Custommade C.A. rebuilds and reimagines a family heirloom…
Available from 1980-83, the Honda CM200T TwinStar was a beginner-friendly parallel-twin produced as part of Honda’s “Custom Motorcycle” lineup, using the same chassis, engine, and brakes as the CD200 Benly.
One of the more popular ads showed a student in a varsity letterman’s jacket cruising in front of a school bus full of impressed high-schoolers, and Honda’s advertising made much of the factory custom style so popular at the time:
“It’s that new kind of lowdown look, but in a more civilized size. Think of it as heck on wheels.”
While those aesthetics have become a bit outdated, the TwinStar was a capable little commuter with the expected Honda reliability and pluck.
Recently, we heard from our friend Christos of Greece’s Custommade C.A., whose customer, Giannis, wanted to restore his father’s 1983 CM200T, which had been sitting for nearly 20 years in the garage. However, when Giannis learned what incredible custom work the Athens-based shop could do, he commissioned them for a full custom build of his father’s old bike, taking inspiration from a Paris-Dakar-themed BMW he’d seen on the ‘net.
Christos and team rebuilt the engine and carburetor to factory spec, fitted KTM Duke 390 upside-down forks with disc brakes and a set of 18″ / 17″ wheels, extended the swingarm 5 inches for a longer wheelbase, revamped the electronics with an Axel Joost “trick box” and motogadget handlebar switches, and used the freed-up space inside the frame triangle for an underseat storage area.
Friend of the workshop Vasilis (@_flets) handled the paint, airbrushing the Honda logo on the tank, while other friends and associates fabricated the scratch-built exhaust and custom saddle. The result is one sweet little scrambler sure to bring smiles to Giannis for years to come:
“It is an absolute pleasure to ride her in the city, on the back roads, or even the dirt! The bike alone is a head-turner and the amazing sound of the exhaust draws even more attraction.”
Below, we talk to Christos for the full details on the build.
Honda CM200 Scrambler: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Honda CM200T, 1983.
• Why was this bike built?
The initial idea was to actually restore the owner Giannis’s Honda CM200T, which belonged to his father and had been sitting for years in their garage, getting rusty. It was stalled for more than 20 years, but it looked in pretty good condition based on its age.
At first, the goal was to get it up and running without any further modifications. Giannis was thinking that since it has a small form factor it would be ideal for commuting and short journeys. In the meantime, a common friend had already collaborated with Custommade C.A. and informed him that we not only restored his bike but also made custom parts and totally revamped it. A few years later (fun fact: Giannis was recovering from a motorcycle accident), he decided to DM us on Instagram for the specific project and this is how it all started!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The main inspiration behind this project came from a beefy Paris-Dakar-themed BMW R nine T which Giannis saw on Pinterest. After lots of designs and discussions, we understood that in our case, a more minimal handling was required in order to match the silhouette of our motorcycle. It started as a brat, ended up a scrambler.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
First was the engine and the carburetor. The engine was not running well, with loads of smoke from the exhaust, so we decided on a full rebuild. The block and head were skimmed with new pistons and valve guide fitment. Then it got a fresh powder-coat and everything was reassembled with new gaskets to the manufacture specs. The carb got the same level of treatment with ultrasonic cleaning and glass-blast finish.
As soon as we had the engine done, we moved onto the performance part with suspension and brakes. At the front we fitted a USD fork from a KTM Duke 390 with an 18-inch wheel and four-piston caliper with 320mm brake disc.
At the rear we fitted a pair of adjustable (preload and rebound) shocks to have the bike nicely balanced, with 17-inch rim. The wheels were combined with off-road tyres. At that point we faced a problem with the wheelbase of the motorcycle — it was really short! We couldn’t find a longer swingarm, so we decide to extend the existing one about 5 inches.
Next step was the subframe, which had to be a bit longer to match the new wheelbase, with custom side panels to hide the battery and the electronics. All the electronics were hidden under the seat, thanks to the minimalist design of the Axel Joost trick box that covers all the functions of the motorcycle with only two buttons. A two-switch handlebar module from motogadget was paired with the trick box and combined with a Daytona Velona speedometer to give a clean look to the handlebar.
For the lighting we use a 5.75-inch LED and pair of motogadget turn signals at the rear, which were mounted on our custom suspension mounts.
The taillight and front turn signals were built in-house with the help of our 3D printer. Custom mounts were created also for the headlight-speedometer and the front and rear fenders.
A new full exhaust system was also made from scratch by one of our associates and a new seat to match the classic scrambler style of the new fuel tank was designed.
Finally all parts but the fuel tank and side panels we powder-coated. The fuel tank and the side panels were painted by our good friend Vasilis (@_flets) with his amazing airbrush skills.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The project is called “Catis,” inspired by how cats are pronounced in Greek, throughout the island of Crete.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike is light and agile! It is an absolute pleasure to ride her in the city, on the back roads, or even the dirt! The bike alone is a head-turner and the amazing sound of the exhaust draws even more attraction. The modern and high-quality components of the suspension and brakes give you a feeling of safety and control, leaving you with a big smile after every ride!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The motorcycle’s left side panel, which reveals an underseat storage area. Initially designed to be a fixed panel for hiding the space, it has been freed up thanks to the bike’s new electrical system.
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Paint by Vasilis Flets (@_flets)