Last week we lost one of the most renowned Heavyweight Champions of the World. He called himself “The Greatest.” The whole world knew him as “The Champ.” Muhammad Ali’s technique and speed set him apart from all other fighters. His shadowboxing was the stuff of legend. So after talking to EAK of K-Speed Customsin Bangkok, there could be no second guessing as to how he came up with the name of his latest creation, a brawny BMW R nine T cafe racer called ‘Shadow Boxer.’ The bike had to be named after the Champ, right? Guess again. EAK insists the name was inspired by the “boxer” engine format, coupled with the bike’s color palette. EAK explains his passion for bikes as being “born out of a nagging need to feel free and the belief that motorcycles can take you anywhere.” He describes his build approach as outside the box with a love and focus on timeless design and creating unique machines.
Fueled by passion and friendship, K-Speed opened its doors for business back in 2002. From boyhood, EAK’s father would load him up with all the best Japanese motorcycle magazines. “I would dream as I looked at the bikes, and convince myself that I would one day be the #1 custom bike builder in Thailand,” he laughs. “It all really started when my friends wanted me to work on their bikes and then their friends and so on…”
With the likes of powerhouse Asian bike builders, like Winston Yeh’s, Rough Crafts (Taiwan) and White Collar Bikes (Indonesia) setting the stage for the global appreciation of their bikes across social media like wildfire, it’s no surprise K-Speed was soon to follow suit. After participating and being photographed taking part in last year’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, EAK was introduced to the world sitting dapper on his breathtaking single-saddle BMW R100 Brat Bob… and the pictures went viral.
So what attracted him to the R nine T platform for ’Shadow Boxer’? EAK reveals he had “always wanted to work on the R nine T and liked the style of the stock bike but wanted to play around with one and make it more unique.” He kept the bones of the bike that he liked then he implemented and fabricated, based on the distinct vision he had in his mind.
After powder-coating the cylinder heads, swingarm and triple tree, EAK blacked out the forks and replaced the stock bars with CNC clip-ons. The tank was painted matte and custom-made side panels were installed. The rear frame was modified. A custom single saddle was formed and upholstered. The stock instrument cluster was replaced by a Motogadget speedo. LED lights replaced the stock headlamp, tail light and turn signals. A new set of Pirellis improved footwork and an updated exhaust system added a nice throaty growl.
Not to say that this was the easiest bike to reimagine. EAK had to re-fabricate the hand-made aluminum front fairing three times then repeatedly reformed the back-end until things felt just right. With irony he admits on completing the bike that his favorite features on it are its fairing and the rear end and saddle set-up. So it seems, as with all loves, it was a delicate balance of frustration and unrelenting effort… not so much a fight, more like shadowboxing.