Search Suggestions
Common Tread

November custom roundup: Something large, something minimalist, and something strange in between

Nov 15, 2023

From biggest to smallest, this month's round-up features three vastly different builds from around the globe. First up is a Honda Gold Wing that won over a lifelong skeptic. Then we've got a cyberpunked Yamaha YZF-R6 from the Emerald Isle, and finally a minimalistic neo-retro makeover of a classic dual-sport thumper.

Max Duff custom Gold Wing in all black
It's rare to see a Gold Wing get the custom treatment, and this motorcycle has some features you're unlikely to see elsewhere. Akin Moto photo.

Max Duff 1986 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade

Max Duff founded the Australian motorcycle riding apparel brand Akin Moto (Instagram). When it comes to his own motorcycles, Max knows what he likes, but for his latest project, he bought the one bike that as a child he couldn't make sense of. Honda's behemoth highway tourer, the Gold Wing.

"I couldn't understand why the hell anyone would ever own one. But back in 2021, I decided to purchase that exact motorcycle. Life is weird!" says Max. "At the time, I'd never seen anyone ride a 1980s Gold Wing, let alone modify or restore one. So I made it my mission to turn a crusty old tourer into something special."

The '86 Aspencade came into Max's ownership unexpectedly. After placing a minimum bid on an eBay auction, he promptly forgot about it. But to his surprise, two weeks later he received a notification telling him he was the Honda's new owner. Upon collecting the bike, Max was pleased to find that it was in good condition, despite being covered in a thick layer of dust and hosting generations of mud wasp families.

After dealing with all the dust and wasp nests, Max performed an extensive restoration of the Gold Wing with a few carefully curated custom touches. Starting with the suspension, he's completely rebuilt the system, which uses an onboard air compressor to adjust front and rear preload. The liquid-cooled 1,182 cc flat-four motor is all original but it has undergone a thorough service and tune to keep it runing smoothly. The exhaust is the stock setup, too, but its appearance is much more dramatic thanks to the matte black cerakote.

cutom-stitched seat on a Gold Wing
The seat is an important component on a Gold Wing, and this one has a special seat. Akin Moto photo.

Max's customization decisions were designed to amp up the Gold Wing's style and improve upon its already impressive list of features. The standout mod is the custom seat trim by Timeless Automotive Trimming. Finished in sleek black leather and a classic diamond-stitched pattern, the saddle and its luxurious lounge-style pillion chair look fit for a king. To complement the look, Max installed a set of Biltwell Torker diamond-pattern grips.

A "period correct" cassette deck still takes pride of place on the Gold Wing, but to make the most of it, Max retrofit it with modern speakers that have enough grunt to serenade a group of riders at speed. And since he always planned to use the Gold Wing for camping trips, he modified the rear top box to house a nifty BBQ setup.

Max has a soft spot for black bikes, so from the get-go, this Gold Wing was destined to receive Stygian styling. His inspiration for the glossy black-and-gold paintwork came from "John Player Special" race cars of the 1970s and '80s. And to apply it, he enlisted the help of Justin Holmes at Pop Bang Classics.

"Due to the sheer amount of parts and panels on this thing, Justin stated that there's more work in painting a Gold Wing than a full-size family sedan!" says Max. "The front fairing alone breaks down into around 11 individually painted pieces!"

front view of the black custom Gold Wing
Lots of black, from the John Player Special-inspired paint on the bodywork to the smoked turn signal lenses. Akin Moto photo.

Along with the bodywork, Max coated the engine, frame, and a long list of accessories in fresh black powdercoat. He's also tinted the turn signal lenses and installed a smoked windscreen to tie everything together.

rear view of the custom Gold Wing
Not your grandfather's Gold Wing... unless he also has one that's custom-painted and has a grill in the top box. We doubt it, though. Akin Moto photo.

