This year has been a bit of a blur for those of us making the Bike Shed happen. With two major shows, including our first foray abroad, the building of a new HQ in London, all whilst trying to maintain online activities; our feet haven’t touched the ground. But there have been some standout moments that stick in our minds, and pivotal wouldn’t be too strong a word to describe some.
One being the arrival of Auto Fabrica. OK so Bujar & Gaz have produced some truly fantastic bikes from their humble Essex workshops but when the Type 6 rolled into the main hall at Tobacco Docks conversations curtailed, tools were set-down and beards hit the floor. Like a resplendent Albino peacock, this Yamaha XS based work of art sat quietly on its plinth waiting to wow the crowds.
This is no well funded biker build off effort, hammered out in double quick time. This is good old fashioned, blood, sweat, patience and endeavour. Admirable accolades but relatively worthless without a vision, and that’s where Auto Fabrica have found their forte. Countless hours are poured into sketchbooks, clay models and computer renders before a weld arc is even struck.
The XS650 donor was part of a four bike haul of Yamahas recovered from a the depths of rural Cornwall, barn finds that effectively set Auto Fabrica rolling. With this much effort going into the aesthetics of course the engine needed to not only look the part but perform in equal measure, so it was completely stripped and fully rebuilt, properly. Without meaning to belittle that as a process, it’s probably not why you’re here, reading this.
Despite the AF crew knowing exactly how they wanted it to look, paper and pixels are infinitely more manipulative than metal, and the best fabrication in the world is nothing without stance. So first up on the chopping block was the frame. The headstock was severed, lowered 2 inches and set back slightly into the frame tubes, creating a low swooping line from the headlight over to the tail.
Overhauled forks are turned by an arcing, hand-bent bar, with all cabling and wires routed internally allowing for the fitment of stainless steel end-pivot levers. To further protect the eye from distraction the fork stanchions, seals and lower clamps have been sheathed by stainless tubing. Clean and neat doesn’t even come close. And those turned and knurled aluminium grips felt sublime.
With so much effort already invested into the front-end it would’ve been sacrilege to run a cumbersome looking disc brake set up, no that wouldn’t do at all. Purchased in the Netherlands some years prior, the Laverda SF750 twin leading shoe drum used here had been on the shelf and offered up to a few previous AF builds, thankfully it wasn’t utilised.
From the casting marks, to the typeface of the Laverda logo and the purposeful cooling duct, it seems as if this relic from the seventies was always destined for the Type 6. Not only that, it’ll give the new owner confidence that their investment may have cost a pretty penny, but will stop on a dime.
If you’ve read any previous features about Auto Fabrica’s bikes you’ll recall us harping on about the hand-bent exhausts. A laborious process involving tightly packing straight stainless pipe with sand, to prevent kinking of the walls, welding on caps either end and setting up a range of bucks around which these elegant curves are formed. This might be one of their signature build features but that doesn’t mean it goes to plan every time.
To achieve perfection like this takes a strong arm, a steady eye and patience of a saint. All of which could be spoiled by a rasping cacophony, avoided here thanks to small internal baffles, tuned not only for sound but for just the right amount of back pressure to keep the single carb set up on song.
With classic and vintage motorcycles providing simplistic and functional inspiration the XS650 twin has been converted to run just one carburettor, with a siamesed intake tract flowing out to the left side of the bike. Visually this means a treat when viewing from left or right. Balance through asymmetry, that box is certainly ticked with a big fat Sharpie marker.
Would this bike have achieved such accolade and lyrical waxing had the fuel tank been a more traditional form? The rest of the design and engineered execution stands-up on its own but the sculpture Bujar and Gaz have created is simply staggering. The guys painstakingly rolled and hammered this one-piece tank and seat unit from 2.5mm aluminium to serve function and form, the latter in abundance. The unique scalloped sides suggest the engine’s thirst for air whilst creating a streamlined yet strong silhouette running toward the tail, reminiscent of shapes seen on Pininfarina’s finest work.
Bujar explains “The major part or even the main design feature is the scalloped tank, one of the reasons we build custom motorcycles is because we love the metal shaping processes, that being said, with the Type 6 we wanted to push our skills to the limit, and beyond. The shapes are very complicated yet look simple and flowing but that is the hardest to execute, which resulted us spending a lot of time trying to achieve something we are really proud of.
Photos by Julien Brightwell & Bujar Muharremi