El Calcolante: Honda Hornet 600

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

Italy’s Francesco Paura builds one bad black Hornet… 

Introduced in 1998, the Honda CB600F Hornet — known as the 599 here in the States — quickly earned a strong reputation among racers, couriers, and commuters alike. The engine was from the mid-1990s CBR600, carbureted, with 97 bhp on tap, and in the UK, there was a racing series dedicated to the model.

“Racers loved the fact it was easy to set up, had a fun engine, and was cheap to run. New riders found it easy to ride and unintimidating, stable and predictable. Europeans loved its style, it made Suzuki’s Bandit feel bland, and the Hornet remains hugely popular on the continent.” —MCN

Recently, we reached out to Francesco Paura, an Italian designer, rapper, and customizer out of Naples, who customized his own personal CB500 several years ago. He had no idea that it would turn into a business for him, working with his friend and partner Angelo Caliendo of Low Special Parts.

The motorcycle began to get a lot of acclaim and likes on Instagram. People wrote to me that they wanted a custom motorcycle from me. Since then I have transformed nearly 30 motorcycles in 6 years.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

The bike you see here is an ’05 Hornet 600 — the sister of a black and blue Hornet he previously built, inspired by the Japanese robots (“mechs”) of his childhood.

“Mecha design has undoubtedly influenced me. Perhaps, for those born in the second half of the 70’s, like me, it was inevitable. Our toys were Gundam, Getta Robot, and Voltron models. Today motorcycles are like adult toys to me.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

As you can see, the modifications were extensive, including a signature front fairing with four vertical headlights, a modified 1980s Honda tank, a laser-cut plexiglass rear light housing, upgraded suspension, and a custom exhaust with an aluminum heat shield — added after these photographs were taken.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

Unfortunately, Angelo fell ill with Covid during the build, which delayed delivery by three months, but everything came out all right.

“But it ended well and we are always proud of what we do. Although sometimes the result is bizarre. But we too are bizarre. So that’s okay.”

Below, we talk to Francesco for the full story on the build!

Honda Hornet Street Tracker: Builder Interview

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

(Translated from the Italian by BikeBound.)

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Francesco Paura. I am an Italian designer and rapper who has always been passionate about motorcycles. I live in Naples, the most beautiful city on the planet (I have to write it because my wife is a tour guide). My business in the world of two wheels began when I transformed my personal motorcycle, a Honda CB500 from 1997. A friend of mine is a customizer with twenty years of experience, Angelo Caliendo from Low Special Parts. He followed my project and we made my bike. The motorcycle began to get a lot of acclaim and likes on Instagram. People wrote to me that they wanted a custom motorcycle from me. Since then I have transformed nearly 30 motorcycles in 6 years.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

This was a 2005 Honda Hornet 600. It was born as the sister of a first Hornet that I had transformed a couple of years ago, inspired by the Japanese robots of my childhood. You can see it on my Instagram page. The black one with a blue stripe on the tank.

I had created a metal laser-cut front shell. Where I have inserted a vertical lighthouse. This black one is kind of an upgrade of that. With four spotlights in a similar shell.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

• Why was this bike built?

The bike was built for a customer who fell in love with my style. He contacted me and we thought of creating something original by combining classic elements with futuristic elements.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

As I said above, mecha design has undoubtedly influenced me. Perhaps, for those born in the second half of the 70’s, like me, it was inevitable. Our toys were Gundam, Getta Robot, and Voltron models. Today motorcycles are like adult toys to me.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

• What custom work was done to the bike?

I built the bike with Angelo, my partner. I designed and built the shell of the lighthouse. I made an autocad project and then I had sheet metal cut with the laser to house the four additional off-road headlights.

We shaped and welded the extrusion with a friend of mine, Salvatore Mattiello (@southcustomsnaples). He is also a very capable customizer with whom I collaborate.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

The tank comes from an old 80’s Honda, which has been modified to fit the frame of the Hornet. The part of the frame under the seat was built from scratch and adapted to the original frame. The rear light is made with laser-cut plexiglass.

We changed the brake discs, turn signals, digital speedometer, air filters, and adopted a Dynojet carburetion kit. The rear of the manifolds was custom-made to use a scrambler-inspired twin tailpipe. We then put an aluminum bulkhead for heat. But it is not present in the photographs. The shocks are original but we have overhauled them and replaced the springs with better performing models.

Honda Hornet Street Tracker

• Does the bike have a nickname?

We called the motorcycle The Math. Because the owner’s surname is “Calcolante” — in English, it can be translated as “Accountant.”

Photo: @mimmus2585
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?

It is certainly a comfortable and versatile bike, almost like the stock Hornet. The tires are dual-purpose, so they also perform well on asphalt. For me it’s a lot of fun. Although I prefer more powerful bikes at low revs.

Photo: @mimmus2585
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

Unfortunately, during the last stages of work, my partner Angelo was very ill with Covid 19. So we delivered the bike three months late. But it ended well and we are always proud of what we do. Although sometimes the result is bizarre. But we too are bizarre. So that’s okay.

