A bespoke Honda built in the “Batcave” beneath Amsterdam’s Rusty Gold MotorShop!
Today, we’re thrilled-as-hell to feature the first fully bespoke build from one of our favorite names in the moto world, Rusty Gold MotorShop of Amsterdam. Founder Zoran Holtkamp left a job in advertising to open the shop, which offers parts, accessories, gear, Rusty Gold’s own line of clothing, and “the meanest coffee in town.”
Zoran has long been a friend of the BikeBound, and Rusty Gold is top of our list for an overseas shop visit, so we’re thrilled and honored to feature RGC #1, their first custom build. The client — a new rider — gave Rusty Gold a lot of creative freedom, but he did have a number of requirements. He wanted a bike that was trouble-free, road-legal, easy to ride, with classic styling and a contemporary edge.
For a donor, Rusty Gold ended up using his learner’s bike, a Honda CBF500 — the Euro-2 compliant replacement of the CB500, featuring a 56-hp liquid-cooled parallel twin. While this novice-friendly commuter/learner machine may not seem like an ideal candidate for a custom build, Zoran saw the promise beneath the plastic fairings and budget accoutrements:
“The Honda CBF500…is not a very attractive bike to look at. It’s absolutely bulletproof though and very nice to ride. The parallel twin engine is torquey and has a nice sound. But when I took a closer look at the bike I was surprised to see that it has a single back bone frame too.”
The Rusty Gold team set to work in the hidden, Batcave-like environs of the shop’s basement, into which bikes are lowered via a lift they built. The changes were quite substantial: scratch-built subframe, twin shock conversion, vintage tank, TIG-welded custom exhaust, and much more. In the end, the bike turned out even better than Rusty Gold envisioned, and performs just as the customer desired:
“It really handles like a dream, starts up instantly, the brakes are great and the engine performs great in the busy Amsterdam traffic and on the highway.”
We love how the bike, at first glance, looks much like an older CB, yet retains the daily practicality of a modern machine. Below, we get the full story on the build, along with some great shots from photographer Morris Faber (@morris_momentum).
Honda CBF500 Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Zoran and I own Rusty Gold MotorShop, an Amsterdam-based shop focused on the vintage and custom motorcycle lifestyle. We offer parts, accessories, riding and casual gear, our own Rusty Gold clothing line, and the meanest coffee in town. My love for vintage motorcycles and tinkering made me quit my advertising job to start this endeavor. Even though it’s tough at times, I never regret the choice.
Our workshop is hidden away in the basement, like the Batcave. The bikes enter via a lift we built, hidden away under a carpet, ssshhh 😉
Here we can do just about anything, the only things that are still on the wishlist are a Lathe and a better tyre changer. The RGC #1 is the first complete and bespoke custom to leave the workshop.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The bike is a Honda CBF500 learner bike. The actual bike on which the owner took his driving lessons.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike was built a customer project but for a friend but in the back of my mind I constantly thought, ‘does this represent Rusty Gold in a good way?’ Haha.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
As said, the bike was built for a friend and it’s his first bike too! He gave us the go on the project even before he had his license and trusted us with a lot of freedom in the creative process. He had some requests/demands though… He wanted an elegant and classic looking custom with an edge. But more importantly, it needed to be a trouble-free bike, completely road legal(!) and easy & safe to ride and handle. After all, it is his first bike and he still needed to learn how to drive properly, smart guy.
Not an easy task to find and customize a bike that ticked all these boxes within his budget, but while we were looking for a good and original base to build our custom on, he and his instructor dropped by during a driving lesson for a coffee.
The Honda CBF500 he was driving is not a very attractive bike to look at. It’s absolutely bulletproof though and very nice to ride. The parallel twin engine is torquey and has a nice sound. But when I took a closer look at the bike I was surprised to see that it has a single back bone frame too. After a quick negotiation, the CBF was our choice and we bought the bike on the spot.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
After undressing the bike from the ugly plastics, most work went into building a new subframe from scratch. Converting the mono shock to a twin shock set-up for a more classic look.
Making the vintage CB350F tank fit.
Building the the complete new stainless steel exhaust tail pipe system, all pie cuts and TIG-welded in house.
Laser mufflers produce a nice little rumble but within the allowed DB range.
The electronics were hidden away for a super clean look, all warning lights incorporated in the vintage headlight so no clutter on the bars. The Motone control buttons are beautifully crafted and also add to the clean look.
One of my favourite features is the placement of the stylish Velona speedo.
To top it off, an amazing seat was built out of vintage brown leather by Holland’s finest upholsterer Silvermachine. I love how the stitching on the side of the seat follows the subframe.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Haha not really actually.
• How would you classify this bike?
I like the fact that it is hard to label, people ask me quite often when they see it. “Great bike but what is it, café? Scrambler?” Let’s just call it a custom, a Rusty Gold custom.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The fact that it turned out as we pictured it (or even better) and that it does exactly what the customer wanted from it. It really handles like a dream, starts up instantly, the brakes are great and the engine performs great in the busy Amsterdam traffic and on the highway. Besides that this is only our first bike. Martijn (mechanic, electrician and welder), Kars (mechanic and paint) and I (designer, parts guy and beer provider) are super proud and are already building the next one as we speak.
Follow the Builder / Photographer
Morris Faber: @morris_momentum