Street-legal XR600R wave-chaser for a San Diego fireman!
The Honda XR600R is a bonafide legend — the dominant dirt machine of the 80s and 90s. Built to compete with the 500cc two-strokes at Baja, Honda’s four-stroke “Big Red Pig” became both the king of the desert and a potent woods weapon in the scrambles and enduros of the east. Unfortunately, the legendary XR600R was never street-legal…unless you were savvy enough to install a lights kit and register it with the local authorities. In most states, plating dirt bikes has gotten tougher and tougher…but if you’re lucky, you can still find a street-legal XR600R grandfathered in from the good old days.
Enter Toby of Therapy Garage, who found this 1985 XR600R in Southern California, registered as a street legal back in the day. This was the workshop’s first commissioned build, and the owner — a firefighter — had clear intentions in mind:
“The client wanted to be able to rip around San Diego and check the surf, and also hop the border with his surfboard in tow for a weekend in Mexico.”
It’s hard to think of a better platform than the XR600R. The result is “The Tillerman” — one of our favorite dual sport customs we’ve ever seen. Below, we get the full story on the build!
XR600 Tracker / Scrambler: Builder Questionnaire
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
A few years ago the company for which I was working sent us all home and closed up for good. I went home that day and finished the final touches on the 1976 CB750 café racer project I had been working on. My wife convinced me to build another and make a go at doing it full time. With a garage full of tools that my grandfather had given me before he passed, I had zero overhead and a prime market of motorcycle enthusiasts in Southern California. We built several in San Diego before relocating to Traverse City, Michigan. It’s still a small operation with zero overhead and two lifts. In this region there seems to be an old motorcycle in every other barn. Vintage dirt machines and street bikes are everywhere. Harley is king in the Midwest…but give us a second. There will be vintage metric bikes with the Therapy Garage treatment cruising these streets soon! (Thanks to a heated garage in the winter!)
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1985 Honda XR600R
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was commissioned by a local firefighter and I let him choose the platform and some key design features but he let me run with the build. We had both fallen in love with the @dinamaxxxx “French Tracker” build and wanted a monoshock dual sport and he was willing to roll with anything we could find from a DR to an XL in any displacement. We were able to score this 1985 XR600R that had been registered as street legal “back in the day”. As of 2004, California no longer allows a person to add a light kit and register an off-road vehicle as “street legal”. This bike, however, had been grandfathered in.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
This was the first ever commissioned build for the Therapy Garage. We had cash up front but also some design ideas from the client. This was a new challenge. Until then I may have had a buddy offer an opinion, or even ask my wife if she liked a certain stitch pattern on a seat. But this client wanted dual headlights. He wanted the tracker style exhaust. He wanted the forks lowered. The client wanted to be able to rip around San Diego and check the surf, and also hop the border with his surfboard in tow for a weekend in Mexico.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The frame was stripped and detabbed. The exhaust is a one-off. The forks were shimmed to lower them 4”. All of the lighting and gauges are aftermarket/custom.
The rear frame hoop happens to be from a K1 Honda SL350. The frame took some custom tabs and mounting points for the tank to fit correctly. Also the seat pan is shaped to accommodate the tanks rear mounting point.
• How would you classify this bike?
It’s a wave chaser!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’ve been contacted several times since this bike hit social media with inquiries about the exhaust. The client requested the low tracker style exhaust so we welded it up in house. We then learned how to tune these carbs. For the blog readers who are not familiar…these early Honda RFVC engines have 1 cylinder but two carbs. The primary carb has the idle circuit and the secondary carb does nothing until the throttle is twisted. So the term “synced carbs” does not apply. They aren’t even jetted the same. Having worked with Honda CBs and Yamaha XS models, this was a crazy concept. But this baby fired first kick and didn’t give the client any fits starting.