Photo: @mimmus2585

Follow the Builder

I mostly use Instagram even though I’m a boomer. You find me as @Francesco_Paura. I took the photographs myself. In fact they are not excellent. But I often have to make do because I do three jobs. Thanks for your attention.

Builder Interview: In Italian…

Photo: @mimmus2585
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

Mi chiamo Francesco Paura. Sono un designer ed un rapper italiano da sempre appassionato di motociclette. Vivo a Napoli, la città più bella del pianeta. Il mio business nel mondo delle due ruote è cominciato quando ho trasformato la mia moto personale. Una Honda cb 500 del 1997. Un mio amico è un customer don venti anni di esperienza. Angelo Caliendo from Low special parts. Lui ha seguito il mio progetto ed abbiamo realizzato la mia moto. La motocicletta ha cominciato a prendere tanti consensi e like su instagram. Le persone mi scrivevano che volevano una moto personalizzata da me. Da allora ho trasformato quasi 30 motociclette in 6 anni.

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

Questa era una Honda Hornet 600 del 2005. Nasce come sorella di una una prima Hornet che avevo trasformato un paio di anni fa, ispirandomi ai robot giapponesi della mia infanzia. Potete vederla sulla mia pagina instragram. Quella nera con una striscia azzurra sul serbatoio. Avevo creato una conchiglia del fato tagliata a laser in metallo. Dove ho inserito un un faro verticale. Questa nera è una specie di upgrade si quella. Con quattro faretti in una conchiglia simile.

• Why was this bike built?

La moto è stata costruita per un cliente che si è innamorato del mio stile. Mi ha contattato ed abbiamo pensato di creare qualcosa di bizzarro unendo elementi classici ad elementi futuristici.

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

Come ho detto prima il mecha design mia ha influenzato indubbiamente. Forse, per quelli nati nella seconda metà dei 70’s, come me, era inevitabile. I nostri giocattoli erano modellini di Gundam, Getta Robot e Voltron. Oggi le motociclette per me sono come i giocattoli da adulti.

• What custom work was done to the bike?

La moto l’ho realizzata con Angelo, il mio socio. Ho progettato e costruito la conchiglia del faro. Ho realizzato un progetto autocad e poi ho fatto tagliare della lamiera con il laser per ospitare i 4 fari supplementari di derivazione off road. L’estrusione l’abbiamo sagomata e saldata con un mio amico. Salvatore Mattiello. Anche lui un customizer molto capace con il quale collaboro. Il serbatoio di una vecchia Honda 80’s che è stato modificato per adattarsi al telaio della hornet. La parte di telaio sotto la sella è stata costruita da zero ed adattata al telaio originale. Il faro posteriore è sempre realizzato con taglio al laser in plexiglass. Abbiamo cambiato di dischi dei freni, gli indicatori di direzione, tachimetro digitale, filtri dell’aria ed adottato un kit di carburazione Dynojet. La parte posteriore dei collettori è stata fatta su misura per usare un doppio terminale di ispirazione scrambler. In seguito abbiamo messo una paratia di alluminio per il calore. Ma nelle fotografie non è presente. Le sospensioni sono originali ma le abbiamo revisionate e sostituito le molle con dei modelli più performanti.

• Does the bike have a nickname?

La motocicletta l’abbiamo chiamata The Math. Perchè il cognome del proprietario è “Calcolante”. In inglese si può tradurre come “accountant.”

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?

Sicuramente è una moto comoda e versatile, quasi come la hornet di serie. Gli pneumatici sono dei dual purpose, quindi hanno una buona resa anche sull’asfalto. Per me è molto divertente. Anche se preferisco moto più brillanti ai regimi bassi.

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

Purtroppo durante le ultime fasi di lavorazione il io socio Angelo è stato molto male con il Covid 17. Quindi abbiamo consegnato la moto con tre mesi di ritardo. Ma è finita bene e siamo orgogliosi sempre di ciò che facciamo. Anche se alle volte il risultato è bizzarro. Ma anche noi siamo bizzarri. Quindi va bene così.

Follow @Francesco_Paura

3 Comments

  1. Cool, straightened up like a bike should be.

  2. Finalmente qualche Italiano con queste cafè Racer! Ti faccio i miei complimenti perché trasformare la Hornet penso non sia semplice, non mi è mai piaciuta come base di partenza ho visto molte trasformazioni ma sempre banali! Non è stato il tuo caso la moto è veramente di stile e diversa dal solito, Ottimo lavoro!

  3. While I never owned a 599 I did own it’s big brother the 919 or Hornet 900 as it is known throughput Europe. It was probably the best bike I ever owned. Actually I owned two a 2004 and a 2007. After 7 years and 47,000 great miles I sold it as I battled cancer. I returned to riding after 3 years on a cafe racer 1200cc H-D Sportster, would I go back to a Honda? Yes in a New York minute.

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