Presently everyone seems to want to build a bobber, chopper or cafe racer. Personalised, hand built customs are all the rage. This is great news for us and all those who enjoy these creations. The bad news is that the fundamental principle of capitalism/marketing/sales, basing pricing on supply and demand, has reared its head. People who have no interest in custom old school motorcycles and many of those who do have an interest in this growing phenomenon have jumped on the bandwagon and are demanding ever increasing amounts of money for old standard motorcycles which are popular with leading international customisers.
We think that this situation is getting out of hand. Good, honest young folk are paying R20 000 for a thirty year old motorcycle with no mechanical guarantee. These motorcycles sold new for R3500,00 and their value doubled over the first twenty five years, if the motorcycle was well looked after. It is in the last five years that we have seen a massive increase in the asking price on coveted models. There is nothing wrong with the market demand escalating prices but those of us who get bitten by the creative bug and are on a budget may have our enthusiasm destroyed by our donor motorcycle’s price being equal to what we had available for the whole project. We would like to propose a solution, of which our featured motorcycle is an excellent example. Our solution is to use our imagination…
With the instantaneous access to an overwhelming volume of images of custom motorcycles via the internet and social networks, international trends start and spread rapidly. Gone are the days when customisers worked in isolation, uninfluenced in their creativity. As with some musicians who do not listen to the music created by other artists for fear of being unduly influenced, original old school motorcycle creators like Indian Larry did their own thing. We love seeing what the world’s custom motorcycle leaders are doing but we also acknowledge that all these images create more followers and copiers of a style than creators of new styles. It is after all understandable that someone, such as myself, who has limited skills and creativity when it comes to building a motorcycle will recreate something that I have actually seen an image of, possibly with a different paint job. It is therefore people, such as myself, who fuel the ever increasing high prices of the donor models used by the international movers and shakers of the custom motorcycle scene. I suggest therefore that we should use our imagination and create our own interpretation from a motorcycle model which has not been used previously… which brings us to the star of this feature… Jacques from Pretoria’s “Plot Rot” ( “Smallholding Rat” in English, but the Afrikaans name is far more catchy).
When Jacques decided to build his own bobber he was stumped by the high price of a reasonable donor motorcycle. His good friend Mario, whose Honda VT750C ACE bobber we have previously featured, gave Jacques a gift of a rather unusual donor motorcycle for his project, a 200cc Chinese made pitbike. Jacques set about building his budget bobber. Most of what he used was provided by scrapyards for a nominal amount. Christo from Bernie’s Place, a large scrap metal dealer, supplied items like the petrol tank which is believed to be off a very early BMW because of the badge on the original filler cap. All the fabrication and welding was done by Jacques. After removing the rear subframe, he cut the 2.5mm thick seat pan’s shape with a grinder and used a log to form the shape before covering the seat with “plush” leather upholstery. The seat springs are from a truck clutch plate. The forward footpegs, for assuming the correct position when hanging on the ape hanger handlebars, are made from fence droppers, which should be up to the task.
In fact, most of the items on the Plot Rot, were never meant to be on a motorcycle. My favourite is the exhaust header pipe. Please study it. Can you see the shape of the wheelbarrow it was scavenged from! Bloody marvelous and fitted without modification. The silencer is the original pitbike item. The tail light is the number plate light from a bakkie (ldv/ute). An old post office delivery motorcycle provided the rear fender. The new headlight was given the old school treatment and is about the only new item added to this motorcycle. As you know, pitbikes are not fitted with lights as they are normally used off road. Jacques is busy completing the roadworthy and registration process for his urban bobber. It will be a real headturner at every red traffic light!
Jacques custom built this bobber for only R350,00! It is an ingenious and quirky product of his imagination. He is still searching for a bigger capacity motorcycle to chop and we look forward to seeing the result. In the meantime, get off google, get down to the scrapyard and let your own creative juices flow. Build something different out of a model nobody even remembers and which is cheap. Watch the price of second hand wheelbarrows skyrocket!