Two-time British motocross champion and multiple MXGP winner Billy Mackenzie retired from a hugely successful career as a sportsman and needed the next life chapter to involve passion and drive as much as the first, saying “I never really knew what I would do next after racing professional motocross, but when the time came to have a break from the intensity of high-level competition my mind started to wander in the direction of what I was always interested in as a kid…. 2 wheels, construction and design.”
“Since I was only just starting to learn a whole bunch of new skills for the first time, I decided the most fun way to learn mechanics, welding, engineering, wiring and spray painting was to throw myself into it, and with the help of my close friends and learn together. I bought my first Honda CX500 and got loose with a grinder in my back garden.” Originally hailing from Scotland Billy now lives downunder in Byron Bay, New South Wales during the winter and spends the summer in the UK – seems he has life pretty much dialled-in!
Billy is as handy off the track as he is on it, the calibre of builds so far is exemplary, he’s clearly a neat-freak and not one for rushing the job. Working with buddy and pro welder Ben Rose this CX500 is the third to roll off the X-Axis workbench.
A new tubular subframe replaces the pressed original and incorporates an LED strip tail light. The smallest of battery boxes is mounted between the rails, hidden by an Alcantara covered saddle. Adjustable YSS shocks ensure rear-end performance is a match for the front, which has been greatly improved over stock. A 2009 CBR600R gave up it’s USD fork to the project, including Tokico 4-pot calipers and larger diameter floating discs, actuated by a 19mm Brembo master cylinder.
When Billy isn’t enjoying Australia’s wonderful climate he’s back in the UK hanging out with and learning from his buddies the Amor brothers – from the legendary IOM TT and road racing family. They were tasked with rebuilding the Honda twin while Ben fabricated a beautiful stainless exhaust. Guy and Keith also helped out with the wiring loom, hiding the majority of it and making the rest Motogadget friendly. M-Buttons and internally routed wires make for a very tidy cockpit.
Billy and Ben wanted to stick with a now traditional Brat-style tyre, Firestone’s Deluxe Champion of course. A 19 x 4.00 slipped between the fork legs but the swingarm required mods to achieve clearance for the wider 18 x 4.50 rear.
The white fuel tank looks great with the seam painted black in a bid to make it disappear but the centrepiece is the rose, painted by tattoo artist, “Monki Diamond is a Spanish girl I met in Edinburgh and became fascinated with her artwork, she wanted to tattoo me but I’m too white for tattoo’s so told her I’d use the CX tank as a canvas It was a fitting tribute to Ben’s CX creation and a vision of using Monki’s traditional tattoo art when X-AXIS began its roots in Edinburgh” Billy told us.
While the current trend seems to be to push custom boundaries as far as possible Billy and X-Axis are cutting their teeth on the Honda CXs and CBs, and doing a damn fine job too – concentrating on fit and finish rather than headline-grabbing radicalness. We’ve seen what’s on the bench next and look forward to continuing the story in the new year.