We arrange the parts we fit and adjust the profile of the machine to get the customization we are aiming for. Good looks and riding fun are a result of maximizing the use of minimal equipment. But I thought the K 1600 GTL was at the opposite end of the scale from this. So I fretted quite a bit even after taking the body apart. But I set to work, and when the front end began to take shape, the image I had of the bike suddenly grew.
In fact, about a year previously, I found an old photograph of the cockpit of a convertible that looked like something from the near future, and I got the idea of making a bike that had that kind of atmospheric feel. Looking at the front forks and Duolever suspension, I thought I could do this with the K 1600 GTL.
But the actual work was long and hard, a tough job to handle. In the middle of building I still didn’t have a clear picture of the completed work. Even when I finished, I still wasn’t really sure whether the work was complete. But that’s the thing about customizing, isn’t it.
The suspension and frame I left as standard, but the exterior parts are all hand made. I made a framework for the exterior with aluminum pipe, fixed aluminum panels to this front and back and then proceeded with finishing. The gauges I set in the exterior packaging were dummies, but I changed the positions of panels and needles to match up with adjacent parts. Parts other than the packaging are all given an aging paint treatment.
For a while after I was crowned champion at the “World’s Biggest Build-Off” in 2008, I found myself bereft of ideas about customization. I felt a bit used up, and thought about leaving it to the younger generation. But the R nineT Custom Project got underway around that time, and seeing the younger builders enthusiastically getting stuck into it was maybe the stimulus I needed. Then, when I saw the K 1600-based custom machine by the Belgian builder, Krugger, I was blown away. The custom scene is a world of freedom. I was also keenly aware of changes on the bike scene. So for this project, I wanted to make a bike that shouted out to all the people who'd given me the renewed incentive. A bit later, I noticed how tough it was to build a custom machine based on the K 1600 (laughs).
But the project was enjoyable nonetheless. I was getting up early, already thinking about an area I was going to work on, and this seemed to be happening naturally, every morning. There were a lot constraints and trouble spots, but these were more than compensated for by the fun of it. I really haven’t felt like that in a long time.