Flicking through photos of the recent Bike Shed custom motorcycle show, one bike in particular caught our eye; the PiperMoto J Series. On the outside, it looks like a scooter, albeit a rather stylish one. But pop the hood, and you’ll discover a KTM 690 Duke engine hosted in a bespoke chromoly chassis.
PiperMoto’s founder, John Piper, calls it a “super scooter.” Maxi-scooters are nothing new—but the J Series’ high-end aesthetic, 67 hp motor, and wild engineering put it in a class of its own. Which is not surprising, given John’s pedigree.
An engineer and designer, John’s portfolio includes F1, Le Mans and World Rally Championship cars, plus numerous prototypes and concepts. He designed the gearbox for Nigel Mansell’s 1985 Williams FW10, the Foggy Petronas FP1 World Superbike motorcycle, and the vehicle that currently holds the diesel-powered World Land Speed record.
John formed PiperMoto a decade ago—drawing on his experience to build motorcycles that combine precision engineering with a hand-built feel. And that’s exactly what the J Series is. Sticking a big engine into a scoot is one thing, but this is a ground-up machine that also happens to look impossibly stylish.
At the core of the J Series scooter sits a TIG-welded chromoly space frame; a work of art on its own. The KTM 690 mill is housed toward the back of the bike, tucked into a life-sized Meccano set that links up the custom rear suspension system. Offering 120 mm of progressive travel, it features an ExeTC remote reservoir shock, hooked up to a custom swingarm via a push rod and rocker.
The front suspension is slightly more traditional, utilizing a set of KTM upside-down forks with 150 mm of travel. 17” laced wheels sit at both ends, wrapped in Bridgestone Battlax BT090 tires. The brakes come from Brembo, with a four-piston caliper grabbing a 320 mm disc up front, and a single-piston floating caliper biting down on a 240 mm disc at the back.
Accompanying the KTM LC4 engine is an assortment of tasty upgrades. It inhales via a generous pod filter and exhales via a stainless steel exhaust system. The exhaust terminates in a box muffler that blends seamlessly with the bodywork, and even includes a catalytic converter.
Other features include a semi-dry sump with twin Eaton oil pumps, and a pair of aluminum core radiators with electric thermostatically controlled fans. Fuel is held in a 14 liter [3.7 gal] reservoir that sits in front of the engine, with an internal fuel pump. And the six-speed transmission shifts gears via an electronic system, triggered by paddles on the switchgear.
And then there’s the J Series’ elegant bodywork. Made from a woven carbon composite material, and finished with well-judged chrome touches, it has a premium OEM feel. Where most scooters are utilitarian and basic, the J Series makes a statement.
To create it, the PiperMoto team started by building a wooden armature to work around. Next, they perfected the riding position and ergonomics. Pieces of cardboard were laid over the structure next, then the final form was shaped out of clay.
The final design is incredibly cohesive, showing ridiculous levels of consideration. The scooter sports twin storage compartments in the front fairing, both lockable, while the rear shell flips up to offer access to the engine and rear suspension. It’s finished in a jaw-dropping blue paint job, with split saddles that recall vintage Vespa and Lambretta designs.
Twin Smiths gauges sit in the cockpit, alongside a mix of beautiful CNC-machined details and more OEM-style trim. The mirrors, turn signals, headlight, and taillight all feel like factory items, as does the rear license plate bracket. Packaged neatly under the bodywork are a maintenance-free gel-type battery, and a military-grade wiring loom.
If you like geeking out over numbers, the J Series scoot has a 1,500 mm wheelbase, a 52-degree lean angle, and a dry weight of 160 kilos [353 lbs], with a 50-50 weight distribution. It can do zero to sixty in four seconds, with a top speed of 120 mph.
If that piques your interest, the good news is that the J Series is not a one-off. PiperMoto will build these to order, with several personalization options to suit potential customers.
Maxi-scooters are typically sporty, angular affairs. But what PiperMoto has created, is a high-performing custom KTM scooter, with a timeless look that straddles the line between retro and modern. More of this, please.