Custom: KTM Bob Racer

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Sven Etzelsberger is not your average garage builder. The soft spoken automotive designer works at Fisker and also has a background in metal working. Rather than spending $15,000 on a GS for his next bike, he decided to take that money and build something special; this single-cylinder KTM bobber.

NSFW: boobs and wheelies after the jump.

Photos: Sean Smith

“In my normal work, I typically don’t fabricate anything with my hands. I design it. I engineer it. So it was actually nice having a garage project where I create something with my hands and put it into place, where typically, I only design.”

Sven’s Bob Racer is crafted from a 2007 KTM 690 Supermoto. “It had to remain rideable; it had to be fast. That’s why I decided to go with a KTM. I wanted to build something unique, something that no one had done before so I didn’t want a v-twin in it. Everyone builds a custom bike with a v-twin in it. Everyone. I almost started with a 990 KTM as a base or a Ducati two-cylinder, which would be nice as well, but then it would have been a much heavier bike again and I thought keeping the weight low and making it really easily maneuverable and nimble would really enhance the fun of riding it. So I went with a single cylinder, smaller engine.”

Even though it looks radically different, much of the original bike is still there; the motor, frame and swingarm are unchanged. Exhaust is from Zard: “The exhaust system is an Italian Zard system that they made for the 690 Supermoto. It was just visually a perfect fit to the bike, it was a really lucky find.”

The lighting and seat are from eBay, Forks are cut down about 8 inches and the shock was shortened to match. “It’s a little bit on the hard side, so you don’t want to go over too bad roads, but it’s still got enough suspension to have fun and not shake your fillings out.”

Stock hubs are laced to 18″ rear and 21″ front wheels and wrapped in sticky Conti Attack rubber. All non-essential parts were stripped from the bike before the new subframe and tank were added.

“I had to learn how to weld aluminum; I’ve never welded aluminum before. It was my personal challenge because at first I thought: ‘I’m gonna make it out of steel, ’cause I know how to work with steel,’ but I thought ‘I need some challenge’ so it was going to be welding the aluminum.”

Photo: Sven Etzelsberger

Underneath the pretty lady is an 18g steel tank. “I did not fabricate that myself, but I made the form out of it out of a big piece of Styrofoam, cut it with a knife, bondo’d it and sanded it to shape and then gave it to a metal fabricator who then made the fuel tank for me.”

Rather than sending his custom tank to a painter, Sven had it chromed. “It’s a special chroming process. Chrome always consists of first copper, then nickel and then chrome. And the chrome layer is really thin, so in this case, before the chrome layer was put on, part of the bodywork was bead blasted to give it a frosted appearance and the stripes and the graphics were taped off.”

A 690cc motor was the only excuse needed to put a big, chrome ’69′ on either side of the tank.

“Getting the prowess of a cafe racer; getting a light, nimble, fast bike; but then also still getting the style of a bobber” was Sven’s intention.

“I always liked the single seat with the springs. I like the wrapped exhaust. It’s got this attitude going. It’s not all just purpose, it’s also got some attitude. But then it’s also got the performance of a cafe racer. That combination is what drew me to it.”

  • Glenngineer

    Balling strong right here.

  • stickfigure

    Really quite pretty. But it looks like you can be at most 5’4″ to comfortably ride it.

    • Sean Smith

      Nah, Sven is probably 5’10″ and he does just fine. It’s not as comfy as something that has suspension travel, but he’s perfectly happy with it.

      • Thom

        Just fine ??

        Hell he’s practically swallowing his knees he’s so cramped up on the thing .

        Doesn’t take anything away from the design , thats fine. But comfy would not be a word I’d ever use to describe riding a Bike like this .

        More Spanish Inquisition torture device that looks really cool

  • Emmet

    damn, he really cut down those forks!

  • Vincent

    ( . Y . )

    • Taco


  • george

    yeah, the front forks look to have maybe 2inches of wheel movement !? real comfortable…

  • M

    i don’t think real comfortable is the raison d’être for this bike…

  • Corey

    I think she’s left-handed.

    • Prof. Mudflap

      I think you might have typed that left handed…

      • boxofbits


      • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]


  • Dumptruckfoxtrot

    Nice, I like it.

