RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

All images by the talented Vuri Matija Photography

Retro Bikes Croatia (RBC) is a small but talented custom workshop of bike builders based in Zagreb, Croatia, specialising in retro 60s, 70s and 80s European and Japanese machines. Despite working to limited budgets and resources, their builds take the challenge to even the most established custom builders and it's still a shock that they're still flying so far under the radar... we've admired their builds for some time.

Their latest creation, the Yamaha SR250 based Kokon, shows that small doesn't have to mean boring. Modified to be as light as possible with a retro, vintage design, the lightweight commuter bike has been turned into an enduro/scrambler dream machine that could easily tackle some lightweight rough and city smooth. And the name? Kokon means ancient and modern in Japanese, which sums up the bike perfectly.

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes CroatiaRBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

Surprisingly, the 20hp Yamaha SR250 which is a popular build base in the USA, UK and Japan, is incredibly rare in Croatia, as Zeljko of RBC explains;

"They say that the SR is a legendary model, that all the major customizers built at least one... They say that SR has a cult of followers in Japan... I'm not sure, maybe 400 or 500cc versions, but they all are an exotic breed here in Croatia.

"People here have the tendency to buy bikes as big as they get, if they cannot afford a 750cc at least, they buy a Burgman.. No small bike culture here but hopefully that will change in the future.

"So, when this stock 1997 SR250 appeared for sale, with 9000kms on the clock, ugly green paint scheme and a rusty gas tank, we didn't think twice."

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

Work began by making the SR250 as visually light as possible; the rear subframe was looped and a custom leather seat made and fitted so that it fits as tight to the frame as possible for a factory finished look, the airbox and battery box were junked for a cleaner look, and the new lightweight and incredibly small Li-ion battery is now located under the swingarm.

To make it even more retro, RBC wanted to fit a kickstart...

"This model wasn't equipped with a kickstart, although it is possible to install it,  we found the original parts too expensive and no used alternative was on the market at the moment, so it's electric start only as it left the factory."

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia
RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

The rusted fuel tank was skillfully restored to as new condition, a testament to the skill of the RBC crew, and the carburetor overhauled and rejjetted so that the bike now runs as smooth as a kitten.

One thing the SR250 can never be accused of having is fantastic suspension, so RBC gave the front-end a thorough upgrade with progressive springs at the front and YSS forks at the rear. It may not make it a weapon off-road, but the bike will be able to handle the potted and rutted city streets with ease.

One of the best things about the Kokon is the finish and attention to detail (such as detabbing and removal of anything not required), that is again a testament to RBC...

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia
RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

"New spokes were installed onto freshly powdercoated satin black hubs and rims with a pair of Heidenaus to match the overall appearance, and the front caliper was overhauled, with new pads and brake shoes and a steelbraided hose in front.

"We installed chrome mudguards and positioned the front one high, like on old enduro models, so the bike has a completely different vibe now, compared to stock. The rear end is raised to match the new stance."

An obligitory LSL headlight was installed, with a clear glass and black finish, complete wth TRW low black bars, a new alu dash/plate and a small speedo with integrated idiot lights, and Biltwell Kung fu grips.   

Also, new mini led blinkers with a suitable relay were installed, they look great and they are extremely visible despite their size.

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

RBC Kokon by Retro Bikes Croatia

To finish off the 1970s retro feel, which we love, the tank was painted in a semi-gloss brown and it sits perfectly with the satin or matte black on the rest of the bike.

"I named the bike Kokon because the word in Japanese is translated as an ancient and modern, which I think suites the bike; it is relatively new but we think we gave it that retro, oldschool vibe...

"All in all, we are very pleased with the end result, and we hope builds like this would inspire people here to start riding smaller bikes rather than scooters. We're convinced that this is the perfect size for a city crowd, with a non demanding base, low consumption and cheap insurance. Never the less, it has 20HP, you can have a blast riding it; we sure did!"

For a company with a limited budget and resources, RBC's Kokon is the perfect display of craftsmanship. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

The bike is for sale now, visit RBC for details retro-bikes.com

All images by the talented Vuri Matija Photography

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