Rarely do we have a bike with such a powerful story of community, family, and charity behind it. This 1984 Honda XL350 scrambler / beach tracker was built by Divine Proportions — a community of backyard builders based in a plumbing factory in Perth, Australia.
The group is led by Bryce Mitchell-D’Raine, a front line firefighter and hobbyist builder, but the build has truly been a community effort. What’s more, the bike is being given away to benefit this weekend’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), which raises money for suicide prevention and prostrate cancer research. For a chance to own this bike, simply donate $25 to the following rider profile on the link here:
Below, we get the full story on this badass and beneficial bike, truly built by Perth’s cafe racer community.
Honda XL350 Scrambler/Beach Tracker: Build Story
(Words by Bryce Mitchell-D’Raine. Highlights by us.)
I have been involved with bikes for a few years, nothing serious, my first one was an illegal “250 CM” which was actually a 400 hybrid of god knows what motor. I was never allowed to have a license when living at home as a young fella, despite my father riding twin Matchless and Tigers from Perth to Yallingup some 60 years ago. My grandfather was also a mechanic and worked on amongst other things one of the top speedway rider’s bikes here and he would race them when the rider was unavailable. So…my introduction to bikes wasn’t until late in life.
I have had cruisers, road bikes and road trails since my early 20’s. I have always had an interest in custom bikes, especially cafes and scramblers. Being a surfer, the enjoyment of checking out the surf on a bike is a far cry from sitting in a cage stuck in traffic when all you want to do is get to the ocean and enjoy what it has to offer.
I have been a front line firefighter for 20 years and although I have always had surfing to take my mind off things and relax, there are a lot of times when there is no surf or I am prevented from getting out of Perth to go for a surf. Therefore I started getting into building my own bikes for something to do.
The workshop is actually my brother-in-law Peter Baldwin’s plumbing factory. There is not enough room at home for the collection that has now grown; he has been great and allowed us to use a portion of the factory for our builds……. all be it the largest portion of the factory!
The whole history of Divine Proportions came from myself, Peter, and our other brother-in-law Nick Lynch sitting around drinking Sailor Jerry’s. I had just finished building my CB750 brat, and they were right into it, asking if I could help build them a bike as well. I had put them onto watching Stories of Bike, particularly the Jerckles episode, and things got going from there.
As we all have jobs, and although having been asked to help others build bikes, I really didn’t want it to become a business and take over everything. I have done that in the past with coaching and other interests which have then become a job. On top of this, none of us are mechanics nor have trades relevant to custom building motorbikes. It has all been interests and a hobby for us.
Because of what I see at work, we see a lot of stressful things and are exposed to a lot of carcinogenic materials. The job has seen quite an increase in post traumatic stress and cancer related illnesses. I am also aware of the dilemma of mental health issues in the community, and we thought rather than having Divine Proportions building bikes aimlessly, it is a great opportunity to set up a group where people from the community can come and help build a bike, learn from what others in the group have to offer and their expertise in the build process.
At the same time the build nights provide for an opportunity for people to open up or just have something to go to and escape the stress of a busy lifestyle we all seem to have now. So the idea is to build a bike as a group and then donate it or the proceeds from the bike to charity. In doing this we have also completed work on mates’ bikes which they then tend to donate something back to the build or group.
The great thing is we have had Edward Eom here from Sydney who has also started up a similar group called Wednesday Wrenchers. With contact between the two groups we thought up the idea of a build-off between the two groups which is something that I am hoping will get off the ground.
The bike itself is a 1984 Honda XL350r, which was donated to us by Greg Simm of Perth Cafe Racers. He had purchased the bike from his brother-in-law who had rebuilt the gearbox, top end, and done all the timing chain etc. Being that he was a mechanic and had only ridden the bike for about 7 hours since the work, it was a great donation. Greg was time-poor and could see what I was trying to set up here with the whole community build and the fact it was going to go to men’s mental health. He has been in here since a few times and wishes he had booked off work for a few months and done what we have done to the bike himself. I think he has donated more than a dozen times to try and win the bike back now. 🙂
The bike was built solely for charity and to bring community members together. Although I have spent many nights and days out here working on the bike, there has not been a single Tuesday Build night where I have been here alone. As the build gained momentum with parts returning and the bike going back together, I have had people asking when I would next be out at the factory so they could come and give a hand or get what they were working on finished and ready for installation.
