Introducing Martin Varrand
It is with great pleasure BikeBrewers present the first guest post by Motocross specialist Martin Varrand.
Martin has been riding dirt bikes for over twenty years. After his professional career he created Motocrossadvice.com, a website filled to the brim with information for motocross lovers.
In this article he highlights the work of Devonshire based Kevil’s Speed Shop.
Honda is renowned for building road bikes that work exceptionally well, but lack character in the engine and handling department. Even the mighty Fireblade, one of the success stories of the Japanese giants past, does its thing with a level of sterility when compared to the mighty Ninja from Kawasaki.
Sure, the Kawasaki’s parts will pit, and chip as quickly as you can fill it with its first tank of fuel, whereas the Honda will look showroom fifteen years down the line when looked after. Jump on them both for a back to back session though, and you will take the Ninja home every time. The sheer grunt and lunacy of a Ninja are enough to bring a smile to the face of the coldest heart. Arguably, the same is true of the dirt bikes.
Honda’s entirely four-stroke line-up is made up of some extremely capable, not to mention championship-winning machines. Most of us in the Motocross Advice office would rather go Orange or Green when it comes to the trails though.
When the Honda FMX650 was launched back in 2005, the praise from the motorcycle press was tepid.
“When faced with the prospect of an exciting new genre – Supermoto – Honda eschewed the concepts of excitement and boldness and instead produced the Honda FMX650.”
That is harsh, even for MCN’s usual level of honesty and straightforward opinion. Even Visor-down called it a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Honda themselves were quick to point out to the critics that the bike was not a ‘Supermoto’, but rather a ‘Funmoto’ – which, let’s be honest, is marketing speak for we screwed up.
Why are we telling you all of this? Because Kevil’s Speed Shop did it again. They made us drool over a bike that we, and the rest of the worlds motorcycling press, never gave a moment’s thought to. If that is not a testimony to the skill and dedication of one of the most down to earth, and like-able custom shop designers in the industry, we don’t know what is. Kevil’s have taken the wolf and turned it into a snarling mythical beast.
Now we are the first to admit that this is not a “dirt bike” in the purest sense, nor is it a Super-moto now Kevil’s have had a go at it. What it is, is the sort of road-legal toy we would probably all love to have in our garage for fun weekend rides on easy trails. It is the perfect weekend all-rounder with a bite. Ride to the meetup and turn heads. Smugly wait while everyone unloads their competition dirt bikes; for the gentle forest trail. A trial which has no challenging jumps, hardly a rut to speak of and no fast sections. Nonchalantly chat with the dog walkers and mountain bikers who ignore the SuperMX wannabees, enthralled by the mythical red beast upon which you sit. Then go have fun like everyone else, only on a truly unique, and strangely attractive machine. We come back to the critical word when dealing with custom bikes and their desirability. Kevil’s have injected raw beauty into a bike that would not turn heads under normal circumstances.
When you talk to Kevin, his passion for doing it right comes through in bucket loads. The affectionately named Moto#11 shows all the evidence of a Kevil’s restoration and makeover. When the donor bike was sourced, it had just 7000 miles on the clock. Despite this, Kevin replaced bearing sets, refurbished the mono-shock, and overhauled the engine and gearbox. This is standard practice on any Kevil’s Custom project. No point in creating a beautiful machine, only for the head to give up 2000 miles later. Performance mods are in keeping with a 30-BHP thumper. Modest. The single-cylinder engine produces a linear delivery of torque that will pull the bike forward in most gears. Still, it won’t have the front wheel clawing for the heavens. It is fun, not competitive.
As for the cosmetics, this is where Kevil’s really work their magic. Post makeover, there is something weirdly seductive about the Kevil’s FMX. It could be the taught rear end, with its stubby custom sub-frame. The black and red hand-stitched leather seat, maybe? The naughty Supertrap exhaust can which is a vast improvement on the original aesthetically, and gives the beast her growl. Even the chunky enduro tires, with the chic big wheel look at the front end, reminiscent of the big wheel/fat wheel sand bike trend that is sweeping the ranks of Deliveroo riders the world over. The open air filter, with its Honda red foam is a hark back to the dirt bike roots of this project. The rustic single spot lamp on the front end is just perfect too. Simple, functional, beautiful.
I couldn’t see Moto#11 coping with anything more than forest trails, dirt tracks, beaches or fun days out. It would be the ideal machine for taking to a race meet and parking up to turn heads. No one is looking to replace a hardcore dirt bike with a custom bike like Moto#11 – which is just as well because like the four other Kevil’s FMX’s, she is sold. He is achieving something that Honda failed to do. Creating a demand. For now, all we can do is peek at her from a distance, secretly wishing she was ours.
All of this has got us thinking. Is it possible to build a custom dirt bike, that can hold its own against other serious dirt bikes? The perfect steed for the weekend warrior who wants to be able to tear it up with their mates, hit the jumps and still look like they have arrived from the set of Mad Max?
1. Enduro Tyres
2. Renthal Bars
3. Black Diamond Stitched Leather Upholstery
4. Custom Stainless Exhaust System
5. USD Front End
6. Custom Seat
7. Led Indicators
8. Projector Headlight
Kevil’s are a boutique Custom workshop based in Devon (UK). Kevin is a diamond, and great to chat to. If you have any interest in commissioning a custom build, be that a dirt bike, scrambler, cafe racer, or other, drop him a line. Nowadays they specialize in BMW flat twins, but if you have the money, and appreciate that a good custom build comes with a price tag, who knows. Kevil’s are engineers, with an artistic temperament. You will end up with a creation that not only looks terrific, but that is totally rideable and genuinely unique.
About the author:
Estonian based Martin Varrand is a purebred motocross petrolhead.
For many years speeding through the dirt has been his passion.
He started riding in the late nineties and became a two-time junior World Champion and a six-time Estonian Champion.
In his junior years he competed against guys such as Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac and Blake Wharton.
After his career as a professional rider he started his own website Motocrossadvice.com
On this platform he delivers high quality content about dirt bike riding with sound attention to detail.
In his words: “I can only be successful if I am able to provide massive value to my readers.”
The website offers knowledge and insights has gathered in over twenty years of riding off-road.
It is a great source of information for motocross riders at any level of the sport.
Readers will find information on dirt bike accessories, dirt bike gear and dirt bike parts.
furthermore he will give you motocross tips and tricks that will make you ride faster, smarter and safer than before.