Ernst's Bonnie Eight Sixtyfive
By James McCombe - 22 Aug 14
He’d only met her a few hours ago. So how did Ernst Berlin find himself in a motel room on the seedier side of town, his new acquaintance by his side? It was less down to smooth talking and more due to a dodgy battery. Either way, something happened that night as his freshly acquired Bonneville was taken home to meet the family... A day job operating a care home for the elderly provides a sedate pace of life, hence the decision in 2013 to give bikes a go. After a brief flirtation with an suitably elderly named Suzuki Gladius, a trans-Continental 2008 T100 was found; a sound base to work from for a first custom build. However, without access to the tools required for major fabrication, there was the difficult job of creating a cohesive bike from myriad parts. Lots of chromed plastic clutter mars the standard Bonneville, so bobbed mudguards, smaller lights and instruments shrink the visual weight from the front and rear of the bike. Also necessitating the relocation of the ignition switch from its original headlight-ear placement. The number of times I’ve left my key in the bike suggests this is no bad idea. The tuck and roll of the British Customs Slammer seat, provides a comfy perch and works well to hide the potentially awkward tank/seat interface the Hinckley Bonnie can suffer from. The bouncy bits have been fettled by way of Ricor Intimators up front and set of Ohlins finest at the rear. Combined with a set of not-too-knobbly Shinko 705s the road holding is a much improved experience. Freshly powdered engine cases, mudguards and extraneous bracketry tie the bike together nicely, keeping it black and chrome on the mechanicals to really let the paint shine. Tim at Alcalde Customs laid down the beautiful triple colour paint, using Ernst’s jacket as a reference. The ‘eight sixty five’ script work means it might be some time before the 904 big bore kit is fitted, but a downtube oil cooler is tucked away to keep things happy in any event. A man after my own heart, Ernst wanted some more go to match the show. Hence the rather flaccid standard Bonneville engine being pepped up with some Mikuni flatsides, pod filters and a freer flowing exhaust. After countless hours of fine tuning, Ernst now says that the bike is far more responsive with some noticeable extra punch, and a far more raucous soundtrack I’d wager. Ernst’s Bonnie, named after on an old 'Berliner Crew' sew on patch, is finished for the time being. But as many of us know motorcycling is contagious and the effect is rapidly spreading throughout the family. His wife is now learning to ride, and it looks like there may be one or two more projects in the pipeline. Can’t wait to see them Ernst! Ernst is a pretty decent photographer too, check out his work here.