The Honda XL175, built from 1973-1978, was a lightweight dual-sport with a 2-valve SOHC wet sump engine and 6-volt electronics. The 4-storke engine was lauded for its wide powerband, low pulling power, and ability to be ridden smoothly for long periods without fouling up. The XL175 won Cycle Magazine’s first-ever 175 trail comparo, beating out faster 2-stroke rivals like the Yamaha DT175 and Kawasaki KE175.
Enter our new friend Andrew Fletcher-Love of Bellingham, Washington — a heavy equipment operator and professional trail builder who loves nothing more than carving out dirt bike and MTB tracks and trails. Andrew got his start early in motorcycles — just two years old — cruising with his mom and dad in the sidecar of their KZ1000 sidecar rig. Today, he spends much of his free time in his small workshop:
“My shop is my sanctuary; it feels like an extension of my body. It is where I spend most of my free time making yard art and working on motorcycle projects.”
He took this ’76 XL175 off a friend who had it in storage, full of sludge and with no compression. Andrew has built cafe racers, flat trackers, streetfighters, and a couple of supermotos, but this was his first attempt at a hardtail:
“The goal was to build a small displacement bobber. I wanted the bike to be low, lean and slow…. Mission accomplished!”
While hardtail bobbers aren’t our typical fare here at BikeBound, we absolutely love how creative Andrew was in re-purposing various materials and parts he already had lying around his shop:
“I used old wrenches, weedwacker parts and repurposed hardware to make the seat brackets and the original piston became the taillight.”
What’s more, the muffler is a mag light with a bicycle wheel hub cut in half and a baffle from a pitbike muffler! Earlier this year, “Lil Sebastian” earned an invitation to the prestigious One Moto Show, where we first laid eyes on it. Today, we’re thrilled to showcase the story behind it. Below, we get the full details from Andrew himself, as well as some lovely photos from Cristy Holcomb (www.cphotobellingham.com).
Honda XL175 Bobber: In the Builder’s Words
I have a background in the construction trades, specifically operating heavy equipment. I specialize in shaping dirt with excavators and my favorite activities are building motorcycle and mountain bike trails and tracks. I grew up around motorcycles as my dad is an avid enthusiast. At two years old, my mom and dad had me in the sidecar of their KZ1000 sidecar rig, as it was our main means of transportation. My mom still questions that decision because she says my neck could barely hold up the helmet…
I have been riding and tinkering on motorcycles since I was a kid. I’ve built café racers, a flat tracker, a streetfighter and a couple supermotards. I also have a custom two-wheel-drive Rokon that I use for trail building. This bike was my first attempt at a hardtail. I built it in my small shop, which is small enough that I have had to build lifts so I can stack the five motorcycles I currently have. My shop is my sanctuary; it feels like an extension of my body. It is where I spend most of my free time making yard art and working on motorcycle projects.
This 1976 Honda XL175 was being stored by a buddy in his shop gathering dust, with no compression and a carburetor full of sludge. A deal was made and the bike came home with me. The goal was to build a small displacement bobber. I wanted the bike to be low, lean and slow…. Mission accomplished!
After rebuilding the top end of the engine and carburetor I stripped the frame of everything and started cutting it apart. I assembled a homemade tube bender using scrap steel, a pulley and a bottle jack and bent the tubing for the back of the frame. I lengthened the bike by ten inches and dropped the front suspension by two. After that it was a game of finding ways to repurpose scrap metal I had to fabricate parts.
The seat is hand carved from old growth fir. Is it comfortable? No…but who gives a shit, it looks cool. I used old wrenches, weedwacker parts and repurposed hardware to make the seat brackets and the original piston became the taillight. The muffler is actually the business end of a mag light with a bicycle wheel hub cut in half and a baffle from a pitbike muffler sandwiched in between. It works perfectly. The headlight came off a Yamaha TT500 and handlebars from a Schwinn bicycle. This year the motorcycle got invited to the 1 Moto Show in Portland and we had an epic weekend with friends at the event. Photos courtesy of Cristy Holcomb (@cphotobellingham).