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‘88 Honda Africa Twin 650 – ‘Whiskey Throttle’

Posted on September 28, 2013 by Andrew in Scrambler. 21 comments

Some people thrive in adverse situations. They’re the ones that end up climbing mountains, crossing deserts or diving to record depths. They could take the easy option, but somehow they always end up choosing something that is inherently more risky. Similarly, in the bike world customisers who like to minimise problems and get results in the shortest amount of time will often pick a Yamaha SR or CB Honda as a donor bike. They are a tried and true route to good outcome. But where’s the fun in that? Why not choose a bike that would really pose a challenge? Our latest builder did. In fact, he chose the Everest of the custom bike world. A bike we’ve never featured on Pipeburn before. Meet Lorenzo ‘Tenzing’ Rapparini and his ‘Whiskey Throttle’ Honda.

“This bike was dreamed up with the intention of creating a very light scrambler but more importantly, to make a unique bike through the choice of a really unusual base. In fact, a lot of customisers start with old XLR 600s, a Dominator 650 or a Bonneville but I’ve honestly never see any scrambler based on an Africa Twin 650 so I said to myself, this will be a good place to start.”

“The first real work in the build was to create the fuel tank and a tail that would look modern but without loosing that vintage look that I like so much. So I created a model with polystyrene and coated it with a clay paste to define the main design line. The fiberglass was based directly off of that. For the rest of the bike, the frame was smoothed, and painted with primer. The front light came from a MT03 and the fender was from a KTM 450.”

“Another big a job was the suspension. The front forks are Marzocchi’s that were fitted with a CNC-made plate. For the rear I used a KTM LC4 640 unit, but I’ve remade all the pro-link parts because the mono was longer than the original by about 4 cm. Other handmade mods include a trimmed seat, Trailtech instruments, a carbon dash with LED lights, headlight supports and the fuel cap. When I started work the bike’s weight was about 230kg. Now it’s only 180kg dry.”

“The bike’s name is ‘whiskey throttle’ from the slang term to describe when you give a bike too much throttle and the acceleration pulls you back and you add more throttle… and you go out of control. Similarly, I’ve created a foolish, light and out-of-control bike from a fat, slow and cow of a bike. I think the name really suits it.”

  • JeroenB

    This truly a piece of art!
    As a Transalp rider I appreciate this so much. It’s like I feel an urge do something similar.
    The only problem I have is that I’m a commuter, it´s my only transportation, I don’t have a car or another bike.
    But this bike is packed with good ideas that came to life. I dig it, I really do.

  • Ken Lindsay

    This is THE BIKE I’ve wanted for years. The only thing I would want is a second, larger tank for the long range trips. But it would have to match this one!

  • nuntius

    Interesting project! This is the final color?

    • AndrewF

      I hope not, because that plain beige makes me think this is still the clay mould, not the actual finished product…
      and that’s a shame, because the bike is nice otherwise.

  • Greg Simanson


  • Artie CraftsWorks Lorenzo Rapp
  • arnold

    Very Impressive. A model I will look for. Never could do as good a job with it as you have though.ald

    • arnold

      I looked at the weight reduction, 230 to 180. Damn, 50 lbs that’s pretty good (about what I’m trying to loose, 25 to go). That furin’ metric system bites me every time. Now the reduction is Twice as impressive. 5 lbs times 5 lbs I can do in my head, but 5 kg times 5 kg, I have to use a calculator and scratch pad and the international translator.

      • That would be 506 lbs down to 396 lbs.

        One kilo is 2.2 lbs.

  • gpmucci

    Fantastic bike, and for sure, really funny to ride.

  • Marcello


  • anomnom nom

    That’s a TransAlp not a twin.

    • Artie CraftsWorks Lorenzo Rapp

      this is an RD03 africa twin 650 1988… belive me! 🙂

      • anomnom nom

        Ok ok ok. I believe you. 😉

  • Tyler Horne

    Love everything but the tank and rear fender.

  • Karl

    I love this bike and color! Very rugged looking. I think it looks more African than the original bike did!

  • Juan Francisco Castillo Villal

    Does anyone know what tires is that thing using?

    • TheBluePig

      Michelin Anakee 2’s

  • TheBluePig

    Nice result. I’m not sure fans of the twin think their standard bikes are ‘cows’ though. Nice use of components from other makes and a good photo shoot. Although burnout shots do make me think of bogans 🙂

  • Vintage King Motor

    Great looking bike bet it took time find all the motorcycle
    for this bike.

  • gianluca

    ciao lorenzo, veramente un bel lavoro. sto modificando anche io la mia rd04 e sono curioso di sapere dove hai posizionato il regolatore di tensione e il contenitore del liquido. ciao e grazie in anticipo