proving to be so productive at welding or lapping in valves, so builds are taking a little longer than Paul is used to. This Kawasaki W650 is a break from the customer led projects (see the GB500 here) and is a personal ride for Paul, and named after his daughter Phoenix. The donor is a 2001 model bought on eBay, from a tiny town in Australia's heartland, far from the sea and rust inducing rain, so arrived in really good condition. A Cafe-Tracker was to be the self imposed brief, so the front wheel was the first job on the bench. The 19" rim was cast aside and an 18 incher relaced to the standard hub, but a slightly wider 2.15" to allow for fatter front tyre options. In this case a Pirelli MT90, with the fender chopped and lowered for a close fit. The arse-end on the Kawasaki W is a tricky thing to get right without hacking our the subframe, in stock form its just too wide at the shock mounts and makes for an overly large seat. Paul saw to this with a hoop that maintained the kick-up but finishes up short, allowing the rear fender to take the mud catching and licence plate holding duties. Neatly tucked away is the stop light, hidden between the curve in the fender and the plate mount. The new gas shocks raise the now fine looking tail by 30mm and provide a simple indicator mounting spot. A small box under the seat house the boring electrical stuff and the battery has been sent down below to live on the swing arm, leaving breathing space for the more traditional style pancake air filters and rejetted carbs. Paul credits the W650 forum and Guy Sciacca for decent advice on jetting and set up, "Never underestimate the help you can get from complete strangers on some of the great forums". Stainless headers ensure the breathing out part is both efficient and good looking, leading to a MotoGP-esque silencer which sounds as good as it looks. The tank concept has been rattling around Paul's head for a while and Kyle from Smith Concepts managed to drag out the ideas and execute them far beyond expectation. The actual canvas for this artwork was a tank laying around the shed that was massaged into position in an attempt to maintain a parallel line with the bottom and the ground, i'd say that was pretty level. Manufactures are adept at stuffing inordinate amounts of wiring into headlamps and around cockpits and the W650 offered few hiding places. The mini-fairing looks speak and draws the eye along towards the rest of the tank and provides a small spot to bury cable. Stock handlebar mounts have been shaved and clip-ons mounted straight to the forks. The thin seat has been covered in a rather cool Porsche trim by East Coast Trim Shop. When you're working on your own machine there's definitely a huge amount of satisfaction to be drawn from the process, but Paul is already feeling an itch that needs scratching. Anyone out there want to commission a build and relieve his growing listlessness? Get in touch with Paul here and keep an eye on his Facebook page.