K&N Account Manager Nick O’Kane Built a New Bike to Replace the One That Got Away
Not everyone can be lucky enough to make it as professional artists, sports figures, or racers. Instead we work a real job to pay the bills and fulfill our other aspirations on the weekends or evenings after clocking out. In the case of K&N National Account Manager Nick O’Kane, working for K&N Filters allows him the opportunity to live in the realm of fast cars and hot bikes while still having his feet planted in the real world.
Nick O’Kane joined K&N in 1997 as the UK Sales Manager based in the K&N office near Manchester, England and later relocated to the Netherlands as the International Sales Manager. In 2006, Nick relocated to K&N headquarters in Riverside, California and spent 8 years representing K&N in the powersports industry before transitioning into his current role as a National Accounts Manager for the automotive side of K&N’s business.
In 2014 Nick acquired the platform for a café racer build in the form of a salvaged motorcycle from the nearby shop of Motopia Cycles. Nick described that 2002 Suzuki TL1000R as a “smashed up dog” when he acquired the crashed bike for a mere $800. Removing the Superbike’s damaged fairings and bent sub-frame revealed a bike with just the right lines to serve as the starting point for a café racer build.
Following a complete teardown, custom paint, and many one-off fabricated components Nick’s 2002 Suzuki TL1000R was reincarnated as a beautiful café racer blending modern technology with styling cues from the past. Though a Suzuki V-Twin superbike is an unusual choice over a classic British parallel-twin for a café racer build, the TL’s excellent presentation was able to please custom bike lovers and even café racer purists.
After Nick completed his 2002 Suzuki TL1000R café racer he decided to enter it into the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show at the 2014 Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, California. Nick’s bike garnered quite a bit of attention at the Bike Show, and even an offer to buy the bike. Taken by surprise, he was quick to accept the offer. However, almost as soon as the bike left his possession, Nick looked back and missed the TL.
With as much as Nick enjoyed his first TL1000 Café Racer, and having the formula nearly down to a science, he immediately began searching for another blank canvas for his TL1000R build, version 2.0. Prior to building the TL Café Racer, Nick transformed a wrecked Triumph Speed Triple into a one of a kind street fighter as his personal ride. Nick’s goal for the second iteration of the Suzuki TL would be aimed at building his wife Anja a custom ride.
The key difference for Nick’s second Suzuki TL1000 build is the inclusion of a half fairing inspired by the Ducati 900SS Super Sport Desmo of the 1970’s. The Suzuki TL1000R super bike has more in common with the 90-degree V-Twin powered Ducati than it does with a British parallel twin and makes for an excellent tribute to the Italian-made Ducati. Nick also retained a front fender for his second TL build as it kept with the vintage racer theme.
Nick mounted small LED driving lights to the TL’s lower radiator to avoid upsetting the sleek lines of the vintage racer half-fairing and maintain a minimalist look. Another change made for the second TL build was the use of Continental ContiRaceAttack Rain tires. Granted Nick is a native of Liverpool, England and is no stranger to rain, but Nick chose the rain tires simply for their interesting tread pattern.
Additionally, Nick’s first TL build used a stock replacement K&N air filter, number SU-0015 and K&N Wrench-Off oil filter KN-138. TL1000R build V2.0 takes K&N performance filters to the next level by completely eliminating the stock Suzuki airbox and replacing it with clamp on K&N air filters. Nick also took the time to replace the large factory battery cover, normally hidden by the factory lower fairings, with a custom machined and K&N engraved version.
Outside of those changes, Nick’s second TL1000R build is identical to the first TL he built in 2014. Despite the fact that little was changed, the second bike earned higher praise when entered into the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show at the 2015 Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, California. This time Nick not only returned with the fruits of his labor, but a plaque for winning the Modified Custom Class.
Nick is quick to admit that this project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of friends and key industry partners such as: K&N air filters, Roland Sands Design, Dynojet, MotoGP Werks, EBC Brakes, PSR USA, VooDoo Moto, Hyper-Pro, Goodridge and Continental tires. Currently Nick’s Suzuki TL vintage racer is sitting on display in the K&N international headquarters’ lobby. But Nick and his wife Anja are sure to be spotted riding their custom motorcycles through the local canyons when the riding season comes this spring.