Krishna Rajan of KR Customs shared images of a completely overhauled Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 that has received a makeover to mimic the styling of the BMW R100. Krishna is a die-hard fan of BMW motorcycles and his appreciation for the brand was cemented after he rode a GS800 during his trip to Switzerland.
Krishna stumbled upon an excellent airhead tank in one of his work-related trips to Princeton last year. The tank was from the ’80s but looked in good condition, and that is when the idea of creating a custom a café or brat style bike, with the airhead tank as the centrepiece, struck him. Krishna spoke with IAB about all the updates that the motorcycle has received.
Finding a boxer engine in India would have been a difficult task. Therefore, instead of hunting, KR Customs opted to settle on a Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 motor. Krishna purchased the Continental GT 535 from the used motorcycle market for this build.
The first task was to strip the motorcycle down and start to modify the body parts and the frame to integrate the styling of the BMW R100. The chassis had to be tweaked to accommodate a mono-lever suspension instead of the conventional, twin-sided units from the standard motorcycle. Installing a centre-mounted monoshock would have been easy, but it would have robbed the visual character inspired by the R100. The BMW comes with an asymmetrically mounted mono-lever that gives the motorcycle an authentic and unique look.
Several hours of hunting for the right part finally paid off, and KR Customs decided to go with a YSS mono-lever designed explicitly for BMW. Apparently, it could not have been directly installed on the Continental GT’s frame, and it was not going to be an easy fix either. It took KR Customs nearly a month to find a position that worked well in all aspects and was safe to use.
Finding the perfect front shock absorber setup was crucial. For that, KR Customs uses a Honda CB750 triple tree as the part is wider as compared to the units on the CB500 that were used in the past builds. The factory installed telescopic forks on the Continental GT are 51mm units, but the Honda CB750’s triple trees are designed for 35 mm forks. The roadblock was tackled by using the front suspension setup from a Royal Enfield Classic 500.
Domino grips come along with a custom short handlebar on the motorcycle. The switch housing was built with billet aluminium, although the units on this particular custom motorcycle were painted black to match the handlebar. Bar-end mirrors enhance the view from the rider's seat.
Surprisingly, the stock headlight from Continental GT merged well with the package and all it needed was a bracket to fix the fascia. The cockpit features a single-pod instrument console that gives the bike a proper retro charm. Sides reveal a custom exhaust. The 12-inch exhaust was designed in-house and is claimed to create a note that sits between a Harley-Davidson and the thumping sound of a Royal Enfield.
The motorcycle runs on stock hubs but uses aftermarket wheels. Similar to other builds from KR Customs, this particular job too received vintage tires - this time opting for the firestones. The fat rubber on both ends adds to the muscular look of the motorcycle. It was to be decided whether the bike will feature a café racer or Brat styling. Since the owner requested for a comfortable ride, KR Customs decided to go with the brat style. The motorcycle rides on 18-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels.
The motorcycle retains the stock engine from the donor bike and sends power to the rear wheel via a chain-drive. A shaft drive system and a boxer engine would have added a more authentic look, but it would have shot costs over the stratosphere.
The saddle sits on a shortened frame that gives the motorcycle a compact look. The space underneath the seat accommodates an electrical box that also houses the anti-gravity battery. The back of the bike was given a “hanging” number plate to provide the design with a modern and trendy look.
The paint on the motorcycle is equally unique. "Grigio" grey, a particular Ferrari colour, completes the visuals, and the KR Customs have fittingly christened the modified Royal Enfield Continental GT as the Grigio.
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Photos by Arun Sivaraman