“Dirtstyle” Honda XL from Italy…
The Honda XL600 is one of our favorite dual-sport bikes of the 1980s. The air-cooled RFVC radial valve engine offered 45 horsepower — solid punch at the time — and the bike weighed a shade under 300 pounds dry. The bike performed well in the Paris-Dakar and other rallies. No surprise, the bike impressed reviewers with its off-road prowess when tested against contemporary rivals. Said the editor of Road Rider Magazine:
“These bikes handle fine on the street, but the Honda feels the closest to a motocross bike once off the highway.”
Enter the guys from Padova Dirt Custom, located in Padua — a small city near Venice, Italy. The three-man crew has been racing motocross and supermoto from a young age, so they’ve always been working on bikes. When a friend of theirs took them this 1987 Honda XL600 project, they decided to build a custom machine capable of tackling a wide variety of terrain and adventures:
“This build was influenced by our passion for all-terrain vehicles. The goal was to have a bike that allows you to go everywhere and discover new horizons.”
They named the bike “Civetta” (Owl), which is the name of a local mountain. We dig the Dakar-style shape of the bike, from the small, upright front fairing to the wide solo seat. Below, we get the full story on the build, along with photos from Nicola Kalbaris.
Honda XL600 Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
We are three guys who customize motorcycles for passion. We have a garage where we work together: Padova Dirt Custom. We live in Padua, a small city near Venice. Since we were young, we have raced with motocross and supermoto, so we have always worked on them.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The base for this creation is a 1987 Honda XL600.
• Why was this bike built?
We had a friend who started this project in his garage but at a certain point he decided to stop the work because he didn’t have time, experience and tools. He gave us the opportunity to realize this bike.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
This build was influenced by our passion for all-terrain vehicles. The goal was to have a bike that allows you to go everywhere and discover new horizons.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
We modified the rear chassis and built the front fairing and rear fender by hand. We installed a radial master cylinder with aeronautic brake line. A small factory near us created a custom exhaust based on our design. We made the seat, which was sewed afterwards by a local upholsterer.
We replaced tank with an aftermarket one. We removed the airbox and battery compartment — therefore we had to install a conical air filter and adjust the entire wiring.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The bike name is “Civetta” (owl), which is a local mountain name.
• How would you classify this bike?
We classify this bike as scrambler.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
We are particularly proud of the front fairing because even if it appears simple it needed many hours of work. We are also proud of the seat’s design.