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Passion Project: Victor Wilkens + Hand-Built Motorcycle

June 18, 2020


Victor Wilkens, Studio Other Industrial Engineer, upgrades and restyles classic motorcycles in an intricate modernization process that remains true to the machine's original character.
Victor's design method is built from the amalgamation of technical proficiency, a respect for craft, and a critical observation of humans’ interaction with objects. The combination of his hybrid passions — from traditional woodworking, ceramic design and metal fabrication to motorcycles, mural painting and mountaineering — creates a toolkit that fosters high functionality alongside a unique design language.  Every part has been carefully considered for improvement, both functionally and cosmetically, to work in harmony producing a sleek and functional finished product.

Q: How did your interest in motorcycle restoration begin?

VW: A search for speed combined with a passion for craftsmanship.

Q: Can you describe the design?

VW: Handbuilt Custom 1978 KZ1000 Motorcycle. Each part was upgraded and restyled, individually and collectively, for a final product that looks and functions better than the original. The original heavy cast wheels were swapped out for lightweight aluminum rims and built with stainless spokes. The factory steel fender was replaced with a lightweight fiberglass one. The 36mm forks were swapped for 43mm forks form a ZRX1200. After-market headlight, instruments, mirrors and handlebars were all modified before being put to use.In line with the performance nature of the project, the bike was converted to single rider use only. The gas tank was trimmed down, and the entire rear sub-frame was completely rebuilt, raising the rear to make the body lines flow from tip to tail. Custom side-covers were designed, and the factory tail was slimmed and lengthened. The factory brakes were replaced with custom ISR disks, Grimeca calipers and custom lightweight carriers. The heavy exhaust was replaced with a lightweight stainless steel header. The entire engine was overhauled and improved. Racing carburetors modified for street use were fitted. Foot-pegs were replaced and moved up and back for a sportier riding position. The frame and swing-arm were heavily braced to stiffen the chassis. Custom Race Tech shocks were built for the new aggressive geometry.

Q: How long did it take you to restore the motorcycle?

VW: 6 years

Q: What materials do you use?

VW: Steel, aluminum, fiberglass and after market parts

Q: How would you describe the building process?

VW: I followed a strategic restoration process consisting of cutting, welding, machinery, sanding, filing, bleeding, painting and polishing.

Q: What was your greatest obstacle in the process and how did you overcome it?

VW: Changing the frame geometry — I had to carefully study literature to ensure success.

Learn more or purchase from Victor's website.