In 1983, Honda introduced the XL600R, a street-legal evolution of the XR500 that could do an honest 100 mph, cruise at 75 on the highway, and then crush fire roads and dirt roads with the reliability of a stone ax. The dual-carb engine made 43 hp, good for a quarter mile time in the high 13s, and the bike boasted a lot of goodies from the off-road XR: dual-piston front disc brake, 39mm Showa forks, 4-position adjustable Pro-Link rear suspension, skidplate, and quick-release rear hub.
“This thing is fast. We are so used to complaining about weight in the four-stroke playbike class, we forget there’s weight and there’s weight. At 315 lb, the XL is a heavy dirt bike. But 315 lb is light for a 43-hp motorcycle.” –Cycle World, 1983
Enter Alex Martino, who discovered LA’s Kott Motorcycles while finishing his graphic design degree nine years ago and struck a deal with the “Café Cowboy” himself, Dustin Kott:
“He would let me build my bike the way he builds his bikes in his shop with his tools and expertise and in return I would build him a website and do a handle full of photoshoots to offset the cost for his time. Well that was nine years ago and almost a hundred photoshoots later. I currently run his website and still do all of his photography.”
Now Alex is back with his second custom motorcycle, based on a 1983 Honda XL600R. Inspired by the flat trackers of the 1980s, he outfitted the big thumper with GSX-R750 forks, a shortened and tidied subframe, custom seat and headers, and more. While the bike has no official nickname, Alex often refers to it as the “She-Tracker” — an apt moniker, given the paint scheme:
“I wanted to add a ‘feminine’ color to a bike that is downright rowdy. With that being said, I color-matched a female co-workers’ finger nail polish to a paint swatch and then paired it with the gold on the wheels.”
Below, we get the full details on this rambunctious street tracker, along with some stunning photos from Alex himself.
Honda XL600R Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I have always been into motorcycling and have been on two wheels since I was three years old! I moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to get a degree in Graphic Design. While finishing my two-year degree I bought my first craigslist motorcycle. At that time, I started tearing apart the internet for a local, Los Angeles café style custom motorcycle builder. That is when I found Kott Motorcycle in a video that was just recently (in 2011) posted to the internet named “Café Cowboy” about Dustin Kott. I saw that he was only about thirty minutes north of where I was living in LA so I showed up to his shop randomly on a Saturday morning. I told Dustin I build websites / photography / and other computer wizardry. I presented Dustin with a barter: he would let me build my bike the way he builds his bikes in his shop with his tools and expertise and in return I would build him a website and do a handle full of photoshoots to offset the cost for his time. Well that was nine years ago and almost a hundred photoshoots later. I currently run his website and still do all of his photography.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The bike is a 1983 Honda XL600R (the infamous dual carb single cylinder thumper).
• Why was this bike built?
This would be my second custom motorcycle. I wanted to design something that I had in my mind and wanted to see come to fruition.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Seems silly to say the 80’s era flat track bikes were my design inspiration.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The front end was swapped with a 2007 GSX-R750, the rear subframe was shortened and cleaned up. I hand-made the seat and exhaust header.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not really, I keep referencing the bike to my wife as the She-Tracker.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike may have lost about a hundred pounds of stock parts and as a result the power is a lot more pronounced. Since the front end is nearly 6 inches lower than the stock forks, it has a lot more front-end weight and seems to spin the soft flat track rear tire with plenty of ease.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I wanted to add a “feminine” color to a bike that is downright rowdy. With that being said, I color-matched a female co-workers’ finger nail polish to a paint swatch and then paired it with the gold on the wheels. I was pleased how the colors turned out to work so well together.