Facing a leap into the unknown was a very real conundrum for Kevin Hill, boss of Paignton, Devon-based Kevil’s Speed Shop. Some 14 months ago, he had to decide whether to just stay focused on building the BMWs that they’re famous around the world for, or to cast their net wider and also start to build Japanese bikes too?
Kevin opted for the latter unknown, and jumped.
Going for builds on tried and tested popular Japanese models this – as the name suggests – is the 18th version to roll out from the Kevil’s workshop. Based around a 2005 Kawasaki W650, it was a part-ex into Kevil’s local main dealer, having done 10,000 miles in 12 years, but never seeing the inside of a garage, nor even the whiff of a cleaning rag.
Kevin got the tip-off that this bike was incoming, which is lucky as ones that have been ‘cosmetically challenged’ – as he puts it –are thin on the ground. Normally they’ve been polished with love and cherished as friends, not beaten and abused with an overt lack of mechanical sympathy.
Not that it immediately found much of that with Kevil’s either, as Kevin’s right hand man, Tom, proceeded to check that everything was in good working order by giving it the smoky burnout initiation treatment in the street outside the shop. Much to the chagrin of a neighbour, who stomped from his front door, adorned in dressing gown and slippers, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to complain.
Once it was confirmed that the bike was sound, Kevil’s set about re-designing the rear subframe for a more minimal look, as the original goes in all kinds of directions. They chose to lose the side panels too, fabricating an integral box under the seat instead to house the battery and wiring.
The tank was swapped out for a 1970s 100cc Kawasaki unit, helping the old skool theme to shine through, which then also spread to blacked out, spoked wheels and Firestone-alike tyres. After that point, Kevil’s completely stripped the whole bike. They sent the tank to the paint shop, did the frame up in cream for the associated clean vibes, and then rebuilt everything from the ground up.
The tank came back in satin black with twin cream stripes to match the frame, but Kevin wasn’t buzzing on it, so he added some period Volkswagen paint and a Scotch pad to give it a sought after vintage patina. The tan leather seat continues the 70s theme on to the back, and the twin stainless exhaust headers keep the clean lines feeling tight.
This sweet brat is for sale if you’re interested, or if you want to just look at it in the metal, then head to the Custom Zone at this weekend’s MCN Motorcycle Show, at London’s Excel. You can buy tickets here
If you’re nowhere near the show, or just want more on Kevil’s Speed Shop, head online