I will never forget that intoxicated rainy afternoon at Balaton Upland, when we were trying to name a bike, which was still in Sapka’s Workshop. All we knew, it will be a street legal race bike without compromises. The owner, Kristof, was so inspired by vintage race bikes, he asked Sapka to build a bike, what is smooth as a snake, and brutal as a crocodile.
Exactly, like a real fighter from the past. So we simply started to call him Der Katapult.
The owner, Kristof Banati is a motorcycle enthusiast and a lawyer, the youngest from one of the most respected lawyer family in Hungary. His family was against of their younger son’s motorbike enthusiasm, after his brother had a bad accident. They called it “madness”.
The enthusiasm is peculiar, because nobody in the family was interested in motorbikes before them, so it was not easy and easy thing to the family to accept. Kristof was nineteen, when he secretly bought a Gilera Runner 180, than he rebuilt as a supermoto.
One week before his bar exam the nightmare happened. He rode a KTM Duke on a mountain road near to Budapest, and crashed. He lost his memory, the exam slipped, and the parents were in shock. After few years he returned to bikes. However, he only got what the family allowed him to ride, a C1 BMW scooter, which he used for many years. But dreams don’t disappear without a trace, nor do desires, so he decided to buy a big bike again.
Kristof’s heart was stolen really quickly by the waves of cool cool custom bikes, starting from as far as the seventies.
As he knew no Hungarian builders, he ordered his first custom from the UK-based Kevil Speedshop. It was a green scrambler called Sergeant, which was based on a BMW R100RS. The green bike arrived to Hungary on a trailer between two John Deere harvesters. Coincidence? Maybe not.
During the years Kristof was happy with the green scrambler. Still, from time to time a picture about a classic race bike for daily use jumped into his thoughts. Still he had no idea, how could he find someone who realizes his dreams.
The life is generous sometimes, and the Kristof’s path crossed with one of Hungary’s top bike builders, called Sapka. Their thoughts were on the same level, so it was easy to understand Kristof’s vision. In face Sapka had already planned to build something similar.
The new bike’s donor was again a BMW R100RS from 1977 – Kristof was born in 1976, and he wanted a bike with a similar age. The building phase lasted for a year and the bike was ready for the Kristof’s 40th birthday party.
Everybody who’s customized a bike knows how hard to keep focused, but these two were so possessed with old race bikes, so they didn’t lose their dreams and visions even for a minute.
– Our biggest goal was that the bike was to be built without a compromise. I told only one thing to Sapka – no problem if everything is similar to an old a race bike, but I want to use it daily. It’s the perfect bike for me, no question, even though riding it is a lot of work. The riding position is a bit extreme, but I love it as it is. It’s a unique bike, says Kristof.
– The front fairing and the mirror were causing problems, but in the end Sapka sorted everything out. The tyres were another problematic part. We weren’t able to use wider rubber because of the shaft drive, so we used a Metzeler Perfect ME11 3.25-1954 S on the front and a Metzeler Perfect ME 77 4.00-18-64H on the rear. But after all we wanted a rideable and precise bike, so it was important to fit it with high-level components, like the Brembo brakes and Öhlins suspension, Kristof says.
– Everything we used – the 320 mm disc radial Brembo front brakes, the Öhlins suspension – front fork is pulled off an Aprilia RSV Factory and the 3-way adjustable twin shocks for the rear were ordered specific to the bike. The wheels are originals, as well as the frame, says Sapka.
Because of the K&N air filter, they had to reorganize the whole engine compartment, and find a proper mounting place for the Supertrapp exhaust system. The bike’s oil cooler battery and air filter are relocated. As it’s often with custom builds, one thing leads to another and Sapka’s skills were put to a challenge.
– I planned and built and brand new subframe, and made a rear fairing 70’s race bike style aluminium. Then the tank needed reshaping, and I cut it to pieces, and designed a new shape, and welded it together. Of course this required making a new tank stay, says Sapka and continues.
– But compared to the work with the fork bridge and the valve cover it was just a picnic. After I finished with the valve cover, I counted the time spent welding and grinding, but then I realized it was a special gift to Kristof for the humility I saw in his eyes when we built the bike. The cover got a new design and some fine artwork with the silver lamella and so on…. the truth is, I’m really proud of it, describes Sapka.
Sapka and Kristof installed controls from Magura and Daytona. To improve the handling further they installed an Öhlins steering damper.
It may not be surprising, but the front fairing and mudguard are far away from their original intended use too. The former is sourced from a Honda CB, the latter from a Harley Davidson.
Kristof is using the bike mostly on hidden, twisty roads on the north side of Lake Balaton, as he loves the local nature and on every ride he can find new curvy roads. This is where the bike works perfectly, just as they planned, like an old race bike in its natural environment. Once a time the local police stopped him. They were mainly interested in the bike, because they had heard its unique sound several times the same day.
– I’m in totally love with this bike, our relationship is sensitive. After the first year of riding it I wanted some modification during the winter, with a bit more powerful engine, but in the end I realized, I’m dumb if I let to anybody modify it, because it’s perfect for the streets, for a fun ride during the weekend, so I will keep it in this condition, says Kristof.
He admits however, that der Katapult has created new dreams.
– As they say – appetite comes with eating. My plan for the future is to buy old race bikes – the bikes of my dreams – and ride on racetracks. In my opinion if you own a unique vehicle, you have to use it, not only hide it in a garage.
Engine: 2 cylinder, 4 stroke 980cc boxer, air/oil cooled, 2 valves per cylinder, Dell’Orto carburettors, K&N air filter, customisable Supertrapp silencers.
Power: approximately 80 PS at 7500 rpm.
Transmission: 5 speed
Instruments: Daytona Velona.
Frame: Steel pipe frame with a shortened rear subframe.
Front suspension: Aprilia RSV Mille Factory Öhlins USD fork with Öhlins steering damper
Rear suspension: Öhlins STX with 3-way adjustment.
Front brake: 2x Radial Brembo 320mm disc with Magura master cylinder.
Rear brake: Brembo disc brake.
Tyres: front Metzeler Perfect ME11 3.25-1954 S, rear Metzeler Perfect ME77 4.00-18-64H.
Weight 189 kg.