KTM 520 EXC Cafe (Part 3)

By Craig Els | Published on 2020-04-19


KTM 520 EXC Cafe (Part 3)

Continuing from the previous post: ... and since the pipe had an easier routing around the bottom of the engine, we had the space to do it.

During this time, Dylan started getting bored of helping me with the last few things that didn’t interest him as much anymore, and he dug the old pit bike out of the store room, and started hammering, drilling, and looking for parts in the spares cabinet, I had eventually gone to bed, as it was getting late already and he opted to stay in the garage and work on his pit bike...

Now before we had the fiberglass parts painted by Lionel, I had bought a few bright orange rattle cans to mock the bike up with a bit of colour, to see if this is what we wanted in the finished form, so we didn’t use all of them and there was still a couple of tins un-opened... well, that was until I walked into the garage the next morning, there in all it’s glory, standing dead centre in the garage, like it was on a military parade in its “Whites” was a Mini-Me of my cafe racer, made out of the pit bike, in all its glowing orange beauty. The rattle cans were finished!

I didn’t know what Dylan was thinking, but I’m sure, not wanting to be out done or left standing in the driveway at home while I took my bike out for a ride, he made his own one. He had used the old CB360 tank we tried on my one for size, and one of the spare bum boxes that were also over ordered, and the little pit bike looked so cute, almost a spitting image of my big one! And it even ran, which it hadn’t for all those years while standing in the store. What can you do, but to laugh, give him a proud pat on the back and say “Well done my boy, just don’t hurt yourself!”

The other thing I have given up, having a son like mine, is the First Test....of anything!, so there he was, bike started, and sounding awesome, still with the baffle in the exhaust, he took it out for the first test run, trust me when I tell you, that he had a serious talking to about falling on my new bike! Surprisingly responsibly he rode off up the road and 5 minutes later arrived back home with a huge smile on his face: “it works”.

Later we decided to pull the baffle out as it did hinder the performance ever so slightly, and a few more small adjustments made to handlebar and Lever positions, Fuel hoses and brake adjustments. He jumped on my 690 with my first ride on the Cafe, and off we went for the maiden voyage, over Black-hill to the Viper lounge in Glencairne, it was a Saturday afternoon after all and I was thirsty too.

This would also be the first public outing for the bike, and to a Biker Bar to boot, so no better place to have your creation ridiculed and criticism offered for free, by a bunch of pissed bikers!

On all accounts, this wasn’t the case at all, the first guy to see it offered me some good cash to buy it, so before I even ordered my first Rum and Coke, it was potentially SOLD, I did decline his offer in the most friendly way I could at the time, and given where we were. Long story short, we sat there for a while explaining everything about the bike and what it was before it was this, and a whole lot more on the bike in general, we left with yet another good bunch of mates and much respect between us and them, alike.

So when we got home, all smiles and happiness all round, I took a look at the Vapor digital speedo I installed on the bike, I’d set it up for the correct wheel size, to give correct mileages etc, but it gives all sorts of other info, like Radiator and outside temperature, Max RPM, which was on 9750, and the also Max Speed.... which it stores, I was floored yet again by what I was looking at....197km/h!

This on a 15 year old enduro bike, yes the back sprocket was still from the Aprillia RS250, which is small, but that speed floored me, from a bike that I’d ridden like I’d stolen it from the day I had it, sold it on, so never knew how it was treated then, and now this, and I’ll tell you, it still hasn’t been opened at all. The motor has never been opened for new rings or valves or anything. Stock standard from the factory! I never want to hear anyone ever tell me that KTM’s are expensive to run! They are just built properly and they work!

Since I’ve had the bike back in this form, I’ve been on countless Breakfast runs with bikes much bigger than mine, taken it to Bike shows all over Cape Town, used it as a daily commuter to work and back, and just last month, had it at a KTM Cape Town track day at Killarney, of which I think I need to write its own story, for that story, the most fun I’ve had on a bike in a very long time! My 520 continues to deliver.

I will say now though, it does need to be opened up and given a new motor re build, which I am planning to do, but will also take it to the next level, like blue-printing the motor completely, doing a proper gas flow on the Head, put an FCR41 carburettor on it, and do some final gear ratio stretching. My plan is to take it to one of these Speed weeks in the Karoo on the Salt pan, and break 210km/h in both directions on it, much like Mr Burt Munro, if you don’t know who that is, watch the movie “The Fastest Indian”, if you enjoy this read, you will love the movie even more! What a legend!

