Jay Patel of J&D Custom Co. knows his way around a Royal Enfield. The last time we spoke he’d just launched a bolt-on Royal Enfield cafe racer kit for the Bullet. Today we’re taking a look at his latest build that also happens to be built on his favourite platform, the Royal Enfield Continental GT 535. This is Jay’s 3rd time customising the GT 535 and he decided to do things a little differently. So along with taking a fresh design approach he decided to put his skills with a hammer and shot bag to the ultimate test.
Prior to the release of the Royal Enfield 650s, the Continental GT 535 boasted the largest capacity in the Enfield line up. This also makes it the largest capacity motorcycle India born Jay has ever worked on. So when the time came to build his 3rd Continental GT custom he wanted it to be something special. To do this he decided rather than further enhance the bikes retro vibe he’d give it a distinctly modern twist.
Jay kicked things off with some work on the GT’s frame. “The frame is cut down in the rear and the only stock piece used is the section holding the engine,” he explains. “Before recreating the other half I built a wireframe of the tank and rear cowl to decide the overall stance of the bike.” Getting the stance right also meant modifying the Enfield’s suspension set up. To level things out Jay removed 2 inches of height from the factory front end. With the bike sitting right Jay welded together a revised subframe.
Jay’s new bodywork is all about adding sharp, aggressive lines. The concept was to create a futuristic-looking motorcycle that still hinted at the Continental GTs race-bred heritage. Along with a new tank and tail, he created a modern take on the aftermarket fairings offered by Royal Enfield for the original 250cc Continental GT in the 60s. “I do everything on my own and this was my first experience with shaping large parts from aluminium,” says Jay. “I’ve made aluminium tanks before but not the complete bodywork of a motorcycle and it was a real learning experience.”
All of the Continental GT’s bodywork has been formed from 1.5mm alloy sheet. His angular fuel tank is longer than the factory unit and holds around 14 litres of gas. Inspired by an oil level gauge on his air compressor, he incorporated fuel level windows into each side of the tank. The large fairing uses a 3 piece design consisting of the front section and two sides. The 3 pieces were welded together for rigidity and secured to the bike using custom made mounting gear. For a touch of retro charm, Jay’s added aircraft-inspired louvres and rivets into the design of the fairing. To keep the handlebars free from clutter the fairings dash houses switches usually found on the switch blocks. These are protected from the elements by a perspex screen which is the repurposed visor from a genuine Royal Enfield helmet. As for the rear cowl, it can be removed to accommodate a passenger.
Rather than following what’s on-trend and converting the rear to a monoshock, the Continental GT retains its twin shock set up. Mounted directly to the new subframe the shocks are divided by a custom stainless steel exhaust system of Jay’s own design. The swingarm is another custom made unit that adds length to the footprint of the bike. With the rear of the frame completely open, all of the Enfields electrics have been relocated to sit behind the fairing. The handlebars and footpegs are knurled aluminium items Jay turned on his lathe and clean air flows into the engine via a K&N filter. The result is a barebones, raw-looking machine that would look more at home on a racetrack than the streets of India.
Due to the amount of metalwork involved Jay named his latest Continental GT ‘Metal Jacket’. All up the build took 4 months to complete and he admits the result probably isn’t something everyone will love. Regardless of what anyone thinks we’re certainly keen to see more modern cafe racers like this rolling out of J&D Custom Co.
Photography by Fanil Pandya & Harshil Majmudar