Shiro Nakajima's 46 Works Crafting the Ultimate KTM 690 Duke Cafe Racer-3.jpg

Shiro Nakajima’s 46 Works

Shiro Nakajima, a master craftsman with unparalleled fabrication skills, recently unveiled his latest creation at the 2023 Mooneyes Yokohama Show – a stunning KTM 690 Duke cafe racer. This bike is not just a showpiece; it’s also Nakajima’s personal ride, realizing a dream he’s harbored since the early 1990s.

Nakajima’s journey in the world of motorcycle customization traces back to the 1990s with his first bike, a Yamaha SR400. While he later shifted to larger European bikes, his affection for nimble single-cylinder motorcycles endured. His choice for this project, the KTM 690 Duke, was driven by his admiration for its powerful LC4 engine, which he had previously tested.

At 46 Works, Nakajima’s custom bike shop, he has crafted the KTM 690 Duke cafe racer with a keen eye for both function and form. He deliberately preserved the bike’s original ride height and suspension stroke to maintain its flexible handling characteristics, proving his focus on performance and rideability.


Custom Motorcycle Design

Nakajima’s craftsmanship shines through in the numerous components he handcrafted for the bike. The fuel tank and tail unit, meticulously aligned with the bike’s frame, demonstrate his attention to balance and aesthetics. The aluminum box under the seat is a marvel of engineering, serving dual purposes as an air box and a housing for electrical components. This detail exemplifies Nakajima’s ability to blend functionality with sleek design.

The bike also features custom-made spoked wheels, aluminum fenders, and a uniquely crafted chain guard, all testament to Nakajima’s skill and creativity. The top bridge (triple tree) he designed is particularly noteworthy. By mounting the clip-on handles on this bridge without altering the ride height, Nakajima achieved both an appealing style and a comfortable riding position. He also managed to mount the stock meter compactly, enhancing the bike’s sleek look.

KTM 690 Duke Cafe Racer

A custom mini fairing and a one-off titanium muffler, along with bespoke brackets and hardware, further distinguish the bike. The mirrors, a collaborative effort with TANAX, reflect Nakajima’s dedication to every detail and his commitment to innovative design.

Enhancing the KTM 690 Duke cafe racer are aftermarket parts from Battle Factory, KIJIMA, and Future’s Craft, along with a custom seat from Razzle Dazzle. The striking candy green paint scheme, applied by Drops Design Works, breaks away from conventional color trends, showcasing Nakajima’s willingness to defy norms and embrace uniqueness.

The key analysis of Shiro Nakajima’s KTM 690 Duke cafe racer project can be summarized across several core aspects:

  • Design Philosophy: Nakajima’s approach combines functionality with aesthetic appeal. His commitment to preserving the original ride height and suspension stroke of the KTM 690 Duke emphasizes a focus on maintaining the bike’s inherent handling characteristics. This decision underscores a design philosophy that values performance and rider experience alongside visual appeal.
  • Customization Expertise: The project showcases Nakajima’s exceptional fabrication skills. From the handcrafted fuel tank and tail unit to the aluminum box under the seat that doubles as an air box and electrical component housing, each element demonstrates his ability to blend practical engineering with artistic design. His expertise is further evident in the custom-made spoked wheels, fenders, and chain guard.
  • Ergonomic Considerations: The design of the top bridge (triple tree) for mounting clip-on handles without altering the bike’s ride height illustrates Nakajima’s attention to ergonomics. This not only maintains a comfortable riding position but also contributes to the bike’s overall style and functionality.
  • Collaborative Innovation: The development of custom mirrors in collaboration with TANAX highlights Nakajima’s inclination towards innovative solutions and partnerships. This collaboration has led to a product that complements the bike’s design while potentially offering a new accessory in the market.
  • Aesthetic Choice: The selection of a candy green paint scheme, applied by Drops Design Works, is a bold departure from conventional color trends in motorcycle design. This choice reflects Nakajima’s willingness to challenge norms and express individuality through his work.
  • Integration of Aftermarket Parts: The incorporation of aftermarket parts from Battle Factory, KIJIMA, and Future’s Craft, along with a custom seat from Razzle Dazzle, indicates Nakajima’s skill in blending custom-made components with carefully selected aftermarket products to enhance the bike’s performance and appearance.
  • Cultural and Historical Reference: The project is not just a reflection of Nakajima’s personal style and technical skill; it also pays homage to his early riding experiences and the broader history of motorcycle racing and culture in Japan.

Motorcycle Fabrication Skills

The impact of Shiro Nakajima’s KTM 690 Duke cafe racer on the custom motorcycle enthusiast community can be quite significant, considering various aspects:

  • Inspiration and Innovation: Nakajima’s project serves as a source of inspiration for both aspiring and seasoned custom builders. His innovative approach to blending traditional cafe racer aesthetics with modern motorcycle technology showcases the possibilities within custom motorcycle design. This can encourage enthusiasts to experiment with new ideas and techniques in their own projects.
  • Focus on Functionality: By emphasizing the preservation of ride height and suspension stroke, Nakajima highlights the importance of balancing aesthetic modifications with functional integrity. This approach can influence enthusiasts to consider how modifications impact the overall riding experience, leading to builds that are not just visually appealing but also practical and enjoyable to ride.
  • Craftsmanship and Skill Development: Nakajima’s high level of craftsmanship, especially in fabricating custom components, sets a benchmark for quality in the custom motorcycle community. It can motivate enthusiasts to develop their own skills in metalworking, design, and engineering, raising the overall standard of custom motorcycles.
  • Collaborative Opportunities: The project demonstrates the benefits of collaboration, as seen in Nakajima’s partnership with TANAX for the mirrors. This aspect can encourage enthusiasts and professionals in the custom motorcycle industry to seek out collaborative opportunities, leading to innovative products and solutions.
  • Aesthetic Trends: Nakajima’s bold choice of the candy green color scheme challenges the prevailing color trends in motorcycle design. This can influence enthusiasts to explore more daring and unconventional color palettes and designs, expanding the diversity of styles within the custom motorcycle scene.
  • Historical and Cultural Appreciation: Nakajima’s work, which pays homage to his early riding experiences and the history of motorcycle racing in Japan, can deepen enthusiasts’ appreciation for the cultural and historical aspects of motorcycle design. This understanding can enrich the custom motorcycle community, fostering builds that not only look forward but also acknowledge the past.
  • Market Impact: The success and visibility of Nakajima’s project could potentially influence motorcycle manufacturers and aftermarket companies. They might take cues from the preferences and trends popular in the custom bike community, leading to more diverse and customizable production models.

Cafe Racer Modifications

Shiro Nakajima’s KTM 690 Duke cafe racer project is likely to have a profound impact on the custom motorcycle enthusiast community. It sets new standards in design, functionality, and craftsmanship, while also encouraging innovation, skill development, and a deeper appreciation of motorcycle culture and history.

The cafe racer project stands out as a prime example of how technical engineering, thoughtful design, and personal passion can converge to create a unique and highly functional custom motorcycle.

In sum, Shiro Nakajima’s KTM 690 Duke cafe racer is a masterful blend of performance, functionality, and design. It stands as a testament to his expertise as a builder and his visionary approach to motorcycle design, affirming his status as a leading figure in the world of custom motorcycles.


Interview with Founder and CEO and Cake

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