670cc, lightweight Honda NX650 street tracker…
To call Manu Mertens of Belgium’s 2Motors a Honda fan would be an understatement. Since his first hand-me-down Honda MT50, Manu has been riding and modifying Honda machines. He mainly specializes in Honda XR600 and XR650 supermotard builds, like the Honda XR650R “Retromotard” we recently featured.
However, he had another concept “spooking through his mind” for a couple of years — a retro-style Honda NX650. For someone like Manu, with a lot of experience on Baja-bred machines like the XR600R and XR650R, the NX650 seems slow-revving and overweight. Manu wanted to build a bike that he would like to ride, both in terms of aesthetics and power-to-weight ratio. He says:
“My plan was to give this NX some balls and a serious diet.”
The result is the “Sideburner 670,” a 670cc high-compression Dominator that’s over 100 pounds lighter than stock.
NX650 Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m Manu from Erembodegem, near Aalst, Belgium. I am passionate about Honda since…my bikes, cars (two Acty and an Accord Tourer), even my lawn mower is Honda…
After having my first BMX bicycle, I started having interest in dirt bikes (and Honda!) when my brother bought a new Honda MT50 in the very early ’80s, a few years later followed by an XR350R ’85. That’s when I earned the MT and started to modify it to go ride off-road together with the brother and his XR… In the early ’90s I bought my first own Honda XR. XR’s and other Honda mono’s are my passion. Just type “XRMANU” into Google and look…
In 2011 this passion led to the creation of my own small workshop 2Motors, pronounced 2M Motors. Manu is my first name, Mertens is the family name so that was easy…the 2Motors thing.
The shop is passion-driven and specialized in building one-off’s, from simple service to rebuilding and tuning engines…after almost 20 years of doing this as a hobby I finally took the step. It’s a part time job for now but I hope to make a full living out of it one day.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This project is based on a Honda NX650 from 1988, E-start/kick start.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was spooking through my mind since 2009/2010. Finally I started the built in 2011.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
After doing so many projects with XR600 and 650R , I wanted something different, totally different…more retro style, based on an NX650. I wanted to build something that I would ride myself: the look and the power to weight ratio.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Engine, frame, suspension…name it!
Having a lot of firsthand experience with the XR600 and the RFVC engines (I had 3 of them in a period of 10 years in all states of tune), I put that knowledge into the slow revving/underpowered/overweight NX650…if you come from an XR600 that is…
I choose the ’88 model because of the kick starter beside the E starter. My plan was to give this NX some balls and a serious diet.
Big bore, high compression, headwork, hot cam, custom free flowing 2-into-2 exhaust and a big Keihin FCR for starters…
With the kick starter as a back-up I could dish all the NX electra, loom, CDI, battery etc and put the much simpler and more powerful XR600 stuff on the bike together with the lighter XR flywheel.
These mods gave me a lot of ponies extra and a very big smile every time I twist the throttle.
The frame was cut and every piece of metal that was unuseful had to go, a removable sub frame was made matching with the tracker seat. I had the frame wrinkle coated in matte black and made the graphics and number plates myself…3 times…in different colors before I was pleased.
Front and rear the suspension were rebuilt and I made my own adjustable link system so I could level the bike like I l wanted to…to get the best look and handling. The bike lost about 50kg in weight.
• How would you classify this bike?
Flat tracker, street tracker
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
This was my first attempt with a more retro project bike coming from building Supermotards…it’s not perfect but I have seen worst. It took me between 250 and 300 hours in a period of 4 years and lots of Euros.
Follow the Builder
- Website: https://www.2motors.be
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- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/2motors/