When you distil it down to its raw essence, a motorcycle is a tool to take us places, near and far, and essentially all of them are adventure vehicles. A sports bike simply takes you on a rapid romp around a track, while a basic commuter bike has you tripping your way through traffic – and if you don’t think that’s an adventure – you’ve never ridden in Jakarta or any other bustling big cities. But what we really mean when we say adventure bike, is one designed to take us to parts unknown, to explore off the beaten track and provide us the tool with which we can create memories of a lifetime. French outfit Baak Motorcycles knows a thing or two about both, they build amazing customs and act as tour guides for two-wheeled treks. So to show how it’s done, they built this beautiful Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor, perfect for any expedition.
A decade ago Rémi Reguin founded Baak Motorcycles and it was operated out of his Grandma’s basement. The Lyon outfit snowballed and the name gained an instant reputation for building clean and quality custom motorcycles. That growth has seen them now in new headquarters in the French city with a showroom, full workshop and retail outlet. While across the pond in Los Angeles, they have another fully staffed workshop to service their customers in North America. One of the things that has made Baak so successful is the fact they truly live the two-wheeled life, and they run regular guided tours, for those with an adventurous spirit.
These trips include everything from a few nights camping and riding the local trails, to a week in the Southern Alps or Provence, right through to their ultimate adventure for advanced riders tackling the toughest tracks in France and Italy. So, if you want to get into this sort of caper, do you run out and blow huge bucks on a new BMW GS like thousands of others or is there a different way? Don’t get me wrong, the GS might just be the most capable motorcycle ever built, but the price is high and the character is bland. Instead, a fun and more wallet-friendly alternative is to pick out the highly qualified RE 650 twin and build your own.
“Our team created the perfect model to travel, without getting tired and while enjoying as much as possible being behind the handlebars,” the Baak crew explain. And they’ve done it with parts almost exclusively from their own catalogue. A low mileage example is probably the best way to go, rather than buying new, as the twin is now a proven platform in terms of reliability. The Baak team is happy to begin with a donor bike off the showroom floor or with more miles depending on your budget, build it to your desired spec and with their work guaranteed, ship it to you anywhere in the world.
For this demo example, they’ve started with a previously owned and barely ridden item – but whether it had one lady owner and never saw rain – I cannot confirm. With the bike stripped down, there is plenty of weight to be saved by ditching the factory rear light, fender and number plate assembly. The stock mufflers are next to go and with those submarine-sized pieces of steel on the floor, a quick tidy up of the front end and suddenly the bike is a more appropriate mass. Baak then ditches the big stock seat, and tosses the mirrors, the side covers and the bulbous factory indicators.
Now you can begin to raid the French factory’s catalogue, and starting at the front end their universal trail headlight is employed. Made from fibreglass this lightweight part uses strong but light aluminium mounts, which can be ordered in a variety of sizes to fit your particular fork tube diameter. The twin bulb takes inspiration from ’80s trail bikes, and a minimalist harness has it all plugged in and firing light down the road. The high-rise front mud catcher is the next bolt-on part, with a neat laser cut bracket and stainless steel fender designed to withstand the harshest environments.
Behind the new look front end, the cockpit gets a decent overhaul with machined lightweight risers using stainless hardware to hold in place a set of tracker bars. These are then kitted out with just the bare necessities, like featherweight mirrors, Biltwell grips and tiny indicators that are relocated to a safer, more tucked-in position. Of course, there is going to be plenty of time in the saddle, so a bolt-on Baak seat unit can be upholstered in your choice of material, and loses the weight of the stock pan. Below your comfy bum, the sure to be broken plastic side covers go and in their place are form fitting aluminium side and intake covers, powder coated for protection.
Just like any adventure, protection is a high priority and the engine gets plenty with a 4mm thick bash plate to prevent any unwanted intrusions into the cases. At the back of the motor, Baak add some bark with lightweight aluminium mufflers that they’ve designed just for the job; some extra power without an annoying drone. To raise the rear a set of Shock Factory rear adjustable units add 20mm of height and are tested to last 100,000km. A simplified rear light assembly, luggage brackets and a set of cool saddlebags and the boys have you ready to ride.
All up with the slick seafoam green paint and adventure tires, this bike could be yours for €12,000. Or for a lot less, find your own RE 650 twin, raid their catalogue and hit the road to parts unknown, you really only have one life to live.
[ Baak Motorcycles ]