Watch: Is this the ultimate cafe racer?
Copenhagen, Denmark - When Dutch bikewear maker Rev’it chose top custom bike workshop Wrenchmonkees to create a two-wheeled poster child for its brand, its choice of donor bike came as something of a shock to Wrenchmonkees head honchos Per Nielsen and Nicholas Bech.
Most cafe racer or bobber style customs are based on 1980s twin or four-cylinder machines from the Japanese and European volume producers, because they’re plentiful, inexpensive, easy to work on - and the purists don’t complain when you hack them about.
But Gerbrandt Aarts of Rev’it wanted them to start with a brand new H2 - Kawasaki’s limited-edition, super-expensive, electrically supercharged technology showcase.
Actually, from a styling point of view it makes sense; the H2 makes no pretense of being a sports-bike - it’s a somewhat bulky, brutally powerful musclebike with very fragmented styling that wears all its engineering on the outside (Nielsen said at the time it looked to him like a two-wheeled Transformer), and it’s the very antithesis of the smoothly sophisticated, Eurocentric brand image projected by Rev’it.
So here’s what they did:
Right up front they decided to leave the engine and electronics dead stock, other than fitting a Sprintfilter air cleaner and an SC-Project tailpipe - firstly because they were unlikely to be able to improve the performance of the intimidatingly complex high-tech engine with aftermarket mods and secondly, who in their right minds needs more than 160kW from a custom cafe racer anyway?
But practically everything else was either modified or replaced.
Looking at pictures of the H2 with all its bodywork removed, Nielsen and Bech noted a resemblance to the chassis of early World Superbike racers such as the Honda RC30 and Kawasaki ZX7-RR, and that gave them a direction to go in.
The standard frame was cleaned up and shorn of most of its bracketry, the swing-arm was replaced by a tubular aluminium unit, custom made by GIA Engineering, with a 15mm shorter than standard Hyperpro monoshock; at the same Hyperpro shortened the original forks by 15mm to drop the front end to match.
Dymag CH3 magnesium wheels wearing Dunlop GP Sportmax race slicks, and Beringer brakes and controls, along with a new upper triple clamp and footpegs from Uhrewerk, completed the rolling chassis.
Then the Danes got really creative: a handmade aluminium fabrication on the left of the frame replaces the original ram-air ducting, while a matching box on the right houses the coolant header tank and most of the wiring - always a problem on a custom bike.
The original seat, tank and body panels were replaced by a one-piece handmade fibre-glass monocoque (moulded from a handsculpted clay plug) that contains the battery, airbox and two handmade aluminium fuel tanks - a small one with a filler cap where the pillion pad should be, feeding an even smaller one under the seat, for a total of about nine litres.
The standard instrument pod was relocated closer to the steering head on a custom bracket and a modified ZX-7R fairing, with one small, offset projector headlight in true 1990s style, gave the Revmonkee a sleek, endurance-racer profile. Finally, the frame and swingarm were sprayed white and the body finished in an understated stain grey, with suppliers’ branding in foil.
The end result is 20kg lighter than a standard H2, at 220kg with full tanks, and marginally more powerful, delivering a dyno’ed 145kW at the back wheel. Lower and more compact than the original, its performance is likely to be electrifying.
And here’s the biggest surprise of all: since all the chassis components were sourced from accredited aftermarket suppliers, this unique cafe racer is street-legal!IOL