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Fred Krugger’s ’66 Honda CB 450 – “Tribute to Japan”

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Andrew in Café Racer. 47 comments

There’s nothing quite like a builder from outside the scene to shake things up a little

There’s a few names that truly sit on the top shelf of the imaginary custom motorcycle hall of fame in my head. Ian Barry from Falcon is one. John Ryland from Classified is probably another. But in terms of longevity and sheer hard work, few builders can beat the stirling rep created by Belgium’s Fred Krugger and his Krugger Motorcycles. Looking back through his work, he has created some of the most memorable customs of the past 10 years. Bikes that redefined what the words “custom bikes” actually meant. He even created a bike that transforms, for god’s sake. And he took out some pretty impressive awards along the way, including a win at the AMD show in Sturgis by an epic 50 point margin over second place. All these great bikes, but never a café racer. Well, not until now that is…

Here’s (the other) Fred Krugger: “This bike is a tribute to a good Japanese friend of mine. It has been built to prove that my heart and my mind really belong to Japan! This is my vision of the legendary ’66 CB 450 ‘Black Bomber,’ one of the first really successful Japanese bikes in Europe!”

“Here’s the technical details. I flipped the cylinder head, which took 30 hours of machining to make a new way for the cams chain, drill new way for the oil, modify the cams and adding tunable sproket. An additional air box will be used to increase power and be kind to the engine.”

Fred prepares for his ill-fated “crystal vase gymkhana” race

“I drew the wheel, which is a néo-retro version of the famous saltflat Halibrand wheels, and then had them machined by Renegade Wheels in the US. The tires are Avon Speedmasters, with a 19″ front and 18″ rear.”

Japan’s rising sun flag. ‘Nippon’ means “Sun Source,” because the Chinese though the sun came from the island when it rose. No, really

“The brakes were custom built for the bike by Beringer, and were specially developed to work on the old school narrow forks.”

“I did all the steel work, and that famous Black Bomber tank has be flipped, too. The whole thing was sprayed in metal flake and silver leaf paint by Daddygraph in France. The leather seat is by Wild Hog in Italy. The bike has LED lights both front and back.”

“Lastly, the bike is for sale. If you like what you see you can contact me at for more information. Cheers!”

(Photos by the lens-a-rific Thiery Dricot Photography)

  • Anonymous

    Forget the TT Bike, this thing is stunning! It shows a level of creativity and innovation that is truly remarkable! Bravo.

  • prollyright

    I am stunned, truly a top ten in my eyes.

  • Lewn

    Personal opinion only, not trolling, please disregard if you disagree:

    The builder of this is a genius in terms of mechanical work done. But it is a highly narcissistic build. All about showing off his skills, like making a diamond-encrusted left foot stiletto shoe, and not about making a practical fun to ride bike. To make people coo over in the corporate foyer or on the wall of a theme restaurant.

    Honda make slightly boring very reliable and practical machines for everyone, whereas this is the exact opposite. No fender plus forward carbs with velocity stacks without filters surely means engine rebuilds every 5 minutes. Practically zero travel fork. I have concerns that the bike will also have overheating issues with the headers on the back as a great deal of heat is dissipated with front headers. Those same headers running right under the seat, nasty. Plus vomit inducing chromed everything and awful shiny flake paint work. Massive retro wheels and classic tires but then led lights. To me it’s like a crystal chandelier when I’m perfectly happy with the original cozy bedside lamp.

    • I get what you’re saying. I would say that not all builds have to be “practical.”

      • Lewn

        Then just call it a ‘rolling sculpture inspired by 1960s cafe racers’ and then I can appreciate it as that. If we start calling it a bike we are going off topic.

        • Kai Vallon

          I don’t agree, in my opinion the entire appeal of custom motorcycles is that they ARE rolling sculpture. Almost every bike is perfectly rideable from the factory, but we customize them anyway. You can’t tell me that Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, or any of the others are practical, they are all the things we desire in an automobile taken to extremes, and they’re still cars, highly sought after ones. I think it’s a mistake to say that when a bike becomes less practical than it was originally it becomes unworthy of being a bike.

          • Lewn

            I comment on, and read about loads of custom bikes that are beautiful as well as practical. Most of those bikes look much better and perform much better than stock bikes. Take a look a Sanctuary or Mule.

          • nweL-check_the_mirror

            Hi Lewn, thank you for sharing what YOU like via your descriptive, opinionated posts. Mr. Krugger, through his creativity, planning, engineering, fabrication and dedication, offers the world HIS vision, in actual, physical form. Please respect his work and that of others. I’d love to see what bikes you’ve built; I’ll be waiting for your feature on Pipeburn. ‘Til then, I’ll be left reading your comments.

          • krugger

            I agree Kai!!! 😉 This is totaly my mind !

        • Call it what you want. If it has 2 wheels and a motor and moves you down the road, its a motorcycle.

          • Lewn

            Oh ebikes and motorized bicycles are now motorcycles?

          • emeglasson

            they absolutely are. Just as harleys, choppers, trikes, enduro’s, sidecars, and pocket bikes are. None of which I personally have any interest in, but are all two wheeled, (or three-wheeled) motorized forms of transportation. And to someone out there, are also a ton of fun.

    • Anton

      I get the forward facing stacks being hugely risky but a swap to some cones will make it usable outside of the showroom. The front suspension could still be fine if it’s got stiff enough springs which seems like it’d be the case with a bike like that.

    • $30724656

      Cheese with that whine?

    • Unfortunately, practical doesn’t win bike shows.

