There's something pure
and extremely entertaining about drag bikes. They're hopelessly impractical, usually dangerous, and invariably ridden by folks with a scant regard for personal safety.
It's hard to take that genre up a notch, but the top Indonesian shop Thrive has just gone one better than the typical eighth-miler. This extraordinary machine, nicknamed 'T 22 Synthesis' has not one but two engines. And those engines are tiny two-strokes, with a power band only slightly less forgiving than a light switch.
We suspected there might be a good story behind this build, and the Thrive crew confirmed it.
"The guys from Suryanation Motorland approached us with the idea of a contest called 'Wheels of Inspiration'," says Thrive spokesman Putra Agung. Entrants would write a story about their biggest dream bike, and the winner would be picked by Thrive, the local magazine GasTank, and the custom shop Lemb Inc.
Thrive suggested a theme of Sprint Racing to the organizers. "In Indonesia there are a lot of 1/8-mile street races, held illegally on main streets from midnight until the sun rises," Putra reveals.
"It happens in many major cities, which means a huge number of potential fans. We admire the racers' courage and enthusiasm, using creativity that exceeds the budget."
One story submitted to the contest came from Adhi Saputra, a guy in his 20s with a strong connection to street racing culture in the Depok, West Java area. "Adhi idolizes Burt Munro and salt flat racing, and owns a Ninja 150RR two stroke," says Putra.
"He's dreamed about salt flat racing since his college days, and we agreed to choose him as the lucky winner."
The crew at Thrive started digging into history, and came across 'Dubble Trubble,' the twin-engined Triumph built in the 1950s by Bud Hare. "Here in Indonesia we've seen some people add more pistons to an engine," says Putra. "But as far as we know, we've never had two small-cc motors in one frame."
Thrive decided to revive the old glory days with a modern approach, and brought Adhi's bike into their Jakarta workshop. The perky 30 horsepower two-stoke 150RR motor went off to ace tuner and engine building Yosef Gumilar of Prama Motorworks: "He's well known for restoring many XS650s using his knowledge as a racer from 90s," Putra explains.
Yosef successfully created the most unlikely twin-engine setup, with heavy mods to the ignition, ported and flowed heads, 270 degree racing crankshafts, a lightened flywheel and a quick-shifter. "There are few more secret things going on that we can't tell you about!" says Putra.
"All that work makes a bangin' short range cruise missile. We also called Lectron to order the specific carburetor for our engine configuration, and they did a great job on it."
At the exhaust end, the lengthy pipes and expansion chambers were crafted by local racebike specialist Kawahara from stainless steel.
At a glance, the stock Ninja 150RR looks like any other plastic-clad teenager screamer, so Thrive have ditched everything except for the drivetrain. Then a new frame was built with aluminum tube, following cues from old-school drag bikes, and using Thrive's first custom frame jig.
"The idea was to create something light---for the best power to weight ratio. And staying low, to reduce wheelies off the line. It's 168 centimeters [66 inches] from center wheel to wheel, only 6.5 cm from the ground, and 60 cm at the highest point."
"It was designed and built the old-fashioned way."
The old-fashioned way was also a difficult way. Thrive have used a top yoke from a Suzuki RGR 150, another mostly Asian model, merged with a Kawasaki fork shortened by 100 mm.
The rims are 17 inchers, with an aluminum disc cover at the back, and shod with Goodyear Eagle tires
The cockpit is bare, with an RPM, voltmeter and temperature gauages from AutoMeter and Koso. Ahead of the custom bars, outfitted with controls from local specialist KTC, is a mesh fairing that echoes the shape of the chunky radiator behind the front wheel.
The monocoque bodywork is brushed aluminum and handmade, with a lengthy seat pad made in house and offering plenty of room to move around on. The metalwork is finished off with paint by Agung Castavo, one of the top pin stripers in Indonesia.
Thrive has a reputation for being one of the world's most inventive builders, but this twin-engined Ninja takes things to a whole new level.
It might not be as fast as 'Dubble Trubble' and it's unlikely to make it across the Pacific to the salt flats. But we reckon it's going to cause a stir on the street racing scene in Jakarta.
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