When we asked for some Shed-Built bikes to show at the Bike Shed’s BSMC III Event last May, we knew from previous experience that we’d see some cool, crazy and desireable bikes, but this build was def one that stood out from the crowd, and was named by many of the event crew as their surprise favourite. At the heart of the build is one of my favourite engines; KTMs 520cc single, more usually seen in enduros and supermotos. It may need servcing every 500 hours of use, but it’s a reliable and punchy lump when looked after properly, and before KTMs new crop of high-tech singles this engine was the one to have. …But it’s not exactly the kind of engine you’d expect to crop in a Matchless-based bobber. It’s also fitted out with plenty of cool and quirky touches.
The bike is Tim’s first build, and the engine choice came from his own personal biking history. “I have always been a fan of older classic bikes and have raced KTMs for many years in enduros, so I thought I’d build something combining both…”
Tim is a carpenter by trade and had been out of the bike scene for ten years, in fact he’d taken up skydiving instead (a lot safer, apparently), but he never lost the biking bug and had always wanted to build something properly special. Instead of picking up a few custom magazines or heading to the nearest M&P catalog, Tim decided to avoid any external influences and to use eBay as his main source of parts, with one whole month of the four-month build spent buying stuff online.
Along with the parts he needed, Tim bought an old lathe, a milling machine, tube bender and a bike jig. He was certainly taking the task rather more seriously than your average shed builder. “I found a 1955 matchless frame that needed straightening and a complete 2001 KTM 520exc that I decided to use for parts.”
Tim hard-tailed the frame and fitted a lowered Yamaha TW200 front end. The rear wheel is another TW200 front rum re-laced to the KTM hub. The engine had a top end re-build (very sensible) and engine plates were machined to mount it to the Matchless frame. He only had 8mm clearance to play with, so it was a pretty difficult task.
The rear-mounted radiator was donated by a KTM 690 Supermoto and seems to work perfectly so far. The header tank is made from an old paraffin lamp. “There are a lot of reused parts on this bike. Some I had, and some I had to find. I had no real plan of how it would look, it sort of took a life of its own…”
The rest of the bike is pretty eclectic. The head lamp, speedo and tail light are all old Dnepr from the Ukraine. The petrol tank is an old Jawa from the Ukraine and the rear mud guard is an old car number plate from Odessa. The battery box is an old Russian Maxim machine gun ammo box, with a starter button from a spitfire.
The foot controls and rear brake stay are all old bed spanners from cast iron beds. Rich Philips made the seat, which was another Ebay purchace. The horn is an original 1920s Klaxon. “It just looked right for the build”. The frame was left unpainted. “When it was all together i just liked the way it looked and how its going to get a little rusty over time, so I left it…”
The 2 into 1 exhaust uses the original KTM collector that should sit over the right side of the engine, but now sits underneath, exiting on the left with a brass tip that came from another machine gun. It still has the MOD stamp on it.
“I made everything myself, spending long hours learning how to use the lathe and milling machine. Some parts were made 2-3 times until I was happy with them, …extremely frustrating at times but now its right first time.”
A build like this should be quite polarising, but we can’t find anyone who doesn’t absolutely love it – perhaps because there are so many parts involved that there’s something for everyone? It’s certainly not your run-of-the-mill shedbuild, and with that KTM 520 heart is must be a riot to ride.
Thanks to Tim for sharing with all of us at the show, and now on The Bike Shed pages. Thanks also to Matt Bone for the superb pics.