When the hype of the Lotus C0-1 concept reached its climax everyone was talking about it. Every motorcycle blog and magazine ran pictures of the renderings and we were all left with our jaws dragging on the floor wondering when we would be seeing these amazing Lotus motorcycles out on the street. Unfortunately, as with most concepts built by large manufacturers, we’ve been left waiting for what feels like an eternity while they test and refine every nut and bolt before official production can begin.
Meanwhile, our friends at Bali based workshop Smoked Garage couldn’t be bothered waiting any longer and decided to go ahead and build one themselves. I was lucky enough to be in Bali a few weeks ago shooting content for issue 7 of Tank Moto Magazine. We joined Nicko Eigert from Smoked Garage on top of a building with half a plane on it for a quick interview, photo session and a celebratory burnout!
The project began with the basic desire to try something different. Smoked Garage has been building custom projects for some time and workshop owner Nicko wanted to build something that would test the skills of his team and prove his workshops ability. With the release of the Lotus C0-1 concept he knew this was his chance and thanks to a member of the Australian Rugby League team the Brisbane Broncos, he had the backing he needed to make it happen. After some research into what modern bikes were available locally and which ones would suit the build, a Kawasaki ER6N was purchased. When the bike arrived at the workshop the team was gathered to inspect it and everyone’s unanimous reaction was “where the hell do we begin!?”. They now had the huge task of transforming a production Kawasaki into a Lotus concept bike and a customer eager to see it completed.
When the head-scratching ended the bike was stripped down and set up on a jig so the modifications to the frame could begin. Rather than building a new frame from scratch the team built onto the existing one, removing sections of the stock frame as they became redundant. This allowed them to retain the stock engine position, basic geometry and engine mounts and to test each modification as the frame evolved.
With the frame completed a reputable local metal worker, Gus Wi, was tasked with shaping the bodywork. The 5 piece aluminium body was formed by hand and bolted to the frame using flush-mounted screws creating an aeronautic finish well suited to the look of the bike. Each panel was then painstakingly brushed in one direction by hand before being pinstriped and clear coated.
The new rims were modelled in 3D and approved by an engineer prior to being milled by a factory in Jakarta. The larger wheels (19-inch front and 18 inch rear) and custom made swingarm necessitated a new sprocket combination for comfortable gearing on Australian roads and the drive shaft was modified to align the chain on the front and rear sprockets. Pirelli provided the rubber for the bike when they stumbled across the build online along with Aussie suspension experts ‘Gazi Suspension’ who provided the rear piggy-back style shocks. Inside the Smoked fork shrouds, the original upside down Kawasaki forks are kept true with an elaborate internal bearing system that prevents any surfaces from rubbing.
With the help of a local nightclub owner’s smoke machine, the aerodynamics of the bodywork was tested in a makeshift wind tunnel. Nicko’s initial concerns about cooling were quickly confirmed when the front wheel prevented enough air from entering the massive front scoop. To keep temperatures at safe operating levels additional ventilation had to be added. Strategically hand-drilled holes above the front grille direct air onto the radiator and the ones behind the side scoops help draw air in around the exhaust system. A scoop was also added to the belly pan to draw even more air into the body around the exhaust where temperatures were highest.
With the bodywork, fuel tank and airbox all constructed of aluminium, heat transfer was also becoming an issue. To tackle this the internal surfaces were lined with heat shielding material, but it was discovered that the temperature issues were worst when the bike was parked after riding. Once the airflow over the exhaust stopped and the water pump ceased to circulate coolant, temperatures inside the bodywork were reaching dangerous levels. Again using their creative ingenuity the Smoked team devised a cooling system using a series of internal fans controlled by a turbo timer. Now when the bike is parked and the ignition is switched off the timer runs the fans for a cooling cycle, keeping internal temperatures at acceptable levels.
Most of the Kawasaki’s original wiring loom was retained. A custom fuse box was made to sit beneath the seat for easy access and concealed in the front cowl and tail section are custom made LED lights. Inside the bodywork, you’ll also find a full custom stainless exhaust system with a belly-mounted muffler exiting through the bodywork just beneath the right footpeg. To keep the raked front end under control a steering damper was added and believe it or not the bike will be roadworthy and registered in Australia later in the year.
All up the build took a team of 7 people 3 months of 12 hour days to complete. The Smoked Garage version of the Lotus C0-1 may not be powered by a 175bhp KTM RC8R v-twin, but its 650cc ER6N inline-four produces a respectable 85bhp at 8500rpm. As we witnessed on the day that’s more than enough to get the rear tyre smoking and quite frankly this is a bike best ridden at slower speeds for all to admire.
If you enjoyed this story be sure to keep an eye out for Tank Moto issue 7 for more great articles from our journey to Indonesia.