Building A Cafe Racer – Blacktrack BT02 Build
In part 2 of our ‘Building a Cafe Racer’ series with Blacktrack motorcycles, we discuss the build of their Norton Manx inspired BT02 Thruxman. With a design concept set in stone Sacha Lakic and his team begin translating the design into functional components to fit to their Triumph Thruxton R donor bike. Here are a few insights into their processes and an overview of the one-off parts they created for the project.
What additional planning do you do before the build begins?
Before I start any custom motorcycle, I try to make my build as rational as possible. I calculate the approximate cost for the build. Then I list down all the components we might need to buy or build, all the people I would want to work with and all the running costs and the tentative deadline.
Even though I plan everything ahead, I leave some free space for improvisation during the build process. I always set some loose deadlines and try to follow them as closely as possible, but I do not like working under pressure. I feel that hard deadlines create stress and kill some of the magic and emotion of the build process. So my style is relatively easy going with a target in mind but the deadlines can be a bit flexible to factor in things I can’t control.
Walk us through your ’tear down’ process.
For the BT02 Thruxman, it was not necessary to ‘tear apart’ the Triumph Thruxton. The concept for this build was to not touch the frame or the engine. So when I started taking off parts most of the integral components stayed in place like the engine, air filter and all the electronic details. I only removed the parts like the fork and rear swing arm to change their colour. All the parts I removed and later replaced were basically to improve the aesthetics of the original bike.
What part of the build did you find most challenging?
While designing the fuel tank, the main idea was to create one similar to a Manx. The design was central to the concept and took quite some time to finalise. For me the fuel tank we produced was a masterpiece and the centre of attention for this build. With our design we managed to exaggerate the narrowness of the fuel tank to make the cylinder look bigger. You can immediately feel this once you jump on the bike. When you look at it, you can recognise the Manx DNA but can see that it is built in a very modern way. After finalising the design, the next step was to find someone who could build this. After a lot of research, I selected my friend Ludo, a true artist, to lead this project.
Other parts like the exhaust pipe, seat and the aluminium triple clamps needed skills and quality workmanship to realise. But in retrospect, they were a walk in the park compared to the fuel tank.
Do you allow for ‘unforeseen problems’ when you build?
Yes of course! Problems always happen on every build but sometimes these problems are for the good as they give you a new and fresh perspective. It is important for me to control the design and the proportions as well as the concept but during the building process, details might change.
Working from the Blacktrack design Ludo built a wooden buck for both the fuel tank and tail section of the Thruxman. The tank was formed over the buck by hand using aluminium and traditional metalworking techniques. The finished piece was polished to a mirror finish and includes a central leather tank strap and Monza style filler cap. To complete the bodywork a new seat was upholstered in full grain leather with bold red stitching to match the Manx inspired paint scheme. The bike’s stainless steel exhaust was also influenced by Norton’s Manx. The tight curves of the headers mimic the lines of the original Manx and pass around the engine’s cases rather than under it adding visual weight to the motor. To finish them off Sacha fit a pair of upswept Spark mufflers.
Other custom components found on the Thruxman include a specially designed, smaller radiator to expose more of the engine. The new radiator sits low at the front of the frame and a cooling fan helps to keep temperatures in check. The rear suspension is also a custom setup installed to level out its stance and add to the bikes classic looks. Other mods include new side covers with alloy inserts, fenders, a machined triple clamp, the Manx-esque headlight assembly and fly screen and a new speedometer developed by Sacha’s friends at Acewell.
Read the rest of this series here: Part 1 – Design / Part 3 – Shakedown
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