The popularity of certain models in the custom bike industry often makes total sense and at other times boggles the mind. Entire subcultures with a supporting aftermarket can grow around one particular bike while its direct competitors from other manufacturers are all but forgotten. But away from the scene’s strongholds and isolated from peer pressure, Bulgaria’s Ivan Mushev chose a model we’ve only featured twice in Pipeburn’s ten years. Taking a Honda Hornet 600 and turning it into a cafe-fighter that’s a rolling promotion for his newly formed outfit Bull Moto Custom.
Based in Kyustendil, Ivan is part of the opening stanza of custom bike builders in the country as the craze sweeps through Eastern Europe. Drawing inspiration from 2014’s incredible R nineT by Japanese outfit Cherry’s Company, he was on the lookout for a bike that didn’t demand the level of cash the new BMW does. The Hornet 600 is cheap, cheerful and very capable, proving to be an enormous sales success for Honda. Also used in a one-make race series there is considerable aftermarket support and go-fast bits available.
So it’s a wonder more haven’t picked one as the base for their builds, but for Ivan it was perfect for “Doing something with a smaller budget, but for a larger audience”. Following the theme of his inspiration, it is a fusion of styles that draws on the strengths of the bikes relatively modern components with the ability to have a unique look. “The idea was to combine a café racer and a street fighter. I just wanted to get the most exciting bits from both genres and mix them together.” Ivan explains.
In his workshop and with the bike stripped out of its very conventional, global market appeal, clothes; the design process could begin. Joined by his friend and colleague Svetoslav Kostadinov, the first thing to do was shorten the large subframe that once gave ample room for two-up riding. A new subframe was fabricated, wrapped in black and the short sleek piece now ends halfway across the rear wheel and features an integrated LED taillight.
On top the first of the bodywork pieces were formed, a neat cafe-style hump with just enough angles to get the modern look. Moving forward and the Hornet’s factory tank comes alive with just the smallest of touches, tiny wings that extend from the front. The side covers keep the lines moving down the bike with enough negative space to draw the eye to the centre of the machine. But the most distinctive feature is that headlight shroud, heavily influenced by Cherry’s design and with red light beaming through it exemplifies the character of the build.
The bodywork is finished off with custom radiator covers, an angular belly pan and even the crash protection from RD Moto fits the form. The paint is resplendent in black with white pinstriping beautifully capturing the curves of the bike. More red is incorporated with the custom seat using the bright colour in its stitching. With upgrades to the brakes, like the Rizoma master cylinder and the adjustable levers all getting more of the scarlet hue.
The 600cc DOHC four-cylinder is a peach of an engine, insanely reliable and with 100hp at 12000rpm, a hell of a lot of fun. To unleash some extra ponies Ivan fitted a set of pod filters and a stunning LeoVince exhaust with titanium end can. The roar emitted so thunderous it gave the bike its name, ‘Sekekama’, after an aging African Lion that starred in a National Geographic series. While the water cooling system features a clever touch in a remote reservoir, hidden under the seat imitating an exhaust.
To give the build its slammed stance the front telescopic forks have been rebuilt to suit and lowered through the triple trees. While the clip-ons are mounted even lower, wearing Puig grips and get the rider seriously tucked in. Underslung bar end mirrors and set of pegs by M Factory ensure the clean and compact look is complete. For a first time builder the reward was immediate when a German buyer fell in love at first sight and handed over the cash. Bull Moto Custom has shown the Hornet 600 can be the perfect base, so whether Ivan has done enough to convince others of the platform’s potential only time will tell, but may prove the bike’s ultimate success!