The Honda SLR650 was a stripped-down, more street-focused version of the popular NX650 Dominator. The 44-hp SLR had a smaller 19-inch front wheel, lower seat height, and the bike was slightly lighter, making for improved acceleration. All in all, a no-frills big single thumper that could double as a daily commuter and weekend curb-jumper.
Enter Maurizio Carraro, founder of Italy’s Imbarcadero14 Venice, whose KTM LC4 scrambler we previously featured. Maurizio, who grew up racing off-road, wanted to build a bike to compete in the world’s premier international motorcycle show, Moto Bike Expo 2019, which welcomes over 170,000 visitors each year in Verona.
Working with friend and fellow collaborator Guido Furlanetto, Maurizio wanted to build a bike inspired by the Honda Monkey — Big Red’s enormously popular Z series of minibikes, with their tiny wheels and fat tires — along with the Honda Cub EZ90, which inspired the build’s bodywork. Says Maurizio of the “U-Turn” nickname:
“I called it ‘U-Turn’ because I wanted to look back, to the past, I looked at the past of the Honda Monkey and the Cub to take inspiration from the lines, but trying to give the final result an innovative design.”
Honda SLR650 Urban Enduro: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Maurizio Carraro and I am 47 years old. Imbarcadero14 was born about seven years ago with a workshop near Venice. My history with motorcycles starts from a young age, with the competitions in motocross and enduro.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1998 Honda SLR650.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built to compete for the Honda prize at Motor Bike Expo 2019. I did win the Honda award! The owner is a dear friend of mine named Guido Furlanetto. With him, I have studied and built other motorcycle projects.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The idea to build this motorcycle comes from two Honda icons: the first is the Honda Monkey, with big tires and small-diameter rims. The second is the cubic Honda, which inspired the bodywork.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Aluminum rear frame, hand-worked aluminum body, aluminum fender. Rear swingarm modifications, aluminum plates machined from solid block. Rim diameter is 16″, tires 130/90/16. New electrical system, new controls, radial brake pump. Aluminum risers were machined from solid block, and handlebars have variable section. Complete exhaust system, engine completely overhauled and painted black.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
It’s name is “U-turn.”
• How would you classify this bike?
I do not know how to classify this motorcycle, I tried to create a new style.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud because this bike came out just how I’d envisioned. Once achieved, it gave me a big emotional charge — I felt it was the perfect motorcycle for my mind.
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Photographer: Nicola de Marchi