Interview with the builder of ‘La Guapísima’
Although he is a biologist by profession, what he is most passionate about are motorcycles, and more specifically those that he builds with his own hands piece by piece. We are talking about Pepo Rosell -or XTR Pepo, as you prefer to call him-, one of the most recognized and stylish Spanish bike builders. The process of creating his preparations goes from zero to complete true wonders, as he has done with ‘La Guapísima’, in English The Gorgeous, the bike of which today we tell you its story.
Equipped with Continental ContiSportAttack 4, ‘La Guapísima’ is ready to take part in the Glemseck 101 drag races in Germany. Inspired by the American Dragster motorcycles of the 70s, Pepo has told us all the secrets of this model with which he intends to sweep the tracks and the hearts of cafe-racer lovers.
How did La Guapísima come about? Can you tell us about the process of development from design to assembly in the workshop?
I have raced and been several times at the Glemseck 101 meeting in Germany, where 200 and 400 meter drag races are held. The times I have participated have been with road or circuit bikes, tall bikes with good cycle parts for circuit racing, but not specific for this discipline.
One day I decided to make a bike really for Dragster or drag racing, but I wanted it with a bit of an Old School, 70’s, hippie and psychedelic style, and that’s how the project was born. I took a chassis from a Ducati Pantah 600 that I had in the workshop and bought a Ducati 900 engine, specifically from an Elefant, an Elefant 350 swingarm, a fork from a Hyosung, a half-finished tank that I made for a Harley Davidson Sportster project that finally was not realized and a tailpiece from my MK2 project, a BMW. In addition, I also used a cupolino, a megaphone and some carburetors that I had around the workshop. Basically I took a look at all the “junk” I had and made the bike.
The premise was to make it as low as possible and long between axles to go in a straight line and not to move and not to lift from the front. It was also important to get a contained weight and enough power to be able to accelerate fast. That’s how the bike came about. It’s not just a matter of taking parts and putting them together, it’s a matter of coordinating all your parts to achieve the end goal.
Tell us a little about the preparation of this bike: engine, chassis, electronics and other parts…
Basically at the mechanical level it was disassembled, all the bearings and connecting rod bushings were changed. Intake and exhaust ducts were made, the bike was compressed a little. We lightened the flywheel with a new one that acts as a signal pickup for an electronic ignition kit consisting of a single pickup (with a triple spark system), new coils with high voltage wires and a programmable control unit with 9 preset maps.
On the other hand, we installed a Quick Shift to be able to shift without clutching. We mounted a dry clutch anti retention more solid and lighter than the original. In the power supply section we use 2 Keihin FCR 39 flat gate carburetors commanded by a quick throttle and power air filters. We made a 2 in 1 exhaust manifold of large diameter finished in a megaphone.
In the cycle part I used a Pantah chassis to which we mounted a footpeg support that makes you go completely lying on the bike, with your feet almost at the height of the rear wheel. With the swingarm and adjustable suspension we made it as low as possible and lengthened the wheelbase.
At the front we mounted a front end from a Hyosung 650 simply because it was the cheapest I could find, although we improved it internally with a good oil and stiffened it a little. We also lowered the height of the bike by raising the bottles on the seatposts as much as we could. Keep in mind that this bike runs on a 400 meter track in a straight line, we were not looking for agility in the cycle part because we are not going to turn, but rather we needed a “shooter”.
At the front it has a single disc, enough to stop the bike on a straight line with a breakaway, while saving weight, and at the rear it has a large disc (just in case). The development is very short to accelerate as hard as possible by changing gears quickly.
What was your inspiration for the design of this bike?
In the American Dragster motorcycles of the 70s.
How did you come up with the name of the bike, before or after designing it?
Well, I was with my partner at home watching the bike and it came up just like that, talking, laughing. La Guapísima is what I call my girl and we thought it was funny.
Why did you choose the ContiSportAttack 4 for La Guapísima? Have you already tried them on another bike?
I haven’t tried the ContiSportAttack4’s in racing yet, I had worked with the ContiSportAttack’s when I was building my speed bikes and I really liked their performance. When I contacted Continental Spain and explained what I needed for La Guapísima and for drag racing, because of the sizes I needed, they recommended the ContiSportAttack4. They are what I need on this occasion.
In many of your preparations, we have seen that you have chosen Continental… Do you remember some of these bikes and what Conti tires you fitted them with?
For example, on ROCKET 3 I mounted ContiSportAttack. I’m also currently using Continental on two Royal Enfield Continental 650 preps I’m doing. One of them with the ContiRoadAttack 3 for sporty road use and the other with the ContiSportAttack 4 which will be more of a track bike.
La Guapísima is planning to participate in the Glemseck 101 2022, is it the first time you go? What does it mean to go to this mythical German event? How do you face it?
Yes, we want to participate in 2022 since this year in which we were “registered” was suspended by the Pandemic.
I have been twice, the first in 2012 when I raced a 900 SS, and the second in 2018, which was suspended due to rain when we were already at the starting line to do our task, we had to go home without racing! This time I was riding with Pata Negra, a Monster 100 ie, and as a rider I had an Italian rider who races in the Italian Dragster championship. Her name is Benedetta and she will also be our rider for the next races.
With the bike we have created, the technical preparation, the training and the rider, I think we have very good prospects for the race.
What do you highlight about the performance of Continental tires?
Above all, they are very reliable, they are very noble, they don’t scare you and they give a lot of information. They are also durable, I have used them in endurance races.
Do you already have a new project in mind, could you tell us something about it?
As far as making motorcycles, as I said before, I’m finishing two Royal Enfields. I’m also going to make a Ducati for a foreign customer, very technical with low weight and a boosted engine, he wants to use it at the Nurburgring!
As my own project I am collecting parts to make a single cylinder, a bike like the ones that raced in the Sound Of Singles category in the 90s. High performance single cylinders with very light cycle parts. On the subject of events and shows, I want to tour the Guapísima to shows and races around Europe and get it ready to race at the Glemseck 101 in September 2022. I’m talking with my driver to sign up for some races in the Italian Dragster championship. In the end everything will depend on budgets and sponsorships, the usual in this world.