It’s Honda Tracker-time again. The more we see these simple 80s and 90s Honda singles stripped down for dual-purpose duties the more we love them. This one is based around a 1987 Honda XL 600R, many of which were re-built into the original Supermotos, which you cold see buzzing around Paris in the late 1990s, but we think they’re much cooler in this modern retro trim. For a second build it’s very accomplished, so hats off to Casper. Here’s his story.
“My name is Øyvind Caspersen, often known by Casper… Soon to be 38 years young, and live in Oslo, Norway. I work with workshop development at the Norwegian importer for Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen, and spend a lot of my time visiting our dealers and their workshops. I have no official mechanical education, but have always worked on cars with my dad.”
“I have always liked driving or riding something others don’t have. During the years I have owned a lot of different cars, which I’ve always made my own. But since I got a company car something has been missing… Since it was many years since I owned a bike, I figured it would be cool to ride a bike again. And to rent a big workshop in Oslo is very expensive, it would be easier with a bike as well.”
“The Café Racer TV series started on Discovery here in Norway, so the seed was planted. I spent hours and days at Finn, our Craigslist or eBay, and finally I found a 1977 Suzuki GS 400. This was to become my first bike build, a very classic Café Racer.”
“Last fall we came together 4 friends to rent a workshop, located just outside Oslo. Or truth be told, an old pigbin we have turned into a workshop actually… We figured that we should have some kind of name, and somehow we ended up with calling it Tux Customs for fun. We made a logo, and now we have made stickers and clothes with our logo even. The website is also slowly coming together.”
“This is my second bike build, of many to come, so I consider myself a new kid in town. Usually I like to do everything on my own, but have become much better at asking for help where it is needed. On both bikes I have done everything but the sandblasting myself. That includes welding, fabrication/adaption of parts on the lade, painting, sewing seatcovers on a manually operated Singer sewingmachine and more. The only way to get better is by trying yourself, and learn from the mistakes. My goal further on is to build bikes during the winter, maybe several each winter, and then selling them on as Tux Customs bikes.”
“The Honda Café Cross is built on a 1987 Honda XL 600R, a very unlikely origin for a custom bike. I bought it to make some kind of a super motard bike, but found out that was to regular for me. Spent a lot of time on Google trying to figure out how to Café Race this bike, and stumbled upon Classified Motos KT 600 – a very cool looking bike. That was to be my inspiration. But still I wanted it to be my design, and had some plans to keep the bikes origin (read: the tires). I also wanted to make this a legally rebuilt bike, and made a detailed application for the Norwegian DMV. They approved the build, but it had to be finally approved when it was finished.
Almost every main part is bought at eBay, only the front suspension is bought here in Norway. It has been much cheaper for me to get parts sent from USA or England, even with tax and shipping, then buying it locally. Go figure!”
“All the big parts had arrived, a front suspension from a 2005 Kawasaki ZX 10R and a single sided swingarm from a 1987 Honda VFR 400. The front suspension was a much easier install than feared. The stock steering stem was reused, but with bushings made on the lade from the ZX 10R stem to fit the upper and lower triple trees from the ZX 10R. Now I still use the original steering bearings with the ZX 10R front end. The fitting of the rear swingarm was much more difficult. At first I thought I could fit it in the stock place, but found out it was to wide. The solution was to make new mounts on the frame out of 8mm steel. During that process almost everything from the rear subframe was cut away as well. It didn’t fit the lines of the new swingarm, and of course needed a rear loop. After making a small jig to fit the new swingarm straight and welding it up a new problem came along… The VFR 750 wheel I had bought, due to the width of rear tire I wanted, was to wide for the swingarm. Did some measurements, fired up the grinder, cut some pieces away and ended up with having to learn to weld aluminium. The geometry for the rear swingarm and damper was also a struggle. It is now made up of parts from a KTM supermotard WP damper and triangle on the VFR 400 swingarm.”
“I finished all the welding, including a new subframe, and got the framework approved by the local DMV. Next up was sandblasting the frame, then paint it in two colors and then assembly of the rest. The gas tank was painted in the same color as the top tube on the subframe, an Audi color called Samoa Orange, and finished of with an old style Honda logo in gold. The assembly of the bike came together very fast at first, but had to spend hours and hours on the wiring to hide it as much as possible. There were of course a lot of small issues during the assembly, but then again – it wasn’t much of the parts that belonged to this bike in the first place. Got it fully assembled during march this year, and had booked an appointment for measuring the noise, due to none stock exhaust, and an appointment at the local DMV later that day for the final approval of the rebuild. The noise came in just under the limit, and the 1 hour and 10 minutes I spent at the DMV is the longest 70 minutes I can remember… But after seeing the smile on one of the technicians face after a testride of the bike, I could finally relax – It was approved!”
“The main components of the bike know is the stock engine, 2005 Kawasaki ZX 10R front end, 1987 Honda VFR 400 single sided swingarm modified to take a VFR 750 wheel, a Supertrapp exhaust and a mid 70’s Honda CB 550 gas tank. Featuring a small Bates-lookalike LED rear light, 7″ headlight with yellow tint, clip-ons, Biltwell Kung Fu grips, new levers in black/gold and 2001 Yamaha R1 rearsets. I have used Continental TKC 80 Twinduro tires, just to make something different, but also keep the heritage of the bike. That is also why I don’t call it a Café Racer, but a Café Cross!”
“I have ridden the bike almost 300 kilometers since the approval, and she runs great! I’m very happy with the finished result, and she turns quite a few heads along the way or when parked somewhere.”
Casper is likely to sell the bike off to finance new projects for the winter, so perhaps this ride could be one of yours. We look forward to seeing what he builds next: “My plan is to build bikes which are inspired by styles in the USA, that often takes some years to appear here in little Norway. The vision for the next build is a modern outlook on a Boardtracker, powered by a smaller single or two cylinder engine. I will most likely build another Café Racer as well, after all it is where bike building started for me.” More HERE.
Photographs by Nicki Twang