    This is off topic but is Grant a part of this publication any longer?


      I was wondering about that, too.

    • Sean Smith

      lol, he is, he just doesn’t write stuff or take photos very much.

    • Grant Ray

      Never mind the little man behind the green curtain pulling all the funny levers.

      • insomnia

        Doin’ a great job Grant–keep up the good work

      • Xenophya

        Why have a dog and bark yourself eh?

  • 2ndderivative

    Obligatory “what bike?”

  • KR Tong

    I bet it runs on spätzles. Glass/cork overflow is perfect and that subframe is genius. And great tits!

  • nymoto

    That bike fucking rules – and so does she!

  • goodcat8

    What headlight is that?!

    • guest

      Just a 7″ inch bulb with a projector lens and LED Halo’s. Was an EBay find

      • miles

        What about the headlight mounts? I’ve got a 690 SM that needs a nose job / new headlight.

  • RT Moto

    I like it a lot. The black spoked wheels really get at me. They help bring out the rest of the bike. Overall really sick. Great article Sean.

  • guest

    5’10″?….thank you very much Sean…unfortunately I’m only 5’8″…)
    I understand all the doubts about the 2″ of suspension travel….I had them too when I was building the bike. The truth is though….2″ is definitely adequate for everyday riding. I bet the suspension is faster than 90% of the riders on public roads :)

  • Charlie

    Well done. Turn signals from a /2?

  • Scott-jay

    Nice, nice work.
    Bike in-hand, plus $15k to make it shine?
    2-in quality suspension set-up > 4-in old OEM bits crapped out or mis-fit (like my bikes).

    • Sean Smith

      Nope, a $15k budget for the whole project, including the cost of the bike.

  • Thom

    Nice Bike

    Nice rack as well

    Good to see something productive coming from the Smoke & Mirrors folks at FISKER seeing as how the only thing we’ve ( US Tax Payers ) gotten for or money so far has been a bunch of Broken Promises , enough B.S. to fertilize half of Texas and a lot of pretentious Four Wheeled Fantasies pretending to be Production Ready !

    FYI – if you wanna know why I’m so down on E/V’s of any sort , just have a look at the amount of money we’ve dumped into the likes of FISKER and TESLA etc , compared to what we’ve ( again US Tax Payers ) gotten in return ( Bupkiss ) and my attitude will be well explained .

    • Gene

      This is the first I’ve heard of US taxpayers dumping anything into Tesla, other than the usual business incentives. Care to elucidate?

      But yeah, battery technology sucks, and isn’t getting better any time soon. People think because we can double computer power every 18 months that we can do it with other things too.

    • John

      Thom: Whut do you kids think yer doin?!
      Fisker/Telsa: Just building cars mister.
      Thom: Yeah, I betcha you are! And with my tax dollars too!
      Fisker/Telsa: Eh, yeah, we took some government backed loans, its pretty common for govenernments to make investments in burgeoning tech fields.
      Thom: GET OFF MAH LAWN!!!

      • Wes Siler


  • DoctorNine

    Absolutely gorgeous. People don’t appreciate how excellent thumpers are around town. All that torque low down, and the exhaust note… ahh, yeah…

    Incidentally, is that Liv Tyler, or just a strong resemblance?

  • dan

    What’s the deal with that headlight? Custom? I am thinking of something like that for a bike.

    • Sean Smith

      No-name, dirt cheap ebay special.

  • John


    Thanks for the NSFW warning regarding the boobies and wheelies. The girls that work in my office get really offended if they see me looking at wheelies on the companies dime.

    • Jesse

      Both get a lot of dirty looks from “proper society” when you suddenly display them on the main drag through town.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

    Awesome! Being partial to KTM’s LC4, I concur that the 690 SM was an excellent (and unique) choice for a donor, especially because the 2007 model SM is quite possibly the ugliest KTM ever made.

    BTW, the point about the “69″ graphic being a callout for the 690 cc engine? It’s actually a 654 cc displacement.

    • Bronson

      Woo Woo. KTM FTW!

      [525 SMR]

  • scottydigital

    because we can………

    Is there any other explanation needed for the existence of this bike? It makes no sense at all, but somehow makes complete sense……

    My Yoda for the day, haha