Since completing the project, Max has been clocking up the miles on his Honda. Contrary to his childhood aversion to the Gold Wing, he's rather impressed with the performance of the bike.

"You have to push it to scrape a peg and it is quite easy to lean into a corner," he says. "Things start getting sketchy when the speed increases. But all in all, it's a big comfy bike that's perfect for cruising and listening to your favorite Doors album on cassette."

I guess this goes to show you really shouldn't knock any bike until you've tried it.

side view of custom R6 with orange and blue bodywork
A Yamaha YZF-R6 like no other you've ever seen. Photo by Lona Murwiki.

Treasure Garage Yamaha YZF-R6 "Astro Boy"

The last place I'd expect to see this cyberpunk'd Yamaha R6 cruising the streets would be a tropical paradise like Bali. Typically, the land of a thousand temples' streets are dominated by low-capacity motorcycles and scooters, so spying an R6, even in standard dress, would be out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, this distinctive project is the work of Bali's very own Treasure Garage (Instagram).

Under the guidance of company founder Imanuel "Nuel" Prakoso, the Treasure Garage team has built a unique collection of sci-fi-looking custom motorcycles. Last month, they wowed the judges at Indonesia's pre-eminent custom automotive event, Kustomfest, where they bagged five well deserved trophies. Making its first public appearance amongst the Treasure Garage Kustomfest entries was this 2012 Yamaha YZF-R6 nicknamed "Astro Boy."

Astro Boy R6 custom in orange and light blue bodywork
Throwback paint, modern wings, and hand-shaped aluminum bodywork. Astro Boy is a mix of elements. Photo by Lona Murwiki.

Nuel, who is a former professional athlete, developed the distinctive look of Treasure Garage's portfolio through collaborations with local digital artists. After realizing his ideas on screen, the 3D renders are transformed into rolling works of art by his talented team of in-house fabricators.

In most cases, bodywork like this is made from composites of plastic, but this bike is almost entirely hand-shaped from aluminum. Considering the level of skill it takes to create shapes this complex, it's fair to say Treasure Garage's work is world-class. What makes it even more impressive is that this bike was completed in only five months.

For this project, Nuel wanted the Yamaha to appear like a Superbike from the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. Sporting angular lines, distinctive lighting, and GP-inspired winglets, it's a convincing depiction.

The front fairing takes center stage with its winged, aerodynamic styling. To aid with cooling, the panels feature vents that direct cooling air past the supersport's inline-four engine. Encompassing the entire front end of the R6, the front fairing also forms the bike's belly pan and the integration of the exhaust into the design is inspired.

closeup of stitching on seat
From the Gold Wing above to the R6 here, diamond stitching on seats is apparently the way to go. Photo by Lona Murwiki.

At the rear, there's very little in the way of a tail unit. Supported by a custom subframe, the slender rear cowl sports integrated LED lighting and an enclosed base. The slimline seat is made up of two diamond-stitched pads and the front half of the whole assembly merges with the tank to form a set of side panels. Completing the new bodywork arrangement are custom wheel discs. Also shaped from aluminum, they make the bike look like something from a sci-fi anime movie. Curiously, Treasure Garage opted for classic Gulf racing livery for this decidedly futuristic creation, which gives it a neo-retro feel.

closeup of digital gauge
The Koso digital gauge displays the essentials. Photo by Lona Murwiki.

On top of all the custom-made bodywork, Treasure Garage made a few custom tweaks to the R6 to complete its new look. Behind a narrow perspex windscreen sits a feature-packed Koso digital gauge. The levers hail from Brembo, and as for the lighting, it's all LED-powered and custom-made. The headlight is two parts, with a DRL up top and a strip of lights below for the main lighting. The turn signals are integrated into the winglets on the fairing and the round tail light is styled to match the DRL up front.

closeup of carbon fiber wins with turn signals
If you want a futuristic look, you have to have wings, right? The turn signals are integrated into the wings for a cleaner look. Photo by Lona Murwiki.

