Neo Cafe: Honda CB600F Hornet from Russia’s Drivein Workshop…
The Honda CB600F — aka the Hornet or 599 — was a naked middleweight powered by a re-tuned version of the 599cc liquid-cooled inline four from the CBR600 sportbike, providing 94-102 horsepower over the course of the bike’s 15-year production run. Said Visor Down of the machine:
“The standard bike is a blank (and pretty cheap) canvas for those who liked to concoct something a little more unique for their two-wheeled kicks.”
Enter Leonid Skakunov of Drivein Workshop — located in St. Petersburg, Russia. After cutting his teeth as a mechanic at various workshops, Leonid rented a small room in 2016 and began to build custom motorcycles. In just a short time, his builds have garnered awards in several major competitions, including the Russian Handbuilt Cup and IMIS International Motorcycle Show.
Leonid says that many custom builds in Russia start as road accidents, as did this 2002 Honda CB600F Hornet. The client brought the bike in for repairs, but after seeing some of Drivein Workshop’s previous builds, he soon decided to upgrade the machine in the process. Say Leonid of the build:
“The concept goal is simple: do something that I haven’t seen yet, and I have seen almost everything :)”
The resulting machine — nicknamed “Elisium” (with a deliberate misspelling, like a “flaw in paradise”) — is like few other builds we’ve seen. The swing arm was designed in Solidworks, the fairings are made of wood, and Leonid calls the tail a “transformer” — part of the tail can fold under the passenger seat, transforming the bike into a two-seater so that the owner can take his wife on rides.
Below, we get the full story on this “neo cafe racer.”
Honda CB600F Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a little about yourself, your motorcycle history and your workshop.
Hello! My name is Leonid Skakunov, I am from St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2011, I started working as a mechanic at the MOTO workshop in Moscow. After a year in Moscow, I returned to St. Petersburg. Continued to work as a mechanic, and worked in different workshops gaining experience! In the fall of 2016, I rented a small room and began to make custom motorcycles. In 2017 my first project took 2nd place in the nomination “street edition” in the Russian Handbuilt Cup (http://rhc.show).
But things were going badly and I started a collaboration with Motoresurs.net, this is the largest store of used spare parts in Russia. And this allowed us to reach a new level. In addition to the ability to quickly install parts and change them, we gained sponsorship from Motodart.ru. All of our motorcycles are now equipped with MITAS tires and CZ chains. During two years of cooperation, we have visited many exhibitions in Russia and abroad, including AMD2018. On this trip my old friend Alexander Polyakov helped with money, despite the fact that his company fell under US sanctions and is going through bad times.
• What is the make, model and year of the bike?
Honda CB600F Hornet, 2002.
• Why was this bike built?
Very often, a custom in Russia starts with a road accident. As did this project. The client had a crash and came to repair the bike, but after seeing our work and resources, he decided to upgrade it. For a start, we just fixed the bike and started developing a design for the work in winter months.
• What was the design concept and what was the impact on the assembly?
The concept goal is simple: do something that I haven’t seen yet, and I have seen almost everything 🙂 The plus is my technical capabilities now. For a couple of months we developed a concept, decided on a set of spare parts, and drew up an approximate design for the project.
In October, when the client brought the motorcycle, we already knew where to start and most of the parts were ready for installation. So we swapped the front end with a Suzuki GSX-R1000 (fork, wheel, brakes), adapted the yoke for the frame and the installation of the steering stem.
We replaced the driver’s foot pegs with other ones. I also designed the dropouts for the swingarm for the new chain tensioner and the rear wing.
By the way, the front and rear wings are made of wood. Also I increased the rear wheel for the 200r17 tire. Set the front fairing with a headlight. Made a new gas tank with very simple lines. Set up the carb for the new intake and exhaust.
The tail. The customer wanted to ride with his wife sometimes, but I did not want to make a 2-seater motorcycle, so we made a transformer. The back of the tail for a passenger folds under the saddle. The passenger pegs fold like on a Ducati Diavel.
Painting is a multi-layer Candy paint + additives that are visible only in the sun. The black starts to play reddish, and the red becomes brighter. Painted by Anton Kostin @octopus_art_aerografia in the workshop @CHE_service.
• What individual work was done with the bike?
We have done all the individual work except the bearings, engine tuning, and cooling system.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“Elisium.” And the mistake in the word is made intentionally, like a flaw in paradise, to show that there is some imperfection in everything.
• How would you classify this bike?
I like the designation cafe fighter or neo cafe racer.
• Has anything been done during this build, which makes you particularly proud?
I am very proud of the swingarm, this is my first experience in Solidworks, and I think it turned out very cool.
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