Obviously, since we are a bunch of terrible metropolitan luvvies, we’re never out of posh art studios in west London. When we’re not doing shit wheelies and changing tyres obvs.
So we were very much at home in Iris Studios in Kensington last night, to see three bikes on show from outlandish bike customisers Auto Fabrica. The gig was underwritten by Yamaha, who’d supplied the two XSR900s and ancient XS750 which had been transmogrified by the firm, into the beasties you see before you. Hmmm.
As ever with this kind of special bike, what you see is what you get, pretty much. The engines and frames are mostly as you were, so it’s primarily about the aesthetics. We’re not at all sold on the big tank-fairing lump over the handlebars, which looks daft, and a bugger when you’d be riding. The swoopy curving art-deco exhausts are nice – and apparently sound really good (the plutocratic neighbours meant the organisers didn’t want to make too much noise from nasty smelly loud bikes), and of course, the super-posh Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes will all work really well we suppose. There was a video of one of the bikes pottering about a racetrack, with the rider using a 1950s style no-hang-off cornering technique, which magnified the weirdness even more.
But this stuff isn’t at all for the likes of us. The price tag of the one you can buy is outrageous - £70k or thereabouts (take that cash to Big CC Racing where we went yesterday morning and you’d get a reliable, good-looking 1000bhp Hayabusa with Ohlins and Brembos and carbon wheels and change back). No, this feels like the bike equivalent of those fashion shows you see where skinny blokes wear neon kilts and shoes made from lampshades and fur-lined balaclavas, and which apparently show the directions in which style and fashion might be going. Will you see Skidmarx, Oxford Products or R&G Racing selling bolt-ons to make your bike look like this any time soon? Because, as with high-street fashion, that will be the ultimate test of whether anyone outside Kensington thinks much of it.
Of the three bikes, the one shown riding round the track is the first prototype, and it has slicks, PFM discs and Ohlins suspension. The XS750 is prototype 3, and the blurb goes bad from the start, claiming the lardy 1970s shaft-drive XS750 as a ‘true legend’, a description that even the XS750 designer’s mum would blush at. We like the 3D-printed intake trumpets, and again the exhaust is nice, but the forks look completely wrong, and the rest of it would be miserable to ride we’d say.
The gap in the names obviously means the prototype 2 is the final one, and it’s the version being built in limited numbers, as a street bike with BST carbon wheels, Brembos, Ohlins etc
These bikes will be on show at the Bike Shed Motorcycle Show in Tobacco Dock, London, at the end of May. But if you’re not a fan of these, don’t hold that against the show – it’s a good day out with a good range of stuff to see, and you should definitely pop along.
Are we wrong? Are these bikes amazing? What do you think?