SurfSide Motorcycle Garage, Sydney – ‘No. 40’ Himalayan 650 Twin
Most custom shops would count their lucky stars to have one world class bike builder on their roster. Some have big dreams in the field but they end up just bolting on aftermarket parts and calling it a day. And that’s because proper customs take a whole truckload of engineering chops and real-world experience to ensure that you aren’t sending customers out on a bike that just doesn’t work, or worse still, one that isn’t safe to ride.
So maybe the team at SurfSide should buy themselves a lottery ticket or ten, because for the past year or two they’ve had the luxury of being able to call on two of these mythical unicorns. These days, shop stalwart, builder and sidecar racer extraordinaire Trevor Love has teamed up with German custom-meister and Sultans of Sprint cup winner, Tommy ‘Schlachtwerk’ Thöring to provide bike builds that are so far above the standard fare it’s ridiculous.
As if to prove this point, they put their heads together for Royal Enfield’s 2022 Busted Knuckles Bike Build-off to create another legendary beast; the much speculated on but never seen 650 Twin Himalayan that fans have been excitedly craving since the twin engine hit the market in 2018.
“Initially I was going to build something radical and ‘50s-inspired, but I ran out of time because I just have too many things to do,” says Trevor with a weary look on his face. So with a masterful eye across the build and advice ready at hand whenever it was needed, he handed the reins over to Tommy, who was told to go big. Really big.
“I wanted to take all the best parts of the Himalayan and the 650 and mash them together,” says Tommy in opening. “The Himalayan itself is a great bike for going pretty much anywhere. But for someone with plenty of off road experience, it might be a little too gentle. So what if you were to triple the power?” What if, indeed. And you can bet that’s just what they did. Bye bye gentle.
Trev continues by detailing the engine work, “It’s got an S&S 856cc kit in it and we had Hallam Engineering down in Melbourne work the head for us. Now there’s bigger valves, performance springs and a Hallam camshaft. To this they added oversized throttle bodies and a beefy (but not insane) Tassie-made Verex end can fitted onto custom-welded two-into-one pipes.
Next came the mods necessary for the Himalayan Twin to handle the new power and get it to the ground. “The main focus was to build some suspension which can handle the offroad part as that’s really where the bike was intended to be used. So we needed wheel travel, ground clearance and less weight.” If there’s one thing you can always count on with Tommy’s builds, it’s less weight. Think of him as a kind of Weight Watchers program for motorcycles. “I stripped off maybe 30-something kilos and we ended up with a bike that weighs 182 kilos on a full tank and a bit over 70 hp.”
“The engine designers were really clever bastards,” proclaims Trevor. “That engine is absolutely beautiful. A bunch of people have already said it; it’s over engineered and there’s a heap of horsepower yet to be found in the design.” So what’ll that make his bike like, then? “It’ll be a weapon in the dirt!” he smiles. And trust us when we say that we saw it in action and it really was.
To finish the build, Tommy’s new aluminium bodywork was complemented with Mitas off-road tyres, an extended swingarm and monoshock conversion, and YSS shocks. And note the very cool Garmin Montana 700i dash with SOS button. But will Enfield headquarters pay attention and take the hint? We guess only time will tell. And in the meantime, we’ll see you out on the dirt.
Check out SurfSide Motorcycle’s episode in the Busted Knuckles Build Off competition!