Rua Machines #7
By James McCombe - 12 Feb 15
Particular childhood toys stick in the mind. That first wobble on a bike without stabilisers, the 8-bit screeching of a Nintendo Gameboy or for some of our elder statesmen, the dusty fun of a farm track, a stick and a hoop. Being of a mechanically creative bent, I reckon that if society were not such a judgmental mistress most of us would be perfectly satisfied sitting cross-legged in the lounge with a box full of lego or a train set. Damn you society. So we grow up, move on and find new toys to play with. That's why we're all here isn't it? And so it was for Armando Fontes, Marco Mendes and Victor Rocha. While talking about childhood memories and how they change from generation to generation, the desire for that unbridled glee at a new toy set-in. But being respectable adults meant formalising the fun and disguising the youthful vigor behind the beard of austerity that is a functioning business. Rua Machines was born, a way to give form to a childhood dream. Coming from the world of fashion, marketing and commercial directorships, it was the combined passion for motorcycles that was the spark for the fire. Rolling their 7th build out of the workshop, the trio from Portugal have really found their stride. An unloved 1982 Kawasaki z650 UJM'd its way into Rua's lives, a perfect candidate for a chic makeover. Their client gave a simple brief, he needed something that could handle the daily urban commute but would also be happy to run the city limits at the weekends and head for the country. Not gnarly single track of course but a bit of light bouncing down a fire road or across a field just for giggles. As with all Rua builds, an elegant, classic look was on the cards and the guys have delivered. The blank canvas that is the Z650 provided the perfect candidate for visual heft removal. Knowing that the bike would often carry a set of panniers, clearing that rear triangle in this instance allows some contrast between the swathes of black, front and back. A simple loop of the frame supports the bench seat and makes things clean and easy on the eye. Capped either end with some bobbed ally mudguards, this build is all about 'just enough'. Whilst there are plenty of intricate details about the build, they don't overwhelm and there's an honesty about the whole bike and how it's been worked on. With the four cylinder 650 engine in fine fettle and providing enough thrust for the brief, a full service and new set of clothes let's the engine look smart and unobtrusive. No concerns with the reliability of the block, but a set of filters and some reverse cone mufflers add a bit of raspy character missing from the middleweight mill. Whilst the 7 spoke mags remain, a freshen up with some black powder enhances the go-anywhere ability of the Heidenau K60s; perfectly fulfilling the mixed use brief. A minimalist battery box nestles beneath the in-house waffle stitched seat, allowing that rear triangle to breath. Simplicity at its best. Some Tarozzi footpegs, a spattering of shrunken lighting and a gorgeous 49mm MotoScope speedo from the Motogadget team ensure there's plenty of eye candy and equal amounts of functionality. It all adds up to a bike that you'd happily use every day and can tackle the urban slalom as easily as it would a sweeping country road. For practicality on the commute some nicely resolved Rua cotton canvas bags give comfortable carrying capacity. Held clear of the suspension and wheel by a simple rack, it's unobtrusive enough to not ruin the bike's lines once the panniers are removed. With lashings of black powder and paint, the tasteful tank does all the talking. Perfect pin-striping and an unobtrusive logo show the mature side to this childlike infatuation. Thank god we're old enough to legally swing a leg over and take it for a run. With a number of other builds on the cards the Rua guys have their work cut out. A quick glance at their Facebook page reveals a new website is on the way, but their old Blog gives more info on their bikes and the Rua ethos. However, Rua Machines want to extend this concept to other items that were heroes of the streets in their childhood days. Bringing back from the dusty chest, old tricycles, bicycles and skateboards and turning them into cult machines with a touch of their owners style. New Wave Tricycles? Take that society.