Vijay Krishnan June 4, 2019
This week, Two Stroke Tuesdays takes a break from chasing classic Two Strokes Motorcycles to chasing some fine art. And in that process we have uncovered a bike so rare you probably would not even have heard about it, let alone seen it.
We are taking a stroll through some pages in the backburner of Motorcycling past and taking a look at a Motorcycle that got lost in the chaos of the 70’s and 80’s. It came at a time when the Motorcycle landscape fissured with the arrival of the Japanese in India. It eventually was so outclassed by the superiorly designed and built Japanese bikes that it just fell behind the sofa of history.
We are talking about the Royal Enfield Mini Bullet. We speak to Jay Deep, who is the heart and soul of the famous J&D Custom Co. and see how he has fallen in love with it after restoring an example from the ground up. We put it under the microscope and see how a bike that shares its name with one of the most iconic Motorcycles ever got swept under the rug in the tide of the times.
Can a Motorcycle ever be art? Can motion be turned to art? We seek to answer these question by having a sit down with this master of metal and art from Gujarat. Jay D Patel or J.D. is one of the among the few belonging to the breed of custom motorcycle builders to handcraft every one of their motorcycles themselves. Based in Baroda, he is a self-taught bike builder and craftsman who has spent much of his recent years honing the sorcery of bending metal into beautiful creations of art. Art that follows the golden rule of combining both form and function.
In an era where custom shops have turned into a means to sell shirts and keychains, J.D. has stuck to his guns and has focussed solely on lovingly and painstakingly crafting every one of his Motorcycles. His shop merely acts as an outlet for his creativity and curiosity for trying to create his interpretation of fine works of moving art. He is involved in every step of building the Motorcycle and is fully hands on when it comes to the fabrication of his creations.
There is no beauty that hath not some strangeness about its proportions. Take one gander at his Motorcycles and you can see that they follow this rule of thumb. Each of his creations follow a totally unique design philosophy that ensures that no two creations of his are even remotely similar.
His creations have caused such a stir that the likes of Bike EXIF, Bike Burn, Fast Bikes India and basically every custom Motorcycling magazine has taken notice of his work.
His most notable creation must be the Baroda Bobber. It is essentially a Victorians take on a bobber style Motorcycle. It looks elegant from every possible angle and its simply stunning to see in the flesh.
J.D. says that he is usually not one to give names to Motorcycles. The name Baroda Bobber was suggested by a senior Auto Journalist and it sort of stuck. The bike features some truly Radical design features like the perimeter discs, handcrafted linkage suspension and a hard tail frame.
What do you do in life and how are the motorcycles part of it currently?
I build custom motorcycles and make aftermarket bolt on Motorcycle parts for a living. I spend most of my daily hours working with motorcycles. So, they have become a big part of my life now.
I don't keep myself updated with what's happening in the Motorcycling world. I am certainly not the guy to go to when it comes to knowing which are the latest Motorcycle launches and what's hot in the Motorcycling community. People come to me with an idea of what they want and I try to create something good out of that whether it’s in the form of a custom motorcycle or as aftermarket parts. You may not believe it but when I started, I really didn’t know much about motorcycles or their history. So whatever knowledge I have on Motorcycles have come as a result of constantly working on motorcycles or by observing and learning.
I am an engineering dropout living on the dream of achieving something great . I have a small shop where I build my Motorcycles. It is a fulltime job and I have a mechanic with me who handles the technical side of the build. I started building bikes not out of love for motorcycles, but out of the passion for developing custom parts and building a bike out of my dreams and vision. That is why I do everything from designing, fabrication to welding and grinding, with only chrome plating and paintwork getting outsourced.
I really don’t work for everyone, I select my clients and projects. I take references from previous clients and otherwise work with the freedom to do anything I want.
What are the motorcycles that you own?
The only bike I own is the bike that started everything, which is a pulsar 150cc. It was not originally mine but I bought it for my first project and it’s become so special to me that I never sold it and it is one Motorcycle that will be staying with me forever. I have an old Honda Activa which I have been using since my school days which I still use as my daily driver.
What is your history with Two Stroke Motorcycles?
I never rode any Motorcycle in my life until I started my shop. I learned to ride a motorcycle on my friend’s Hero Honda Splendour and then got lucky enough to have some rides on other friend’s pulsar during my school days. Talking about Two Stroke Motorcycles, I got a chance to ride one when someone send a bike for restoration work, It was my first ever Motorcycle restoration and it was a Yamaha RX100 . It was a different feeling unlike anything I’ve previously had riding the Motorcycle. I was taken over by the torque and the sound. Then I got a chance to ride a Honda CR125 and a Husqvarna SM125 off road and this is probably how my love for Two Strokes was kick-started.
