Engineered to Slide KTM Cafe Racer

I was on my KTM 250EXC-F a month ago blasting through the Otway National Park just 15 minutes from my home, I have owned this bike since new and always swapped between the Supermoto wheels and dirt wheels depending on my mood. But lately I had been admiring older bikes and their styling but never able to get my head around the mammoth task of cleaning up an old bike, surely I could do something with my KTM I thought.

So after a quick wash I tore the bike down to just engine and frame, something that only takes a matter of half an hour as the engineering on KTMs are so simple. I started with some measurements and a few drawings of the style I was after.

I bought a sheet of 0.9mm steel sheet and started on the tank, I didn’t want to move or cut anything on the frame so I worked around everything that was factory on the KTM, the radiators were my biggest problem, I needed to wrap the tank around them to get the look I was heading for.

I came up with a design that allowed air to pass under the tank and then shrouds that wrapped around the radiators. The stock KTM petcock was retained and I used a flush weld in filler, the tank ended up being quiet large and holds a hefty 28 litres although I don’t fill it with more than 10 litres due to the weight.

With the tank done I sculpted a tail section from foam to get the shape I desired, I hammered the 0.9mm steel until it resembled this shape and spent a lot of time on the tig welder getting it right, the top section lifts off the bottom section allowing easy access to my rear mounted battery.

The seat is also constructed from 0.9mm steel and it bolts to the tank. To get the seat at the right height I added a 30mm extender to the top mount of the subframe, the subframe remains unmodified so this really is a very clean bolt on transformation.

The electrics are all factory, the rear shock is factory just wound down. To lower the front I cut the fork springs 100mm shorter and refit them with Driven 53mm clip-ons. The bike handles great and is a fair bit stiffer.

The factory muffler did not suit the lines of the new look at all, I picked up two 2″ to 3″ reducers from my local plumber and then used the factory KTM baffle tube and packing inside before welding. I wanted the welds on the muffler done right so I spent some time making up a rotisserie (yes the bbq type) to get it rotating while I TIG welded it.

To finish it off I got a big chrome headlight that measures 7″ and wired it in, overall the bikes a heap of fun to ride, it gets a lot of attention and I’m very happy with the outcome. It was a 3 week, after hours build and its turned out just right.

And how does it ride? Well judging by the photo above, pretty bloody well. Would we expect anything less from a guy whose heart belongs to drifting? I think not. If you’re into the drift scene or just enjoy seeing cars go sideways at high speeds while spewing plumes of white smoke (which pretty much means you’re into drift racing) be sure to check out

It’s not often we see off-road motorcycles converted into Cafe racers. A while back we were blown away by Drake McElroy’s Cafe’d Honda CR250 and now a fellow Australian has built this eyebrow-raising Cafe Racer out of his KTM 250EXC-F.

Nigel Petrie is the owner of Engineered to Slide a company built around his love of drift racing. When Nigel isn’t out sideways on the track, updating his Blog or building drift racing cars, he likes to get away on his KTM. His interest in the Cafe style though has led him to apply his fabrication skills to converting the KTM into this very unique Cafe Racer. Here’s Nigel’s story of the build…