The design was fairly clear…build a retro-looking scrambler / beach tracker out of a mono shock bike which originally had a hideous red frame with black plastic all over it! The color scheme changed a few times, but when the frame came back from sandblasting and painting it was easy to see that the tank needed to be the only thing with color to really make it pop. With a reputation for having bare metal tanks and parts on my bikes, this worked in well to help with blending new parts with the old. The red shock was a design feature that could not be changed either as painting it would have meant cracked paint after a few rides which would look horrible.
A major factor in the build design was having eight or ten people here the first night ripping everything off the bike without any photos taken and not knowing where anything came off. This turned out to be a good thing, as it meant the bike effectively came back a blank canvas and there was no need to have things going back in their right place as such.
There has been heaps of custom work done on the bike. The frame has been wet coated after sandblasting, with marine grade two pack grey and marine grade two pack clear. This painting was kindly donated by Nostalgic Restorations. Billy Kuynen of Rogue Motorcycles here in Perth worked his fabrication magic to create an awesome under seat tray. The trick here was to blend the gap between the frame and seat.
The hubs were sandblasted and two pack painted, and thanks to Reece Plumbing Supplies for their donation of new rims, spokes, and tyres. The wheelset was made slightly custom with a larger rear wheel than stock.
I was going to embark on the custom paint job on what is actually a Suzuki tank, however, Niall at Straight Line 2 Ten insisted on donating his time and skills to custom paint the tank. So glad he did, his work is superb and along with the tank painting he had Laura O’Brien Airbrushing hand paint the custom retro Honda logo on the side of the tank for us.
All other work has been pretty much custom work done here. Lights and indicators are all new additions, the motor was sandblasted and repainted here prior to going back onto the bike. Wiring and cables have all been braided, and reinstalled. Every nut and bolt has been hand-brushed and polished, bringing them back to original color. Custom guards to allow for the bike to be road registered were a must. The front is a handcrafted revived Suzuki GN guard much to my dad’s annoyance, as it is the original one off the bike he and I built for him last year for the DGR. The rear has been made using a Triumph guard frame and fibreglassing.
The exhaust was one of my “I need some bare metal” on this thing, and it came up better than expected. Nearly everyone was focused on what color to wrap the pipes, I decided to strip the oxidation off them and clear coat them, which had to be done anyway before wrapping. When the muffler was welded on and the headers put in place the whole group were stoked with the finish as was with the bare metal and black tip muffler.
So…the bike has been an amalgamation of so many different parts and inputs from the cafe racer community here in Perth and the many businesses that have seen the dream and jumped on board.
I think the type of bike is very clear. It is a scrambler / beach tracker for sure. I really wanted to put a board rack on the side and take for a spin to one of my favorite surf spots…but probably wouldn’t be a good thing, as I am sure I would then have to have it pried out of my hands to give it to whoever is the lucky person to have their name drawn out by the DGR.
There are so many things I am proud of on this bike. The biggest thing is that we have gotten warmed up and going in bringing people together to help mental health and cancer research. On the bike itself, I am biased, but I love the way the bare metal exhaust and headers work with the outstanding colors of the tank and frame. The third thing is the highly controversial white hand grips!!!! I was threatened when I told everyone I was thinking of using them…well lets see what the rest of the jury now think because those naysayers now realise why sometimes you should never sacrifice style for practicality.
The new owner of the bike will be picked by the DGR using a randocomputer-generated selection of an email address on the donation page of the profile below. This will be done on the 9th of October with the last donations being accepted on the 8th of October at midnight.
The photographer for the shots with my dad and the really good bike shots is Kellie Baldwin from Kel on the Coast Photography.
Own this Bike!
To have a chance to be the owner of the bike, donate $25 to the following rider profile on the link here:
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