Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

BLACK HOLE FUN. Mike Andrew’s Wicked Honda CB1300 Muscle Racer

Posted on November 9, 2017 by Andrew in Café Racer, Other. 36 comments

Written by Martin Hodgson

Motorcycles are more than just moving pieces of metal or basic transportation, for those of us who truly love the two-wheeled world, each bike becomes a chapter in our life’s tale. For every thrilling moment shared, taking that perfect line through your favourite bend there can be moments of chaos and pain; high siding at any speed feels like getting beaten up on what was meant to be fun-filled Friday night! And so it goes that from the land of the long white cloud one man experienced the best and worst of life as he built his dream machine. The result is this low and lean beast that started life as a 1997 CB1300 X4 JDM only model and will one day retire to the lounge room of Mike Andrews, on New Zealand’s north island.

Notice the type on the rims

The CB1300 X4 was Honda’s response to the street beast VMX from Yamaha, but Honda never got it right as the X4 was always that one step behind. Despite being a JDM bike, examples made their way around the world, Germany has a cult following, and this one made its way south to NZ. When Mike found this CB in 2015 it had clearly seen better days, in fact a good friend rang the night before begging him not to buy it, “it’s ugly, he said, someone had painted it with vinyl spray at some stage, someone else had tried to clean that off. It had been resprayed a flat red with a cut paw on the tank.”

It got worse, the engine cases were totally oxidised, and the carbs had collected more dust than a desert storm. But Mike wanted it, his loving wife Jen had promised he could build a keeper during their wedding vows if he just agreed to wear sunscreen. He said I do, both to Jen and the skin protection, and the X4 would join them until death do they part. The first step was to strip the bike down and use his talents in retail design to gain a picture in his mind of just how she should look. One thing was for sure, the Honda had to go on a diet with the stock bike weighing an insane 270kg. Gutting the clutter from under the seat and the tail was the major surgery with more weight saving done a few grams at a time.

“The seat cowl was by far the most complicated part of the build, I had to teach myself how to sculpt and fibreglass the single piece tail section (seat pan is separate) that can lock into place and also be easily removed to access batteries, fuses etc – which are mounted on another custom glass piece that follows the contour and profile of the seat,” recalls Mike who built the Honda in a small shed in the bush west of Auckland. All the extra effort that took months to complete was worth it, with the fat bottom girl now sporting a slimmer waist with a racey rear line. With a custom front guard for the JDM model impossible to find he decided to make that too.

Using half an old tyre and MDF board gave him the shape from which he could make a timber buck and once again his new-found fibre glassing skills have paid off a treat. To remove further weight, this time of the visual kind Mike knew the direction he had to follow “I wanted to paint the Honda black, it’s a slimming colour, so a lot of time was spent fairing the seat, so it could be painted along with the frame, forks, swingarm, triple trees and headlight… all painted 100% gloss in 2 pack.” Just as things were going smoothly life took a cruel turn and then a moment of joy, as the project took on even greater significance.

“I wanted to have something that meant more than just metal, it’s taken two years to build, we lost my mum to cancer, we had our first son – this bike represents the most challenging years of my life.” So ever more determined Mike pressed on, with the X4 perfect for long therapeutic rides the seat design is stitched in black leather retaining the sporty feel while giving plenty of comfort. The seats shape exposes the beautiful drop section in the frame and a total rewire of the bike, including cutting down the harness allows the negative space below to flourish in plain sight. A light weight battery and relocation of the radiator overflow give the big CB the neat lines it had been denied from the factory.

“It’s taken two years to build, we lost my mum to cancer, we had our first son – this bike represents the most challenging years of my life”.

The jaunty tail really makes it

But in front of that care free space sits a lump that commands respect and the first thing to do with the engine was clean it up and give it a lick of Harley Davidson black paint. The big four cylinder is a tad shy of 80ci and with a massive 121nm of torque it’ll shred tyres in any gear. With 70k on the clock, Mike made the wise decision to pull the bank of carbs and totally rebuild the 36mm units. Knowing what he had in store for the exhaust he re-jetted them to suit and fitted up a set of filtered bell mouthed velocity stacks. That exhaust is a stunning, lightweight titanium system that runs from the four header pipes back before finishing out in a barking mad Werkes USA muffler.

Steering the black beauty is something Honda made a breeze with the use of beefy 43mm telescopic forks that are well dampened from the factory. But at the rear the stock shocks are always playing catch up, so Mike pulled them out and replaced them with a perfectly matched set of adjustable YSS items. Even with the considerable weight savings that have been achieved braking is not something to be left to chance and upgraded Nissin hardware takes care of business. Up on the bars a new master cylinder provides the pressure while all new grips, switch gear and a Daytona speedo give the perfect minimalist look.

The Honda had arrived with later model gold wheels, but Mike had an idea to give them a totally unique appearance. “I painted them in a custom bronze, then had a sign writing friend cut Honda logos for me – I laid the logos inside the wheels and then clear coated over them, finally I had them wrapped in Michelin Pilot 3s.” With that this magnificent muscle machine was finished and Mike has its future well mapped out, “I’m going to ride it, develop the engine and as long as there is still salt, head back to Bonneville with Jen and our two boys, celebrate my 50th year and create some memories with my boys – then retire it to the lounge.”

[ Mike Andrews – Instagram | Photos by Danilo Santana ]

  • MayDayMoto

    Wow this thing is rippin. Love how long and low it is while still being a functional road slicing weapon. And it looks comfortable to ride too. Fit and finish appears better-than-factory. Bravo, winner.

