Dust Motorcycles - The Jekyll
By Ross Sharp - 02 Jan 15
One of the perineal problems with motorcycle ownership is that one bike simply can't do everything, resulting in garages bursting with solutions to first-world, two-wheeled problems. Golfists are allowed a selection of bats, each numbered for a specific purpose, and are rarely frowned upon for such frivolity. Yet us bikers are made to pick and choose, either by partners that just don't get it, bank managers who can't comprehend the need for a tracker and a scrambler or the silly, piddly little island that us brits live on being so expensive that a garage usually costs more than a Ducati Desmosedici. Steve Bentley of Dust Motorcycles has a solution, make one bike with two personalities. The Jekyll wasn't pre-planned but the result of flitting between two slightly differing design ideas, the fact that there were two matching tanks hanging up and a spare subframe kicking about made the decision not to simply build two bikes even harder. The donor bike is a 1992 R80 RT Mono which has undergone a thorough mechanical shakedown with the usual freshening up of cables, wiring, fluids etc. The engine was in fine fettle so required a thorough service and tune-up to make the most of the cone filters and slash cut mufflers but apart from that was left standard. The handlebar switchgear and levers are all perfectly good so left alone. Much as Motogadget's emporium of miniaturisation has infiltrated the custom scene, the original BMW kit isn't that bad to look at and is properly engineered. Anyone who's seen the chain and gear throttles on these things will know what I mean. The brakes and shock are original too, with added TLC. Drag bars from the RT have been widened slightly to give better tank clearance and an Acewell speedo sits on top. The slightly more conical than normal headlight unit adds character to the front end and stands out, particularly on the burgundy version. Those who've seen Dust bikes before will recognise the fuel tanks as late seventies Yamaha RD. Despite the heft of the boxer motor the slim tanks require only minor modification to fit over the spine frame and give a lovely straight line to the seat and tail. With pull-off fuel lines and a single 13mm bolt to take care of the swap over is simple and takes less than ten minutes. There are more customs featuring optional pillion arrangements and Dust have made a few themselves but Steve says "It’s a difficult thing to get across in pictures but this build really affects the psyche. I’ve done a couple of builds this year where the seats and tanks have been swapped out but they still had the same vibe about them. This does genuinely morph from daily hack to weekend special and whilst I haven’t given it much thought I’m sure it makes sense on some level". The milk float battery that comes standard with most BMWs has been binned, superseded by a modern lithium option by Earth X which lives in a small box suspended between the subframe. A trimmed and reshaped RT mudguard keeps most of the crud at bay and leaves a near full view of the Pirelli Scorpion ATs. Steve reckons these are a great all-round tyre, especially up in Yorkshire where farmers kindly do their bit to keep ambulances busy by depositing cow crap and mud all over the roads. Anyone out there in cyberland who harps on about dual sport tyres being being a silly option on a custom clearly haven't spent much time blatting between the hedgerows in rural England. The Mono suspension set up with decent rubber at either end is a vast improvement over the handling of the twinshocks according to Steve. Something for the weekend Sir? In about as many minutes as it takes to wax one's beard this weekday commuting hack is transformed into a more handsome Sunday bike. This could catch on. Leather expert Aaron upholstered both seats, the bases being Steve's handiwork. On the flashy version the tail was swiped from a Kawasaki Zephr 1000 and modded to fit. It certainly makes economical and spacial sense to have one bike with two personalities, maybe we'll see more of this in 2015. In the meantime keep an eye on Steve's future builds over on Facebook.We hear that there are a few exciting projects waiting in the wings, one being a BMW shaft to chain drive conversion; should be interesting. A big thanks to Robin Zahler for the photos and Ian and Dave from Grove Hill for the paintwork.