Building a custom motorcycle is an exciting and dedicated process. The unique design features that are applied to each of our builds results in a one of a kind machine.
It may be that you have already given some thought to the kind of build you want but if not here is a guide to the elements that make up a full custom build and the process behind them.
First you need the bike! You can either bring us one or, after having decided what kind of build you want, we can source one for you that we feel would best suit the build and you as the rider. Ideally we want to start with a bike that has been well maintained and is in good condition so that we can spend more time and money on the build rather then fixing or restoring the donor. If you begin with an old bike you will need to assign a good portion of your budget to upgrading components so that you end up with a more reliable machine.
Other things to consider are whether you have any mechanical experience. If not then a younger bike would be a better choice as they are usually easier to maintain and more reliable. What about the size and power of the bike? Are you an experienced rider or only just entering the world of bikes? Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. If you only ride in a city then a smaller engined bike can actually be the better choice.
Some bikes are more suited to certain builds but here at LDM we also like to think that anything is possible and don't like to restrict ourselves to any particular rules! Very often the best builds come from the most unexpected of donors.
Once the donor bike is on the bench, fabrication can begin. The original components are stripped away until we are left with the elements of the bike we want to keep. It may even be that we just start with an engine and build the rest around it.
We now have a "blank canvas" to work with where we can start to visualise and determine the shape and balance of the bike.
Normally a large piece of paper is hung behind the bike and we begin to plot the shapes we want to see. It gives a quick and surprisingly clear vision of what the build will become. From this we can determine what changes need to be made to the frame and subframe. It might be that an entirely new frame needs to be fabricated to allow for a dramatic design.
We cut, bend new tube and TIG weld new sections together to create the skeleton of your build. Once complete it's a matter of moving on to bodywork. We mostly use aluminium sheet for the bodywork as it is lightweight which can aid the performance of a motorbike. Starting with a flat sheet of metal, we then use traditional coach building techniques on machines such as the english wheel to form the metal into petrol tanks, fairings or mudguards.
It is also at this early stage that we fabricate trays or boxes for the battery and electrics. This results in an extremely neat and organised finish which adds to the reliability of the bike.
Most of the fabrication is done in house but if there are any specialist parts we need CNC machined, there are a number of highly skilled engineers in the UK that we work closely with.
This is technically part of the fabrication stage but requires its own description. We fabricate our own exhaust systems using mandrel bent tube sections welded together using the TIG process which creates a beautiful, rainbow coloured weld. Our focus is on a system which compliments the lines of the bike but also one that allows for the best performance. There are various different combinations depending on whether your donor bike is 1,2,3,4 or even 6 cylinders. This, combined with the right airflow and tuning, can result in huge power improvement.
We work mostly with stainless steel but can also weld titanium pipes where weight and high performance are a priority.
Seat and Upholstery
We fabricate the seat pan using a combination of aluminium and steel and then shape various layers of foam to achieve the desired seat size and shape, taking in to account what your use of the bike will be. Longer distance would require a more comfortable seat for example!
We use chip foam for structure, medium and high density foams to smooth out the shape and add comfort and then, if you want to be really fancy, a memory or gel top layer for extreme comfort.
From there it is handed to the upholsterer, who works next door, and have it covered in a material of your choice. We like to use a colour and effect that suits the colour scheme on the bike and choose the type of material depending on your use of the bike.
There are all sorts of beautiful leathers to choose from and we have access to samples of hundreds for you to look at, all the way up to the leathers used in Lambourghinis, Aston Martins and Ferraris.
If your seat is going to see weather other then sunshine it might be a good idea to choose a leatherette or vinyl so that maintenance of the fabric is easier. This no longer means tacky looking plastic material, there are now all sorts of great looking man made products available.
We work with a couple of painters and coaters who provide the icing on the cake. Image Design Custom for the main colour scheme and airbrushing. Amwell powder coaters for powder coating, PTFE finishes and various others.
We are currently developing various colour schemes and effects which add great depth and character to our builds.
After having spent a couple of months seeing the bike in a monotone grey during fabrication it is an incredibly exciting step when everything comes back from paint. It has been transformed.
This is often overlooked by people but it is just as important as the rest of the build. Electrical issues are no fun at all and that's why we bring in Richard of Motorcycle Wiring Specialists to either modify or build a wiring harness from scratch.
If the donor is an older bike then we upgrade the charging system and always build the loom from scratch to replace old and out of date cable. This is hugely important as it is the difference between enjoying a great ride or sitting at the side of the road feeling sorry for yourself.
Be it an old or young machine we add Motogadget products such as the M-unit which replaces the original fuse box and allows us to create a much more compact wiring loom. Any electrical components that are in need of upgrading are also replaced. This results in a very reliable electrical system which means you get more time riding!
We also fit our own handlebar switches to each build which reduces the clutter on the bars, means we can run the cable through the bars creating a much neater look and as the design is so versatile they can be fitted to any style of custom build.
LDM Custom parts
As well as using parts made by well known manufacturers we also love designing and making our own. These include handlebar switches, lights, brake reservoir pots, foot pegs, rear sets and yokes. It adds an extra dimension to the build and makes it that bit more special.
Reassembly now takes place. Slowly we fit the freshly painted parts and build the bike back up. Once complete, the battery is connected, fuel added and we fire her up! The carbs are now given a final tuning or fuel injection dialled in on a dyno and the bike is taken for it's final test. After making sure that everything is working as it should a photoshoot is arranged and then handover to you! The new owner of a one of a kind LDM custom motorbike.