“Scout,” a Hornet 600 built for a British Airborne veteran…
Produced from 1998 to 2013, the Honda CB600F Hornet — known as the Honda 599 in the USA — was powered by the liquid-cooled inline four from the CBR600RR super sport, de-tuned for better midrange and torque. This 102-bhp naked middleweight could perform double-duty as a workaday commuter and weekend track toy. Says one owner:
“It’s understated and nice to live with but if you can ride, it will keep up with almost anything. You’ll see plenty of instructors on these on track days, coming round the outside, knee down, calm as you like.” —MCN
Enter Ludo and Clarisse, the co-founders of London’s LV Custom, whose customs we’ve featured in the past, including their CX500 cafe racer, Fazer streetfighter, and “Iron Man” Virago 1100. Now they’re back with this 2011 Honda Hornet, built for their client Tim G (@kineticrecon), a British Army veteran and the current owner of Canteen Collective, a sustainable hospitality business with motorbike-friendly cafes in west London. For his 40th birthday, Tim didn’t have the cash on hand to buy a brand-new dream bike, but then he had a different idea:
“I’ve got into custom culture over the last couple of years, so decided why not try and get something truly unique with what I have!”
What he had was a 2011 Hornet, and his wife Kristy was cool enough to commission the build from LV Custom. Says Tim of the military style of the build:
“I was in the military a long time ago, and miss the robust nature (and aesthetic) of gear and vehicles especially compared to my more comfortable (soft London) existence now! Until recently I never really felt comfortable channelling the military look, as it was a past life. But it just really clicked to make it a bit special.”
We especially dig the British Army ammo boxes converted into sturdy panniers, the coolant reservoir built from a 1941 French Army canteen, and the chopped and welded Hornet/CX tank with a fuel sight glass included. “Scout” is the perfect build for Tim, a unique CB600F with an expeditionary vibe and lots of neat details.
Custom Honda Hornet: Builder Interview
Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
LV custom is a motorcycle workshop in London co-founded by Ludo and Clarisse, in 2015. LV custom celebrated its five year anniversary this year — looking back is just insane, we are so lucky to be surrounded by amazing people!
Recently someone asked us: “What’s next, where do you want to expand?” Fair and legitimate question! However, for now we want to dream big in the way that we want to keep that consistency, providing the best customs and builds to our clients — we want to take care of our amazing team and also enjoy a private life.
In France, I (Clarisse) was CEO of a group of twelve businesses and the reality is that as satisfying as it can be, managing people requires time and it’s definitely stepping on your entire life, so when we decided to build up LV Custom our vision was to provide banging custom bikes but also to create a sustainable lifestyle for ourselves.
But obviously there is a next step for LV: We want people to be able to buy LV Custom handcrafted quality parts for their custom bikes worldwide.
We’ve been the exclusive UK distributor of Poly26 in the UK since 2016. They specialize in the artisanal manufacture of technical motorcycle parts in fiberglass. Ideal for track fairings or rare/discontinued parts — they’ve done this since 1984 and offer more than 2000 products.
The next step is to mould some of our hand-crafted parts to be able to reproduce them in fiberglass and ship them worldwide. Also. we have limited series of LV handcrafted parts coming up, for example the army coolant tank of this bike… they will be sold online on our website.
In 2020, we have some nice branded clothes coming up. Also we’ll revealing our CX500 makeover and our custom V-Max with a 280 back wheel (this one will be for sale).
We hope that people will keep enjoying quality and unique customs in the future. Also, while people tend to customize vintage bikes, this Hornet is proof that more recent bikes can also be a nice base for a build.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
It’s a 2011 Honda Hornet ABS.
• Why was this bike built?
Tim G, small business owner of Canteen Collective, with a couple of cafes (motorbike friendly) around west London, has been riding motorcycles for 15 years.
He says: 40th this year and didn’t have the cash to outright buy a brand new bike of my dreams (custom bobber Rocket). I’ve got into custom culture over the last couple of years, so decided why not try and get something truly unique with what I have! By the end of it an amazing birthday present from my amazing (have to say that right?) wife Kristy!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Tim: Bit Mad Max, bit Bane, bit British Airborne. I was in the military a long time ago, and miss the robust nature (and aesthetic) of gear and vehicles especially compared to my more comfortable (soft London) existence now! Until recently I never really felt comfortable channelling the military look, as it was a past life. But it just really clicked to make it a bit special. I really like the old school look with functional elements carefully put together but the benefits of a modern bike underneath. Expeditionary and Adventure vibe. A good bike for knocking around on everyday that can take the knocks with it.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Cut the bottom of the Hornet tank and welded it on the top of the CX tank and added a custom fuel level. We also welded the Hornet fuel cap on the old CX tank to keep the “aircraft” look and also keep the key.
We made a custom rear subframe small enough to look good but big enough to fit the battery, ABS brain, all sensors and electrical. We made a custom seat with perforated vinyl to match the Progrip grips and the front perforated headlight plate.
LED headlights come from a Jeep Wrangler JK, fitted on a custom bracket including the Koso digital speedometer. The Koso bar end indicators are fitted on an ABM superbike bar.
The coolant reservoir had to be changed for a custom one made from a genuine French army water bottle from 1941.
The all-in-one rear lights are from Shin Yo. We also fitted extra rear lights on the boxes’ bracket for better visibility — as with the boxes on, the lights on the bike were hidden behind the boxes. Speaking of the boxes, they are genuine British army ammunition boxes — removable.
The stainless steel down pipe and muffler had been Cerakoted in high temperature satin black. The wheels and frame have been powder-coated with a black fine texture for a tougher look. Tyres are Pirelli Scorpion.
The front mudguard is the OEM one shortened and fitted with a custom-made stainless steel bracket. Painted with a textured paint. Side Number plate holder and chain guard are custom-made too.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Tim: The Hornet was always a little small for me at 6’2 and 100kg. Ludo widened the bars, and with the flatter seat and taller tank, it’s much more cruisey — it’s got a nice flow and a big noise! Classic Hornet buzz but no muffler so it lets people know you’re there; it’s got an amazing reverb when dropping down a gear.
Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The small details such as the coolant tank and the ammunition boxes really makes the difference to us.