Kevils Rat Tracker
By Ross Sharp - 12 Nov 14
It didn't take that long for motorcycle manufacturers to sit up and realise that the adventure and sports bike markets were floundering, customers preferring to spend a couple of hours adding personal touches to their bike, rather than wheeling out the pressure washer or counting points on their licence. To much fanfare BMW Motorrad presented the world with the R nineT, a handsome machine straight out of the crate but with the Brucey bonus of bits that could be added and removed by the average Joe. "The start of the end for the custom scene" murmured the doom-mongers. The truth of the matter was as opposite as the rocker covers on BMW's flagship custom. Whilst the more well heeled raced to dealerships around the world waving the necessary deposit to join an instantly lengthy waiting list, BMW had already sidelined a few bikes to present to the builders in higher echelons of the custom scene; offering them a chance to show off their creativity and craftsmanship. To see how some of the Japanese garages fared, check out this video. The European contingent were not to be left out, Urban Motors of Berlin and the ever opinion dividing El Solitario from the Basque region of Spain were offered new bikes as canvases. But what about good old Blighty, to whom did Bavaria Motor Works give a 2014 R nineT? Kevils Speed Shop of course. Their super efficient workshops in Paignton, Devon are producing custom BMWs at such a rate that we need to upgrade our server space to maintain the archive. Something we'll happily do if they keep sending us bikes like this, enter stage left; The Rat Tracker. The hot rod/rat rod theme hadn't been done so far and Kev Hill, boss of Kevils, wanted to put his stamp on the ordinarily teutonic and slick machine. BMW employ some fairly handy designers so Kev thought it best to leave their initial work alone and concentrate on individualisation. The matt finished paint, with rubbed through edges is reminiscent of an 1960s salt flat racer after a few Bonneville record attempts. The pin striping is exactly that, not some cheating vinyl effort. Striper Nefarious took care of this and the retro lettering. Cylinder head protectors have also been painted to break up the bulk of the big black motor. The original seat base has been recovered in diamond stitched leather, with the pillion section kept, just in case. The wheels were stripped and the rims powder coated in old English white, which looks the business; polished or black wires would have completely changed the style. Gets my vote. The boardroom at Continental tyres in Germany must be a happy place these days, execs sitting around clinking steins as the new wave custom scene props up their sales figures. The TKC80 is tried and tested rubber and instantly explains what the builder was trying to achieve, so the Rat Tracker runs on a fat pair. To bring the Halo headlight closer into the cockpit a new bracket unit was fabricated, incorporating a Motogadget Motoscope Pro. This pod and the forks were painted and anodised black to leave the artwork to do the talking. For a more aggressive stance lower and wider bars were fitted, with Motogadget barend indicators and LSL mirrors. Perhaps my favourite part of the bike is Kev's middle digit salute to the bureaucrats in Brussels. The polar bear friendly exup-type valve and catalytic converter have been replaced by a set of Remus headers and cannon of a muffler, liberated from some metric cruiser and purchased from an auto jumble for £7.50. Wunderbar! The period pin striping and Monza tank cap instantly date the bike, in a good way. Hi-tech on the inside, nostalgic cool on the outside. K&N pod filters do away with the airbox and balance out the acoustic assault from that exhaust. To keep the under tank triangle neat the battery has been sent off for a game of hide and seek and the large snorkel previously feeding the now dormant airbox has been removed, covered by a painted filler panel. A custom fork brace provides a mount for the slimline, hand rolled mudguard. Out back Kevils own tail tidy houses very neat lights by Hidden LED, with the indicators mounted in the ends of the subframe tubes. Not that any of that will be needed because this is one modern vehicle that certainly won't creep up on anyone. I think you'll agree that Kev and his team have done us Brits proud and shown the world that our little island is brimming with creativity and the craftspeople to bring the ideas to life. To order parts, book a commission build or just salivate over some rather lovely bikes, head over to the Kevils Speed Shop website And thanks to Focal Point Studios, Torbay for the wonderful photography.