We’re guessing you all know what a custom bike is, right? They’re the ones with all the wild and unique modifications. The bright colours and the racing numbers. The flames and chrome skulls with the glowing eyes. And the ones that develop a gazillion horsepowers from their superchargers, nitrous oxide and turbos. But what if you wanted a custom bike that didn’t look like, well, a custom bike? What if your aim was a customised yet classic machine that would look good today and in 2116? If that thought puts a lightbulb above your kopf then you best check out today’s feature bike, a wildly mild Kawasaki W800 from Germany’s very talented Schlachtwerk.
The original ‘Black Edition’ was a project that Thomas, Schlachtwerk’s moto meister, built back in 2015 for Kawasaki Germany. “After the project was finished, I started to build it into my personal W800”. His requirements were simple; he wanted a classic look, a comfy seat for longer rides and something he could ride two-up with his girl on the back. “I wanted to keep the nice lines of the original W, but to build it slimmer and lighter.”
Breaking the job down into two separate tasks, Thomas first turned his eye to the bike’s performance. A Schlachtwerk big brake kit with 320mm brake disc and 4 piston CNC-machined brake caliper was added up front, along with some new and improved Wilbers springs.
Then came the Schlachtwerk 2-into-2 full exhaust system. Made of stainless steel and entirely road legal for those nasty German Polizei, it saves 6kg (13 lbs) and adds a healthy 5 hp without any adjustments to the Kwaka’s maps. Besides, how good does it look?
The final performance tweaks comprised a Power Commander V and some Schlachtwerk (I detect a trend here) performance cones, which are equally happy with or without an airbox. Add the gains these three parts give the bike and you’ll have gained a grand total of 13hp, with a new and health overall output of 63 very pretty ponies.
Then, to make the most off all these new horses running around in the W’s corral, Thomas took to making the whole show lighter and sleeker. Fenders were swapped for some Schlachtwerk originals and some less bulbous side panels were attached and then matched with some very sleek injection covers.
Moredecent weight loss was achieved with a new and much small battery, some lightweight handlebars, a Motogadget speedo and a lovely Bates-style headlight.
The finishing touch was to swap out the factory’s road sign-sized indicators and brake light for some new LED lights, and to replace the W800s original and rather ‘kinky’ seat with an altogether more lightweight and flat Schlachtwerk unit.
“The final weight of the ‘Black Edition’ is now 189.5 kg with a full tank. That’s almost 30kg lighter than the stock bike’s 217kg, and all without losing the classic lines of the factory bike.”
With so much name dropping of the Schlachtwerk componentry, we had to ask Thomas what he’d been up to. “These are all bespoke aftermarket parts that are handmade in my Frankfurt speed shop, and all the parts fit ‘plug and play’ style on any W bike.”
This bike is Thom’s daily rider, but it’s also the one for the relaxed weekend road trips. It’ll take you just about anywhere your heart desires and back again. Sure, there’s bound to be faster rides, like Thom’s W650 scrambler, but they simply won’t be able to match the W800 on comfort and sheer, ‘bowtie flapping gently in the breeze’ style.
“The hardest part for me was to create a custom bike which wasn’t really a custom bike. Usually every single bike we make is unique. But this is different. This bike can be reproduced by every customer, because it is built almost entirely with bolt parts from my shop.” So, if the challenge Thom set himself was to build a slimmer custom W800 without losing the classic lines, we’d say he’s just taken home the 2016 Classically Slim World Championship trophy.
“Looking at the finished bike now, I think I most like the classic-looking exhaust. At first glance it seems to be a stock item but it actually isn’t. Far from it. I also like the flat side panels, as I never really cared for the chubby factory ones. And I really like how it rides; it’s really relaxed and comfy. There’s no stress, so it’s perfect for a chilled journey.”