When it comes to Hondas, your average bike customiser is spoilt for choice. With so many millions made, there's always a sorry machine languishing unloved in a lock-up somewhere just waiting to be transformed into something truly special. And knowing Honda's legendary build quality, all the major moving parts will be salvageable - or easily replaceable - too.
Thing is, which to choose? Our pick of three hot Honda customs deliver wildly differing answers to that question, so will it be Scrambler, Dominator or - the least likely of the lot - Super Cub?
Hard to believe, but this tastefully stripped back minimalist Scrambler arrived at Sérgio Almeida's workshop in Portugal in pieces, in the boot of a client's car. Being a Honda, those bits weren't in terrible condition but it took a customiser as visionary as Almeida to see that a great bike could emerge from what was essentially a kit of parts.
What wasn't great was the original frame, which was bent, possibly from an accident. Reluctantly Almeida had to throw it out and source a new one. Then the mechanical work started: a full engine strip down, rebuild and refreshing of all hardware with stainless steel or zinc coated replacements. Suspension front and rear was lowered. Bodywork modifications include a neat tail, removeable to reveal a pillion seat. The tank is from another Honda altogether, a CB200.
The dominant colourway is a subtle Nardo Grey, with gold highlights to the new front headlight and aftermarket speedometer. Most of the rest of the bike has been treated to black powder-coating. Custom seat is Alcantara-trimmed. What began in the sorriest of states is now the happiest of Scramblers, ready for many on and off-road miles. Inspirational.
Holger Breuer of Husum in Germany has become something of a specialist in Dominator customs and this, his third, was for a Swiss client who game him more or less carte blanche. The result, we think you'll agree, is impressive. Most obvious difference is the fresh tank sourced from a Yamaha XT500 with a colourway chosen from a car that HB-Customs' chosen paint specialist had just finished. A chance decision that simply works.
All is transformed under the skin, too. The powerful 650 cc engine is fully rebuilt, with everything from fresh piston rings to a recommissioned clutch. There's now a Mikuni TM40 carburettor with K&N filter, while electrics are fully digital. The distinctive exhaust is a twin-pipe system, an HB-Custom speciality which uses parts from a Honda CRF250 and an XR600. Magura supplied new cockpit essentials, including handlebars as well as brake, clutch and throttle controls.
The Dominator's suspension has been rebuilt - naturally - with a new shock absorber by YSS to the rear. Rubber to the 17 inch wheels is now courtesy a set of Continental TKC80s, ideal for both speedy motorway journeys and the sort of off-road adventures which this custom will relish. Meantime, pillion riders will relish the longer seat and the new foot pegs, detailing which typifies this build. The perfect all-rounder? Oh yes.
Here's a utility machine with a huge smile on its face. Thai customisers K-Speed love these little Hondas, which are among the world's greatest mobility devices with a staggering 100-million sold. K-Speed have worked on some 70 customised Super Cubs and this machine, designed for their own use, is modelled on Nissan's retro-styled S-Cargo. Shouldn't work. Does, triumphantly.
You'll notice how low the Super Cub rides, courtesy new aluminium rims and super-chunky tyres from Vee Rubber, combined with lowered suspension. Gone is the sensible front mudguard, in come hefty bespoke fork covers. All of which combines to give the previously innocent Super Cub an unlikely faintly menacing look.
Seat, tail lights, exhaust and LED turn signals are from K-Speed's own Diablo range, specifically commissioned for Super Cubs. The rear carrier is bespoke, along with its crafted wooden box, carefully designed to look as if it's just a crate that's lashed into position rather than the custom item that it is. Paintwork is grey and white and new handlebars and speedometer complete a build that's transformed a workhorse into a one-of-a-kind thoroughbred. Brilliant.