Retro Art Custom Spirit of Flat Track: A Taste of Turkey
When you think of custom motorcycles, Turkey does not immediately come to mind. Although it bridges Europe and Asia, it is not known as a hub of motorcycling activity.
Serkan Ünverdi at Retro Art Custom is working to change that. Drawing on the global infatuation with American flat track racing, he has built the Spirit of Flat Track. Rather than relying on a traditional platform for his creation, the Honda CRF250L dual sport bike is the basis of his build.
“I’m inspired by other designs and styles for all my projects, but I have never imitated what I saw,” Ünverdi explained to Ultimate Motorcycling in an exclusive interview. “I’ve never done a flat tracker before, but I was always thinking about it. I’ve chosen CRF250L because it is a little cheaper than the others. When I was Googled it, I realized nobody done that before, or I didn’t see it. So, the idea of to be the first in Turkey and the world is what attracted me so much.”
Turning a dual sport bike into a classic flat tracker required innovative thinking. “The need of the bike’s right geometrical shape took so much of my time and labor, and not just the visual part,” according to Ünverdi.
“It must have a lower center of gravity, better road grip, and be lighter then the standard CRF. That’s why I build the technical infrastructure first. I eased it 20 kilograms (44 pounds). For that, the biggest work was getting rid of the stock exhaust. The header is handmade from stainless steel, and I selected a readymade model as an exhaust.”
“After that I used an 18-inch rim for the front. That’s how I used wider tire to catch the right look for my style. With smaller front rim and lower shocks, I made the chassis 65mm (2.5 inches) lower. That took me closer to my lower center of gravity goal. After I finished the technical infrastructure, I started to make it look like an old-style flat tracker.”
Sticking with standard parts when possible, Ünverdi took aim at the bodywork. “I used standard gas tank and produced a shell on it using epoxy and fiberglass,” he said. “I used the golden ratio and modeled the tail fairing with the same technique. I handmade the stop lamp, burying it in the tail fairing for design simplicity. The saddle is also handmade. All these parts are mounted with handmade brackets to the chassis without disrupting it.”
“The next one was the number plates, which are indispensable for the race-concept bike like the Spirit of Flat Track,” Ünverdi continued. “For all these, I made wooden models and then made them from polystyrene material using the vacuum-forming technique. I used 12 Eagle Eye LEDs for the headlight. It was logical to position it asymmetrically because of the electrical connection and the contact. ‘7’ was the best number choice for the headlight’s asymmetrical position within a square.”
The result is a custom motorcycle that combines simplicity and efficiency, just as you would expect from a competition-inspired build. Honda already has two flavors of CRF250L, and this build brings to mind the Honda Ascot FT500 of the 1980s. The Ascot used a dual-sport derived motor as the basis of a production street tracker.
Influential custom builders have always led the way for the manufacturers, and the Spirit of Flat Track is something Honda will likely want to take a close look at.
Ünverdi has dreamed of Retro Art Custom since he was a youngster. “When I was a child, I was dreaming about to be an automobile or motorcycle designer,” he reveals. “I did scratch-build bike models when I was a little boy.”
“However, life showed me a different way,” Ünverdi continues, “and that’s how I was educated at mechanical engineering. I worked sales department for an international company for nine years, and in time I had enough money for having hobbies like bikes, RC models or extreme sports. My RC modeling experiences, material information, building techniques, and theoretical and practical knowledge gave me encouragement to start to design new bikes.”
For Ünverdi, Retro Art Custom is more than an avocation—it’s a lifestyle. “Because this is my childhood dream and I can do it seven days a week, I love going to work every day. My plan is to have more creative standards of fabrication. I’m trying to work with different materials and techniques as much as I can. My dream is to be famous like Roland Sands Design or Lazareth or Chicara Nagata.”
Leading the way in Turkish custom motorcycle building is getting Serkan Ünverdi off to an impressive start.
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