By Ross Sharp - 29 Jan 15
Sometimes timing is everything, in fact almost always. Nguyễn Việt Thắng - aka Sebastian Nguyen from Vietnam was grading his photos of his first custom build when he stumbled upon The Bike Shed. His click of Facebook's infamous like button pushed The Bike Shed over the 300,000 milestone, so we sent Sebastian a package of BSMC goodies to say thanks. He replied with these photos of his Kawasaki café racer. Nice when fate works out like that. Sebastian is no stranger to customisation. He owns a car tuning company called GTPs in Ho Chi Minh City, high-end Fast & Furious type stuff, but has buddies at a couple of custom bike shops to steer him in the right direction. A local magazine ad yielded the 1982 KZ440 donor so Sebastian and his brother Linh Phan set off with a fist full of Dong, and so the eBay trial and error project began in ernest. The first component for the recycling pile was the skinny front fork, superseded by an infinitely stiffer set from a ZX6R, complete with clipons. Originally a set of ZX7 alloy wheels were sourced but proved too wide for the swingarm, which was a blessing in disguise as more classical wire wheel look was the preferred choice, so a 36 hole front hub from a Kawasaki Z900 was laced to an 18" Excel rim. But not before a Ducati Sport Classic set-up was unsuccessfully tried. The rear also proved tricky, but a solution was found with an XS Performance 18" hoop and KZ1000 48 spoke hub. Not sure who has been busier here, Sebastian or the postman. One definite upside to building bikes in Vietnam is the extraordinary wealth of hands-on skills that so many still posses. In this case the fuel tank, bar-end indidcators and exhaust have been fabricated locally. Making a speedo was beyond the remit of his mate's skills so a Koso unit was ordered. The headlight is from a Honda CB233S, this bike is a true Bitsa. The engine was in rude health so required a service and tune-up to cope with the pod filters and free-flowing exhaust. One of the pesky Kehin carbs refused to fall into line and fuel smoothly, so eBay was enlisted once more to source another. The shortened front mudguard, café tail and upside-down forks play their part in the squat stance, and the kicked-up rear hoop breaks up the flat visual line perfectly. Vortex rearsets look the part and allow Sebastian's small frame to bunch up, hunker down and give that frontend a proper workout. The painstaking eBay searches, lengthy shipping times from the U.S.A. and commitment to a trial, error and learn approach meant the whole project to Sebastian two years. Whilst waiting for parts to arrive the sight of his two wheeled statue became a slightly depressing sight, but thankfully perseverance won the day. It's great to see young guys, and gals, knuckling down to bring their ideas to life and we're sure to see more of Sebastian in the future. Well, the near future, we want to see a picture of the 300,000th Facebook follower on his bike wearing a BSMC T-shirt.