We keep jabbering on about the quality of bikes coming out of Portugal, but seriously, what’s going on down there? Yes, the rest of Europe and beyond is represented by some truly talented craftspeople but for a relatively small nation that is in part still gripped by the ramifications of the Global Financial Crisis the Portuguese workshops are bringing more than their fair share to the custom party.
We caught up with Daniel and Pedro of Ton-up Garage at Bike Shed London 2015 where this bike, the Indira, was on display. Built for a French customer who lives and works in London, this R80 RT was commissioned to provide a stylish yet subtle steed of function for Jean to commute on.
The greenhouse that usually adorns the front of an RT might be practical but it doesn’t exactly scream custom cool. So, that and all the other Bavarian practicalities were binned in favour of clean sleek lines and a lower profile.
The R-series subframe is one that receives more attention, and in some cases butchery, than others. The Monolever suspension on this slightly later model requires more thought and attention to detail than the twinshock version, a machined mount and aftermarket shock add a slight whiff of modernity, juxtaposing the factory fit drum brake. The perfectly proportioned saddle provides pothole absorbing comfort for Jean, and a space for a pillion. Buxom ladies and chunky dudes need not apply though, it looks rather cosy already.
To improve the all important stance the forks have been lowered prior to being rebuilt, gaitors further reducing the visual height and covering chrome that would otherwise spoil the dark colour scheme.
A matt and gloss combo on the tank maintain the dark and moody look, with a bronze pinstripe to tie in the seat and add a subtle flair. Obviously the stock tank has been sidelined and replaced with this sleeker vessel, answers on a postcard as to the donor. A full rewire allows for the fitment of a smaller headlamp and the now standard fit Motogadget speedo, which suits these minimalist builds. Swept back LSL bars give a part Brat, part Café appearance, and again the lines compliment the rest of the bike. There are no coincidences in the Ton-up workshop, that’s for certain.
Continuing on a dark theme, the wheels, transmission, engine and even the carbs have been painted black, with cooling fins re-finished and looks almost factory. Open filters free-up space inside the original airbox, where the battery and ignition now reside. Much neater than having keys jangling around the handlebars.
Pipe wrap has received a bit of flack of late, but frankly it’s a decent way of ensuring one’s trousers aren’t singed and when executed properly adds another texture to the overall aesthetic. High-level reverse cone mufflers in matt black further confuse the styling, but in a good way. Mixing Brat, Café and Scrambler cues has worked to give an individual look, something very hard to do as the custom scene reaches peak boxer.
Smoking hot crumpet in knee high boots on a handsome custom, with the sun shining. Daniel and Pedro really are selling the dream.
Firestone’s tyre moulds must be running hot 24/7 such is the demand for the Deluxe Champion amongst the world’s customisers, and for good reason. It’s perhaps not the tread pattern that appeals to builders seeking a clean finish to a project but the rounded and slightly bulbous sidewall transitioning into the grooves without changing angle. They just look great, nearly always, it’s as simple as that. And with London’s roads in such a shabby state Jean will be glad of any extra bounce beneath him.
The Ton-up workshops seem to strike the right balance between gear-head kleptomania and up to date bike building facility. I spy a classic Toyota Landcruiser in the background, and below a faired cool something hidden behind that pile of tyres.
Indira’s owner Jean was kind enough to ride this beauty into Tobacco Dock for the recent Bike Shed show and we were able to have a proper close-up look and were impressed with the fit and finish. Ton-up, and the other Portuguese workshops, have not only put their nation on the map but helped raise the custom bar to its current, heady position.