Bandisca builds a big-single street racer…
In the late 90s, Honda introduced the FX650 Vigor as a stripped-down, street-oriented version of the popular NX650 Dominator dual-purpose machine. The bike had Honda’s 644cc RFVC single-cylinder engine, which made nearly 40 hp in this application and fooled a lot of onlookers into believing the bike was a twin, given the dual exhaust ports.
The bike’s grunt and handling were both lauded by reviewers:
“The gearbox is sublime…. If you dump the clutch properly and give it a handful it will LEAP forward from the traffic lights, I’ve beaten Gixxers from the line, of course once they get over the shock they quickly reel you in, but you win the traffic light GP. The handling is superb, you need to load up the front wheel by leaning forward and into the bends, but scraping the pegs is not at all difficult even on enduro tyres.” —MCS
Enter our friends Alf and Mihaela from Romania’s Bandisca, who are no strangers to big-single bashers. Most recently, we showcased their Suzuki DR-Z800 “Madasuki” rally raider — possibly the maddest, most powerful single-cylinder machine we’ve ever featured — and about three years ago, we shared their Honda XBR500 cafe racer, a bike that showed how fun a big-single street machine could be.
Now the pair are back with this Honda FX650 “Stormbringer,” built for a client and friend who was one of the first students in their Mechanics Courses. In the past, they built a PW50 for his kid, and last year he decided to commission a project for himself:
“This guy knows our philosophy very well and no discussions were needed, just a short ‘please build a bike for me.'”
Alf and Mihaela picked up a mint FX650 as the donor, though it proved a bit too tall for the client in stock trim. However, the husband/wife Bandisca duo have never been satisfied with following the well-beaten path — they like to strike out on their own. Mihaela, the chief designer, put them on a new course:
“We’re very tired of seeing scrambler/tracker mods with this model, so after a brainstorm with Mihaela, we decided to build a light racer.”
They knew that some armchair onlookers might scoff at the idea, but we’re big fans of “super single” and “supermono” builds — and have seen some well-executed road racer-style builds with this platform. What’s more, the Bandisca crew put a lot of time and work into getting the setup right:
“We carefully studied the new lower geometry, lightened the bike considerably, and adapted the bike to the customer’s measurements.”
We’ll let Alf give you the full details below, but highlights include a bespoke YSS rear shock, internally modified forks, 17-inch front wheel, handmade aluminum tail unit and front fairing, and a CNC-machined oil cooler to keep the engine cool in the urban environment.
“The 650 thumper offers very good torque, and with the new configuration and a weight of around 140 kgs (308 pounds), the bike is a real troublemaker for sportbikes on twisty roads — so fun!”
Below, Alf gives us the full story behind the “Stormbringer.”
Honda FX650 “Stormbringer”: In the Builder’s Words
This project was a commission from a customer and friend. The owner was also one of our first students at our Mechanics Courses and the first project we did for him was a small PW50 for his kid. Last year he decided to commission us for a project for himself. This guy knows our philosophy very well and no discussions were needed, just a short “please build a bike for me.”
Taking into account he wanted the bike mainly for urban use, we decided to go with a medium-capacity light bike, and we found a mint FX650 Vigor close to us. As we love thumpers, we decided to get it even though FX was a bit high for our customer, as he is not a very tall guy. On the other hand, we’re very tired of seeing scrambler/tracker mods with this model, so after a brainstorm with Mihaela, we decided to build a light racer. We know it will probably wake up some opposite opinions, but we built this bike with a lot of attention — we carefully studied the new lower geometry, lightened the bike considerably, and adapted the bike to the customer’s measurements.
We lowered the front by modifying the internals of the original forks. On the back, our partners at Suspension Store (EU dealers of YSS Suspension) built a bespoke shock under our specs for the bike, which works really well.
Wheels were completely refurbished — new spokes, bearings, etc. Also, the front was swapped from 19” to 17” for better handling on the road.
At the frame level, we modified the rear subframe to match the new aluminium handcrafted cowl, and we eliminated the stock footpegs and built a pair of custom rearsets for a better riding position, matching the new road racer configuration.
The tank came from an XBR500 and offered us the look that Mihaela wished for this bike, an aggressive racer look that we completed with the small front handcrafted front mask and headlight bucket with the square LED headlight (which came from a Chevy Suburban).
In terms of the electrics, we trusted a Motogadget M-unit commanded by a four-button Motone switch on the left clip-on and also two push buttons integrated into the upper triple tree for the start and speedo setup.
Speedo and tacho are MMB with a classic design.
In terms of the engine, we just refurbished the top end and refreshed everything with new gaskets. We also applied a fresh coat of black Suzuki marine paint. As this bike will be used in the city and these Honda thumpers are so sensitive to overheating, we added a custom CNC machined oil cooler for helping to keep the engine at the right temperature.
Even though we’re running the stock carb, we re-jetted it properly to work with the new DNA air filter pods. The exhausts are now on the low part of the bike, finished by a really cool pair of Motone Saturn V mufflers — even though they were built for a Triumph, they matched our needs perfectly and also offered a loud but not too sharp rumble.
The 650 thumper offers very good torque, and with the new configuration and a weight of around 140 kgs (308 pounds), the bike is a real troublemaker for sportbikes on twisty roads — so fun!
Follow the Builder
Photo credit: Mihaela Lopez