By Ross Sharp - 22 May 14
While most students are getting in another round of Sambucas, Johan Persson, a Mechanical Engineering student from Stockholm, Sweden is saving up for grinding discs and welding wire. "Geek" I hear some say, couldn't be further from the truth, Johan has his priorities right and must surely be the coolest guy in class pulling up on this 1977 Z650. Unless his lovely girlfriend is reading this, then he is working on other people's bikes in order to buy you a diamond encrusted unicorn. Skills picked up spannering for two years at Triumph have paid dividends on this and the previous two builds and enabled Johan to fabricate most parts himself on budgets that don't seem possible. The rolling-resto job was picked up for $350 which included the thoroughly overhauled engine, jackpot! But unfortunately it had been left standing for nearly a decade, money pit! After skipping college to go and pick it up the first job was, you guessed it, a frame loop to prop up the new seat, which was upholstered for the princely sum of a beer by his mate Björn Persson. They're not related, just the Swedish lack of surname diversity. The frame was painted matt black, from a tin, and looks just fine from over here. Johan's eBay and Blocket (Swedeish Craigslist) accounts took a pounding as new parts were not a financial option. Front and rear Bates lights, a Bonneville front fender used on the rear, clip-ons, Öhlins shocks and CB750 brake master cylinder were all sourced for bargain prices. He then got all carried away and had a decedent moment, splurging hard currency on a brand new ignition system. This left nothing in the pot for replacing the starter motor so that's been blanked off. The fuel tank is now devoid of fancy paint and the scratched-up, raw steel 'n ' clear-coat suits the bike perfectly. Wiring is hidden beneath and as much as possible has been snuck away out of sight leaving the cockpit clean enough to keep most Scandinavian minimalists happy. A cycle computer is fastened on for the annual Mot-type inspection but apart from an oil pressure light there are no instruments or lights, or front fender for that matter. Johan figures that if blue lights flash in the mirror he's going too fast and if his chin is wet then it's raining and the subway will get him home dry. The grips are hockey tape and must give plenty of feedback, and buzz. Fork internals are now 50mm shorter for a purposeful stance and sharper handling. Minimalism has taken president over safety up front, with one of the brake discs being sidelined for a future project. Endos are passé anyway. The original 4-into-1 exhaust was rusted to pieces so what could be welded to was kept and mated to a hand-rolled silencer and packed with, well silencer packing. Being kickstart only the electrical system doesn't need much juice so the standard battery was replaced with a much smaller scooter version, strapped to the swingarm with a 1960s Swedish Army belt. Ring ring, ring ring, "Hi, is this MacGyver? There's a dude from Stockholm after your job!" Although the clip-ons look the part they aren't the most comfortable for long riding trips with his buddies, so a set of touring specification motocross bars leaning in the corner of the garage might be added in the near future. And riding his creations is exactly what Johan focuses on, he'd sooner have a cheap rat of a bike that can be thrashed, bashed and locked up in town, than a show pony requiring a warm stable and a blanket. This build exemplifies what can be achieved on a micro budget, with minimal tools and a skill set in its infancy. If this isn't motivation enough to start plundering the piggy bank, surfing eBay and making some room in the shed, back garden or parents dining room then you need to start thinking about your own priorities. Johan has bought a super-cheap BMW R75 for this winter's budget build so we'll see him here in the spring with the result. We love your work, gold star and a smiley face on your coursework so far.