‘80 Honda CB250 – Old Empire Motorcycles
A quick stroke of the drafting pencil. That’s all it took. Some poor, overworked Japanese designer probably thought he’d had a pretty good day at work. And he had – but for that one fateful decision. It was, after all, the 80s. Plastic was all the rage. Could one little modification to the bottom edge of a gas tank really mean all that much? The answer, with 30 years hindsight, is a resounding ‘yes’. That design feature and it’s total inability to exist independently from that ugly plastic sidecover has caused so much grief for modern builders that the guy is probably living in hiding. But we forgive you, designer-san. We forgive you because of builders like Alec and the team at Old Empire Motorcycles. Their deft hands have taken your tank and done this with it. Come back. All is forgiven.
“The Honda Superdream has been on our list for a long while,” say Alec Sharp – owner of Old Empire Motorcycles. “Then a good friend brough one in and before he could leave we had managed to strip the bike down, a state in which it stayed for quite a while.”
“Month after month bits were welded on, then quickly removed as the design changed. Turns out that it was for a very good reason that we had not as yet seen a decent custom Superdream. The frame is very wide at the back creating difficulty in the narrowness of the original tyre on the rear wheel. The ugly top tube and centre post are eye sores, as is the void left when removing all the sidepanels. Skinny long forks made the whole bike very ungainly-looking and the stance of the bike was way off.”
“Out cometh the grinder and eventually after careful consideration and some Dutch courage it was chopped and chopped until we lost 3’’ on the forks, removed the rear rails and replaced them with a single loop welded inline with the other down rails either side. Knee indents were cut out and clip ons made up. Short, stumpy exhausts and some handmade leather satchels were mounted to fill the void the platic sidepanels left.”
“And Voilà! A motorcycle we think has the stance and styling that the original was always lacking. Considering the effort put into the fabrication and design it seemed a shame not to have the paint up-to-scratch as well, which is why Flying tiger paintwork were enlisted for the matt-finished ivory white paintwork and artwork. Yes, it’s an absolute bitch to clean but we think it looks subtle, clean and it ties in beautifully with the black tooled leather bags and brass fittings.”
“This may not be everybody’s cup of tea and it swings away from a our usual vintage styling – although we have tried to incorporate some touches within the build. We wanted it to be a showcase of what could be done with an example of a bike not readily used for customisation; something that is plentiful, cheap and reliable.”
“Its an extreme example of what can be achieved through plenty of thought and consideration. Hopefully it will provide inspiration for others to follow suite. Keep a look out for our nearly-finished Superdream CB400 which we have taken a similar yet original approach to.”
“The Hunter (as we ended up calling it) is a build of one, but we hope to take inspiration from it to build a run of 5 similar bikes at some point in the future. Thanks goes to Flying Tiger Paintwork, Demeanour Customs, TEM Sport, Aerocoat powdercoating and Ekquire Motorcycles.” Oh no, Alec. As far as we’re concerned, the thanks all go to you.