Sartorie Meccaniche were set up two years ago by cousins Francesco and Paolo in Bergamo near Milan. The name roughly translates as ‘Mechanical Sartorialists’: “we’re tailors with an angle grinder and welder instead of a needle and thread”. They started with builds for themselves and close friends but “after that, the demon bit us badly and we can’t stop. We work in a small garage and do it only because we love it deeply and we don’t see it as job.”
This most recent creation of theirs, a 1981 Honda CB-400N, came about because of an “accidental” (lubricated?) late night eBay bid by Paolo- something he forgot about until the bike turned up a week later. So, what do you do with a ‘spare’ Honda CB-400N? Construct a bike for the Deus Build-off in Milan, of course.
The result, ‘B2’, is perhaps Sartorie Meccaniche’s most extreme and bespoke creation to date: part bobber, part cafe racer. “We wanted it extreme: a mean machine with performance but also a strange retro-future vibe”. The fibreglass tank, inspired by 1950s Gilera racing bikes, was handmade by SM and painted in BMW ‘frozen bronze’, an iridescent finish that compliments the flat black carbon and metallic brown palette.
The cousins have past experience making surfboards and fabricated all the composite components in house including a carbon fibre battery box and a short-lived brake bracket experiment: “we quickly learned that carbon fibre is not a good choice for a bracket: the first hard braking and that thing just broke in two! We replaced it with a twisted S spanner we had on hand, and it did such a good job we kept it instead of making a new part.” It’s a characteristically humorous detail from them.
Because their budget was low, Francesco and Paolo either salvaged components from crashed bikes or hand made the parts they needed: “we’re in love with the idea of taking something forgotten, ugly, rusted, shitty, and making it beautiful, pleasing to the eye, emotional.”
The CB’s frame was chopped and cleaned up with the addition of hidden LED indicators in the tubes and a custom leather seat with an integrated oval stop light, found on eBay. Stiffer Koni shocks were installed at the rear and the front forks replaced with beefier Suzuki GSXR items, complete with a GSX-1000 brake system upgrade that includes drilled rotors, Nissin brake calipers, steel braided hose, radial pump and a Rizoma reservoir. Racing bars with leather grips sit behind the original headlight which has been mounted upside-down, supported by SM carbon brackets, to keep the bike’s stance low and mean. The wheels were replaced by a Suzuki GN250 front, modified to carry the twin GSX disks, and a lightweight aluminium motard rear with modern Dunlop Arromax-110 and Dunlop Qualifier-150 tyres. The engine has been left stock aside from tuneable Dell’Orto carbs and shortened headers with a modified megaton free-flowing exhaust. “The sound is wild, and there’s some real punch!”
Next in the pipeline from Sartorie Meccaniche? “We’re working on a really cool XT600 scrambler/street tracker and a TX500 cafe racer”. We’ll be watching this space… You can also keep tabs on them via their Facebook page.