Any custom motorcycle is a byproduct of the personality of its builder, and the brief they’re working with. And it took a very special mix of people, concepts and raw materials to create this oddball CZ 175.
It comes from GarageBoss, a small group of motorcycle enthusiasts based in Prague, in the Czech Republic. “Our garage is the temple of sanity in our lives, which are filled with full time jobs, families and kids,” explains team member, Jan Štádler.
Late last year, the GarageBoss crew was invited to partake in the annual Czech design exhibition, Designblok… by building a custom motorcycle to exhibit. “We could not be happier,” says Jan, “as there is nothing we are more passionate about than motorcycles … sorry ladies.”
The theme of the exhibition was recycling and up-cycling, so the team put their heads together, and came up with a pretty zany cafe racer concept.
“Some of our country’s finest qualities are being very handy craftsmen, and top notch sinkers of the best pints of lager on the globe,” says Jan. “So at one very fruitful session at the GarageBoss HQ, we came up with a brilliant idea: let’s find an old beer keg from the same period as a bike, and use it to make a streamlined fairing.”
The crew hunted high and low for a 1970s Czech-made CZ 175 ‘type 477’ as a donor, because it’s a bike they all had fond memories of riding as kids. When they found one it was just shy of being a full-on barn find, with wrecked paint and rusty wheels and chrome—which made it relatively pricey at €1,000.
“Ideas for the design started popping up like bottle caps,” says Jan. “We knew it had to be fast, or at least look fast. So we went for a streamlined design, like in the old days of [GP racer] František Šťastný, when Jawa and CZ had their spot on the podium.”
GarageBoss set about cleaning up the dirty CZ, giving the engine and carbs a tune up and replacing the exhaust with a custom-made unit. Most of the basic running gear is stock stuff that’s been refurbished, but parts like the rims, tires and chain and sprockets are all new. The guys restored the CZ’s original drum brakes too, but stiffened up the suspension.
Finding and converting a beer keg into bodywork was easier said than done though.
The keg was made from 7mm thick old Czechoslovakian aluminum, and originally used in the Pivovar Protivín brewery in the 70s. “It was a nightmare to cut,” says Jan.
After a generous amount of cutting, bending and welding, the crew manipulated the keg into a front fairing, and a complete tailpiece. A headlight was sunk into the front, with three oddly sized taillights frenched into the tail. Behind the fairing are new clip-ons and grips, with new foot controls installed lower down.
But this upcycled CZ is all about the details too. GarageBoss took the bike to the exhibition incomplete—then assembled a team of craftsmen to lay down the finishing touches over the five days of the event.
The lively hand-painted tank is the first part that catches the eye, completed by a dual-texture leather seat with matching pink stitching. But look closely, and you’ll spot engraving on the engine casings, wheel hubs and more. The fairing’s also adorned with brass pendants, and the front ‘bubble’ is actually glass, shaped using traditional methods.
We’re impressed by the craft that went into this CZ, and enamored with its light-heartedness. The exhibition organizers must have felt the magic too, because the bike took home an award.
Cheers to GarageBoss, and to letting imaginations run wild!
GarageBoss would like to thank: “Ondřej and Jakub from EggoBag, the leatherworkers; Jakub Křelina the engraver; Ondřej Stára the jeweler, Patrik Antczak the graphics guy; Jakub Paleček from EXD Airbrush, the paint magician; and Jaroslav Mádle the master glass cutter.”
“And Jan Plecháč for coming to us with the original idea of having a custom build in this event, and leaving us free to create the design concept and watch it come to life!”