I absolutely adore when modern technology meets style, much like a modern cafe racer. Combined they create a beautiful machine that performs as good as it looks. That is exactly what we have here with a custom straight from the land down under, a KTM that drips of perfection.
Everyone knows that crafting a custom motorcycle is a labor of love. It takes a lot of time and even more patience. For novice builders it’s best to keep your head low while you hone your craft, because it takes a long time. That is unless your name is Joe Loss. Joe has perfected each and every one of his builds, all 3 of them. Seriously, this custom KTM is only the third bike built by this crazy Australian, and it’s already one of the best looking bikes of the year. Not bad Joe, not bad.
While his other projects were fine pieces of motorcycle machinery, they ran a much more traditional line. What I mean is that a Moto Guzzi Cafe Racer and air head BMW Scrambler don’t really scream unique. It’s not a bad thing, it is just a point to be made. But Joe’s newest creation is as unique as they come. See Joe was in the market for a new project, and he couldn’t shake his affinity for the old Ducati 900SS turned Cafe Racer. He had a plan of fitting an older bubble fairing to the bike, giving him a lightweight but punchy platform. But then Joe had a revelation, one that would change the direction of this project completely.
“One day I had this whacky thought. What about the same basic idea but using my KTM RC8 as the base?” said Joe. Taken the European manufacturer’s impressive first attempt at a superbike and giving it the retro overhaul was a brilliant idea. While he liked Ducatis, he loves his KTM RC8, being the first person to own one in western Australia. If you aren’t careful Joe will get on a tangent about the RC8 and how it was cut down in its prime. Either way, we know it’s a great sportbike, combining decent weight with a monstrous V-twin.
Once he decided to chop up his pride and joy to complete his new project he then had to work on the design. Joe used photoshop to get an idea of how he wanted the new Cafe body to flow. This also gave Joe an idea on how to deal with the massive radiator hiding under the RC8’s angular bodywork. With a clear image in mind, Joe got to work chopping up his beloved orange machine.
Joe ditched all the stock bodywork, including the rear subframe and gas tank. Thanks to a friendly connection Joe was able to source an actual Ducati 750SS gas tank for this build, slight road rash included. Joe didn’t care about the minor damage, it was going to take some major work to get this lump to fit properly anyway, whats a little more time with a hammer? So he got to work, first cutting out the bottom of the tank, then beating the road rash out of it from the inside. From there Joe had to design a new underbelly to the tank so it would accept the RC8’s air box. The finished result is a tank that looks absolutely spectacular, molding perfectly to the gorgeous Austrian frame.
Once the tank was in place the next step was fabbing up a new rear subframe. Joe built all of this from scratch, including the entire tail section. “I was quite chuffed with the result.” Remarked Joe. “Two layers of closed cell foam were used for the cushioning on the seat to give it a simple, racer-like look and I was happy to discover it’s more comfortable than it looks.” Even if it was like sitting on a bed of nails it would easily be worthwhile to look like that.
Joe found a Dunstall style fairing from the UK to match the front of the RC8 to the new tail section that he had built. To make it all work nicely he had to fabricate a new headlight support to hold the single halogen headlight. Mind you, this bracket does much more than hold just the headlight. It also allowed Joe to keep the stock gauges, stock ignition, as well as hiding the ECU and voltage regulator. All of which are tucked away nicely out of sight. Joe debated long and hard about how to finish the RC8, eventually finding himself back in Photoshop playing with different color schemes. Sticking to his original inspiration from the custom 900SS scene he found himself picking out a cream and candy red paint job, lending perfectly to the bikes new name. Big Red.
Big Red was now in the home stretch, it just happened to be missing one last ingredient. It didn’t need any more bodywork as the exposed Akrapovic exhaust system was a fitting piece to have exposed. No, it needed just a touch of vintage flair to finish it off. Joe reckoned that ‘Big Red’ needed a set of spoked rims, really smashing the retro design home. Just like the rest of the build, no ordinary wheels would suffice. Joe elected to have Kineo in Italy built a custom set of spoked rims for ‘Big Red,’ ones that allowed for the use of tubeless tires.
Joe’s transformed RC8 is arguably one of the most original Cafe Racer builds we have ever seen, easily coming in towards the top. The RC8 was one hell of a machine that just never caught completely on, which is unfortunate when you see how cool it really can be. The trellis frame design can easily rival that of Ducati. Hopefully Joe’s ‘Big Red’ can finally showcase that. Who knows, maybe it will be the next big thing in the custom bike world.