Rough Crafts Urban Half-Mile
Words: Gary Inman
Photos: R Star Photo
If a motorcycle manufacturer is looking to create a show bike from a current model, a customised neckbreaker to spice up a show stand, or social media honeytrap to hook prospective buyers with the potential of their latest showroom model, there are is a very short list of companies anywhere in the world to consider, and Taiwan’s Rough Crafts is just about the safest pair of hands they could contract.
Run by Winston Yeh, Rough Crafts have been building customs that are often understated, but always extraordinarily detailed for over ten years. Their machines tour the globe, from international launch event to show to show. Yamaha, Royal Enfield, MV Agusta and BMW have all contracted the Taipei-based firm to build bikes, these high-profile customers on top of the private client bikes, often Harleys and Ducatis, that Rough Crafts have built in the last decade.
Joining the list of companies to get in the sack with Rough Crafts is Thai suspension firm YSS. ‘When Honda launched the CRF300L back at 2020, its light weight, affordable, fun nature, made a huge impact in Taiwan and many other South Asian countries,’ says the onomatopoeic Yeh. ‘YSS Suspension saw an opportunity and made it a priority target model, putting out many options of suspension kits for it to become either a fun enduro machine or supermoto.’
Rough Crafts had a different idea for their CRF300. ‘I chose to go street tracker,’ says Yeh. ‘I think it's pretty obvious that I'm obsessed with the style. It has appeared so many times in our builds and sometimes even when the build itself is not really that particular style, I’ll still have some tracker influences in some ways. Growing up in a tight city full of bikes and scooters, and with the Japanese custom ‘Street Bikers’ culture to start with, it’s very hard not to be in love with these types of builds, that are nimble through traffic, have an upright riding position, and nice, flat handlebars.’
So, the 2020 trail bike got the DTX treatment. Rough Crafts fitted YSS KG308S conventional style, right-way-up forks in their own triple clamps, and a shorter than standard YSS G-Racing monoshock with new linkage arms, to lower the rear more.
Back in 2005, Roland Sands gave Winston a work experience opportunity, when he was studying at the world famous Arts Centre at Pasadena, and Rough Crafts often use RSD parts on their builds. This time it’s 19in Traction front and Hammer rear dirt track wheels, fitted with Dunlop DT3 race rubber. Braking has had a serious upgrade thanks to Rough Crafts go to Beringer set-up, and Neken Jared Mees bars are held in Rough Crafts clamps.
It was important to keep the bike street legal, so the standard headlight and surround are retained, but moved closer to the headstock with custom brackets. The engine is stock with the addition of an SC Project/ Rough Crafts titanium exhaust. Rough Crafts X Koso ION LED lights, Rough Crafts rear sprocket and filler cap, re-upholstered seat, RK Takagaso chain, 2 Loud tail tidy and an MTR Custom wrap finish it off. Winston is the designer, the visualiser and project manager of all Rough Crafts custom builds, but doesn't get his hands on the lathe or mill controls, relying on Taiwan's huge, specialist machining industry, one that has made them the leading builders of high-end bicycles. Rough Crafts worked with Faber Studio to handle the final assembly.
The Urban Half-Mile is far from Rough Crafts most radical build, but that was never the aim. It was built to be a master of the gridlock point 'n' squirt, a contender for every green light holeshot. The only problem with being that good looking is there isn't a lock strong enough that could keep it secure on the streets of 21st century London.