Who would have thought that the Honda NX650 — a durable but rather boring urban runabout — would become the darling of the custom moto scene? We have always been fans of the Honda’s thumpers, but we never thought they could be made to look so classy and bold.
Claudio Pedraza is a former race mechanic and amateur off-road racer who has been wrenching on bikes professionally for more than a quarter century. Based in Barcelona, his shop ZZMoto emphasizes a combination of personality and reliability for his custom builds. When Claudio set out to build a bike for himself, he chose the NX650 as his platform. Of the design concept, he said:
“It has to be also agile and fun off road, but not a pain in the ass when using it on a daily basis in a city like Barcelona, where I currently live.”
Below, we get the full story on this build.
Honda NX650 Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
My name is Claudio Pedraza, and I live and work in Barcelona. I am in my fifties and I have been involved in bikes for more than twenty-five years as a pro, mainly as a mechanic and builder. In the past I was also involved in many competition teams setting up motorcycles for races. Although I had contact with track race bikes, I spent most of my professional life around enduro and motocross races, disciplines that I really love and in which I also inevitably played for years as amateur driver.
Currently I run a workshop (ZZMoto) focused on building motorcycles mainly for customers, basically around Cafe Racer, Bobber or Scrambler styles. Today much of my work lies in providing simple technical solutions to solve complex problems, avoiding the fact that sometimes search for aesthetics exclusively could compromise reliability. My personal philosophy regarding custom bikes is to build motorcycles with singular personality, but efficient performance and reliable mechanics.
NX 650 Scrambler by ZZMoto
When I decided to build this bike I had some things quite clear in my mind. First was this time it was not a commission. Therefore had freedom to decide or better said less restrictions for the build. Second was the idea of building a multipurpose bike. That means you need enough engine to have an exciting experience but not need tons of horsepower. It has to be also agile and fun off road, but not a pain in the ass when using it on a daily basis in a city like Barcelona, where I currently live. Also I had some more ideas but the one that stands particularly out was the Scrambler look.
After reviewing the market I decided to buy a nice 1989 Honda Dominator 650 in a particularly good shape and not too much miles on it. Apart from its proven reliability, I was excited with its kickstart. Although it seemed a minor detail and perhaps would never be used as it also has electric start, this detail puts the nostalgic point to the built. The original bike has a lot of stuff to trow away, so its 45 HP looked very appropriate considering the amount of pounds to leave it back.
With the bike in my workshop I started adapting the tank of a Bultaco Mercurio GT that I bought specially for this built. It’s very narrow and gives the classic Scrambler look I was looking for. At the same time, the subframe was redone in order to follow a unique and straight line profile. For me, this point is key to achieve the desired personality.
I also reworked the front shocks internally to lower them five centimeters in order to achieve a more straight cross-like style, also more according to the classic scrambler look. This work was critical, as I had already decided to keep the stock 21-inch wheel as this measure is very useful when handling obstacles driving off road.
Following I hand built a slightly short seat to show the final curve of the modified sub-frame.
Adapting some other parts to the bike was the final stage to give this classic Scrambler look. A Montesa Cota 348 headlight, classic aluminum mudguards and fork gaiters, Renthal handlebar to achieve an excellent driving position. Regarding tires I am a fan of Continental TKC80 that offer great reliability in many sort of terrains.
A special attention to the electrical installation that was highly simplified. A handmade box located under the seat holds the battery, ignition box, starter relay, fuses and regulator out of it. Doing this we achieve a very easy access to all the electrical components. Just lifting by we have free access to all of them, something that is deeply appreciated when electrical failure off road occurs.
With the electrical installation rebuilt, frame finished and many pounds cut out, I just had to set up the engine. Fortunately the bike was in very good condition and not many kms over, so I did not need to do much more than oil change, spark plug upgrade and a fine valves set up.
To take the best of each HP I focused on “breathing”. So a Supertrapp exhaust and a K&N high flow air filter was the choice, followed by a fine carb adjust raising a few points its high jet needle.
After all that work, it was time to photo shoot. A beautiful area of mountains about eighty kilometers away of my workshop was the chosen atrezzo. While driving around the city of Barcelona the bike was very comfortable and agile in urban traffic. That was a good sign. On the highway did not disappoint either, it was solid with a cruising speed of about 120 km / h in with enough room to overtake with comfort.
The best was yet to come and this was when entering the off road area. Their benefits were more than satisfactory. The reduced size, combined with its new set of shocks allows to easily get over any difficulty of the terrain, with the help of the engine which gained elasticity delivering power from very low rpms.
Infinitely satisfied and close the night falling on us, we returned to Barcelona just thinking about new paths to explore.
- Donor Model: Honda NX650
- Year: 1989
- Engine: 644cc, 44 Hp
- Stock Keihin carburetor. Fine tunning and jet needle changed
- K & N Air Filter
- Supertrapp exhaust
- Stock Ignition CDI
- Stock Front fork shortened five centimeters. New SAE15 oil
- Rear Suspension: Stock MonoShock updated
- Tires: Continental TKC80
- Modified rear Subframe
- Gas tank: Bultaco Mercury GT
- Handlebar: Renthal type
- Zzmoto Handmade Seat
- Headlight: from a Montesa Cota 348
- Rear Light: Bullet type
- Classic aluminum mud guards
Photos by Jordi Cortes: http://www.jordicortes.com/