He’s been doing incredible work in the automotive industry for decades, but it was only 18 months ago when most of our readers first learnt about the genius that is Carl Cerra. We were privileged enough to feature his incredible Royal Enfield ‘Cerra 865’, a clay-modelled masterpiece, finished in carbon fibre and sporting a host of trick parts of his own design, which truly made it a fan favourite. Carl’s here to stay in the custom motorcycle scene and his plans for the future are beyond exciting. So, what better way to catch up with the man behind Melbourne’s Skunk Machine than to check out his latest build. It may have started life as a bone stock 2022 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650, but Carl’s given her the full treatment, to truly earn the blockbuster-inspired name, ‘Bullitt GT 865’.

“Since the Cerra GT 865, I have moved into a private workshop in Heidelberg Melbourne. Here I have expanded my workshop to build the limited-edition Series of Cerra GT 865 bikes and also have a scalable space to continue my other exciting projects,” Carl tells us. His clientele aren’t just seeking any old workshop, but seek out his skilled hands that have worked for the likes of BMW, General Motors, Audi and Ford, as well as his own catalogue of incredible creations. And it appears things are only just getting started at Skunk Machine. “In the very near future, we will have a huge scale 3D printing and rapid prototyping department to complement our CNC centre. Where we will create end user parts.”

The goal is to create amazing new products, that are both innovative and stylish, all of which will be infused with the company’s DNA. Carl will also be dipping into the car scene too and has a number of alternative power trains he’d like to work with. But this beautiful build started with a brand new Royal Enfield purchased from Midlife Cycles. “My customer Stu, came to me about 12 months ago after attempting to have some custom work done to his brand-new Continental GT 650.  He was stuck trying to find someone that could fulfil his request and make his ideas come to fruition,” Carl explains.

After a few constructive conversations, the craftsman and client were on the same page and Carl had the path forward well and truly planned out, which would include using several Skunk Machine made parts, rather than rely on off the shelf pieces. With the GT 650 now in the heart of his headquarters and stripped down ready for its build, Carl could get to work. To get things rolling it’s quality as far as the eye can see, with the front rim replaced by a 17-inch Excel item that has been laced up to a custom hub. Before the suspension can be replaced, Carl turns his design and production skills to machining a custom set of triple trees.

These look absolutely stunning and are a far better fit for such a project than an old sport bike set, and they also have the benefit of allowing the forks from a Triumph Thruxton R to drop through for a huge performance boost. And if the suspension doesn’t get you going, then the braking package definitely will, a set of Brembo radial calipers clamp a pair of simply gigantic discs, which will allow this RE to literally stop on a dime. At the back of the bike, another Excel rim, this one 4.5” wide is laced up and fitted with a 160-section Pirelli tyre. And then to complete the rolling package, it’s a sweet set of Ikon shocks.

Time for Carl to turn his attention to styling and he explains to us where his influences come from. “My inspiration doesn’t come from other motorcycles. I look to things such as products of a particular era or simply, nice shapes and proportions. I am also big of less is more. I don’t like things that are overtaken with flashy graphics and bling. I also try to build a little of the customer’s personality into the product.” All of this helps to explain the stunning seat cowl, entirely made from carbon fibre, with a CNC machined tail lens assembly with sequential indicators for a super smooth finish.

All of these pieces are designed and manufactured in-house and the fit and finish are as impressive as the styling itself. Topping the piece is the picture-perfect seat, upholstered by Sam at Majestic Moto. At the front of the bike, a blade style fender ensures the focus stays on the main bodywork and a classic headlight bucket is filled with a high-tech LED fit out. The entire bike has been rewired and a Crono Classic speedo nestles neatly into Skunk Machine’s custom-made triple tree. Speaking of incredible in-house parts, those rearsets are a work of art on their own. Then for paint, “Stu chose the Metallic Green similar to Steve McQueen’s Mustang in the movie Bullitt. The black and gold accent was inspired by one of my previous builds, the Cerra GT865.”

A simple exhaust and most would be over the moon with the result, but Carl builds a complete product and that meant the engine had to make a hell of a lot more power. Turning to his friends at Revelry Cycles, the kings of Royal Enfield, they transformed the motor by fitting an 865cc S&S big bore kit and gave it the full treatment to ensure performance doesn’t come at the expense of reliability. Their CNC billet throttle bodies are a work of art and all tuned, the power output is nearly double that of the stock unit. So what’s Carl’s favourite part of the build, “To be honest, the thing I find most satisfying is the reaction of the customer.” And you can’t blame Stu for being over the moon with his Skunk Machine RE, it’s got beauty and brawn, with the sort of finish you only get from a true master craftsman.

[ Skunk Machine | Photography by Ben Galli ]