Under Pressure – Project RE Continental GT 650
What happens when you task an Avengers-style dream team of builders with a crazy 6-week deadline? In short, this Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 cafe racer. ‘Project RE’ is the result of a collaboration between Billy of Western Australia’s Rogue Motorcycles and Ric Steele of MotoMAX. Ric approached Billy to see if he would like to join forces for the upcoming Royal Enfield Australia Busted Knuckles Build Off. Ric pitched a relatively straightforward brief and Billy accepted.
Now I said “relatively” straightforward for a reason. An almost deal-breaking caveat meant the bike had to be finished by the last week of October. That meant Billy and his team had only 6 weeks to disassemble, customize, paint and reassemble the bike. It was like the script of a mid-2000s Discovery Channel biker show, albeit with less yelling.
MotoMAX is Perth’s northern Royal Enfield dealer. No sooner had the deal been struck Ric sent a fresh-out-of-the-crate Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 to Rogue HQ. Accompanying the bike were 58mm Marzocchi front forks, wheels, and the swingarm from a written-off Benelli TNT 1130. The Benelli had been gathering dust in Ric’s workshop so it was the perfect opportunity to recycle some top-shelf components.
Parts soon began falling away from the Continental GT. The heavy factory exhaust was removed along with all the stock lighting, the gauges, and countless other parts. With everything in pieces, Billy’s attention turned to grafting the Benelli’s front end and swingarm to the Enfield frame. “This was major bike-building surgery” as he explains.
“The front end was actually the easy part. The swingarm, however, needed extensive modifications,” says Billy. “We had to narrow both sides of the swingarm and had to install new bearings to get the original axle to fit. It was converted to twin shock as per the original Continental design, so more mods were needed to have the shocks in place. To get the new 6-inch wide rear wheel centered we then to modify the frame, spacing the front sprocket outwards and the rear sprocket inwards to get enough clearance for the chain.”
While Rogue was working on the back end Doug at DB Customs machined a custom top yoke for the Marzocchi forks. Doug finished his work in two days; a fact greatly appreciated by the time-poor team at Rogue. With the build rapidly progressing, Clive from The Hammer Works in Rockingham was called to lend a hand with the bodywork. Ric and Billy decided on a vintage enduro-style fairing for their Continental GT 650, taking design cues from Honda’s MC22 CBR250R. A master of his trade, Clive promptly formed the fairing from scratch and a cowl for the seat to match.
Now four weeks in, time was running out fast. Back at Rogue HQ work began on the myriad tasks to complete the project. Billy fabricated the stainless steel exhaust headers, bent up and welded to match the originals but with far better performance. Big Mouth mufflers from Cone Engineering take care of the soundtrack, another improvement over the factory offering. The side panels are from Rogue too. The cut out flutes mimic the Royal Enfield logo’s wings, a detail Ric and Billy are quite fond of.
Now well past their deadlines halfway point, Doug was called in again to help fit the Tarozzi rearsets and the Motogadget bar end caps. The caps were machined to match the diameter of the silver Motogadget grips. Doug also made the drilled frame plugs in the same style as the bar end caps. Billy fabricated the front fender stays in his signature Rogue style. These match the countless other brackets and stays that adorn the rest of the bike; the fairing brackets being particularly noteworthy.
As week 5 rolled around fabrication was finally complete. Everything was sent to Jay at Distorted Paint and Restoration in Neerabup. A stunning candy teal was laid over the frame and swingarm. A brushed finish on the tank, fairing and seat cowl keeps things classy and a deep clear coat prevents oxidization. “This color scheme has been on my to-do list for years. It was a perfect opportunity to finally do it”, says Billy. Jay dropped everything and got the paint done in a matter of days, no mean feat considering the flawless finish. While the paint was drying Lorenzo at Poli Motor Trimming made the alterations to the stock seat, reshaping and recovering it using teal thread to complement the frame.
Assembly was completed in just a single day so the bike could be wired up by Joel at Custom Bike Electrics & Restorations. A slew of aftermarket parts needed to be wired in so he had a busy few days. His work included the installation of a Motogadget Tiny speedometer, SAAS tach, Motone switchgear, and Highsider tail light. The tiny Kellermann Atto indicators and associated harness were supplied by Mike from MotoLoom in Perth. Joel worked over the weekend to get it done before the bike was taken back to Rogue for finishing touches. Shane from Graphic Addiction designed and printed the decals. Ric chose a number 8 to adorn the front of the bike, a nod to his father Mike’s racing days.
After a long Monday night getting everything wrapped up, the Project RE Continental GT 650 cafe racer was done. The bike was photographed on Tuesday and promptly loaded into a crate Wednesday morning for its appearance at the Australian Motorcycle Festival. It’s no surprise to learn the bike got quite a reaction.
The Busted Knuckles Build Off has opened for voting so you can all go and vote for your favorite Royal Enfield custom here. We’ve already found ours.
Story and photography by Ben Pilatti
“We would like to thank Ric and the entire Motomax team, Clive from Hammerworks, Jay from Distorted Paint & Restoration, Lorenzo from Poli Motor Trimmers, Joel from Custom Bike Electrics & Restoration, Doug from DB customs, Shane from Graphic Addiction, Pirelli for the Supercorsa tyres and Mike from Motoloom.” – Billy
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