For Sale: Supermoto-inspired XR custom from Colorado…
Introduced back in 1996, the Honda XR400R would become one of the most well-loved and successful trail bikes of all time. It weighed 257 lbs dry and made 34 horsepower, with better low-end and midrange punch than most of its contemporaries. What’s more, the middleweight thumper would earn a reputation for reliability that continues to this day…
“When I am way too many miles from nowhere, sign me up for an XR400R. I don’t care how quickly or stylishly I get to civilization, but I insist on getting there. No bike does that better than the XR400R.”–Dirt Rider
Enter Nick Mercer (@nm485) and Nik Esposito (@nik.espo485) of Colorado’s 485 Designs, who grew up riding and racing motocross before founding their shop south of Denver, where they specialize in both motorcycle and automotive builds and fabrication.
This ’96 Honda XR400R, dubbed the “Supercafe,” was mainly a shop project, blending inspiration from the supermoto and cafe worlds. Nick says of the bike’s design concept:
“A Supermoto-style bike on the XR platform, but the inverted forks off a sportbike were a must. Again, we wanted to make something people have not seen before.”
The result is one of the sweetest big-single builds we’ve seen, a 400 thumper that just begs for one-wheeled shenanigans. Below, we get the full story on the build, along with more gorgeous shots from photographer Alexander Joyce (www.classicjoyce.com).
Honda XR400 Supercafe: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name’s Nick Mercer, I am the owner of 485 designs. Nik Esposito is the other creative guy alongside building here. We are a two-man shop. Been building bikes for roughly 4.5 years now. Both of us grew up riding/racing motocross. The shop is located south of Denver in Littleton, Colorado. We’ve got a bunch of bike projects always going on, as well as some automotive fabrication, but we have a love and passion for bikes and building them.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1996 Honda XR400R.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike was built mainly as a shop project. We wanted to create something new and unique.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Creating a Supermoto-style bike on the XR platform, but the inverted forks off a sportbike were a must. Again, we wanted to make something people have not seen before.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything aesthetics-wise is custom for the most part. Exhaust, subframe, tank, suspension mounting, all the finishes, etc. We did everything in-house.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It is like riding a very agile, nicely handling dirt bike on the street. It performs so much better with the sportbike suspension. Everything acts as it should on the road, unlike dirt bike suspension.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Yes, the whole thing! Haha. The front suspension mounting, obviously is a key point, as well as the exhaust was a tricky one to make.