When you’ve been part of a scene long enough, you begin to appreciate more the people that power it and those who pour their heart and soul into driving that culture forward. Indonesia’s custom bike-building scene has been booming over the last few years, first based around new scooters and small-capacity bikes, and now taking on anything and everything in sight. But as it grows, the unique Indonesian ‘no fear, no rules’ attitude has stayed well and truly intact. And one of the leaders of the pack is Batakastem Workshop’s Abraham Simatupang, who doesn’t follow trends, he simply builds one cool bike after another. His latest is this classic Yamaha XS650 cruiser, that’s been given a clever chopper vibe and cartoon characters for extra fun.
In the tight back streets of south Jakarta, Abraham and his team simply live and breathe everything on two wheels. They love what they do and there is nowhere else they’d rather be than in the shop together, designing and building bikes. Like every Indonesian builder we’ve come across, this team does things their own way, they don’t build cookie-cutter machines to get the approval of everyone on social media. So, a client with a hankering for his own Yamaha chopper with a cartoon theme, knew that in Abraham and his team, he wouldn’t have to fight to get his own truly unique creation.
Once they’d sourced the Yamaha XS650, not as easy a task in Indonesia as it is in many other markets, it was quickly stripped down to a bare frame and sat on the bench. The first part of any build at Batakastem has the boys gathering around the bike, formulating ideas and looking at ways to put their own spin on, in this case, a timeless classic. Abraham knew that to get the low and lean look he was after, the back of the frame would have to be chopped, some metal thrown to the wolves and the seating area rebuilt. With the grinders spinning, the welder cranked up and a few cigarettes being enjoyed, the boys had the back end the way they wanted it.
The drop seat style definitely helps to cultivate the chopper look, and the guys knew the next step was to ensure that the suspension simply exaggerated this head-up/butt-down approach. So, the team of endless talents set about crafting their own custom triple clamps to suit the forks they had in mind and which are nice and narrow for the look they were after. Through these, they’ve dropped a set of long Suzuki forks and all the components have been finished in chrome. At the rear end, the factory upper shock points have been retained, while modified items on the swingarm now sport a set of shorty shocks in chrome to drop the rear.
The hubs were next on the list, and both the front and rear, have been rebuilt to perfection and finished out in more chrome. The front drum brake in particular came in for special treatment, with no stone left unturned in ensuring it looks and operates absolutely brilliantly. To build up the wheels, a new set of rims were sourced and laced together with stainless spokes, now measuring a tall 21in front and a wider 16in for the rear. These have been wrapped up in new Avon rubber in a vintage style, and the fat 5in out the back dictated the first of the bodywork changes. A handbuilt fender floats over the rubber and the guys made their own mini Sissy bar to match.
The front fender is about as minimalist as it gets, once again it is completely hand beaten and acts as a fork brace to add some extra stability to the steering. The factory fuel tank was never going to work with the style Abraham was gunning for, so rather than jump online and buy a new one, once again the boys got whacking away at the metal and shaped their own mini sportster-style tank. To show just how far their talents go, the guys even turned the alloy filler cap and made their own fuel tap. To really keep the chopper theme flowing, the faux oil tank houses the electronics and the cool camel-humped seat is hand stitched in local black leather.
As the fabrication team were doing their thing, the classic XS650 parallel-twin engine was out on the bench getting an overhaul. Abraham was happy to find that the internals were largely in good condition, but with other parts missing, new solutions would need to be found. Having polished it all up to an ultra neat finish, a set of TK Racing PE-28 carburettors, a popular choice in Indonesia, take care of the fuelling and are fitted up with machined velocity stacks. The exhaust side of the engine gets the treatment too, with a full stainless system built for the bike, featuring an X pipe look and some home chromed slash cut mufflers.
All of the controls are made in-house, these guys could basically build a bike from scratch, and their own bars and levers are matched up with Emgo grips and mirror. The main lights are some of the only parts bought in for the bike, with a British-made 5 ½ inch front headlight and a classic cast tail light for the rear. But to really set things off the paint had to be full of fun and it starts with the bright blue frame and the champagne gold finish applied to the tins.
Then it was time to get creative with the graphics, and the client wanted his favourite anime character, ‘Tony Tony Chopper’ to join the party. The bike is another Batakastem beauty, low and loud and filled with fun from a team that can literally do it all.