Dust Motorcycles Blood Orange
By Gareth Charlton - 28 May 15
Dust Motorcycles tank swapping BMW's first appeared in the 'Shed a little over a year ago, since then Stephen Bentley has wasted little time in bumping his Bike Shed archive up to four and a half builds, the dual personality Jekyll & Hyde counts for the extra half, coming with a second interchangable outfit. Steve has now made it an even six with his latest commissioned bike, Blood Orange repeating the cross dressing trick. Steve was approached by a customer looking to purchase a previous build, The Twin Stroker, but that machine was already in the hands of a happy new owner, thankfully the would be customer had a '84 R80ST of his own so Steve suggested transforming that instead. "As far as commissions go Mike was a real nice guy, a true gent, cut his teeth as a motorcycle courier whilst studying and instead of picking up on his marketing degree the dispatch took over and a good few years later he now owns the company... All very cool and mucho respecto, and thinking about it, this could be part of the reason I surprised myself. Usually when people mention the words clean, minimal and motogadget… I throw them a sideways look and run for the hills, but I figured what the hell, anyone who’s spent time bouncing off cars/lampposts and riding in all weathers deserves a bit of luxury." Once Mike had converted Steve to the idea of minimalism some further conversations about style and inspiration were in order, but now it was Mike who needed convincing, He had too many ideas to nail down one distinct machine. "He loved the idea of an out and out scrambler, something to blat up the local hill climbs on and get stuck in the mud while riding with his mates... but and this is the big ‘but’, his missus loves bikes just as much as he does and over the years they’ve pretty much spent all their free time in one country or another exploring the far reaches on two wheels. So I kinda got the feeling this build was for both of them and did the only decent thing…suggested a ‘dual build’." "Having already done the Jekyll it was easier to get the idea across.. two distinct looks, two different purposes, a cool street bike (with little panniers for meandering the countryside on summer days with the missus) and a cool scrambler (for bumping shoulders with the boys) and best of all I reckon these ST’s are just about versatile enough to do the job... All that was needed now was to pin down the colour schemes and get the ball rolling.." As it transpired pinning down colours was to be one of the trickier aspects of the build, Mikes tastes were clashing with the designer in Steve. "Mike had some pretty wild ideas about the colours.. candy metalflake bright orange tank with a brown seat.. a red tank with an oxblood seat, everything that instinctively sets the alarm bells ringing. However and sometimes (this was one of those occasions) you just have to laugh and think what the hell, I need a bit of a challenge!" With final designs awaiting approval from both sides Steve set to work on the mechanics. One of the first things he noticed on the bikes arrival in the workshop was the suspension alterations the machine had received in a GS styled previous incarnation. A cracking Wilbers shock stacked up the rear but the suspension upfront was lacking in comparison, lofty and loose DR forks with a puny single disk. Steve took it back to a 19' set up with twin discs. The revised stance sat perfectly. Meanwhile, the frame was powder coated, painted gloss black and lacquered, the same treatment was applied to the modified rear sub frame. The rear pillion hangers on the ST formed part of the exhaust shield, Steve removed these and fabricated new loops for the pillion pegs to hang from. "With the trails/scrambler look in mind I also realised the solo look would be better without the rear frame loop, (but obviously still needed it for the twin seat), so I made it detachable." The engine was in great condition, so other than a 450 watt alternator upgrade it received little more than a thorough clean, fresh valve set, service and a new oil temperature gauge. An Earth X lithium battery was tucked up between the seat and the rear subframe. Those troublesome colour schemes were back on the agenda. "After a few more chats I got the felling Mike really liked the decadence of the classic car scene.. the Mille Miglia and Goodwood, cruising around in style drenched in leather with the top down and sunglasses on.. so I kinda warmed to the idea of the colour schemes and what better way to set the scene than an AC cobra wide stripe for the red tank! With the idea of the classic race cars still buzzing around I turned to his other colour choice, the candy metalflake orange, ‘But with a brown seat!’ some things are just too much.. (There’s 70’s cool then there’s 70’s curtains).. so I had a quick flick through the flips and came across a TVR Sunburst, not quite red not quite orange but very cool, but still not working with brown! So with memories of red rockets, Triumph T5’s and Husks I convinced him a black leather seat was the way forward!" "To keep it simple ‘Blood’ is the street and ‘Orange’ is the scrambler. ‘Blood’ has an RD 350b fuel tank with monza fuel cap (just because) a dark brown leather seat and detachable panniers. The panniers simply buckle onto straps that wrap around the frame..can be taken off easily and have a shoulder strap so pretty useful. Orange has an XS 650c tank.. with a pair of sportster side panels (the oil filler cap was filled in then they were painted gloss black and the numbers (03) stuck on the side (Mikes call sign as a courier, zed three)" The pipes are the original downs with links and UK made raw steel reverse cone megas. In scrambler mode the links and cones are abandoned in favour of straight through pipes and a throaty burble. "The airbox was removed and an aftermarket cover put on. (the little connectors on the side of the cover are from the engine breather and during the winter months a pipe links the breather to the underside of the K&N’s to warm the air for the carbs. (or stick into your boots, your trousers.. anywhere really)." The Motogadget equipment includes the Classic speedo, M-unit, Mini switches and air temperature sensor. Keyless ignition and a start button from a speed boat also grace the classy looking bars. The Bates headlamp and practical stainless guards were brushed in accordance with Mikes non-shiny tastes. Tyres are a square block trail Heidenau on the rear and a 4.00 19 for the front produced by the Classic Bike Shop with a very similar compound to the Heidenau. "The clean look has been helped by losing the handlebar master cylinder and going for an earlier under the tank one (which luckily works with both tanks) Goodridge braided hoses feed the twin Brembos on the '82 R80 ex-police front end and the brake/clutch cables connect to old school Tomasellis.. (same with the throttle.. twin pull Tommaselli)" Blood Orange turned up for the epic Bike Shed London show last weekend and proved to be every bit as splendid in the metal as the pixels. The collaboration and meeting of minds between customer and builder has created a machine that both are rightly supremely proud of. Mike's visions have grown with Steve's tweaks and Steve's ideas have broadened with Mike's tastes, giving Mike a machine he can interchange depending on his mood. We doubt Mike will ever convince Steve to make him a brown seat to pair with that orange though... The Dust Motorcycles Facebook page is here if you'd like to chat to Steve about your penchant for Schizophrenic Bavarian twins. Credit for the photographs go to Jon Brook, the leather work and panniers were crafted by Aaron and the paintwork executed by Grove Hill.