The Honda XR600 is one of our favorite bikes of all time. The big thumper claimed a staggering array of Baja 500/1000 championships, as well as victories in enduro, flat track, and other desert races. Introduced in 1985, the bike has become nothing short of a modern legend.
Enter Lionel Duke, who had more than 20 years of experience as a car and motorbike mechanic before opening his shop, Duke Motorcycles, four years ago in the south of France. Lionel was approached by none other than the para snowboarding world champion, Maxime Montaggioni, who does not have his right arm. He had several specifications, including the use of wood and a Mad Max vibe.
When building a bike for such a champion, Lionel knew he had to rise to the occasion. Below, we get the full story on this amazing build.
“Mad Max” XR600: In the Builder’s Words
My name is Lionel, I’m 37 years old, and I’ve been a car/motorbike mechanic for 20 years. I’m passionate about all kinds of motorbike and particularly custom bikes.
Four years ago, I set up my workshop — Duke Motorcycles — especially for bikes (cafe racer, scrambler, brat, bobber) to pursue my passion. My workshop is situated in Tourettes sur Loup, a small village next to Nice, in the south of France. The workshop itself quite basic, to keep the spirit cafe racer in my image. What I enjoy doing most is making the pieces myself by hand and designing unique pieces, for example, mud guards, back covers, bike frames.
This motorbike is a Honda XR600 from 1993, left to me by an extraordinary person, which meant approaching this job from a unique angle. Maxime Montaggioni, owner of the bike, is someone who demands respect, as para snowboarding world champion, and a member of the French national team. In fact, Maxime doesn’t have his right arm, and when he contacted me, I said to myself: “Wow this guy is so impressive, he rides his motorbike with just one arm!” This project had to be at the same level. Specifications were: solid wood, streamlined, classy, Mad Max, free rein to my imagination.
Maxime left me this bike four months ago, with the goal of customising it. It was released in 1993, in the style cross/trail and was one of the first to be transformed, with single cylinder, kick starter, a bike of character.
To start, I disassembled all of the fairing and fuel tank, took off the air box, and removed everything i could to make the bike as lightweight as possible.
I removed the back cover in its entirety and rebuilt it. I built the bike with 25 mm tube, in which O incorporated a back led lighting to keep the style streamlined.
The bike needed two seats, so I built an iron framework which I then entrusted to a saddler (NMB Design in Nice). It was made in two different materials: alcantara and non-skid, and quilted asymmetrically — a perfect match for the owner.
The only difficulty was positioning the solid wood, so I built a block in a solid wood plank than I positioned between the saddle and the bike frame which to follow the new tank.
Once everything was in place, it seemed obvious that the flagship plate was wrong. I created an other one and replaced everything apart from the lights.
The motorbike arrived without indicators, so I had to make them from scratch and add them to the lights.
A part that I appreciate very much it’s creation the front mudguard. I built on in aluminium in which I slipped stainless steel cables in the way of fixing, all rigidified. It stayed exhaust pipe, Evoxracing designed a quiet HP Corse for me and I created half stainless steel line that it comes out in central position. And I needed all back up for to start the painting, paint all of pieces, frame, wheel, engine, fork, buff a small aluminium pieces to bring out some details and i created a painting decoration on the tank and the flagship plate.
The hardest part of this construction was the back, because there are lot of elements, saddle, frame, wood, lighting, exhaust pipe, all that with the goal of keeping it streamlined, and that it should take up as little space as possible, remains homogeneous and above all functional because this bike must ride every day.
What I like the most about this bike is the way the whole of it goes together, it corresponds to its owner perfectly. I also really like the back, because there are a good mix of materials that give off a slightly crazy vibe, with a beastly style, like Mad Max. It looks efficient yet powerful, and i think it has a great mix of style, superbike capability, brat and cafe racer.
A name for this bike… of course it had to be “600 XR MAD MAX“, it couldn’t have any other.
Photographs: Julius design
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