So what was your first thoughts on hearing about the Enfield 200? Did you know it existed and what was it like to see it for the first time?
I was not aware of anything like the Enfield 200. It could have been because It came way before my time or maybe because I was not much of a motorcycle guy before. So when I saw the pictures of it for the first time, I was shocked to see this kind of a Royal Enfield as we all have a very particular image of Enfields in our mind.It was totally different in its design, size and basically everything. I was curious to hear the sound of that Two Stroke Enfield engine and that was probably the main reason I took on the build.
How big of a task was it for you to restore a motorcycle that very few people have seen and even fewer people have owned?
It is a Motorcycle that is not very popular and which was made in very few in numbers. That makes it an easy candidate for restoration as no one can’t really compare or comment on it which gave me the freedom to play with its design and parts.
Normally, everyone compares a Motorcycle with its original when you utter the word restoration. At the same time it is very difficult to source original parts and you can’t really swap any parts with another available in market which means that it loses its authenticity or old school charm. So it was both easy and challenging at the same time.
How was the restoration process and how did it shape your impressions of the Motorcycle ?
I usually don’t do restoration jobs on antique motorcycles. But when I heard about this bike, I was so curious to just see the bike in the flesh. Moreover, it’s known as the Mini Bullet which made me even more curious. I am accustomed to the Bullet thump and this made want to experience what the 200cc Two Stroke lightweight Mini Bullet sounded like. Trust me, it's not at all comparable with new or old bullets and have its own unique joyful ride experience. It feels like a nimble pocket rocket from the 70's.
When I got the bike, it was in rough condition. lt had not been ridden for many years and most of its body parts had rusted. The tank was totally eaten away by corrosion and the top panel was in pretty bad shape. I didn’t want to give this bike a total overhaul and lose its charm and character. So I kept a few bumps here and there and made sure the Motorcycle stayed true to its original form.
The very first challenge was to build the engine and make it sing again. That was a phase of much experimentation with parts due to a dearth of OE parts or even reproduction parts for that matter. So we had to either look for similar parts from other Motorcycles or make them from scratch.
I didn’t want to change anything on the bike initially. I wanted to keep everything bone stock. But I am a very design oriented person and I can’t create or in this case, recreate something which is not aesthetically appealing. So I changed my mind midway and decided to do away with the original square shaped tank. I designed and fabricated a new tank which I felt added to the overall design. I decided to make the tank out of aluminium and create the lines that I wanted.
So that tank you are looking at is hand built out of aluminium. The tank is now rust free forever. I did keep the original Enfield monogram on both the sides.
All the other parts on the Motorcycle are all original. The bike goes up to 90km/h and is incredible fun to ride in the city. You can see many puzzled onlookers trying to figure out what kind of Motorcycle they had seen especially when they understand that its an Enfield.
During my visit to the Enfield Garage Café Goa, I witnessed the old interceptor there and I fell in love with its design. So, I wanted to somehow recreate the lines of the Interceptor in the Enfield 200 and thus the rest of the build moved in that direction. Even the colour choice is inspired from that bike.
What was it like to ride the finished motorcycle?
In one word – Pride. I rode this motorcycle almost around 250kms for testing purpose and to experience the pleasure of riding it. I have not previously ridden any motorcycle that I had built for more than 100kms. I even rode another 130kms to deliver the bike personally. It was a love affair for sure. I have grown so fond of the bike that I want to have one for myself now.
Seeing as you wanting to pick one up badly for yourself....what was it about the Enfield 200 that made you fall in love with it?
The lightness and ease to go just about anywhere. The glorious Two Stroke soundtrack. Actually, I cannot describe it in words at all!
What is your inspiration behind starting a business of customising motorcycles?
I am a guy who is always open to learning new techniques and constantly sharpening my skills. Then comes the business side. We all have to survive in life, but that does not mean I don’t have any ambitions of growing my business. What I’ve always had is a vision of providing the best crafted aftermarket parts from day one and I guess custom Motorcycles are a means to achieve that vision.
He has truly set art in motion with his Motorcycles. His brand is one that we are keeping a close eye on as we can’t wait to see what comes next out of his wonderful emporium of Motorcycle art.
How can someone get in touch with you?
You can also reach out to me on instagram - jdcustomco and via email at email@example.com
You can check out the shop at www.jdcustomco.com
If you have a Two Stroke story to tell, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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