Go Takamine is universally credited with being the godfather of the Brat Style motorcycle, opening his first shop in Tokyo in 1998 before ultimately expanding with a Long Beach location in 2013. With wide bars and an overall spartan and stripped-down nature, this genre of build lends itself particularly well to daily riding duties. So, when Taiwanese outfit, Mike’s Garage recently had a client commission a SYM Wolf Legend R 150 to use as their commuter bike, a Brat build seemed the most obvious and fitting choice.
Christened “K-Drag,” the custom is built around a 2008 specimen and beautifully emulates Takamine’s signature aesthetic while introducing a few novel elements into the mix. “The project was built for use in commuter settings, though in addition to comfort and utility, the SYM also had to be a head-turner,” Mike tells us.
The Taipei City shop began by sorting out the seat and tank setup. With the Brat style already selected, Mike knew he’d be going with a traditional pancake-thin saddle, and after searching for an appropriate donor item to pair the seat with, Mike ended up sourcing a small tank plucked off of a Honda CD70. The ribbed black leather saddle now rests in an upswept subframe kit from fellow Taiwanese firm, Kick Motorcycle — the same outfit that supplied the build’s stretched swing-arm which is 20cm longer than the stock unit. While saving time, neither piece was a plug-and-play item, requiring Mike to make a number of modifications to both parts in order to get everything to fit.
“This is actually where the build gets its name,” Mike explains. “The ‘K’ in ‘K-Drag’ stands for ‘Kick’ which is a nod to Kick Garage.”
The little 150cc single at the heart of the build remains largely stock, having been treated to a pod filter-equipped Keihin carb and a custom stainless steel exhaust ending in a reverse cone muffler. “Strapping on a Keihin PE26 carburetor is a really common tuning method in Taiwan and is a tried-and-true means of bolstering the performance of a 150cc bike,” relays Mike.
Next came what would undoubtedly be the most taxing and headache-educing element of the project; the wheels, opting for a set of spoked hoops with a 21” item out front and an 18” in the rear. Instead of simply lacing spokes to rims, Mike decided to take a markedly more involved route, twisting together pairs of spokes and creating an incredibly original and unique-looking aesthetic. The twisted spoke wheels have been shod in a retro-style sawtooth-treaded Duro tire up front and bald MH Racemaster rubber in the rear — very much keeping in line with the brat style visual theme. Unsurprisingly, when asked what part of the build was most challenging, without any hesitation, Mike points to the wheels.
With the new tank and seat now in place, Mike quickly became fixated on the awkward empty space around the air-cooled engine. To visually remedy this issue, he set out about crafting a number of parts and modifications to help fill out the area below the tank and seat line.
“To start, I lowered the suspension by 6cm fore and aft, eliminating some of the negative space right off the bat. Around the bottom of the frame, I’ve rounded out the engine by repositioning the exhaust header so it’s now running below the rear brake pedal. To keep everything as neat as possible while helping to fill out this area, I’ve also fabricated a one-off handmade stainless steel battery box and electronics tray combo that’s mounted under the seat,” says Mike.
The SYM’s cockpit is about as minimalistic as it gets, comprised of a wide set of tracker bars with vintage black rubber grips, a basic switchgear setup, and nothing else, with no instrumentation or idiot lights to be found. The stock rear shocks have also been replaced with up-specced aftermarket shocks, and rather than using a standard set of bolts, Mike has opted to secure the bottom end of the rear shocks using a bespoke set of machined pegs that also double as the passenger foot-rests.
With the heavy-lifting now in the rear-view, Mike proceeded to tackle the smaller odds and ends that would round out the build. This included installing a sliver of a rear fender positioned directly beneath an old-school circular taillight, opposite the bike’s 4.5” wire-grilled, yellow-lensed headlight. A pair of chromed-housing indicators are also tacked onto the bottom of the bike’s triple tree while a matching set of signals are now mounted to the swing arm out in back.
The final piece of the puzzle would be laying down the K-Drag’s paint digs. Wanting to keep things simple and classic, Mike ultimately chose a black and bare metal theme, with a gloss black chassis, swing-arm, and subframe, along with matching blacked-out shocks, fork lowers, and grips. Decorated in the shop’s skull and flag logos, the Honda fuel cell has been partially covered in matching gloss black, though also sports white pinstriping and a bare metal section towards the back of the tank. Between the exhaust, stainless steel electronics tray, tank, wheels, handlebars, and headlight, there’s plenty of raw alloys to juxtapose the rest of the black paint adorning the bike, too.
All in all, Mike has managed to deliver on the customer’s brief in spades, with a practical utilitarian urban commuter bike that doesn’t skimp on style, absolutely nailing Takamine’s Brat visual theme while simultaneously bringing something undeniably new to the table. Amongst the sea of SYMs that crowd the streets of Taiwan, this is one Wolf 150 that’s sure to stand out for all the right reasons.