Alongside Triumph’s water-cooled Bonneville range the Royal Enfield 650 twins are some of the most authentic-looking modern retro motorcycles on the market. Royal Enfield has successfully recreated the quintessential classic motorcycle aesthetic with their Continental GT650 and 650 Interceptor models. So classic looking are these bikes that it’s hard to believe they could look any better. But if writing about the custom motorcycle scene for almost 2 decades has taught me anything, it’s that there’s always room for improvement.
Unsurprisingly the latest workshop to take an Enfield 650 to a higher level of aesthetic excellence hails from the home of insanely good custom motorcycle builders, aka Japan. And the man responsible for this impressive feat is Takashi Nihira of Tokyo’s Wedge Motorcycle.
Takashi-san has been operating Wedge Motorcycle for the past 13 years. During that time he’s bagged his fair share of trophies at esteemed Japanese custom events like the Mooneyes Hot Rod and Custom Show. His workshop’s primary focus is customising motorcycles that are domestic to Japan, but he’s never been one to turn down an opportunity to try something new. In the past, Wedge has teamed up with BMW Japan to build a one-of-a-kind G310 R based Tracker that made big waves in the custom scene. So when the opportunity came to reimagine an Enfield twin for an influential local publication, he gladly accepted the challenge.
The Wedge Motorcycle custom 2020 Royal Enfield Continental GT650 was commissioned by the Japanese musician, presenter, writer, photographer, actor, and inventor, George Tokoro. Mr Tokoro is the creator of Daytona Magazine, a Japanese moto/lifestyle publication. He is also an avid motorcyclist who has amassed an enviable collection of custom and vintage motorcycles at his famous “secret location” residence, Setagaya Base.
Taking 4 months to complete the project began with a simple sketch based on Tokoro-san’s brief. “The concept of the project was to create an extension of the genuine product,” says Takashi-san. “I made use of the quality of the genuine product and finished it using a simpler and cool style.”
Sitting side by side the differences between the Wedge 650 and a stock Continental GT650 appear dramatic. Surprisingly, the bike still wears the stock fuel tank but Takashi-san has subtly tweaked it to improve its appearance. He’s done so by trimming the unsightly seam off the bottom of the tank, welding it shut and smoothing the welds. He then repositioned the mounting brackets to position the tank lower and level on the frame. Although technically difficult to undertake the result is subtle yet an undeniable improvement.
A much more noticeable change to this GT650 is the motorcycle’s tighter proportions. To achieve the new look Takashi-san has modified the Enfield’s subframe, cutting away the factory tail light assembly and fender mount and replacing them with his own hoop. The new ribbed seat has been finished using a leather and suede mix. It removes the ability to carry a passenger but helps to visually pull the rear end which in turn tightens the appearance of the whole package.
Another key component of this Enfield’s new look is the new lighting arrangement. Using appropriately styled accessories from Japanese manufacturer Posh, Wedge has fitted the GT650 with a Bates-style headlamp, vintage round tail light and retro bullet turn signals. To help to keep the front end clean the front indicators have been relocated to under the front of the fuel tank, while the rears hang off custom brackets welded to the subframe.
Replacing the twin gauges found on the Royal Enfield Continental GT650 is a single Motogadget Chronoclassic Speedometer. For a more relaxed riding position, Takashi-san opted for a set of tracker-style bars over the GT’s semi-clip-on bars. Sitting in a pair of aftermarket risers the bars have been kept clutter-free with the use of aftermarket switches, a single cable throttle and custom grips.
Mr Tokoro didn’t request any major performance mods as part of this project. The bike does breathe more freely now though thanks to the removal of the air box and fitment of pod filters. Sitting where the airbox previously lived is a custom battery box. Painted to match the fuel tank the box follows the line of the rear of the tank and prevents road grime from the rear wheel from reaching the filters. The parallel-twin also exhales freely thanks to a one-off exhaust which Wedge fabricated from stainless steel.
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying a set of chunky retro tyres can work wonders for a custom build. Takashi-san has demonstrated this perfectly with his Wedge GT650. He’s fit the bike with Shinko 270 Super Classic Cruiser rubber. The 4.0 x 18 profile rubber gives the Enfield the appearance of a California beach cruiser and a single, custom-made high-mount fender at the rear completes the look. The icing on the cake with this build is Takashi-san’s choice of colour palette. The muted green tones work wonders with the Royal Enfield’s chrome-laden 650 twin, raw aluminium wheels and bare fork tubes.
The lack of mirrors and a front fender on this bike are sure to raise some people’s eyebrows, but if Royal Enfield released a 650 twin with these proportions I’d be throwing my money their way faster than you can say Watashi no okane o toru.