If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘GTB’, in Malaysia, stands for “Geng Tayar Besar” or Big Wheel Gang. An offshoot of the custom motorcycle scene, GTB customs take a small displacement motorcycle, usually a kapchai, and then slam on all sorts of goodies taken from a motorcycle 10 times the displacement.
This gives the GTB a rather unique look for custom motorcycles, which doesn’t doesn’t quite fall into the mainstream definition of “custom”. Typically, for the Malaysian custom bike scene, the accepted build is supposed to be a V-twin of some sort, coupled with either baroque styling in the American cruiser image, or cobbled together rat rods with exposed welding looking like it was built in a junkyard.
Rudy Norman of GTB prefers to take a somewhat different path, with his particular penchant of taking a small motorcycle and making it look “big”, almost to the point of being a caricature of itself. The nearest we could come to this, in our experience, would be the “egg plane” model kits which are, well, egg shaped renditions of the real thing, looking all kawaii (cute).
A good example is this 2021 GTB Honda RCV replica, based on the Honda RS150R supercub. Taking the RS150R as a starting point, the GTB boys put on replica bodywork and graphics in the style of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) racing motorcycles that compete in MotoGP.
It doesn’t stop, because Rudy and his crew do a whole lot of additional work to fit superbike-sized tyres and wheels, along with a single-sided swingarm taken from a Honda VFR800. Custom seat, superbike level brakes, suspension taken from the Malaysian Cub Prix race machines, the list is long and the amount of work required to integrate everything even longer.
“It is not so easy,” says Rudy, “We keep the frame untouched to avoid issues with the authorities, but just about everything else is modified, replaced and otherwise custom built to suit what a GTB bike is.” For the GTB RCV Replica, the most eye-catching piece is the single-sided swingarm, giving this particular custom a look unlike any other.
“Yeah, that one caused me many sleepless nights, trying to figure how to fit the swingarm in the frame, keep the geometry and still look good,” says Rudy. “Somehow, we did it,” he says with a grin.
Upgrade parts for GTB bikes are either bought off the shelf, or sourced second hand either locally or overseas. Rudy acknowledges this can be the most time consuming part of the build, especially when the part the customer desires doesn’t quite fit.
“We build the bike to order, depending on what the customer wants and what the budget is. A build can typically range from RM10,000 to RM50,000, the sky is the limit,” Rudy laughs.
In this particular case, the GTB RCV Replica is fitted not only with a single-sided swing, but actual race bike level rubber, along with fully adjustable suspension. We were invited to take the replica around the Aylezo track nd see what it felt like.
“Yeah, sure, take it out on the track. Azlan Shah (Kamaruzaman, Malaysian racer and Asian Road Racing Champion 2019) took it out on the weekend for fun,” said Rudy. We did so, and after a couple of laps, became very aware riding the GTB RCV replica was almost unlike anything we had ridden before.
The physical size of a RS150R, steering effort was at supertanker levels, the amount of rubber on the road making a very firm hand at the handlebars very necessary. Couple with the fact that this was a customer bike and due to be delivered soon, we hesitated to find the limits of the replica’s handling, coming in after a couple of laps and telling Rudy this one would take some time to get used to.
In all, the GTB RCV Replica is perhaps a very good example of Malaysian ingenuity and talent when it come to the world of custom builds. Rudy wraps up the session by saying, “we will continue to build bikes for those who have the will and the dream, and hope for more support from the public and the authorities. Custom building is not about just making a motorcycle that is different, it is about the interest and passion.”
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