Pepo Rosell made his name as the magician and brainchild of Radical Ducati. Renowned and respected for his ability to improve upon the race-derived machines by adding lightness, power and even more incredible looks, Radical were at the top of the custom Ducati pile. So it came as something of a shock when Pepo announced he would be shutting shop and Radical ceased to exist.
Challenges in his personal life led to him not only closing Radical, but to sell off all rights, moulds, logos and designs. In Pepo’s own words he’d “lost his life, his family and his company”. For 12 months, he stepped away, tools downed, ideas lay dormant, the intention was to stay away from the world of bikes entirely.
But the support of the community, the requests from his many tifossi, rendered this idea impossible. Pepo couldn’t stop. So with a renewed passion for bike building it was time to begin a new adventure. Extreme Pepo, aka XTR PEPO. A new company with a new outlook: “Enjoy life, less business and more fun!”.
While Radical had focused on the exotic, XTR was to be different, transforming standard, everyday bikes. Making modest bikes “extreme” and give them a second “special life”. So for the first XTR build Pepo took in a ‘Plain-Jane’ 600 Bandit and spat out a drop dead gorgeous Suzuka refugee for the road. Yep, he’s back, and in what fashion!
A 1998 Bandit was the lucky frump receiving the makeover. Although perfectly serviceable as a commuter, if it was to make hearts-a-flutter then the hem line had to rise. Left with just the main frame cradle and the engine, Pepo had a bit of sourcing to do; the inspiration being the old Yoshimura-Suzuki GS1000Rs from the glory days of endurance racing.
A new lightweight subframe was tacked on, lifting the rear for a racier attitude, the forward sloping seat gives a classic plum-crushingly race-a-like riding position. A TT2 endurance solo seat was modified to slot over the rails while the unclad seat foam lets you know the intent and purpose of this bike.
A 1992 Suzuki GSXR was the donor for many of the chassis parts, giving up it’s wheels, forks, swingarm and a host of other items for the cause. That swingarm was modified to slot between the Bandit’s pivot point, lightened and strengthened, it now challenges Bologna’s best for beauty.
Although the adjustable forks are inverted, the silver, rather than gold anodizing, ensures they are in keeping with the look. Being of an early ’90s vintage the 4 pot calipers are conventionally mounted; radial brakes would have just looked too out of place. The pads now clamp down on some lightweight NG drilled rotors.
Thankfully, when it came to paint, Pepo didn’t borrow the GSXR’s shellsuit inspired scheme. Classic Yoshimura black and red blocks are separated by white pinstriping, a scheme so evocative and authentic it puts you right in the mind of Cooley and Crosby.
Laid down by Artenruta, it wraps around the modified Ducati TT2 faring, and transforms the Bandit tank, giving it lines the standard bike never seemed to have. Completing the endurance look is the lighting setup, a humble Derbi Senda lends it’s lenses for that classic twin lamp style.
The previously anonymous looking engine is now a shining jewel. The oil and air cooled lump has been blasted down to bare metal before receiving some splashes of gold, to pick up on the brake rotors and chain. Stripped and serviced, along with refurbished carbs, they are now setup to breath through a pack of K&Ns.
The original down pipes have been polished to within an inch of their lives and now collect into a Spark end can. The attitude of this bike virtually ensures it will live most of it’s live in the upper echelons of it’s rev range, so it deserves to be heard.
It wouldn’t be a Pepo build without the multitude of signature parts. Fairing supports, clip-ons, folding clutch and brake levers and even the strip rear lights are all now part of the XTR catalogue. Essential touches to replace the mundane Bandit originals with race quality items.
Looking like it’s rolled straight out of the 1980 Suzuka pits, this opens a whole new avenue of build options. Suddenly those thousands of cheap Bandits knocking about seem appealing and Pepo has shown what can be done. The build is most definitely extreme, not radical. Semantics perhaps, but in this case, they count.
Some comebacks can be disappointing, there’s always a nagging doubt about capturing former glory, but with the XTR Suzuka, Pepo shows there is nothing for us to be concerned about. Challenging himself with builds based on less exotic machinery the transformation is even more impressive and with a variety of bikes on the way, including some super lightweight singles, Pepo is once again focused on what he does best. Welcome back, we’ve missed you.
Keep an eye on XTR Pepo’s exploits on their Facebook page