My first trip over Chapman's Peak was crazy, and not to bore you with all the finer details, of every corner, every bump and every cyclist, vehicle and runner I’ve almost killed on that road and all the other fun things, I will say this... I unknowingly built this bike for one of the best roads in South Africa. And I live on the foothills of Chapman's Peak — what a bonus!

The first Woodstock Mancave Garage Built show in 2014, saw it win “The Bike We Want to Ride the Most” award, out of many entry’s that were seriously worthy of being there.

This show was put together buy a bunch of guys, that offer a service to like minded bike builders who don’t have space and tools at home to build customs like this, where they rent a Bike Bay to you for the duration of your build, you can go there, use the tools, get some building advice and complete your project.

There’s also a Coffee shop and sometimes they might have Beer and Snacks, I’m not sure on the exact services and what the cost is, but it’s an awesome concept that seems to work well.

The guys seemed to like me a lot when I got there with my bike and all was Hunky Dory.....that is until I won my prize and started drinking a few Sailor Jerry’s (rum) and Coke, it came that time of the afternoon when the guys started taking their bikes out and packing them away to take home, when someone asked me if they could hear the bike run, and hey, who am I to say no, I guess I should have, but I didn’t.

So I cranked the little monster up, NO baffles in the tail pipe, I did let it warm up a little while I had another Sailor Jerry, and then only, gave it a few throttle blips, wow does that attract a crowd quickly. As we all got caught up in the Hype, I was Diplomatically ushered to the front door, and as I got there, with the front wheel on the grippy tarmac just outside the main door, with the back wheel still on their nicely Epoxy coated floor, I eased the front brake a little, and grabbed a small handful of the gas.

Needless to say, the back wheel broke free, and as I started making my way up the gears, I guess to 4th or so, behind me was a plume of smoke, filling the building with the smell of burning Maxxis rubber. I thought it was the perfect finish to the perfect day, but alas, I was wrong again.

I can’t remember which one of the owners it was, but he asked me to leave, and seems very upset. My lesson that day, it doesn’t matter how hardcore you think all bikers are, there are still many that don’t appreciate a good burnout! I still don’t get it, and probably never will.

It happened again at the “Toad in the Village” late one Thursday night, after BoepClub, where are a bunch of misfits who love biking and all things bikes, meet every first Thursday of the week. It used to be every first Thursday of the month, but we couldn’t seem to wait that long to get together for another social, so we changed the rules.

On this fateful night, Brian, the manager pulled my KTM in, onto the AstroTurf under the cover as it started raining, we carried on for a couple more hours waiting for the rain to hold up.

When it eventually did, we saddled up, and made our ways home, and as I tried to pull away, the back wheel broke loose again, this time I made it all the way to top gear, and everyone was clapping and having fun, as Brian had already left 2 hours ago.

The next morning I went down there to apologise and offer to replace the Astro I’d left a 2 foot trench in. He just smiled and said not to worry, it gives the pub some character! What I nice guy.

The trench is still there today, and I enjoy hearing the stories of how it came to be, this 2 fool long scorched piece of Astro, from people that don’t know me at all, while I sit quietly in the background and listen.

It’s been parked up in one of my good riding and collecting Mates, Colin Stunden from “The Motorcycle Room” on Thesen Island in Knysna, if you haven’t been there, you’re not a true biker.

Arguably, one of the best private collection of bikes on display, with some really special 2 strokes and a solid collection of 70/80/90’s machines. It was so cool getting messages from some of my mates, taking pics of my bike and posting on Facebook, saying they had been there and saw the cafe racer. I have since collected the bike and brought it home, as I was just missing it too much and needed to give it some run time.

You know, after all this bike and I have been through, all the history with it, all the places and situations I’ve been in with it, and because of it, I will never forget. And the crazy thing is, we’re still not done with each other! The fun and memories will continue to happen on this machine! So when asked if I’d sell this bike the answer is a resounding NO!

I have too many memories, and way too much nostalgia ( my problem I know ) and the thought of not getting any future thrills with it — priceless!

And yes, when there’s no space in the garage, she comes inside, just at the front door.


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