After building a reputation for producing some of the neatest customised boxer twins in the world, Kevils are branching out. One of the new builds has three wheels...
Purveyor of Kevils Speedshop
Kevin Hill, purveyor of Kevils Speedshop in Paignton, Devon has earned an enviable reputation for knocking out customised BMWs. Well, knocking out isn’t fair but he has been producing a fresh fully-customised Boxer twin on average every three to four weeks. And all are immaculately prepared, all individually styled.
The obvious common theme is the donor bike but high levels of workmanship, finish and ingenuity are also astonishingly consistent.
Perhaps because of the high volume of work he seems at ease developing new ideas. Maya Angelou’s famous mantra, ‘You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have,’ never seemed more apt. But what’s really thrown us is that
Kev has suddenly embraced other machines. “For quite a while now we’ve had customers enquiring if Kevils build custom bikes other than BMWs. So we’ve taken the opportunity to broaden our customer base by creating a limited number of smaller capacity, affordable custom motorcycles branded as ‘Kevils Moto’, all numbered rather than named.”
The fact is that interest in BMW boxer twin customs is starting to wane and donor bike prices are rising. So Moto #1 came along at the right time – Kev picked up the Suzuki TU250 single at his local MoT station: “We realized we could quickly improve the aesthetics of these bikes and when it sold straight away I decided to do more.”
The cute Honda CG125 cafe racer formed Moto #2 and was on display inside the door of The Bike Shed in Shoreditch – but not for long. “Every one loved it so I wasn’t surprised when it sold quite quickly. I’m getting a lot of inquiries from kids in London who want to learn on something cool. We’ve now got a full time plinth to sell from in The Bike Shed café, which is good as I can direct my London customers in to check out my work, saving them a trudge to Devon.”
Moto #3 is based on a 2004 Honda CBF250: “This 22bhp single is a cracking little motorcycle for new bikers or people who want a cheap town motorcycle. And they are even better customized.
“We’ve made this not so cool-looking, bullet-proof machine very cool,” he said. Kev has no plans to stray into customizing some of the more popular retro bikes though. “We’re so involved with BMWs I feel that getting into Triumphs and Harleys is too much for us. We’d rather build simple Japanese customs.”
What’s even more interesting is Kevils’ make over on a Ural sidecar outfit. Okay, it’s a boxer twin – but not Kevils’ standard fare. It’s based on a 2007 model 750cc Ural Tourist combination.
“Andrew, the CEO of a international property investment company, has a holiday home in Lyme Regis,” said Kevin. “He phoned me inquiring whether we would be interested in ‘cooling up’ his Ural – the holiday home to beach transport he uses for weekends
with his two young children hunting for fossils.
“My first question was do ‘you actually like this quirky machine?’
His answer was, ‘um yes, I think so.’ I said if he had the money we could polish the turd, and even roll it in glitter if his budget extended to that. You can realize that we hit it off straightaway!
“When the Ural arrived there was lots of head scratching. It was navy blue, scruffy, with lots of rusting chrome – really drab-looking but functional. Mechanically she was fine so we didn’t have to worry on that score and could just focus on making it cosmetically appealing. “Andrew’s kids are growing up fast so he wanted the sidecar to be made into a twoseater which meant us moving the main seat forward, cutting out the bulkhead and making a second seat in the boot like a dickie seat.”
Kevils powder coated and leather trimmed the Ural in the same colourways as Moto #3 as Kev liked the contrast. “The rest of the bike was put on a diet, getting rid of those chunky lights and fenders. Removing the ugly was a challenge but we had a gas tank from a Jawa we had on the shelf for a future project – I’m always picking up tanks from autojumbles, saying it’ll come in useful.”
So there it is: three motorcycles and a really neat outfit, the like of which none of us ever thought we’d see coming out of the Kevils Speedshop but are so glad we did.
If you are a fan of the boxer twin, do not fear. Normal Kevils service resumes on pages 137 with a couple of their BMWs we shot during the MCN London show.