Lions Den Customs Cub 002
By Ross Sharp - 08 Jul 15
Everyone remembers their first time, especially a young man. That slightly stale yet sweet smell of leather, the wood, the noise and that sense of being pinned back in your seat. Classic cars, they really get under your skin and once you've experienced the raw thrill from a purer time it's hard to be anything other than obsessed, or at the very least transfixed by their beauty. Jack's dad had an Austin Healey 3000S, painted in American racing colours and he remembers it fondly so when it came time for him to experience classic machinery for himself, inspiration was simple. Dan from Lion's Den Customs was only too happy to sit down and go through the spec and design options over a coffee, as he too had HVD, Historic Vehicle Disease. Together Jack and Dan hatched a plan for a nostalgic looking Yamaha XS650, a donor they agreed could offer aesthetic similarity with one of the most iconic British sports cars from the late 1950s and early sixties. With a brief signed off, this 1974 model was stripped right back to the frame. In order to bear resemblance to a Healey, there would be a stack of polishing and plating to be done so the guys from I Cleenz Macheenz in South London were given the heads up to expect a full load. In addition to the chroming Dan wanted to ensure a mirror finish on the aluminium parts, including the engine cases and fork legs. We hope he had some good tunes on the iPod as this lot looks like it took a fair while. Those of you familiar with the Healey will no doubt recognise the fuel tank bulge on the Cub 002, reminiscent of the bonnet duct that helped direct cool air to the triple SU carbs. Dan spent ages trialling different shapes with card and went through five metal prototypes before committing and welding the hand-rolled scoop, the filler cap was then repositioned forward and to the right. The paint scheme is just as Jack remembers from his father's car and looks resplendent against all that polished metal. Accents of are picked up in the fenders and even the handlebar mounts. Black Shuck Kustom took care of the paint, the blue being from the Peugeot colour chart and the cream is a freestyle mix. Wire wheels were a must so the polished hubs were sent off to Essex Wheels & Engineering for lacing to stainless rims and classic patterned Dunlop T100s complete the job. The side panels are a combination of an aluminium frame with stainless steel mesh, inspired by the Healey's radiator grille, just showing off the new battery box behind, highly polished of course. Motogaget speedos might be fitted to nearly every build these days and one wouldn't have looked out of place here, but the Smiths Digital Chronometric gauge adds that final 1% and is spot-on. Even the movement is similar to those jerky needles from half a century ago, but now with a digital tacho and idiot lights. Triumph T140 bars are wide with a decent sweep, again, perfect for the overall stance and left clean of cumbersome switchgear thanks to mini-toggle switches. To achieve a neater, flatter line the subframe was removed and a new one fabricated, complete with repositioned shock mounts to take a pair of period looking Hagons. There had been talk of nickel plating the frame but Greg from Black Shuck insisted that the latest chrome powdercoat would provide a durable finish and look just as good. From here you can't tell the difference and both Dan and Jack are delighted with the effect. With all that shiny stuff going on, the engine could have ended up being somewhat lost so Dan squared-off the fins on the barrel before spraying black, he then spent what felt like an eternity polishing each fin edge by hand to match the sheen of the side cases. Whilst at it the rocker adjustment caps were buffed, the overall effect demonstrating that the big-bore XS engines really are one of the most handsome power plants ever made. Proper black cow hide was used to upholster the seat, piped in cream, just like the figure-hugging bucket seats of old. Brit-style silencers add a bit of visual weight to the rear-end along with a sonorous soundtrack. Dan is thoroughly pleased with how the Cub 002 rides and will now be fitting T140 bars to more builds in the future. Perhaps more important though is that newly qualified rider Jack is thrilled with his bike and needs to be prized off the thing, testament to the hard graft, long hours and weapons grade caffeine that went into this build. No rest for Dan though, Cub 003 is already well underway. If you like what you see here, Cub 001 is for sale in the Bike Shed Custom Classifieds here and currently on display at Bolt London, and you can keep an eye on progress of future projects on Facebook and Instagram.