Changeling: Honda Hornet 600 “Retro Racer”

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

Custom Hornet 600 by Seb Kustom Motorcycle… 

Introduced in 1998, the Honda CB600F Hornet was a naked sports bike that featured a 599cc liquid-cooled inline four from the CBR600F3 sports bike — a machine that took home three AMA 600 Supersport championships in the 1990s. Known as the 599 here in the States, the CB600F impressed riders with its emphasis on “simplistic performance,” combining an agile steel chassis, upright riding position, wide bars, and proven powerplant.

“The snappy, CBR600F3-based engine and sure-handling chassis are equally well-suited to city streets and twisty backroads. In fact, I don’t recall ever having as good a time riding Látigo Canyon Road with all its bends and kinks.” -Don Canet, Cycle World, 1994

The Hornet continued to attract buyers and riders, remaining in production for 15 years (1998-2013). Over that time, it gained a 17-inch front wheel, inverted forks, fuel injection, and a 102-bhp version of the CBR600RR engine (2007).

Over the past decade, the Hornet 600 has increasingly found its way into the hands of bike-builders, who value the combination of modern performance and minimalist design. One of these is France’s Sebastien Vernaison (@seb_kustom_motorcycle), a plumber by trade whose parents introduced him to motorcycles at a young age — they were both riders. Today, he builds bikes as personal projects in his free time.

Seb as a little motorbiker!

The bike you see here began life as an ’07 Hornet 600, the first year of the updated engine. Says Seb:

“I chose this donor motorcycle because it was already equipped with an original inverted fork, and I wanted to test a fuel-injected motorcycle…”

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The previous owner had already undertaken some dodgy design modifications, but that was no hindrance for Seb, who planned to redo everything anyway. Interestingly, he originally built the bike into a bit of brat café. While this preparation was a major improvement over the donor bike, Seb remained unsatisfied.

“After reflection I found it much too simple compared to what I am used to doing. So I decided on a whim to give it another look with more character.”

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer
The “Brat” version

Sebastien tasked himself with the ambitious goal of making his Hornet something of a changeling, capable of being switched between two versions in short order: a brat version akin to the original build, and a “Retro Racer” version with fairings and a different exhaust.

“I wanted to be able to change between them in 10 minutes maximum, so I thought about how to change my parts quickly.”

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

First came the fairings. Seb set about modifying various fiberglass bodywork elements from French carénage supplier Poly26, including a headlight shell with low-cut windscreen, belly pan, and tail cowl that incorporates the Atout Sellerie faux leather saddle. He had to create a custom fairing “spider” to mount and support the new bodywork and make a cutout for the LED headlight. Meanwhile, he integrated Kellermann lighting into the custom rear frame loop.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The bike is now rolling on Hyperpro suspension (front springs and rear shock) and upgraded brakes. In terms of the engine, the liquid-cooled four is breathing through DNA filters and an Inox Arrow exhaust with two options: a Danmoto carbon silencer (customized by West Welding 29) for the Retro Racer, and a Devil brand muffler better matched to the Brat.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The result is a unique Hornet 600 that’s really two customs in one! Below, we talk to Sebastien for more details and backstory on the build, along with more shots of the Retro Racer courtesy of photographer Les Studio de Broceliande. Enjoy!

Hornet 600 Retro Racer: Builder Interview

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

Please tell us a little about yourself and your history with motorcycles.
I am a plumber by trade; I was attracted to motorbikes from a very young age thanks to my parents (both of them rode motorbikes long before I was born). I’ve always loved having custom vehicles, I started with cars, then naturally moved towards motorcycles (I spend more time building them rather than riding them).
 
I am not oriented towards one type of motorcycle, I like to vary the constructions; this is what allows me to get noticed by event organizers, magazines, etc. So I make my motorcycles in my free time, they are just personal projects.
What is the make, model, year of the base bike?

Honda 600 Hornet, 2007.

The donor
Please tell us more about the build.

Basically, I chose this donor motorcycle because it was already equipped with an original inverted fork, and I wanted to test a fuel-injected motorcycle in order to reduce the problems linked to misadjustment of the carburetors.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The donor was not very beautiful; the previous owner had made an assembly with a GSX-R rear shell, a very dodgy exhaust connection, etc. It was not a big deal because I was planning to completely redo anything.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The bike was given a first preparation, which I finished two years ago — a mixture of a Bratstyle and Café Racer. It was already nicer than when I bought it, but after reflection I found it much too simple compared to what I am used to doing. So I decided on a whim to give it another look with more character.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

I made the modifications with the aim of having two possible assemblies of this bike. I wanted to be able to change between them in 10 minutes maximum, so I thought about how to change my parts quickly.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

The fork head shell comes from the Poly26 catalog, the front fairing has been modified to install the headlight, and the shell has been modified into a saddle cover. For this it has been widened and adapted to the shape of the saddle.

The saddle was custom made by Atout Sellerie from a seatpan I formed, following the shape of the new rear loop I made. This one receives a stop light at its end, and two 3-in-1 Kellermann lights are fixed under the loop to provide legal lighting. At the front, a ventilated LED bulb has been installed in the optics and Kellermann indicators have been added.

In terms of the engine, an Inox Arrow exhaust has been installed. There are also two mountings for the exhaust: a Devil for the Brat version and a Danmoto Carbon customized by West Welding 29 for the Retro Racer version. A DNA air filter is installed in the air box.

Honda Hornet 600 Cafe Racer

Retro Racer: Build Sheet

Frame:

  • Hyperpro fork spring
  • Hyperpro adjustable rear shock
  • Tailor-made rear loop with integrated brake lights
  • Custom fairing spider
  • Modification of the upper fork crown
  • Steering damper
  • Nissin front master cylinder
  • Custom expansion tank
  • Aviation brake hose
  • Quick-turn throttle
  • Custom Alu rear shift
  • Half handlebar aluminum strap
  • Front Braking Discs
  • Custom plate holder

Bodywork:

  • Adaptation and modification of a Poly26 fiberglass shell into a seat cowl
  • Adaptation of a Poly26 fiberglass fork fairing
  • Bubble cut and tinted
  • Adaptation of a MT03 shoe
  • Satin black chassis paint made by me
  • Grey background paint made by a bodyworker
  • Blue decoration made by me
  • Tailor-made saddle in faux leather and fabrics made by Atout Sellerie (69)

Engine:

  • DNA Filters air filter
  • Arrow stainless steel line
  • Danmoto carbon silencer customized by West Welding 29
  • Wagner Classic Oil engine and fork oil
  • Wagner Classic Oil tank treatment

Electricity:

  • Beam simplification
  • Kellermann Atto LED front turn signals
  • Kellerman Atto WL LED license plate light
  • Front headlight with LED bulb
  • 3-in-1 Kellermann Atto DF LED assembly installed at the rear and integrated stop LED in the buckle
  • Kellermann flashing unit
  • Koso counter

Builder Thanks:

  • Wagner Classic Oil
  • Kellermann
  • Shark Helmets
  • DNA Filters
  • West Welding 29
  • Poly26

Photographer: Les Studio de Broceliande

Follow the Builder

Instagram: @seb_kustom_motorcycle

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One Comment

  1. Don Goodwin

    Great looking bike but dear lord, that headlight ruins the whole look and flow of the front end. It’s horrible….

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