Smell that? The ripe aroma of progress!
Engines are being prepped for painting, custom subframes are coming to life and the stock days of our NX650 and XT600 are a distant memory, receding into Kommunal Build history with every sweaty Thursday night of progress. Our piles of parts and oil-stained sketchbooks are steadily translating into two unique machines, the first in our Kommune Members Fleet.
In the adv scrambler corner we had Michael, Kyle and Paul working on the new frame, an alchemical combination of Kyle’s digital designs, Michael’s ingenious sand-filled plastic pipe mock-up and Paul’s quiet wisdom. These three now move around the workshop as one unit, their collective intentions clear: make it fit perfectly, make it damn strong, make it look fuckin’ cool.
Lenny’s efforts to up-skill in the welding department have inspired Steph and a few others keen to leave their mark on the scrambler frame, literally. Clearly the mission for this week was driven by the custom carcass that’ll carry our crew safely and stylishly through time and space, the bones of the build in every sense.
Let’s not forget the unavoidable obligation to strip, scrub and clean every original part that’s being reused. The bike will end up covered in dirt and grime on a regular basis, as any adventure machine worth its salt should do, but everyone knows you need a pristine mise en place before even considering putting something back where it came from. Props to Rachel and Juan for sandblasting, stripping and rejuvenating everything with monkish patience. Between Lee, Rachel, Steph and Jon, the font forks and rear shock have undergone a much needed detox and reconditioning. Word is, it was a surprisingly straight forward process, despite not being able to source the elusive 1984 manual for this exact model and having never done the job before. Team work.
Some people might say, “why bother going to the effort of all this custom work when you could just clean up a stock bike and ride?!” The answer every time is because we thrive on the process and the art of it all: the demystifying, the decluttering, the freedom to reshape and repurpose, the priceless sense of achievement. We reckon it’s the spirit of the finished machine that makes all the hours, busted bolts and bloody knuckles worth it. When you look at it, when you kick it over and when you rumble down the road in full flight, the intimate knowledge of every weld, every wire and every layer of paint is priceless.
In a previous build blog we paid tribute to the Desert Sled, so let’s now take a minute to honour the spirit of the original Flat Trackers and the fearless men and women who straddled these iconic machines.
“The first Flat Tracker races took place on oiled wooden planks, which resulted in a lot of crashes and injuries…Not only are the motorcycles fast, but the sport was also ahead when it came to gender. In Flat Track Racing, men and women competed against each other. They wore the same gear and were judged on the same criteria.”
Here’s to the first riders who grappled with their bikes around corners at 120mph on a 180-degree lean, spraying plumes of oily dust into the air under the glare of a high noon sun. Here’s to the Indians and Harleys who led the charge and the Triumphs and Nortons who made their way across the pond to the join the party, tweaked and tuned for the demands of the oval. Here’s to the Hondas and Yamahas hot on their tails, threatening to usurp the old British lions. Most of all, here’s to the dedicated humans down on their knees in the pits between races and still on their feet late into the night, repairing, refining and defining the now iconic Flat Tracker.
As always, big thanks to @Jake Simkin, the man who captures these golden moments on a Thursday night.
The Kommunal Kustom Build is part of our Kommune Konnections program funded by the DGR and Movember, if you’re keen to learn more and join the crew, check this page.
Written by Tom Ansell