Nuno Capêlo was born 35 years ago on Madeira Island in Portugal and now lives in Oporto, where he graduated in architecture. When Nuno finished his studies he realised he was in love with the city and ended up staying there to live and work. Capêlos Garage is Nuno’s hobby, a mixture of a garage, illustration and a design studio, and this “Dented Brat” is his first build.
“In 2013 I completed the construction of my first bike. I used a Suzuki GSX400 from 1987. It was a low-cost project conducted for my pure fun. That started one year and a half ago. I found the bike over the internet. After a month looking at the photos of the bike full of dust I decided to see it live. I talked to the owner and finally I went to a small village in the district of Leiria, Portugal. When I got there I found myself with a new bike. The owner had it washed. The engine started on the first attempt. I knew I couldn’t leave the village without purchasing that bike.”
Nuno had originally planned to turn the bike into a Cafe Racer, but as the construction process went on his tastes evolved and the bike changed direction towards a Brat-Style build.
“Before starting the construction of the bike, I developed and published the drawings on the Forum Café Racer 351. The project and my drawings had a huge acceptance with other Forum members. This acceptance led me to create a page on Facebook dedicated to the dissemination of my work.”
“Firstly I removed everything that was plastic. This was followed by the blinkers, the original Seat and manometers. Everything considered to be ‘out of place’ has been removed.”
The frame was shortened at the back and looped, while the airbox was taken out and cone style filters attached to the carbs, requiring some re-jetting to adapt the fueling for more airflow. The original front light gave way to a smaller unit produced by a Portuguese brand, very common in older Portuguese 50cc models. The bars and mirrors are now LSL and the rear light is LED. Smaller indies complete a discrete and simple lighting setup.
The original front brakes were retained by using braided hoses and better pads, giving much more sensitivity. The original end cans were replaced by smaller ones without baffles, improving the bike’s soundtrack, while the header pipes were wrapped. “The rear mudguard was purchased at a fair of used parts. I cut it and, in my view, it was perfect. It’s a shame that the license plate hides the mudguard.”
“As for the fuel tank. Since the start of the project what I had in mind was to give it a raw look. For this I decided to strip it. Then I realized that the fuel tank featured several dents. These dents made me question the original idea. Should I go for the raw aspect or should I paint it? Several people advised me to paint and remove the dents. However, my instinct forced me to keep the initial idea: a gas tank with raw and naked aspect. The only painting that I made in the fuel tank was a black belt at the bottom to dissimulate the curved lines, merging it with the black of the motorcycle. For me the gas cap in brass is the crown jewel of the fuel tank. It’s one of the details that I like more in the fuel tank.”
As the bike was initially designed to be a cafe racer the seat was originally designed and planned with single seat and hump, this evolved into a tracker style seat which was finally bobbed into the short seat you can see in the pics. The upholstery was stitched longitudinally for aesthetic reasons, helping the curvature of the seat match the rear of the frame.
“My aim for the painting was also to check a very crude aspect, without much ‘bling bling’. This decision reflects my personal taste. So, I sent the motorcycle frame, the rims and some smaller parts for a painting job, leaving the other components with the existing patina and aspect when I bought it.”
“For me, as the motorcycle user it translates the final design. I am very pleased with the result. There’s only one thing that should have been changed. I have plans to change the front section of the bike by a front of a bandit 400. It is a question of reliability and performance. Based on the design the front will be more robust without altering the general line of the motorcycle. The bike is fantastic in terms of driving. Is fairly light and easy to drive. This is not a bike with a lot of speed. That was not the objective. I proposed to build me a bike to ride and have fun. And that’s what I have.”
Thanks to Nuno for sharing his hard work with all of us. We look forward to seeing more from Capêlos Garage on the Bike Shed, and you can also check out Nuno’s Facebook Page, and finally, thanks to Cesar Augusto for the photos.