By Ali Latimer - 01 Aug 14
I've been assigned the absolute pleasure of writing this feature, this bike is right up my street, or should I say 'down my track', for those that recall, I have a VFR750 scrambler; and judging by the date, Kirk built his bike at the same time, we must have been on the some sort of cosmic waveband or something! Now whilst it is a pleasure to be writing this feature, there is a touch bitter sweet to it; why didn't I use a Tuono and why didn't I spend a bit more time thinking about an awesome paintjob... yeah, there's a little envy here, but mostly; a respect... not everyone gets turning big bikes into scramblers, but I do and I love it... and I'm going to build more in the future! Anyhow, enough of my desires, let's find out a bit more about this beast. This is the Wastelander, owned and built by Kirk Jones, a graphic designer from Concord, California, USA, she's a 2005 Aprilia Tuono, a great bike from the off and pretty capable at getting you most places in comfort and at speed. This bike was Kirks daily commuter, he wanted to build a chopper but didn't have the funds for the donor nor to do a worthy job on a budget, so the best thing to do when you budget is tight is work with what you already have. Now Tuono's have been modified before, mainly by the streetfighter community, they have a very different style to us, not that we knock it, there's a place for everything, but we're glad that Kirk wasn't a fan of adding sports seats that point to the sky and robotic looking headlights and over doing the chrome and anodised parts, Kirks knew that he could do something interesting and cool so got right on the case. The bike looks a lot different from a standard Tuono, and that's down to both skill and the attention to detail that Kirk, with some help from Matt Seret from Seret Speed & Custom in Vallejo, CA have put in, the tail unit is hand crafted from Aluminium and the air scoops were hand beaten before stainless steel mesh inserts were added, with any custom made tail unit, it then needed a custom seat pan and seat. The soundtrack to this beauty is provided by a DanMoto GP silencer, a good choice, not only do they sound great, but they good awesome and the machined welds are a treat to anyone with an ounce of respect for welding. Stretched out the front of the engine are those modern sports bike bits that can get in the way of practical off roading; I am of course talking about the radiator and oil cooler, thankfully they seem to be well protected with drilled Aluminium radiator guards and a custom Aluminium Oil Cooler guard to eliminate any damage from the rough stuff. Crowning the tail unit is a little cargo rack and sneakily tucked behind the licence plate is a fuel bottle, I'm assuming this is man fuel as apposed to bike fuel, I'd have it filled with tea! The fully adjustable forks wear a single LED headlight with mesh guard, just in case Kirk finds himself off road and behind someone, the later being the questionable bit! Rider information is provided by a Koso RX-2N Dash, so there will be no guessing to what's going on with the bike as Kirk will be aware of his revs, speed, fuel, gear, distance and everything the factory dash would have told him, just in a sleeker way. The Wastelander really can go pretty much anywhere, and that's largely due to the excellent choice of tyres, they're Continental TKC80's and have a big enough tread to tear through anything, I know this as I have 2 bikes fitted with these including my VFR, so I can vouch for Kirk when he says that 'The bike does amazingly well on and off road' They're actually really good on tarmac considering the tread, and Kirk recently did a 700 mile trip through California Redwood Forrest and West Nevada Desert. Helping Kirk stay on board himself are a set of extra wide motocross foot pegs and should things go array on the road, the bike is protected with crash bobbins, after all; if you have something this stunning you want to add a bit of protection incase the unthinkable happened. The paint job is simply stunning, subtle yet detailed, it has a textured matte clear over a limited edition Jeep Wrangler colour called Anvil with black and yellow race stripes, and I love the little statement 'dirty hero' on the tail and the large numeric 18 on the tank breaks the paint up nicely. I really am rather envious of Kirk, this looks like a right hoot, it's a real shame we're not neighbours, as the Wastelander and the Gambler would be simply epic together! Thanks so much for not building a chopper and for not going the streetfighter route Kirk, and keep doing what you're doing, it works!