Aussie Daniel Razborsek on why riding is like skiing and how he customised his Speed Triple to look like a cafe racer.
Q. What’s your biking background?
A. Riding since I was 12, I got my 50cc licence at the age of 14. Since I was hooked, motorbikes seemed like a natural progression. When I was younger I was into sports bikes, my first serious one being an ’89 ZXR750, which I bought in boxes and restored myself. That’s when I got a taste for building bikes and I never looked back. In 2010 I developed an interest in cafe racers, got my first cafe racer project bike from a wrecker (1979 CB400), joined a small group called Sydney Cafe Racers (SCR), went to one of their first rides and met Mark Hawwa, who brought us all together. It’s one of the best cafe racer groups in the world and has changed my life forever. I’ve been involved with all the events, such as the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and Throttle Roll, and every day I thank my lucky stars for meeting some of the best people I’ve ever come across.
Q. What does riding mean to you?
A. It takes me back to the 80s when I was a teenager, getting pulled over for not wearing a helmet by the boys in blue, who would be nice enough not to fine me, but deflated my tyres so that I had to push the bike home. Instead, I just pushed it to the nearest servo, pumped up the tyres and kept riding, only to get done by the same cop later in the day. This happened almost on a weekly basis and I never got fined. Trying to explain riding to someone who doesn’t ride is almost impossible, but I once heard a good attempt at it. In this case, someone was trying to explain it to a bloke who loved to ski. He said to him: “Imagine if you could ski to work, to the shops or to meet with your friends. Just getting to places would be an adventure, which you would treasure and enjoy immensely.” That’s what riding feels like to me.
Q. What was it that appealed to you about restoring and building bikes?
A. I was always mechanically minded and I have a ‘fetish’ of bringing mechanical things back to life, even if it’s only polishing an old oxidised aluminium engine case. I like setting new challenges for myself and spending time alone in the garage.
Q. How much does your work in aviation play a part in your bike projects?
A. I am a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer, so I owe all my technical knowledge and skills to that. Attention to detail, doing it right first time and sometimes just plain old following the manual word for word are the things I learned in the last 20 years of being in the aviation industry. I get a lot of ideas and inspiration from aircraft, both technically and visually. As much as I love working on aircraft, the one thing I miss is a freedom to express myself as everything is done strictly in accordance with aircraft documentation. There’s no deviating from it, so I get this through my bikes.
Imagine if you could ski to work, to the shops or to meet with your friends. Just getting to places would be an adventure, which you would treasure and enjoy immensely. That’s what riding feels like to me.Daniel Razborsek
Q. Tell us about your latest project.
A. As my interest moved from sports bikes to nakeds, I thought Speed Triples had everything a motorbike enthusiast would want – unusual triple engine, nice-looking frame, weird twin headlight set-up and single-sided swing arm. A couple of years after I bought it, and after completing my first cafe racer project (’79 CB400), I needed another, so I bought a 1995 Triumph Daytona 900, but I soon realised I could convert it to the first generation Speed Triple, which I always liked, and make the newer one into a cafe racer. This would combine the performance and handling of a modern bike with the more traditional styling – and at the time I wasn’t aware of anyone else going down this path with a Speed Triple. That’s exactly what I did and I still ride my ’95 Speed Triple to work every day, while The Flashback only makes an appearance on rides with SCR.
Q. Why ‘The Flashback’?
A. I called it The Flashback as I have noticed people taking a second look at it, at first thinking it’s an old classic and only realising that it’s a modern bike on the second take.
Q. Favourite part of the build/best feature?
A. As much as I love the front fairing on it, I would have to say my favourite part is the seat with the seat cowl. I reshaped the standard seat to get a bit of a hump in the back and then had it retrimmed with ribs. I reshaped the seat cowl, which wasn’t even meant for this bike, to get a nice eagle’s beak sort of looking curvy rear end, finished off with a round POSH tail light.
Q. Any spanners in the works?
A. The hardest part was making the brackets for the front fairing, headlight and speedo to ensure that everything clears at full steering lock. I heavily modified the fairing to get the look I wanted and to make it fit. It took weeks of small adjustments and shimming, resulting in very fine tolerances. Everything clears by a millimetre or two. The first aluminium bracket wasn’t rigid enough and the headlights vibrated a bit too much, so I made a steel reinforcement, which made it rock solid.
Q. What’s the riding like in Sydney?
A. Sydney is great as the weather permits year-round riding. In fact, winter months are sometimes even better as it’s not as hot. There’s a choice of quick inner city rides, hitting a couple of beaches and getting coffee and some food or venturing outside the city (coastal or inland) and taking some amazing roads with breathtaking views. Our favourite spot for a quick spirited ride is the Royal National Park.
Q. What do you prefer – riding or building?
A. I enjoy building bikes just as much as I enjoy riding them, and to me, both of these mean running away from the craziness and pressures of modern life and escaping into my own world where there are no expectations, deadlines or making kids’ school lunches. I honestly can’t say which I enjoy more unless you catch me when something is not going well in the garage and my knuckles are bleeding from a spanner slipping, in which case I might tell you I enjoy riding more.
Q. What’s next?
A. Since I just couldn’t get the angle grinder anywhere near the ’95 Speed Triple, I picked up a 1978 Suzuki GS750 from a SCR buddy, which I’m in the process of stripping at the moment. It will be a lot more classic-looking cafe racer build.