Every now and again a bike pops up in my inbox and I’m overwhelmed by excitement and hit the imaginary buy-it-now button. Show me 1980s styling, shades of sophisticated gunmetal grey AND a Ducati engine… and I’ll be weak at the knees.
Much of the credit for the Ducati F1R must go to Fabio Taglioni, Franco Fame and the remaining crew of 1985 but Spanish perfectionists Rebellion of the Machine are responsible for this achingly beautiful rendition of an all-time classic.
Adolfo Calles and brothers Jose & Raúl Perez started Rebellion of the Machine in 2015, modifying a Honda 750 which went on to become a limited series of 5 bikes. Adolfo has been running his own shop in Madrid called Bonneville since 1995 and the Perez brothers are highly regarded mechanical engineers renowned for their racing frames and electric bikes (they were part of the team behind Bultaco’s latest EV).
Why Rebellion, well, it comes as no surprise that there are actual engineers out there fed up with folk jumping on the custom gravy train only to peddle less than well engineered bikes under a wave of fancy marketing, Adolfo explains “After the series of Hondas we decided to build what nobody was doing, a squared headlight full fairing bike, in rebellion to the ‘new’ scene. We are fed up of shabby bikes hidden under the label “artisan” or “handmade”, all this nice-looking-beard absurd Instagram thing that is killing us. Our bikes are built to be lighter, faster, better in every way, and if possible, more beautiful. They always have a racing flavour, clipons and only one seat.”
So confident is the trio that they offer a lifetime warranty for their work, saying “It’s not that we are arrogant but we believe one has to be proud and sure of their work”.
Before the hate-mail starts flooding in from the Ducati Owners Club, lets clear one thing up, the guys haven’t molested an original and now super rare F1R – that would be financial suicide. They have instead resurrected an M900 Monster from 1993 and tailored an exquisite new outfit.
Mechanically, the carburettored motor has been completely rebuilt on the inside and refreshed on the outside. The eighties and nineties were not a good period to be a Ducati engine case as poor paint finishes led to fury-flaky syndrome. Fully blasted and coated in matt black the parts of Desmo L-twin visible behind the bodywork look factory fresh, 2017 fresh. A K&N panel filter obviously helps breathing and these engines sound fantastic with the airbox lid drilled. Throttle pinned and sucking hard the induction roar from this 904cc twin will be addictive. The beautifully linished silencers into matt black ceramic coated collectors add a lovely baseline to the soundtrack while an open clutch cover provides a staccato rhythm at low speeds.
The refurbished shock is mounted to a titanium coloured swingarm, the genius of the original engineers’ linkage needs no mechanical alteration is necessary. Up front the original fork has been replaced by a fully adjustable version from a 851 Superlight, mounted in Rebellion’s own designed and machined yokes. The stock Brembo calipers now look more contemporary ceramic coated black, with floating wavy discs by Galfer and all-new braided lines. Michelin Power Pilot 3 rubber on lightweight Marchesini forged wheels again look like they are supposed to be for this build. Note the subtle use of aircraft spec brass lock wire – nice touch.
The Monster frame is a masterpiece in design as standard but is even more impressive wearing titanium paint rather than the rather retro bronze of yesteryear. Like catching a glimpse of a lady’s suspenders the original F1 fairing (heavily modified) reveals just enough tubing to entice without giving the game away. It took me a few moments to work out which of Taglioni’s sculptures this was. Out of sight below a TT2 tail section is a bespoke and fully adjustable subframe to cater for different shaped riders.
I failed at guessing the fuel tank donor, which is a good thing, as one doesn’t exist. Phew! Instead the guys made their own, in a similar style and shape to vessels of the same era. It hinges on a machined ally bracket for easy engine access and sits on traditional frame rubbers, secured by proper, endurance racer style strap. And the colour, simple yet devastatingly effective. Straight black at the top and Suzuki GSXR grey for the lower half – perfect. Raw carbon mudguards fore and aft add an extra dollop of race to the aesthetics and adhere to the Rebellion philosophy of shaving weight.
The fairing wears the square headlight so well, a round aperture would spoil the whole bike. But the guys weren’t about to use a stock Ducati lamp, instead they found a Suzuki unit that was ever so slightly smaller and shallower. Not that space was needed behind, a single Motogadet Motoscope Mini all that’s needed on the rare occasion that the rider will glance down. Ducabike clipons and rearsets are fully adjustable and further add to the race flavour. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted the zinc passivated bolts on the lever perches… these and every other fastener on the bike are new.
Seemingly simple from a glance but plenty of fastidious detail close-up, the guys from Rebellion look to have perfected a formula that’s sure to have a far reaching appeal as eighties sports bikes become increasingly popular. I just hope eBay yields some gems before this becomes another bandwagon. We’re really looking forward to following Adolfo, Jose & Raúl to see what they come up with next.
Thanks to Fuel Magazine for the use of these images.