The Goodwood Festival of Speed kicks off tomorrow, so it seemed fitting to feature this - Paul Ling's KTM 690 Duke. For those of your who don't recognise the location, it's the pitlane of Goodwood's infamous airfield circuit. But just a few weeks ago Paul's bike was centre stage in the Makers Room at Bike Shed London 2019. But Paul isn't some seasoned pro, this is his first ever custom build. He comes from a family of engineers, panel beaters, painters and mechanics but chose to spend two decades working in the City of London (Banking and Finance for those not familiar with the term 'working in the City'). But it was during a sabbatical Paul decided to rent a small workshop and get started on the Duke, which he'd bought new from a dealer who'd over stocked. Inspired by the float-plane racers which competed for the Schneider Trophy in the 1920s & 30s Paul's build is heavily influenced by aviation. The unibody tank, seat and tail are formed from aluminium, his first foray into metalworking, with hidden fasteners and fixings. There were no fancy renders or sketches, Paul just got stuck in. Breaking down the ominous task into bite-sized pieces to make it appear less daunting. Working on a brand new motorcycle allowed Paul to concentrate on the metalwork rather than repairing worn-out components, but along with that comes the challenges of hiding miles of wiring and working around computer based systems. Thankfully the KTM is a relatively simple beast with a highly acclaimed powerplant at its core. A lifelong biker Paul was pretty pleased with his choice of donor, saying "while looking for a workshop I ran the Duke in. Even with 1000 revs knocked off the red-line it’s clear the bike is a bit of hooligan tackle and the engine is absolutely hilarious. I felt like a teenager on a stolen bike." An aluminium fuel cell beneath the one-piece body runs the stock fuel pump for ease and maintains a decent capacity with plenty of range. Aviation cues are everywhere. The seat mimics a Hurricane head pad, the silver and brass switchgear is period in appearance and the pipes.... Spitfire Supermarine. OK, so a 690 single with rows of slash-cuts doesn't maketh a Merlin but that really doesn't matter. The whole point of custom motorcycles is the expression of creativity. And Paul is a plane guy! He even managed to find a triple-sparred headlight to resemble a propeller. When choosing bikes for the Makers Room at the show this year I wanted to showcase a few people who'd thrown the rulebook out and just built what was inside their heads. Paul's place was well deserved and for a first build he's clearly demonstrated that craftsmanship runs in the family. But all good journeys have to come to an end and Paul's KTM will need to find a new home so that he can finance the next project, and the recently formed business - Old Barnstormers. If you're an aviation nut who thinks the new Husqvarna Vitpilen is a bit too modern but love the idea of a big single with clipons, why not give Paul a shout. Follow Old Barnstormers' next build on Facebook | Instagram Here's are a few of Paul's snaps from Bike Shed London 2019.
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