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«Le Caffage»: Ducati 848 by Apogee Motorworks

There’s a definite formula when it comes to customizing motorcycles. After all, there are only so many ways you can change the look of a bike without resorting to extreme (and expensive) fabrication.

But there are a few builders who throw the rulebook out of the window, freely experimenting with new shapes and styles. In Europe, Fred Krugger and El Solitario spring to mind; in the US, Revival Cycles and Max Hazan frequently push the limits.

Gustavo Pena of Apogee Motoworks is another one of those pioneers. The LA-based cinematographer builds extraordinary Ducatis that look like nothing else on earth. This is his latest creation, «Le Caffage»–a 2009-spec Ducati 848 worthy of a starring role in Tron.


Gustavo set out to design a bike that looks futuristic, but has elements of neo-classic style too. «As if Ducati produced a bike in 2050 paying homage to a bike from 2030», he says.

The design elements are very deliberate, dominated by an oversized gas tank with vintage café proportions. Gustavo has also modified the trellis frame to edge it closer to traditional lines, flowing into an minimalist but comfortable saddle.

The twin exhausts–handcrafted in stainless steel–mirror the voluptuous curves of the upper bodywork. But the most attention-grabbing aspect is the headlight, an aggressively lidded design that also houses the speedo and adds an air of menace to the machine.

«A normal round drum headlight from eBay would just not cut it!» says Gustavo. Guided by the volume and silhouette of the fuel tank, he’s shaped the carbon fiber headlight to accentuate the 848’s predatory stance – «Like that of a lion, a bull, or a shark.»

Gustavo also found inspiration from his Russian girlfriend: her cheekbones suggested the delicate lines and chiseled side profile of the headlight. Eagle-eyed petrolheads will spot that the LED light unit itself is lifted from a BMW i8.


The 848 engine has been heavily upgraded with NCR parts, including titanium valves, a slipper clutch, and a full set of titanium bolts and fasteners. The pistons are from Ferracci and the titanium connecting rods are from Pankl.

Rather than hide the typical superbike radiator, Gustavo has designed carbon fiber structural intakes with the help of a composite specialist from F1. They neatly blend with the 848’s immense radiator and the imposing gas tank.

South of the radiator is more carbon fiber, this time a belly pan that shrouds the oil cooler and lower part of the engine.

Then the entire front and rear suspension was disassembled. Every single aluminum part has been polished to a jewel-quality finish, and then sprayed with a 3M sealant to keep it maintenance free.

Many other parts have been powder coated and then treated to a ceramic coating on top–including the entire trellis frame, the swingarm, rear sets and the forged Marchesini racing wheels. Both wheels are shrouded with custom carbon huggers.

And the name «Le Caffage»? It’s a neologism, a made-up word alluding to the café style, and came out of a conversation between Gustavo and a French friend.

If your appetite is whetted, you’ll be glad to know that a limited run of Apogee Ducatis has just started. The donor bikes are not only the Ducati 848, but also 1098s and Streetfighters. And each will have its own distinctive characteristics.


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1 Response

  1. Piter says:

    Great vintage motorcycle.

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