“Brilliance, angles, and lines” — a bold, lightweight Honda scrambler…
The Honda XL600R is one of our favorite dual-sports from the 1980s. Built from 1983-1987, the XL600 offered 45 horsepower, weighed a hair under 300 pounds dry, and could hit 100 mph in a pinch. When comparing the XL600 to its contemporaries, Dirt Rider said the Honda felt “the closest to a motocross bike off the highway” — and the 80s style of the bike is still hard to beat.
Enter Riccardo Casarini, the founder of Italy’s Ludwig Tekne, who grew up repairing and restoring race cars in the workshop. After earning a philosophy degree with a thesis in the “aesthetics of speed,” he apprenticed at one of our favorite builders, Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles of Spain. Upon his return to Italy, he opened Ludwig, whose custom Speed Triple we previously featured.
For this build, the XL600’s owner came with a box of parts and told the team he wanted a “no rounded scrambler” — a bike full of hard lines and angles. Riccardo, who nows runs the workshop with his partner, Federica, jumped on the project, building a bold, expressive scrambler partially inspired by comics and cartoons:
“The custom world is often serious and boring, we believe that the most important thing is don’t lose the playful approach if you don’t wanna lose the real passion (the child passion).”
They nicknamed the bike “Galena” after the brilliant gray powdercoat color of the frame, along with the properties of that specific mineral itself. What’s more, the improves were not only aesthetic. Besides an engine overhaul and various performance upgrades, they managed to shave some 35 pounds off the original bike, creating what is surely a wheelie monster.
Below, we get the full story on the build.
Ludwig “Galena”: In the Builder’s Words
The base is a common Honda XL600. The owner told us his desire to have a “no rounded scrambler”, something full of line and corner. This is the main detail: he told this with a box in his hands full of parts and pieces, not a real bike.
Like our first work (the Ludwig Marvelous, a tribute to Stan Lee comics sagas based on a Gilera Nordwest), also in this case the main inspiration came from comics, cartoons and expressive colors. The custom world is often serious and boring, we believe that the most important thing is don’t lose the playful approach if you don’t wanna lose the real passion (the child passion). Yes, also this bike is partially a provocation.
So we started to work on a frame, modifying the subframe and cleaning all the unnecessary tabs; then we painted in powdercoat with a brilliant grey. Also for this reason we’ve called it “Galena”, because galena is “[…]one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes in the cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms and it is the most important ore of lead and an important source of silver.”
Brilliance, angles and lines. Then we took and modified a tank of a Hercules Ultra 80 LC (a strange moped used in Germany during the ‘80s), painted in Honda colors using the pastel shades of the Fireblade 900RR.
The front fender is minimalist, reference to a form more than a function, made in 3mm fiberglass like the front plate. The front light is a classic 200mm and the turn signals are produced by Chaft. All is mounted (the speedo too) on an handmade inox steel support.
Also the support for the rear lights and the numberplate is handmade in inox steel, and is possible to dismount it in a few seconds by two bolts, if you want to use the bike off-road (safeguarding turn signals and plate, like some people do with enduro bikes).
The seat color reference to the Honda vintage logo and contrast with the whole thing, but is a bit sloped with horizontal seams. It permits you to ride safe “into the bike” like most of the offroad motorcycles produced in the ‘80s.
The engine has been overhauled, with a supplement of two intake stacks and a handmade inox exhaust in brushed effect with DbKiller (the form recall the front fender shape).
Now the Galena is 118Kg heavy (16Kg less than original) and the wheels interaxle is a bit reduced improving the handling. We’ve finally mounted the Continental TKC 80 tyres, good for all types of use, but excellent for the off-road.
Riccardo Casarini, creator of Ludwig, was born in Voghera in the Oltrepò Pavese region in 1988. His first experience was gained in the family workshop where they used to repair and restore racing cars. He has a degree in philosophy at the University of Pavia, and his thesis was on “aesthetic of speed”. He then moved to Barcelona where he joined the world of Two Wheel Customs, working as apprentice at Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles. On his return to Italy (2016), he launched Ludwig project. And now (2018) Ludwig has got his “female side” with Federica Cibien. 27 years old, born and grew up in Sanremo, she has also studied philosophy with master in editing. Federica is communication manager for Ludwig Motorcycles, and organizes activities and workshop classes. Both of them are a couple also outside of work.