The Royal Enfield is as quintessentially Indian as is the most hardened Hog from the US of A, and the company has successfully infused their twin cylinder range with that century-old style. But the moment this Continental GT650 landed on my desk, I knew it hadn’t come from India and clearly had its roots in the angular, bright and material world of the 1980s, as seen through the lens of MTV. So, I felt slightly less awkward about my art critic’s take on a custom bike, when its creators from Hedgehog Motorcycles in France confirmed that the hair band decade had indeed been their inspiration. Located just outside of Montpellier, the crew don’t care for pretence and have let their personality flow as they go full send on this Enfield they call ‘Savage’.
Having been around for more than a decade, the Hedgehog team cut their teeth on a host of different bikes, turning out some beautiful customs in all manner of styles. But in recent years they’ve developed a strong relationship with Royal Enfield in France and have almost exclusively worked with the Indian brand’s models. Then they decided to take it one step further, and from initial sketch to CAD design and then using laser cutters, 3D printers and an array of modern techniques, they’ve created their own product line for the bikes of RE.
The parts in their catalogue are of exceptional quality and the close relationship with the manufacturer of the bikes they affix to means they truly bolt-on, not something you can say about every part that makes that claim. But they still need to build bikes, both because it is truly what they love to do and also as rolling advertisements for their wares. What they sort to achieve as they sat down to nut out this build was the right blend of “fun and performance”. There would be no conforming to norms here, “Our workshop let its instinct speak to create this machine, radically flashy, it embodies the 1980s generation which represents our roots.”
With the GT650 in the workshop and stripped of its clothes, the bones could be readied for the all-new bright-coloured leotard to follow; it’s the best way to show off your Aerobically acquired new body! The rear half of the subframe has been cut off to really shorten things up and tighten up the backside, and then it along with the swingarm has been resprayed in the factory chassis black. A mix of fibreglass and aluminium was selected from which the panels would be created and the front mask with its squared-off lines really sets the tone for the ’80s theme.
The use of coloured glass on the headlight only helps to set things off further and there is a touch of BMX Bandits to the way the whole bike looks around the steering stem. The mount to fit it all up is a laser cut part, as are the forward side covers which wear the Royal Enfield name in bold text. Also taken from the in-house laser cutter are the throttle body covers and the ultra neat side covers that fill out the holes in the frame, with some speed cuts thrown in for good measure. These are pieces available from the company website and could be used on a variety of builds.
The squared-off and yet triangular tailpiece is another neat touch, perfectly shaped around the frame and finished with a laser cut piece on its underside. The big belly pan with its scoop projecting more than George Michael in a Wham video adds some drama to the mix and helps give the bike an almost half-faired appearance. The guys are particularly proud of the paint job to tie everything together, with the black and candy purple colouring finished off with eight coats of clear. The white piping on the Alcantara seat is another tip of the backwards cap to the ’80s, and things were looking good.
But as they always said, this build also had to have the performance to match the fun. The suspension is the first part of making that happen and the steering stem for the customised triple trees was CNC’d to get the geometry spot on. A little lowering and Ohlins magic gets in all slammed to the ground and the back end is given the ultimate improvement with a pair of specially built adjustable Ohlins rear shocks ordered in for Savage. Back for some more drama and the rear wheels gets a near-solid moon disc wheel, with just a cut out for the valve stem. A fork brace and custom guard finish things off and the vintage rubber joins the eclectic mix.
Turning their attention to the mechanical side of things and the handmade high-rise exhaust really shows off their fabrication skills. The stainless system looks beautiful with the way it hugs the bike, and just before the reverse cone mufflers, a set of laser cut guards protect your inner thigh. The oil cooler at the front of the motorcycle gets another laser cut part, this time in the form of one of their catalogue parts, a logo-bearing cover.
The purple grips and fast action throttle really get you in the mood and Hedgehog Motorcycles have nailed it. Sure some people will desire convention, but I pity the fool who can’t have a little fun and open the throttle on this Randy ‘Savage’.