OEM a My historical RAF aircraft knowledge is at best, hazy. Indeed it is an education that has come almost exclusively from the machines of Old Empire Motorcycles who label their creations with the monikers of those past rulers of the sky. But when their latest bike, The Tempest, first landed in the Bike Shed inbox my terra firma bound head briefly flirted with the thought that they were launching a new series of Shakespearean inspired two wheelers, but thankfully fair reader thou scribe was mistakeneth. After all Much Ado About Nothing would never be a fitting title for a creation from the Norfolk based Old Empire team. OEM b The Tempest was designed and built for a customer who had approached OEM with the brief of creating a minimalistic bobber type build in the ‘Empire Style’. After some preliminary discussions the decision was reached to work up from that much played with base bike, the Yamaha XS650. True to form, the donor they sourced had been thoroughly butchered. "We managed to find a 1979 Yamaha XS650 that had been reincarnated in various forms over the years (we bought it as an 8’’ overs, stretched out, raked out chopper form) which was all duly removed and scrapped!" OEM c A fresh un-chopped frame complete with all of the correct running gear went straight to the top of a long shopping list. Innumerable other bits and bobs came from a shop up north called R & D Moto who specialise in breaking XS650’s. OEM take up the build story. "First things first was to chop off all the unnecessaries, along with all of the rear subframe. Now there are hardtails and then there are hardtails and we went the whole hog with this one. We cut all the way back the lower rails to the mid engine mounts, then sleeved, extended and curved around to join at the bottom of the down tube. This makes the frame flow, leading to the custom (designed and machined for a cast look) axle plates." oem d Both the front and rear hubs were vapour blasted and re-laced to 19’’ alloy rims with stainless spokes. The fresh wheels were wrapped with Firestone rubber and a fully rebuilt stock single pot calliper with skimmed disc and braided hoses restore the stopping power up front whilst the stock drum with renewed internals retards the rear. OEM G "At the sharp end we dumped her right down, yes travel is really limited and yes we may have to stretch to a set of offset yokes or extend the forks slightly in the future but she sits really pretty as is! The front end was refurbished with custom springs from Hagon and super heavy fork oil. The yokes were cleaned up and a set of curved bars mounted underneath with integral warning lights. Stock switch gear was vapour blasted and rebuilt along with our own rather fancy leather grips. Each grip is machined from billet aluminium and laser cut leather rings are then slid over and glued in place, dyed and treated for a refined finish." OEM f The old pressed plate head mounts were deemed horrible and promptly removed and replaced with custom stainless alternatives. Compact and minimal became the key watch words throughout the build. The seat and tail unit are tucked tightly to the rear wheel and engine, leaving just enough space to fit the custom embossed leather battery satchel and its Shorai tenant. For the seat leather work OEM wanted something special, they blended double diamond stitched faux suede (100% water proof and easily cleaned) with heavy grained brown leather with exquisite results. "The stainless exhausts were fabricated as tight as we could make them then wrapped so we didn’t scorch our legs too badly…" OEM e "The tank was quite some work as we started with two royal Enfield tank halves which we manipulated into the shape you see then re-tunnelled, mounted, and breathing system installed, balancing pipes and pet cock union welded in along with the custom brass tank fillers." The engine also proved a test of OEM's patience - "We stripped the top end right down to discover badly pitted bores requiring a rebore, new pistons, rings etc. After a relap of all the valves, uprated charging system, electronic ignition, vapour blasted casings and painted engine it all looks rather dapper. We completed the look with a set of Amal 930 concentrics mounted on hand cast Greensand Foundry manifolds which work a treat! Suffice to say it goes like lightning and sounds like thunder!" OEM j A ceramic coated mini bates headlight with a blue tint was mounted to the bars and spliced into the neat custom wiring loom built by London Motorcycle Wiring. A deceptively bright Highsider LED rear light was sunk into the rear tail section. Mini stalk indicators mounted off the bottom yoke and off the hardtail are discreet and tied in with the well hidden electronic MMB speed. Machined billet adjustable aluminium foot controls featuring matching leather rings to the grips replace the standard peg layout, all linkages are rose jointed stainless. OEM h Greg of Black Shuck Kustom Paint and Design was tasked with providing that familial Old Empire appearance. A bare brushed metallic silver, shadowed with black was chosen to give everything a suitable depth. A powder coated frame, re-plated parts and Cerakoted components finish everything off just so. It is a stunning machine graced with the style, finish and a fair maiden of which OEM have made their standard. A last word from the OEM boys. "As usual our thanks goes to all the local, independent craftspeople who we work with to create our motorcycles." See more from Old Empire on The Bike Shed Archive | Facebook | Web | Instagram Photography by Vaughan Treyvellen
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