This year more than ever we were bowled over with how far people would travel to not only visit our London show but also to exhibit. Slavo Danko and his son Matus are perhaps the first from Slovakia to take part, with this SR named Primus.
Slavo works in advertising but has form when it comes to customising bikes, telling us “Back in 1980’s (Eastern block, former Czechoslovakia), when I was riding motocross, there were no “western brands” on the starting field, only the domestic, Czech and Slovak ones. Great engines, but ugly as hell. So, I made my first custom seat on my grandmother’s sewing machine and then a KX125 style fuel tank – all the other competitors wanted one” 30 years later Slavo is back in the workshop building small capacity urban customs under the Free Spirit Motorcycles name, scratching an itch, “all my early life I wanted to be a designer but that was a bit difficult during the socialist era. Now my son is studying Industrial Design and he’s the first opponent to my ideas for the custom bikes”.
This 1981 Yamaha SR 250 began as sketches before a suitable donor was found in Germany. The bike had belonged to an older guy who’d ridden carefully and maintained the mechanicals well. In the pursuit of perfection though the entire bike was stripped bare. The engine was completely rebuilt and the cases painted before skimming the cylinder’s cooling fins. 15 stainless bends make up the exhaust, the joints invisible thanks to back purged* TiG welding and a fastidious lininshing job.
* Argon gas from the welding torch combined with the tubes being filled with gas makes for an incredibly neat weld.
The frame was modified with 22mm 14 gauge steel tubing to form the subframe and rear loop with integrated LED Highsider stop light. As Primus was intended as a solo fun machine pillion peg brackets didn’t make it onto the final build. The side stand is handmade to replace the cheap feeling original and a stainless steel tip added. Tarozzi pegs, shifter and brake pedal are aluminium and required modification of the stock gear and brake linkages to work accurately.
1.5mm 5754 grade aluminium was used for the side panels, mudguards and headlight surround. Shaped by hand using traditional techniques and TiG welded together, after many prototypes were scrapped. The fixings are all hidden and the headlight unit and its surround are cleverly mounted with lugs and just one bolt from the underneath. The fuel tank is the original but modified to ensure a lean interface with the saddle.
The top yoke is Matus’ own design, CNC machined in high grade alloy, housing the speedo and dash lights. Very neat. The wiring loom was a challenge as Slavo reduced the number of colours of wire from 26 to 12, leaving just the bare minimum for the lithium battery to power. An auxiliary plug not only allows the Li-po battery to be charged without removal but also provides a modicum of practicality as a power source for a phone or sat nav.
Slavo took particular pride in the saddle, sourcing a vintage hide along with an industrial sewing machine from 1972. The grips and ignition key fob were made from the same leather. You can clearly see from these photos that fastidious doesn’t come close. We’ve seen a couple of bikes delivered to the show with the tyres clingfilm wrapped but Slavo and Matus went a step further, the whole bike was cocooned, only released once the show plinth was in position and ready.
There are plans for more builds and judging by the attention to detail we saw on this bike, the order book shouldn’t take long to fill up.
Show images by Ivo Ivanov