Astro Boy's exhaust system is, of course, custom too, and it's the only significant modification to the R6's engine performance. According to Nuel, the Yamaha rides better than before, thanks to the free-flowing exhaust and a minimal change in weight. Let's be honest, though, we all know the R6 is a good performer, so what counts here is how damn impressive this bike looks.

custom XT600 Yamaha parked in the tall grass
A 30-year-old dual-sport gets a new life. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

Hoxton Moto XT600 Street Tracker

Hoxton Moto (Instagram) frontman Shaun Fenton has a soft spot for customizing classic, single-cylinder, dual-sport bikes. After previously building a Yamaha XT500 and a Honda NX650, the ex-TV producer was eager to sink his teeth into another project and decided that a lightweight 1990s Yamaha XT600 was the ideal starting point.

"After finding a neglected yet suitable 1992 XT600 — which, fortunately, had already been customized with a set of Yamaha TDM forks, twin disc brakes, and an 18-inch wheel — we rolled it into the workshop to start work," says Shaun. "Our first modification was to fit dual-purpose rugged Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, which instantly gave the bike an aggressive, supermoto appearance."

side view of the XT600 custom
The starting point was a 30-year-old Yamaha XT600 that already had some modifications. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

Convinced they were on to something, Shaun's team tore the bike down to see what they were dealing with. "This gave us a good look at the existing symmetry and helped us with sketching a more streamlined design," he says. "We then found a Yamaha DT250 tank at a swap meet with suitable length and profile and it defined the lines for the rest of the build."

Next, focus was turned to the frame. After some work with a grinder, a compact rear hoop was welded in place. Sturdy gussets were added to support the weight of a rider and to keep things looking clean. From there, a set of mudguards were rolled out of alloy and finished with a cut-out detail, which became a theme throughout the build.

closeup of front fender with rounded rectangular cutout
Cut-outs in the fenders became a styling feature repeated elsewhere on the build. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

The simple seat pan was shaped from foam with practicality and comfort at the forefront of its design. The upholstery was handled by Dave at C A Upton & Son and features black leather with contrasting white stitching to match the build theme.

After pulling the 595 cc single from the chassis, the Hoxton team treated to it to a comprehensive rebuild. The 45-horsepower thumper is essentially stock, aside from an aftermarket silencer and a custom mid-pipe from Zero Exhausts. To free up a few more horses, they've fitted a K&N pod filter and tuned the carb to suit. For all-around reliability, the wiring loom has been completely rebuilt, too.

closeup of the air-cooled single-cylinder engine
Other than freshening and some tuning, the air-cooled single is mainly stock. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

As the bike went back together, more aftermarket parts were added to make this XT truly one of a kind. At the pointy end of the bike, you'll find a Renthal handlebar, analog speedo, minimalist switchgear, and all-new brake lines.

closeup of headlight assembly
The headlight assembly was designed to recall the look of a grill on a classic hot rod car. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

Of course, there's no way we can discuss this custom build without addressing the elephant in the room, the unusual headlight assembly. Shaun says, "We've always been drawn to the front grills on early race cars and hot rods. So we decided to fabricate that shape for the headlight assembly. It had to be both practical, to mount LED strip lights within, and be in proportion with the rest of the bike design. The headlight assembly has proven to be eye-catching and also has the practicality of interchangeable lenses."

disc wheels
The custom-made disc wheels are a defining element. Photo by Shaun Fenton.

The final piece of the puzzle came after the Hoxton team stepped back to take in what they'd made. After some deliberation, it was decided that the wheels should be covered for a more "sinister" look. So Shaun's fabricator cut aluminum discs for both the front and rear wheels and bolted them in place.

After finishing the running gear and engine in liberal coats of satin black, the fuel tank received a classic black-and-white scheme with bold red XT decals. The final result is a neo-retro creation that is undoubtedly as fun to ride as it is to admire.