Kevils Artisan 1 Just when we thought we knew what Kevils Speedshop were all about, Kev Hill breaks the mold and decides to do something a little different with his latest Boxer-based custom build. Ok, so it's still an R-Series Beemer, but this time around it's personal. Literally. Kev's personal ride in fact. Kevils Artisan 2 Free from worrying about what Johnny Customer wanted Kev had the chance to build a custom bike that would show his own personal tastes and abilities, and demonstrate what Kevils can do when they're given some freedom. ...It all started because of some chisel-cheeked, coiffured & tattooed footballer, who pinched Kev's previous personal ride after the Belstaff launch in London, leaving him without a set of wheels, so Kev sourced a 1979 R80/7 from a donor up the road in Devon and the work to replace his ride began. Kevils Artisan 3 Apart from wanting a bike for himself Kev was also on a mission to prove to some of his detractors that Kevils are a custom shop with a broad range of skills and imagination. It's fair to say that Kevils have been harshly criticised for working primarily on a single bike platform, but they've been a victim of their own success, building bikes at an unusually rapid rate for a UK custom shop, and of course each customer "wants a bike like that last one please". Then we go and spoil it by posting them online and suddenly Kevils are accused of being a bit one-dimensional. Ooops. ...Time for Kev to put things to rights. Kevils Artisan 4 The donor was reduced to a pile of parts in a single day, with the good bits being kept while the bad and ugly parts were binned or ebayed out. The frame was de-lugged and cut back, and the guys even went to the trouble of getting a scale model of an R69 to mess about with to help them decide on the final arrangement of the build. Kevils Artisan 5 The wheels were sent off for a rebuild, replacing the 19" front rim for an 18" and a sliding top triple clamp was fitted to drop the front end further. Zbars took care of the steering at the input end, turning on a pair of chunky Coker Diamonds. "We didn't want the chopper stance, more long and low, heavy at the front rather than high." Kevils Artisan 8 The tank is from an old Yamaha FS1E DX from the early 1980s that was lying around the shop. It needed a fair bit of work to make it fit. The rust patina is actually painted on by airbrush courtesy of John Hooper at Killlerpaints and Kev wanted us to thank John for his patience after many late evenings of correspondence to get things exactly as he wanted. Kevils Artisan 6 The long slim tank is well complemented by the vintage Brooke's leather cycle seat, which works surprisingly well on this unconventional build. "The exhaust system is a stroke of genius. I wanted the silencer box to run across the frame with inlets one each side, two slash-cut outlets, simple, minimal and loud!" Kevils Artisan X All the hardware has been powder coated black before being wet-sprayed with a special oven-bake matting agent to obtain that industrial, almost gritty charcoal finish. The old engine and transmission have been completely rebuilt and upgraded with later 1000cc barrels and pistons from a R100RS, big valve heads and new Mikuni carbs. As you'd expect, she runs beautifully. Kevils Artisan 9 The electrics are all new with most of the wiring hidden away. A new Boyer Branson ignition system and upgraded charging system is also fitted for reliability. A touch we really like is the tiny Motogadget speedo perched on the end of a little tank-snorkel. Kevils Artisan 10 Kev is proud of this build and so he should be. Regardless of it being "yet another Boxer Twin" on the Bike Shed this is a lovely custom motorcycle from every angle, and it looks even better in the flesh, standing out as a real individual even when nested in a set of quite lovely Custom Boxers from Kevils and others at the MCN Motorcycle show in London last weekend. The bike has been named "Artisan" to reflect the amount of hand-made elements that went into the bike. Kevils Artisan A See more from Kevils Speedshop in Paignton, Devon, here on The Bike Shed’s Kevils pages, their Facebook page and Website. And if you're a potential customer, take a few leaves from Artisan's book and let Kev push things a little further on his next commission. Photography by Ashley Kent
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