deBolex Engineering Puts Perfection On Repeat.
Words Wes Reyneke Images Simon Jessop
Over the past eight years, every motorcycle that rolled out of deBolex Engineering's South London workshop wore the same badge on its tail, “1/1,” because up until now, deBolex only created one-off customs. While each of the shop’s builds share the same timeless, coach-built feel, with millimeter-perfect lines and elegant liveries, reinventing the wheel for each project became a seriously time-consuming process. Now Calum Pryce and Des Francis are shifting their focus from one-offs to limited production runs of series customs, challenging themselves to replicate their work quickly — without sacrificing the quality and superior aesthetic they’ve become known for.
The first series, dubbed dB25, is limited to just 25 units. Each build starts out as a stock Ducati Monster 1200 — a highly capable donor with 147 horsepower — before being wrapped in carbon fiber bodywork and treated to a host of custom components and top-shelf upgrades. Pryce says, “With the series, we can develop the prototype in a similar way to our one-of-one projects, but spend a relatively short amount of time creating all the tooling to reproduce it, and then we’re set up to create as many as we can handle.” To put that into perspective, deBolex can spend up to four weeks shaping an aluminum tail section for a bespoke project, which is the equivalent amount of time it takes to piece together an entire dB25 series build, now that the groundwork's been laid.
Spread out over a year and a half, the first phase of the project involved building the dB25 prototype (the yellow bike pictured here). deBolex approached the prototype in much the same way they would any other build: using traditional metal-shaping techniques to produce a classic, fully-faired racer clad in aluminum bodywork. Once the prototype was complete, the aluminum parts were used to produce molds so that the final production parts could be shaped in carbon fiber.
“Mostly it was about creating drafts so that parts could be removed from molds, and also designing the panels so they could be re-created in more manageable pieces,” Pryce tells us. “Other than that, the approach was quite similar to a '1/1' — although there was probably an added element of pressure to get the design absolutely right, knowing that we would be making 25 of them.”
With the prototype stripped down and molds made, deBolex started shaping the carbon-fiber parts for the first series bike (the white bike shown here). The guys handled all of the carbon-fiber work in-house, often having to shape parts in separate sections, and regularly leaving parts to bake in the oven overnight. But the bodywork only tells part of the story, because lurking beneath it is a plethora of CNC-machined and laser-cut parts.
The final build tally equals at least 100 custom components, including 21 carbon-fiber pieces, 60 laser-cut sheet metal parts, and 22 CNC-machined aluminum bits. The list is extensive, but highlights include brackets for the fairing, headlight and dash; a stunning bolt-on aluminum subframe; a new top yoke and speedo bracket; and a tidy exhaust hanger. “We tried to design the parts so they could be assembled as efficiently as possible,” Pryce says. “With our '1/1' builds, we tend to hand-cut most of our sheet metal brackets, but with the series, everything apart from the main bodywork is designed in CAD. This means we have parts on the shelf ready for us as we build each bike.”
Naturally, the dB25 carries more than a few signature touches — like the OEM-style quick-release seat pan, a feature you'll find on all of deBolex's builds. Underneath it is a glove storage box, and lower down is a carbon-fiber electronics tray, tucked neatly into the subframe. For the fuel tank, deBolex didn’t use a fully carbon-fiber construction, seeing how the ethanol in the fuel would eat through the resin in the treated carbon fiber. Instead, they went with a durable and lightweight polymer fuel cell hidden beneath a carbon-fiber skin. The headlight arrangement is another neat touch, combining a recessed light with a removable headlight cover. It's an optional feature on dB25 builds, with a quick-release fastener, and a protective cloth bag to store it under the seat.
Consistency is paramount to Pryce and Francis, so extra care was taken to make sure everything could be replicated with perfect precision. Not only are they using molds and CAD data, but they've built their own jigs and tooling for various parts, and even made a mold to reproduce the seat foam. “This enables us to keep build quality levels to a high standard, and create the perfect marriage between all the components,” says Pryce.
Each bike is also trimmed with high-end bolt-on parts according to a client's preferences. Both versions shown here wear Gilles Tooling clip-ons with Renthal grips, and CNC-machined brackets to tuck away their reservoirs and neaten up the control area. The yellow bike sports Magura HC3 brake and clutch controls, too. Both are also kitted with Maxton RT10 rear shocks and SC Project slip-on mufflers. The wheels are stock on the yellow bike, but with a bronze powdercoat finish, while the white bike's been treated to the very first set of Dymag's new “single-sided” UP7X wheels. Clients also have a choice of three different visor options, four exhausts — including slip-on and full systems — multiple turn signal setups, and three different bar grip styles.
“When choosing the specification of the bike, it’s the customer’s turn to add their stamp to our vision,” Pryce tells us. “They can have as much or as little input at this stage as they’d like. If they want to make the final decision on every component listed, we encourage them to do so. If they would rather we took the reins, or help guide them through, we can do that, too.”
Each dB25 build will wear the same livery, but the base and accent colors are up to the client. The seat can be done in Alcantara or a host of vinyl options, with a variety of stitching patterns, and there are various Cerakote finishes for the subframe, with a choice of black, silver, or the main base color for the main frame. There's even the option to include a custom-built, color-matched paddock stand. “For color selection, we always encourage our customers to give us an idea of which particular colors they’d like to see,” Pryce says. “We then use this to come up with a palette that we feel complements the classic lines of our design.”
A dB25 series build starts at about $52,500, which includes the price of a new or low-mileage donor bike, and depends on how wildly each motorcycle is optioned. At the time of writing, deBolex already has two more builds in the works, with 10 more pre-orders waiting in the wings. While each dB25 will technically be cut from the same template, no two will be alike. It's a clever way of combining quality and exclusivity with good business sense. As soon as the final db25 is built, Pryce and Francis assure us they'll start planning the next series.