Low Budget Bitsa Custom by Dolf Peeters

Dnepr DAF44 bitsa custom by Dolf Peeters

The other day I received a note from Dolf Peeters in the Netherlands. He said he's been looking at all of the custom builds on The Kneeslider and finally got the inspiration to make his own custom instead of dreaming of owning a "someday" bike. After a a little scrounging and trading he got to work and made a Uraldneprdafvwsuzukihonda, or what we might just call a "Bitsa." What's neat, is he put it together for the princely sum of 400 euro. It's no show winning beauty, but what it does show is lots of skill and determination and what happens when someone takes an idea and turns it into something he can ride, which beats every someday bike or dream ride that never gets built. Yep, he's a doer.

Dnepr DAF44 bitsa custom by Dolf Peeters

Dolf has a Russian sidecar hobby and looking over a big pile of spare parts, he figured he had just about enough to build a whole motorcycle. A friend offered him a DAF 44 (No, I didn't know what it was, either) car engine that he had lying around, and after a trade for a bottle of whiskey which Dolf says is a popular swap for local motorheads, the engine was his.

DAF 44 Car engine provides the power

Here's how Dolf describes the build:

It took two Dnepr frames to accommodate the much wider DAF crankcase and out of an old basket there came a couple of VW carbs. The mating of a Dnepr 4 speed/ no reverse box with the DAF crank was not to much of a problem since I could use the lathe of a friend of mine. In order to make the connection plate between engine and gearbox I was very busy measuring things before I took my drawing to the local tool shop that could handle the size of the aluminum lump I acquired from eBay. The marriage between engine and gearbox went well.

In order to update the frame I installed a double monoshock system by using 2 Hagons and not thinking about spring rates and stuff. The front fork legs of BMW's /5 and/6 series fit quite well in the Russian crown plates. It took only a bit of work. The front fender is BMW too. The back wheel came from the local motor salvage, it is a Suzuki GSX or whatever wheel with a home made insert to couple with the Russian shaft driveline. I just bolted the insert in the hub.

The tank came from the local motorcycle scrapyard. It is a Honda CB 900 tank or whatever. The seat is Russian. The rear mudguard is of unknown origin. The taillight is definitively Honda. Front brake is BMW ATE, Back brake is Suzuki GSX whatever. The exhaust system is made of stainless steel 45 mm pipe that came from a dairy works nearby. The tank emblem is inspired by the logo of the infamous Lilac motorcycles. The text on the tank stands for KMZ, Lievsky Motocycletny Zavod, or 'Dnepr' as they are called now. The general idea was that the bike should have rough Russian agricultural looks, and I am quite happy with the result.

The bike is now 95% ready. The engine had its first run and the brakes will be working soon! Oh; And the estimated total cost of the whole operation is now 400, - euro... If I fill her up, at current petrol prices, it might double the value of the bike!

Frame coming together

Dual shock mounts

When I looked at the photos Dolf sent me, I just smiled. I like this bike. It's another example of just getting down to the business of building something instead of talking about it. It didn't take a lot of money, just time and determination. Nice work, Dolf!

Dnepr Ural DAF VW Suzuki Honda BMW bitsa custom by Dolf Peeters

Dnepr Ural DAF VW Suzuki Honda BMW bitsa custom by Dolf Peeters


  1. Oldernowiser says

    I love seeing builds like this and particularly like the approach: “In order to update the frame I installed a double monoshock system by using 2 Hagons and not thinking about spring rates and stuff”
    I know I get caught up in “overthinking” sometimes when simple trial and error works just fine!

  2. Old Yeller says

    A true Rat-Bike if ever I saw one! Albeit the name is a little hard to pronounce – but “Bitsa” works just fine. A nice (re: challenging) ride for sure. a follow up report on how it works in the real world would be nice.

  3. SimonK says

    Probably not the first Dutch project on The Kneeslider, but certainly the cheapest.
    The engine was originally mated to a CVT that used rubber belts. A Dutch invention that´s now being used worldwide.

    Would love to hear it run. Lekker ruige fiets!

  4. GuitarSlinger says

    That much bike ….. for that little amount of money ? This guys got my ultimate respect . Here’s hoping Dolf sends KS a video once its up and running

  5. Dano says

    I have an old Waukesha Cub engine that I don’t know what to do with. It’s the same engine that was used in the original Crosley cars (1936). Two cylinder, horizontally opposed, like the one he used here.
    Now I have a clue what can be done with it. The one I have is an old military one that has a 6:1 reduction gearbox on it and it only has a rope start system (now).
    Crosley actually made a couple of motorcycles for the military that never took off. I believe Paul has had them on the site before. Notice the single side swing arm on the bike in the link.

  6. Dano says

    What I forgot to say… Dolf has demonstrated some wonderful imagination and engineering in this build.
    He is an inspiration to all of us that need a push to try something different and not be afraid.
    Obviously money wasn’t an issue and with all of the parts most of us already have some real creative units should evolve.

