“Mrs. Duke” — The pure white CB500 stunner…
Lionel Duke of Duke Motorcycles had more than two decades of experience as a car and motorcycle mechanic before opening his shop in Tourrettes sur Loup, near the city of Nice, France. Previously, we featured the Honda XR600 Supermoto he built for para snowboarding world champion, Maxime Montaggioni.
Now Lionel is back with “Mrs. Duke,” an absolutely stunning 1973 Honda CB500 Four on which he spent more than 700 total hours. Says Lionel of the build:
“It is a personal project that I wanted deliberately different from what we can see, a project that looks like me and that highlights my style and all the methods of work that I use.”
In order to keep the bike recognizable as a CB500, Lionel kept the original engine and tank, but mated the frame to a set of forks and single-sided swingarm from a Ducati Panigale.
He built the 4-into-4 exhaust from 115 separate segments of stainless steel, and the pure white color scheme had been his mind for quite some time. Lionel’s exacting craftsmanship and attention to detail are evident from every angle.
Below, we get the full story on the bike, along with a stunning set of photos from JuliusDesigns.
“Mrs. Duke” CB500 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
The idea of this bike was to create a 2018 version of the CB500, keeping some original lines, and to make a neo retro cafe racer.
I very much wanted to keep the original engine, so I left it in place, and I mounted an Ohlins Ducati Panigale fork and a Ducati Panigale single arm with an Ohlins mono damper. For that I had to change the rear of the frame.
For braking, I kept the Brembo brake system, front and back.
For the body part, I built an aluminum mono hull, entirely handmade. I wanted to keep the form and proportion of the original tank, so that one recognizes the CB500. For the back of the bodywork, I wanted it to be very short to free the rear wheel and give a racing side.
The motogadget gauge is incorporated into the tank — in which we can see a French flag!
I built as usual an aluminum fender and stainless steel cable fasteners, stainless cables through the length of the bike to give it a luxury side, and a finesse to this preparation.
The color…white…pure white. It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time, a completely white motorcycle cut from a decoration that I made in 18-carat gold leaf.
The saddle is in alacantara, realized by NMB Design.
For the exhaust, I wanted to make a 4-in-4 for an MotoGP aesthetic. I built them in 115 parts of stainless steel.
I fully opened the engine and restored each part before painting it also in white. The air intakes of the carburetors were made by USV Racing and the aluminum handles that I then engraved.
I modified the lighthouse and I engraved the front with a 7 to recall the decoration of the tank — the 7 being the symbolic number that represents purity, it seemed to me that was connected to the bike.
The tires are racing Michelins to keep this race spirit. The remote control and bracelets are Bonamici Racing. It was necessary to pass the clutch in hydraulic with a CNC racing receiver outside the crankcase.
I work alone and I spent 700 hours on this bike in my workshop located at Tourrettes sur Loup near the city of Nice in France. It is a personal project that I wanted deliberately different from what we can see, a project that looks like me and that highlights my style and all the methods of work that I use.
I tried to bring the French touch and maximum finesse of work to create this bike.
I really like the back of the bike with the exhausts, the stainless steel spring perfectly with the white, the contrast is really interesting. The most difficult was to assemble the mono arm to the old frame of 1973, while keeping a harmony between the two parts.