    • Mike Andrews

      @MayDayMoto:disqus thanks for your support and your kind words

      • MayDayMoto

        keep on keepin on, brother

  • the watcher

    All the X4s in the U.K. are imports (there’s about 20, I think) which is a bloody shame, cos they’re great. This however, is the smartest one I’ve ever seen. Good work, fella.

    • Mike Andrews

      @disqus_6VJqYjKBBP:disqus – thanks, hopefully more will be built :0

  • Laurie Faen

    Great looking Honda. The factory should take some notes!

    • Mike Andrews

      Thanks Laurie!, I really tried to build everything with the “what if the factory built this” mentality – I think its why it drove me nuts trying to get it right.

  • Brendan Kavanagh

    And those wheels are something special.
    Sadly, I really don’t like the hole in the middle.

    • I don’t notice until you mentioned it. Would it not look to heavy with that space filled?

      • Brendan Kavanagh

        Possibly so but then the whole build suggests a pretty serious presence.
        At the moment, it looks, to me at least, not quite finished.

        • I was digging the drag vibe the long, sparse swing arm was giving the build. But that might just be me…

          • Mike Andrews

            Cheers @Pipeburn_Andrew:disqus its a big angry icarus!

        • Mike Andrews

          Hi Brendan, sorry you feel that its not finished.
          This was an area of the bike that was a real battle for me, in standard form the X4 is a really wide bike, the carbs were hidden by very bulbous side covers, the drop profile in the frame was hidden by a wide cruiser style seat which extended almost as far out as the side covers.
          I built this to eventually campaign on the salt flats and I wanted to tuck in behind the engine as much as possible using the mass of the engine to hide behind – it was important to reduce and relocate weight, hence the seat design ( batteries positioned over the rear wheel etc) and pinched seat pan to help tuck in behind (insta has lots of detail photos) also the rectifier needs plenty of cool air to work properly – as I develop this bike I might need to look at ducting, so there might be something it that area yet!

  • guvnor67

    Now that’s one tough lookin’ bike! Mean as hell, and with the rider on board it just accentuates the positives!

    • Mike Andrews

      Thanks @guvnor67:disqus

  • Len Farquharson

    Sweet as bro! Wellington to Cape Reinger and back in double quick time on this beauty, with Crowded House in your earpiece. “You’ll never see the end of the road while you are travelling with me. Hey now, hey now, don’t dream its over!”

    • Change the music to Spilt Ends and I’m in… like Finn. Boom tish.

      • guvnor67

        hee hee!

      • Len Farquharson

        The Finn brothers’ band in 1986 was Crowded House when they released “Don’t Dream Its Over.” Split Enz; just as good! Still, this a damn fine looking ride.

      • Mike Andrews

        favorite Enz song?

    • guvnor67

      Just don’t forget to always take the weather with you. . . .

    • Mike Andrews

      thanks Len! I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Finn brothers play many times, with Grant Lee Buffalo, Johnny Marr, Eddie Vedder – the highlight was watching them play rhythm and supplying backing vocals to Elvis Costello as he sung the Drugs dont work…. they then harmonised, Elvis moved to backing vocals and the Finn brothers played better be home soon.. but I get you completely!

  • martin hodgson

    The more I come back to this bike the more impressed I am. Super tough and yet doesn’t rely on any lary modifications or colour scheme to try and pull off the look… it just is! How many bikes can cruise a freeway at low rpm, stomp out a number at the drag strip, be a brilliant ride on the back roads and then look tough as hell parked up…. not many at all, this does all of that and more!

    • I think Mike just invented a new genre. Muscle Racers FTW.

    • Mike Andrews

      Thanks @disqus_3qzPBnGaCb:disqus, I really wanted the bike to look like it was factory, subtle.. thanks for your feedback :0

  • David Novick

    Very nice. Looks a bit like the new ARCH. And that’s a compliment on both bikes.

    • Mike Andrews

      @davidnovick:disqus, wow! I’ve been blown away by every comment – incredibly humbled by yours

  • Harold

    Love the story behind this beauty. But please, don’t retire it. This is one to be ridden!

    • I thought the same thing, actually. I would be a shame…

    • Mike Andrews

      @disqus_VHM3CCra0U:disqus I still have 7 years of riding and development before we get to the salt, once its ready for the salt – I dont think it will be road legal… but lets see 🙂

  • rein skugler

    Each thought that came to mind has already been verbalised in these comments. This bike is a living organism. It looks like one could dive onto it from behind and you will land just perfectly, feet on the pegs, hands on the bars, no adjustments to the body, and GO! The posture combination of rider and bike is just … perfect. So natural. And the tail is a work of art! It would be a shame to “retire” this bike but I agree wholeheartedly that it should sleep in the lounge (if not in the bedroom, the office, the workshop, the bar – wherever you go).

    • Mike Andrews

      @reinskugler:disqus – Thank you! from the bottom of my heart

  • Marlon

    Far out. What a story.

    There’s no way he should sell the bike!

    • Cool huh? And agreed re: the sale of the bike.

    • Mike Andrews

      @disqus_3ErPofgONq:disqus @Pipeburn_Andrew:disqus I never plan to sell this bike!
      I think I will get a graphic made up!

  • Mike Andrews

    To each of you, thank you! I was very nervous showing this build, but Im heartened by each piece of feedback and support. I have another build in the early stages of development and look forward to sharing it with you all, all I can say at this stage is that it is a collab project with a famous Ducati race tech, a 749 and my little shed.

    talk soon, ride safe