2008 Motomorphic Aprilia - Me & My Bike

Up To Speed

Photography by Mike Doran/D&W Images

Name: Jim Davis
Age: 44
Home: San Rafael, CA
Occupation: Owner/Engineer, MotoMorphic

"I got the idea for this bike in the late '90s, when Avon came out with its first fat tire. I wanted to build the ultimate 'f*ck-you' bike-a streetfighter on steroids. I would put a 250mm tire on the back, and a 200mm on the front. Then Avon came out with a 300. Obviously, I thought that should go on the back, with the 250 on the front! The design just kept getting bigger and more outrageous.

"We started with a donor Aprilia Mille R and cannibalized the engine and ECU, the Ohlins fork with external compression valving, radial Brembo brakes and all the switchgear. We bought a few aftermarket components-Woodcraft Yamaha YZF600R rearsets, for example-and the rest we built. It weighs just under 500 pounds, and holds 6.5 gallons of fuel in the frame. The bodywork is all hand-formed aluminum by Mick Clarke at Aluminum Creations. His work is spectacular.

"Victor Komunytsky-who helped me build the bike-got the idea to debut it at the 2008 Isle of Man TT. We thrashed and got it done with just days to spare. I rode it 3/4-mile and it all felt cool, and handled better than I expected, honestly. We packed it into a large FedEx crate and sent it to England.

"On the way to the ferry dock, just 45 miles out of London, I experienced a 'handling difficulty.' Fortunately, the truck that I had just passed was kind enough to stop before running me over. Needless to say, the bike never made it to the Island. It went back in the crate, and back home to the shop in San Rafael.

"It turned out that a simple design error in the initial frame jig resulted in too little trail. We've since made a new frame jig and reset the rake angle so that we have positive trail (6mm), even with the front suspension fully compressed-our idea of a safety margin. We're now working on Prototype #2. Then we'll make any necessary system changes to improve manufacturing processes before we build #3, documenting the procedure. We'll prove that procedure out with #4, and then we hope to start taking orders and selling them."

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