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Street Fighters, February 2011
March 15, 2011

For the 19th event, it was once again a wicked selection of machines that competed in the Sportbike class, consisting mainly of long, low, custom Hayabusas with turbochargers and carrying more bling than a downtown compton jewellery store. But there was something refreshingly different unveiled for the first time in 2010 and so, without further ado, this is Chris Redpath's ‘Katana

Wes Cooley', which is, we reckon, all-round sex on wheels. Agreed? Good.

Chris's original mandate was simple enough – to “Build the best Katana ever!” Readers of this magazine will be well awarded of the huge number of tricked-up Kats in existence and and thus are probably wondering if Chris had bitten off a little more than he could chew. But worry not, for even for the most cursory of glances of the spec sheet show that the level of technology on this machine is nothing short of astounding, and the pictures hereabouts should leave you in no doubt as to the finished product’s quality. Chris is the owner of MotoGP Werks in Orange, California, a business whose workshop is crammed full of the good stuff. And with good reason. He’s a Kiwi whose stellar CV bears reference to a career with the Red Bull Yamaha 500/Moto GP team until 2002, at which point he moved to japan to work for Moriwaki until, in 2004, he relocated to the US and worked for Yoshimura as an engineer. he later left Yoshimura to join Kawasaki as a crew chief for Steve Rapp (who won the Daytona 200 in 2007) and subsequently, in 2008, teamed up with chaz Davies for another triumphant Daytona 200 performance. Nuff credentials? Fair play…

So Moto GP Werks is now chris’s labout of love, and just check out some of the machines currently parked up in his workshop: one factory HRC CB750F, various TZ350s, Scott Russel’s ZX-7RR, an original 1986 Yoshimura Slabside and a factory Yoshimura GSX-R 1000, Matt Mladin’s SRAD, various turbocharged bikes, a Yoshi GS1000 and loads more. Pictures of said workshop are, as you’d expect, so intensely arousing that we actually can’t print them in a mid-shelf magazine in case the densor decides your little ticker just can’t handle it.

So Chris is obviously pretty well connected, and that may go some way towards indicating from where some of the super-rare components on this Kat have come. The engine, for example, is a pukka factory kit Gixer 750 built to full 1987 superbike specification by Yoshimura, which has been modified further since it was originally given to Chris by Don Sakakura, now President of Yoshimura R&D USA. Inside is a veritable Pandora’s box of rare go-faster parts, including a cosworth 836cc big bore kit and more Yoshimura trickery than you’d think physically possible. Externally , MotoGP Werks made up that gorgeous Yoshi-style carbon heat shield and also fabricated the titanium exhaust system and its one-off silencer.

Yes, this bike is so exotic you could pour it over ice with a variety of strong liquors and fruit juices freshly squeezed between the velvet thighs of Gujarati belly dancers, and serve it in a long, frosted glass in a Monte Carlo nightclub. Check out the front end – WP forks from a 1993 YSR500 GP500 machine gripped in Harris yokes, Brembo factory monoblock calipers, a Marchesini magnesium wheel sitting on ceramic bearings, a MotoGP-spec mini dash and a super-trick Brembo ‘Rossi’ master cylinder which wighs in at $3100. Or check out the rear, where a much-modified JMC swinging arm grips a matching Marchesini hoop and is sprung with Works performance shocks. Even the drive chain is a MotoGP-spec item, which uses Teflon washers instead of ‘O’ rings and costs over $1500…if you can get one…

And it doesn’t stop there. electrics-wise, this Katana is top drawer. that’s a full MotoGP-spec electornics set up int here, featuring all the goodies like a datalogger, front and rear wheel speed sensors, GPS, suspension potentiometer, G-meter and traction control too! However, if you’re thinking you fancy a bit of GP geekery on your bike, you should be warned that the electrics alone are worth in excess of $40,00. what price exclusivity, eh?

But despite the fact that the big Suzook now drips ain rare, unusual components, Chris has been focused in keeping it aesthetically balanced. Contrasting with super-exotic electrics and up-to-date MotoGP parts is the period look, achieved using the original Kat bodywork which has simply been tidied here and there, and now benefits from a one-off undertray, a one-off seat pad and a Harris carbon front mudguard. The resuld of amalgamating these two ears is wholly pleasing-like Photoshopping a modern bikini onto an old pic of Brigitte Bardot-and ably concluded with that sumptuous, historical, Wes-Cooley style paintjob by Buddha Paint.

It was chris’s first time attending the LA Calendar show and it seems that the presence of “Katana Wes Cooley” sent shockwaves through the event. Because, in one of those typically fairytale happy endings so beloved of Disney film makers, chris absolutely walked it, later heading home to Orange County with a first place trophy in the Sportbike category.

And a thoroughly well deserved first place it was.