Warsaw’s KrisBiker Customs builds a CB for the NY streets…
When Honda released the CB750 RC42 in the early 1990s, it was something of a throwback to the original superbikes of the 1970s. While Honda’s high-level sports bikes had moved to liquid cooling, monoshock rear suspension, and even sophisticated V4 engine layouts, the RC42’s air-cooled, carbureted inline-four engine was set in a steel double cradle frame with twin rear shocks, a six-stage oil cooler, and ~75 horsepower on tap. It was old-school technology, slightly modernized. Today, that makes the RC42 a perfect platform for retro-style customizations.
Recently, we heard from Kris of KrisBiker Customs, based in Warsaw, Poland. Kris credits his old man for sparking his love of motorcycles, though not in the way you might think. It all started when, at age 13, Kris took a friend’s bike for a ride:
“I had no idea how to ride or work the transmission. All I felt was a hypnotizing joy. I was riding in first gear till the gas ran out. The whole neighbourhood started looking for me, and when I managed to push the bike home my father beat my ass seriously. In the late 80’s the belt was the tool of upbringing, and so with every hit my father injected more love for the machine.”
Today, Kris has his workshop just 12 steps from his living room, and he’s still mad for bikes:
“I work every day and during the weekends — I really need to force myself to go to sleep otherwise I would work all the time in the workshop.”
The bike you see here is a ’94 CB750 RC42 built for a customer in New York. The basic ingredients are the same as the shop’s first café racer, a black and yellow Honda CB750 dubbed “The Spider” — same base, engine, geometry, and wheels — but with a more retro design focus:
“The first Honda had a neo-sport design, and so we were very keen to see the new bike in a retro-classic look.”
Highlights include the CB550 tank, black GSX-R K7 forks, custom bodywork and rear sets, Excel rims built by a Ukrainian friend, and Motogadget electronics modified to work with the OEM ECU. The bike is, in some ways, a tribute to the customer’s family in New York:
“Mijo means ‘My son’ in Spanish, and the signatures on the tank are the parents’ names of our customer from NY.”
Kris says this will be their last custom Honda for the foreseeable future. Why?
“Well, the spoke wheels were developed by our friend in the Ukraine who is currently fighting in Ukrainian Army. As long as there is war in Ukraine, he cannot return to his garage — therefore we cannot develop the rims.”
Our thoughts are with Kris’s friend in the Ukraine. Below, we talk to him for the full details on the build.
Honda RC42 Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My love for motorcycles was injected by my father but not because he had a motorcycle or because he was riding. I was in school, like 13 years old at the time, and I borrowed my friend’s new bike.
I had no idea how to ride or work the transmission. All I felt was a hypnotizing joy. I was riding in first gear till the gas ran out. The whole neighbourhood started looking for me, and when I managed to push the bike home my father beat my ass seriously. In the late 80’s the belt was the tool of upbringing, and so with every hit my father injected more love for the machine.
I got my first bike at the age of 16 as a barter transaction. I exchanged a brand new CD player for a 250cc 2-stoke WSK motorcycle. This time I hid the bike from my parents, in my friend’s garage. Every day after school I spent hours on that bike. I disassembled, fixed, and renovated it. This was my beginning in motorcycle craft.
When we built our house, the workshop was my main and only focus. It takes 12 steps from the living room to the workshop and I spend most of my time on bikes. I work every day and during the weekends — I really need to force myself to go to sleep otherwise I would work all the time in the workshop.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
This silver Honda was a combination of our first café racer — the black and yellow Honda CB750, “The Spider” — same base, engine, geometry, and wheels — with retro design that we developed together with the customer from New York. The first Honda had a neo-sport design, and so we were very keen to see the new bike in a retro-classic look. The finished bike is way more advanced in terms of design compared to the first vision.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the completed bike?
Before the joy, pride and excitement there is a strong focus on technical and performance aspects. During the test rides, we mainly focus on all performance factors and the feedback of the bike. This technical dimension is long before the joy and satisfaction. I feel very connected to the bikes we develop but still, they are the customer’s bikes so there is also apprehension element. Anyway, hearing the engine working after six or eight months of work is a great feeling.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The look of the finished bike is truly satisfying. I don’t design the bikes in some special programs. It all comes from the vision I have in my mind. Looking at the finished motorcycle is a confirmation of my vision. Either I was right, or not. In this specific build, we had to re-design the way the electrical signal was delivered to the ECU. We adapted push-only Motogadget m-Switches to be able to work with the OEM electrical installation. It means we had to use a set of controllers delivering the signal so the ECU unit could understand it. It took us two weeks to program all 6 switches to work not as push-only, but typical on/off buttons.
- Honda CB750 RC42 1994
- Tank from Honda CB550F, 1976 – old steel effect was painted and covered in matte clear
- Ohlins rear shocks
- Motogadget m-Blaze integrated turn signals
- Motogadget m-Switch with redesigned electrical installation
- Black GSXR K7 forks with classic black headlight
- Excel rims with Pirelli Night Dragon tires customized with white letters
- 4:4 custom collector pipes and 4 silencers
- Custom seat cowl painted with old steel effect
- Leather grips and tank belt
- Old OEM classic Honda emblem on the tank
- DNA oval pod filters
- Custom developed rear sets
- Engine paint is a mix of black satin and wrinkle effect
- Re-jetted carbs with new pilot jets, main jets
- KOSO digital speedo