Introduced in 2001, the Honda XL1000V Varadero was an interesting machine. Honda took the 996cc 97-bhp V-twin from their VTR 1000 Firestorm / SuperHawk and put it in an adventure-touring chassis. The result was a bulletproof, superbike-powered beast that could do just about anything:
“It looks big and heavy, and it is positively enormous. In its defence, it isn’t as heavy as it appears, though. It looks comfortable but it is, in fact, sublime. The 1000cc vee twin delivers a very sprightly urge and the huge fuel tank gives intercontinental range.” —Motorbikes Today
Enter Christos, Antonis, and Fotis from Greece’s Custommade C.A., several of whose builds we’ve featured here on BikeBound. Stamatis, the owner of his ’99 Varadero, wanted to revive the bike, which had seen better days:
“What Stamatis was really after was an everyday bike, easy to use in the city but with power and off-roading capabilities.”
Christos and crew decided on a wild “Mad Max” look with aggressive lines. They removed the fairings, built a new subframe and saddle in-house, added a Firestorm fuel tank, replaced all the seals and bearings, added new LED lights and 3D-printed housings, swapped out the radiators for a wider “chest,” and more. Says Christos:
“It might have a vintage look but don’t let that fool you, this is a big engine with plenty of torque! This is a bike for every occasion, from weekend rides to off-roading trips — this will do the lot.”
Below, we get the full details on the build, along with more photos from Fotis Ntimeris.
Honda XL1000V Varadero Scrambler: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The fat lady started as a ’99 Honda “Varadero” XL1000V.
• Why was this bike built?
The owner Stamatis was looking for a way to revive this otherwise perfectly good bike. Everything worked as it should, but the exterior had seen better days. The fairings and the overall cosmetics were a bit tatty, mainly from the sun and the elements. What Stamatis was really after was an everyday bike, easy to use in the city but with power and off-roading capabilities. We gave him all that with a retro look and a classic feel.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
If we could describe the concept in one word, would have to be wild. We drew inspiration from our favourite Ducati and BMW scramblers, such at the BMW R nine-Τ. We wanted to go with aggressive lines, and to achieve that, we removed the fairings, relocated the radiators, customised the headlights, and raised the mudguard as high as possible. Our finishing touch or the icing on the cake has to be the handmade windshield, which completes the look and takes this bike to a whole different level.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
This 20-year-old lady was in desperate need of some TLC. So, we removed the fairings and left her in the capable hands of Antonis to work his magic. His subframe blends in nicely and offers a clean and elegant look, which is in harmony with the rest of the frame.
After the frame and peripherals were powder-coated, we replaced all the seals and bearings. Our custom license plate mount enhances the clean look of the tail. The seat, which was also produced in-house, makes this bike very comfortable to ride, while the lines follow the frame and the stitching matches the palette of the custom paint job.
We went for the Firestorm fuel tank, which allowed us to delete the fuel pump and relocate the petcock. This also gave the space required to install our custom electronics and a new high-end Li-on battery. The Koso gauge provides all the information the rider might need, and due to its compact design, there is still plenty of space for a GPS, phone mount, and a few more gadgets.
If we had to pick one thing on this bike that would be the headlight mount, which though simple, makes the bike really stand out and gives that wild look we were after, while keeping the weight down. Inside the mount you will find an LED vintage looking unit with plenty of power for those night rides. Chris was also able to design and 3D-print a set of beautiful indicator housings to complete the look, which also act as fork covers.
The new exhausts and aftermarket air filter brought this V2 engine back to life by allowing better breathing. The relocated radiators and the lack of fairings gave a more compact look when compared to a stock Varadero. One thing to note is that the radiators were switched with each other, the left one is now at the right side and the right is on the left side of the bike, which gave a wide “chest” to the overall mad-max look.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Regardless of how hard we tried to help her shed some weight, this is still a fairly heavy bike, so we decided to give her a name to match: “The Fat Lady.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
This bike is aggressive! Way too aggressive for a new rider! It might have a vintage look but don’t let that fool you, this is a big engine with plenty of torque! This is a bike for every occasion, from weekend rides to off-roading trips — this will do the lot. Honda are renowned for their build quality and reliability, and this bike is a bright example of that.
The re-jetted V2 engine produces enough torque and power to put a smile on everyone’s face. The rebuilt suspension and reduced weight make this bike agile and nimble on the road, but also a very capable off-roader. The widened handlebars offer additional stability and control, which is rare for a bike of that size. The windscreen, though small, provides all the protection the rider needs for those long highway trips.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
This might surprise you, but the fender was never part of the concept. One day while at the garage, we started fooling around with some pieces of cardboard we found lying around. A few cardboard pieces and a lot of duct tape later we were stunned, we through this must go on the bike. We sent a pic of that monstrosity to Stamatis and his reply was “Hell yeah, I love it” — and the rest is history.
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Photography Credit: @fotis_ntimeris