Nuno Capêlo from Porto, Portugal, well Madeira originally, is no stranger to the Bike Shed. His sublime Ducati/Cagiva 350 Pantah/Alazzura not only made us weak at the knees but was a definite favourite amongst show-goers at Bike Shed London 2016. Nuno splits his time between architecture and motorcycle design, more recently favouring the latter, and when time allows he’ll roll his sleeves up and get stuck in. For now though most of the mechanical work is taken care of by buddy Leonel, owner of Oficina das Motas.
The Bavarian beast featured here is not one of Nuno’s own bikes but a customer project for local tattoo artist Pedro Pinto who got in touch wanting a Mad Max inspired makeover for his 2001 R1150GS. That’s a relatively common request often referring to ratty or steampunky builds. I certainly don’t correct folk when they mention some of my builds in the same sentence as a Mel Gibson movie. But I’m not a designer, or architect, I can only just draw my own name but Nuno is cut from a different cloth. He’s a perfectionist who’s never going to stoop as low as using phrases like that’ll do or nobody will see that part, it’s hidden. Perhaps a movie called Maximilion the Utilitarian Craftsman would be more relevant.
The GS isn’t known for being a low bike but Pedro is particularly tall and Nuno wanted to achieve a neat boneline, so the subframe was raised a touch. A decent wedge of foam encased in red-stitched, black leather, just long enough for Pedro and his missus to adventure together but shorter than the stock saddle. Despite this increase in height Pedro is still flat footed with both legs, knees bent! The extra real estate freed up by the slightly stunted seat made for additional carrying capacity, a rear rack was fabricated by Leonel to incorporate Pamir Travel Systems pannier brackets. A simple yet well executed mudguard, licence plate mount and lighting arrangement sits beneath, neatly blending form and function.
While Leonel had the tube bender to hand he carefully followed Nuno’s designs for the front assembly. Stock engine guards were utilised and modified with a lasercut, wraparound exhaust header shield. The tank is protected by a burly bashguard, with the same infilled sections. This framework continues into an all-new cockpit binnacle to house the stock gauges, with the addition of a tacho just to the right of the forks. A degree of weather protection comes courtesy of many drawings, card templates and a Givi screen, the trimming of which highlights Leonel’s deft touch. He attacked it freestyle with an angle grinder, leaving only the tiniest of burrs to smooth-off. From here it looks catalogue fresh, and thanks to satin black powder coat, so does the framework.
Anyone who’s fitted luggage racks to adventure bikes will be aware of the significant offset required to incorporate a girthy muffler. Nuno got around this by fitting one from a car, ironically. The slim backbox from an Opel Corsa looks OEM from a few decades earlier, painted in high temp black with a lasercut heat shield to match the rest of the guards.
A simple but effective brush guard protects the asymmetric and slightly googley-eyed headlamps, backup-up by a brace of bright PIAA rally headlamps mounted to the engine bars. Pedro intends to use his bike for proper touring and the extra lumens will come in handy when trying to cross the Serra da Estrela late at night.
This GS might not be the most radical custom out there but it’s great to see riders of older, practical machines heading for workshops like Nuno’s for a custom overhaul. Nuno gave Pedro a shout a few weeks after delivery to check-in, but there was no answer. A few weeks later and the same again… eventually he picked-up “man, I was riding the bike all day, again, and have just arived home, and we’re here looking at it thinking, this was the best money I have ever spent, the bike is awesome, I love everything about it”
A happy customer is the best type of customer, a recurring theme at Capêlo’s Garage it would appear.
Photos by Helder Bento