There is something about fathers, sons and motorcycles that nurtures marvelous stories, heroic action, and some of the most stunning, lovingly created, garage builds you’ve ever seen.
David Seidman is a magazine editor and book author, who discovered too late in life that he was supposed to be a mechanic. He has been designing and building bikes for about 20 years, inspired by the simplicity of vintage racing bikes.
While it is possible for him to finish a build in a few months, this one has been going on part time for years, and it’s not done yet. “Before this I’d never built a bike for anyone. I’d just go build something, ride it, then sell it … This bike is different, though. It’s the only one where I knew the owner before I started. It’s for my son.”
David’s son Alex was born in 2002. A year later, when Alex began smiling when he heard an engine turn over, David decided to make him the best motorcycle he could. He started with a beat up 2000 Kawasaki W650. David also started A.D.S. (his son’s initials) Motorcycles as a legacy to him.The bike is a bevel drive, Brit-style, vertical twin. Very classic. He reconfigured the frame and adapted a graceful tank from a 1973 Triumph T-140, for the machine. “It leaked, the petcock threads were shot. It was a nightmare, but in the end worth it.”
Alex is ten now, and David says maybe by the time he gets his license he will feel like the job’s over. But probably not. “What I’ve learned from this one is that it’s the details, the small refinements that take waaay too much time to get paid for, and the things you barely notice, that make a great bike. So I’m taking my time.”
For example, the rear tail light is from a Vincent. He cleaned out the rust, made a new lens, re-chromed the frame, and made an LED board for the tail, license, and stop lights. “I think you can buy one ready-made now, but when I started this project cafe racers weren’t as popular or parts as readily available.”
David says another ingredient in making a great bike is your sources. “I’ve found cool parts from Germany, England, Thailand, all over. One of the best places is Japan. Try Posh, Beet, K-Factory, and Daytona.”
You also need good (and more importantly, dependable) welders, painters, polishers, and machinists. He can do all of the above, but feels that for the critical stuff, it’s worth getting help from an expert. Experts such as Chris Cosentino from Cosentino Engineering. “There are the magicians like Chris, a machinist who can build anything I can draw or mock up, and turn it into a work of art. Guys like him are the ones you value most and don’t mind paying.”
The only thing that David would never let anyone else do is the wiring. “It’s part of the job no one sees, but there’s a matter of pride in doing even this with artistry. A good wiring job is the sign of a truly well-finished bike.”
The restoration and customization of this bike is an ongoing labor of love for David. Most recently he cut out brass-screened vents on the rear brake, adapted a stone-guard from an old MG sports car for the headlight, and re-engineered a front sprocket cover from a 2011 W800.
Says David, “When people come into the shop and ask what’s in back under the covers I tell them it’s Alex’s bike, but I don’t like to show it as it’s not done yet. Maybe by 2020; they can come back then.”
David built this beauty in his shop in Long Island, New York. He is very interested in helping novices see that they can do this, too. As part of this goal of helping “wanna be” builders, he has become a dealer and supplier of parts for Ryca cafe racer kits. If you would like to learn more, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographs by: Gregor Halenda