  • Flip the head which forces air into the intake and run the exhaust up under the seat. LOVE IT! Nice way to shake it up. How much tuning was needed to get the fuel/air mix right?

    • With a set-up like that, you’d NEVER get the mix right as you couldn’t tune it to cover off both high speed and standing still. That’s why Fred mentions an airbox in the interview, I guess.

      • I know, but it would be neat. Besides, if hot rods can do it, why can’t motorcycles?

        • Lewn

          Because it’s an air-cooled engine! If you wanna try this surely if you had half a brain you’d try it on a water-cooled engine first.

          • arnold

            Lewn, if you had a twentieth century mindset you would do the numbers and do it anyway….. my slide rule says …………….has been done many times. No longevity, but been done.

          • arnold

            I do recognize the twenty first century somewhat though.ald

    • arnold

      Reverse head have been done and tuned for quite a while. Andrew is right(!) that the carburation via venturi was problematic. Today’s world with Mass airflow sensors and mapped computer programmable controlled injection, might be easier with the tech. the link is to a knowledgeable discussion.

      Very cool bike Krugger, fabrication fabulous.

      • Well, one could always put a supercharger on board…

  • BoxerFanatic

    Quite a ride.

    Would love to know more about the headlight inside that nacelle.

  • PocketFred

    I thought I knew this bike! It was on display at the honda stand at the Brussels Auto/Moto show last week! A beautiful bike, and now I know who built it 🙂

  • nathas909

    Wow I am speechless. Just wow.
    I love the head light, the tank, the seat, the exhaust, the wheels, the paint job, god that paint job.
    I would just love to see this thing in person. well done, what a stunning creation.

  • krugger

    Thanks for your kind word …and the other… 😉 Of course ,this is not a practical bike… but this is my personnal view of a caferacer! You like or you hate,this is not a problem…The main stuff is to do a good job that you love ,a good quality work, easy to maintain and fully reliable . After this, this is a question of taste!! And this is my taste! This bike is fully rideable …except the add of the air filter on the stack and a front fender… ! Of course,this is not a Goldwing…. Front and back shocks travel are 75 mm .This is really enough, except on off road use… 🙂 The back fairing,seat,exhaust system is safe by a kevlar sheet to lower the exchange of temperature !! 16 liter of gasoline, 163 kilogrammes, 50 PS!! I plan to run on the Bonneville saltflat as soon as possible !!

    Sorry for my rough english and enjoy your next ride!!!!!!!!!!! Cheers

    • Thanks Fred!

      • nathas909

        Thanks Pipeburn. The last two bikes have been my favorites that I have seen in a long time. Keep up the good work. The next bike has a lot to compete with.

        • Motomo

          For sure! This thing is killer, yet, just one of many legit pieces of art created by Krugger. I’m pretty sure he’s put together one of the best catalogs of custom motorcycles, ever. Wow, nice work.

    • nathas909

      Thank you from me also. This is an absolutely killer bike.
      Who ever buys this, and I can’t believe you would sell it.
      Just amazing. Well done Krugger.

    • Spyker May

      Long live the unadulterated reign of form over function..!!

      If you want a Goldwing – I am sure Honda will eagerly oblige (a verity so often missed, by a freeway mile, on forums like these).

    • Lewn

      Honda called. They said “他の方法ラウンドで私たちのエンジンを置くことができますか?それがそのようなあなたの残している場合過熱します。”

      • arnold

        The Universal Translator failed me here. I need the Babel fish model.

    • JSRose

      The wheels! The wheels! The wheels!!! Please make them available!!!

  • Ralph

    Superb Honda.. great ’60s engine set-up.. interesting high-tech brake vs. stoneage tyre combo though..

  • Now&Zen

    At first I thought I’d be put off by the ‘ Rising Sun ‘ on the tank (I’m not a ‘ theme bike ‘ fan ) ….. but then it fit so well … with the bike and the reasons behind it ….. well I like it . Then I thought about the ‘ practicality ‘ of the bike everyone else is commenting on . Daily rider ? Probably not . Quick rip up the canyon – down to the local watering hole – off to the favorite coffee shop ? Why the ____ not ? This is one fine bike in all respects if you ask me . Only thing I might change/alter ? Errrrrrr… dare I say it ? Add side covers . But then again thats just me ,

  • The amount of planning, engineering, and physical labor that went into this build is staggering. The engine alone is worth the price of admission. Reversing the tank was also a stroke of genius. People can like it or hate it but I’ve got to give Mr.Krugger props for his craftsmanship. I like the see-through frame – for me, side covers are when you need to hide something. It took the last photo for me to get the Halibrand wheel thing – they do look like the Halibrands used on front-engined Indy roadsters.

  • loss for words on this one. impressive! probably one of the best bikes to ever be featured on the sight. amazing design and craftsmanship.

  • lu Sca

    Very very cool!

  • sideroad

    WOW, I love it. I want those wheels! And the tank. And the seat. And the tail. Oh, bugger it, I just want!

  • Hamish Lamont

    That’s AWESOME! Like a lot of Fred’s stuff, an amazing amount of creativity has resulted in something which is absolutely unique. Topped off with incredible engineering craftsmanship and attention to detail. Who cares about a couple of slightly impractical details when it’s also a piece of rolling art. Cant see it ever getting an airbox though.

  • Ichiban


  • orangelion03

    Stunning. There are so many details I could gush over, but it’s overwhelming! Bravo Fred!!!

  • JSRose

    Those wheels are incredible! The first picture made me think they WERE a modified Halibrand… until the other shots revealed that they are not solid! I want a set!