  7. B50 Jim says

    It isn’t beautiful, and that powder blue paint does nothing for it, but the workmanship is first-rate, and who can fault Dolf for building a good bike at rock-bottom cost? How many of us have a lot of old cast-off junk laying around, see a complete bike in the jumble and then build it? Love the idea of building an exhaust from dairy tube — those mufflers look a little scant, but that DAF engine probably isn’t very loud. I suppose the paint was what he had laying around the shop — come to think of it, that’s how Richard Petty got his color; they mixed together all the paint they had in partial cans, and out came Petty Blue. So hats off to Dolf!

  8. says

    Hi everybody! I have a smile as wide as a boxer twin! As a Kneeslider follower I always dreamt away about things I could do.And in spite of our economical crisis I deceded to do it. The as good as new tyre cost me 40 euro, the ‘silencers’ were to loud for my daily ride, a Suzuki VX 800, were 10 euro each. The spray cans came from a Dutch stuff-surplus shop that is called Action. I payed less than 1,50 euro for a can. And the bike is pale bleu ’cause the other available color for that price was orange. A color I detest. I am honoured and proud to see my bike on my favorite site!

    Kind regards,

    Dolf Peeters ( indeed: with double ‘e’)

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      Dang! Sorry about the misspelled name. I just fixed it everywhere.

  9. Stephan P says

    They are not the same, only similar in that they are both horizontally opposed two cylinder , air-cooled engines. The Citroen design was said to be inspired by a BMW motorcycle engine and it came out 10 years before the DAF. This DAF engine seems to have a distributor mounted on top, the Citroen used wasted spark ignition and therefore no distributor.

    • Ton says

      The aircooled citroen boxer engine was derived from the engine of the all aluminium Panhard car.
      The aircooled boxer engine of the BMW Isetta and 700 series was a modified engine of the BMW R67 Motorcycle engine.

      The citoen engines 650 boxer twin and 1300 fourcilinder boxer were also used for the French BFG and Moto Francaise motorcycles.

      Very nice Bitsa! Compliments.

  10. Cameron says

    I suspect for Dolf this bitsa will be the best handling, most powerful, coolest bike ever. There is something intangible about a home made bitsa. As reliable as my Honda is it never quite stirs the feelings I had on that first ride down the street on some P.O.S. I put together in the shed out back. Nothing is as thrilling as hurtling down the highway at 120km/h on something you pieced together wondering if the wheel will stay on or the engine will seize. Fun times!

  11. Hooligan says

    Not many. The DAF and the 2CV were the only ones in the last 50 years or so. The Citroen 2CV could be hustled along a bit. My father bought one when he had to give up motorbiking.
    The constant velocity gearbox originally fitted to the DAF is exactly the same principle as today’s twist and go scooters. But lugging all that weight around meant 0-60 was about a week.

  12. emti says

    I like the ” whatever ” references, The idea of I want a bike and here are some parts lets build it is great.

  13. B50 Jim says

    Dolf —

    An economic crisis is exactly the right time to assemble a Low-Euro (here in the States we would say bucks-down) project like the Bitsa. You got some great bargains on parts, paint, etc. Now that I know you had a choice of two colors, I think blue was the correct choice. I have a box full of spray cans in various colors such as school-bus yellow and tractor red that I bought for 25 cents apiece at a resale shop, and I have painted a good many items with it.

    You did indeed achieve the “rough Russian agricultural look”! The more I look at this bike, the better I like it. Any ideas on performance? — estimated cruising speed, top speed, acceleration? Did you have any trouble obtaining a vehicle title and license?

    Again — fabulous job!

    • says

      Hi Jim, Thanks for the compliments! I am blushing. The DAf 44 car was made from 66-74. The 800 cc engine was 34 hp. Torque? I dunno! Compared to the Dnepr gear box tranny ratio for solo use I guess 60 miles is a reasonable cruising speed. I prefere noise above speed. During a standing test run the thing sounded like thunder behind the mountains. a rather low compression and mild can profiles are good! It should not be much faster I guess. Considering the ltitle and license I can prove that I have got the papers for a early seventies BMW. The frame numbers and the vin plate on the steering head prove their origins. Please keep that info quiet! But since most police officers over here are younger than that, they should look at the papers in pure admirement after beining informed that they all looked like that those days. I do not knowhow that is arranged in the States. But here one has to present a bike like this at the ‘Rijksdienst voor het wegverkeer’to legalize it. But to my experience they do not understand contraptions like mine. So one has to think flex

  14. Ola says

    Cool bike!
    I even think it would look really good, only by mounting the light lower and closer to the bars, and also dropping the front five cm or so (ideally by mounting a smaller front wheel). Keep it up, Dolf, the world needs more people like you!

  15. rik strauven says

    Hi to all , maybe a bit late to reply never the less …. the Daf automobiles hat only a forward and backward gear , for you to know that they hat the same speed ,,,if you wanted :-)
    Even you guys in the states hat a boxer twin ,, caterpillar used them to start one of their dieselengines ,,, i know because i owend a BIG compressor wiht one of these engines
    grtz from Belgium