Building a Café Racer – Blacktrack BT02 Shakedown
In this third and final instalment on Blacktrack Motors BT02 Triumph ‘Thruxman’, we learn about the final build stage. Sacha Lakic explains the rebuild process and the all-important safety shakedown. Sacha also shares some insights into the direction he is heading with his Blacktrack brand and what we can expect to see from them in the future.
To bring you up to pace this series covers the design, fabrication and final build of the ‘BT02 Thruxman’ by Blacktrack Motors. Sacha Lakic took inspiration from Norton’s legendary Manx when customising his own Triumph Thruxton R. Using traditional fabrication techniques and modern manufacturing tools they created a unique custom motorcycle of which there are only two examples in existence, Sacha’s personal bike and one other which is currently for sale via the Blacktrack website.
Once you are happy that all the parts are ready what’s the next step?
I actually don’t wait for all the parts to be ready before I start assembling them on the bike. My philosophy is to build on the go. So basically even during the building process, I put the half-finished parts on the bike to see how they look and fit the bike. And depending upon the feeling I get by looking at these half-finished parts, sometimes I even modify on the go. I prefer working like this because later on when the custom piece is 100% ready, it is very difficult to modify it. So yes, my style is more assembly on the go!
How do you address safety when building and testing a custom motorcycle?
As I mentioned before, the Triumph Thruxton is already a very good quality bike. It would be very difficult for anyone to make the bike ‘better’ than the stock version. It had good tyres, good braking system, the rigidity of the chassis was perfect. So I did not have to put in any effort to make the bike ‘safer’. All my modifications were for aesthetic reasons only and I made sure that any changes I might make shouldn’t reduce the safety/quality of the bike. So basically on the Thruxman, there are no dramatic changes and it works pretty much the same as the original.
The BT01, on the other hand, was built on a 35-year-old Honda CX500 donor and clearly, it needed much more work than just the aesthetics. I changed the front forks, the rear shock absorbers, the tyres, the frame, the braking system, refurbished the engine to improve the performance and safety.
What were some of the challenges you encountered when modifying the Thruxton R?
The only major technical change we encountered with the Thruxman was that we relocated the radiator. The main design challenge was to redesign the exhaust system. Our aim was to create an exhaust system that would look similar to the exhaust on the original Manx. To achieve this look, we removed the catalyser from under the engine which in turn changed the behaviour of the engine. This became a huge issue for us. So we had to remap the entire fuel injection system to work with the new exhaust.
After remodelling the exhaust we also realised that there was an ugly empty space in the place of the radiator. This ‘design flaw’ had to be rectified and while thinking about the possible options, I was reminded of an old Honda with side radiators. Inspired by that image, I put the radiator in a horizontal position under the engine to fill up the empty space. This spontaneous solution ended up making the BT02 Truxman look like a real air cooled engine. I feel that in the end, this empty space issue helped us create an even cooler looking bike. Moving the radiator was a tricky challenge but I love how creatively we overcame that issue.
How long did the entire BT02 project take from start to completion?
I started designing the bike in October 2015 and we started working on the build in January 2016. Overall the bike took 6-8 months to be complete.
Can Blacktrack Motors produce a bike like this for a customer?
The philosophy of our brand is to make unique bikes that are rare and actually serve as collectable items for their owners. We want to cater to a very niche market of bike aficionados that can appreciate the aesthetics of the bike and also love the bike for what it is. I have a personal relationship with all the BT bike owners and I feel that all the bikes I have sold are still ‘within the family’. We produce a limited quantity of all the BT series. The BT02 was produced in just 2 units and we currently have one for sale.
What are your plans for Backtrack Motors in the future?
I am very happy and motivated by the love and praise everyone has shown for both my BT01 and BT02 series. We are currently in the process of building our BT03. The bike has turned out really great so far and I am very excited about the final result. The bike will soon be revealed to the world and I am looking forward to seeing the first impression it makes on people.
Read the rest of this series here: Part 1 – Design / Part 2 – Build
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