There’s no denying that Honda builds some of the smoothest running, best performing motorcycles out there. The CBR1000RR has won our Superbike Smackdown
numerous times, its Honda CRF450R is always competitive in our 450 Motocross Shootout and many claim its Gold Wing is the best touring motorcycle out there. Despite making some of the most rider-friendly motorcycles on the market, Honda has also been known for its conservative styling, a label it tried to shed with the introduction of its first factory chopper, the 2010 Fury. Aftermarket firms like Cobra have demonstrated the customizing potential of a Honda cruiser with its Cobra Scrambler and Tracker
, two Honda RS750 project bikes it introduced at the Long Beach IMS. Honda’s own R&D department also introduced three new custom motorcycles based on the company’s VT1300
line at the LB IMS, which our own Ryan Merrill touched on in his 2010 Long Beach Motorcycle Show Review
. Honda released more specs and information on the 2010 Stateline “Slammer,” Sabre “Switchblade” and “Furious” Fury yesterday so we thought we’d take a closer look at its VT1300 Series Concepts.
For the custom builds, Honda enlisted the services of three young, in-house designers from its SoCal HQ. The designers had to work within a limited budget but were given free reign as far as creativity goes. The only two restrictions were the bikes had to be full on runners and they had to “stay true to the core of the production vehicle.” In other words, make it your own but don’t deviate so far from the original that its roots are unrecognizable. The last stipulation was that they only had three months to complete their builds in time for the Long Beach IMS.
2010 Stateline "Slammer" (Bagger)
Honda R&D Americas designer Erik Dunshee converted a 2010 Stateline into a wicked looking bagger. He wrapped the bars in a fork-mounted front fairing which carries the same sharp lines as the stock tank. The front end has been
Erik Dunshee converted the "Slammer" into this wicked-looking bagger with an air ride suspension.
completely revamped, including swapping out to an inverted fork wherein a 23-inch tall custom wheel lies. Brakes have been updated with a composite-coated, narrow track front rotor with a six piston caliper. The front fender hugs the tire more and now flares at the bottom. Inside the sleek fairing is an all-in-one NAV/Multimedia system with a GPS speed display.
Custom bodywork is also draped over the back end, including hard bags integrated into the rear fender. The fender has the look of a classic American car from the ‘50s. Somewhere in the bags is hidden a 10-inch subwoofer and an amp to drive the stereo system’s 500 watts of power. The bags are molded over custom crossover twin exhausts. The ride is slammed via an adjustable air-ride suspension, dropping the 6-inch ride height to 2.25-inches when lowered. The entire bike is covered in two-tone satin metallic black and pearl black paint. In keeping with the “stay true to the core” requirement, the frame, swingarm, tank and engine are stock except for a custom air cleaner jutting off the “Slammer’s” right side. Give Dunshee props. He was able to put an edgy, modern spin on an otherwise tame stock bike.
2010 Sabre "Switchblade" (Pro Drag)
Instead of the “Slammer’s” taking it to the streets styling, designer Edward Birtulescu recreated a Honda Sabre that is
The Pro Drag "Switchblade" has a three-way adjustable suspension with cruise, sport and race modes.
ready to take it to the strip. Drag strip, that is. Gone is the casual cruiser. In its place is a bike meant to be ridden fast and hard. The fenders on the original Sabre are chopped more than the other two VT1300 models, but Birtulescu took the “Switchblade” to the Nth degree. A minimal patch of carbon fiber serves as the front fender and the rear has been converted into a sportbike-like tail section that barely covers the back tire and is also made of CF. The new chin spoiler is also formed out of the lightweight, bulletproof compound.
Birtulescu totally recreated the back end of the stock Sabre, giving it a racier look with a single-sided swingarm and a chunkier back tire wrapped around an 18-inch carbon fiber wheel. He also ditched the shaft drive for a 535 chain conversion and threw on a race-inspired, three-way adjustable Ohlins suspension. Riders can dial it in for cruise, sport or race mode via the knobs in the cutout of the custom carbon fiber seat. The stock brakes have been swapped out for dual wave rotors on the front with Brembo racing-spec calipers while the 21-inch front hoop is also carbon fiber. A forward-facing heavy breather air filter boosts the flow to the stock engine and the rider position hunches over the tank stretching out to grab hold of the clip-on bars and reaching back for the rearset foot controls. Some burly custom pipes complete the conversion from a low key, laid back ride to a “Let’s get it on” burnout king.
2010 Honda Fury "Furious" (Hardtail Chopper)
Of the three neo-VT1300 customs, the original lines of the base motorcycle are most easily recognizable in “Furious.” But when your base platform is an open-necked, raked-out factory chopper, that’s a good thing. Honda R&D Americas
Nick Renner gave the "Furious" a retro vibe by converting it to a hardtail, doing away with the front fender, throwing on some straight pipes and adding a diamond-tuck seat and metal flake paint.
designer Nick Renner took the 2010 Honda Fury
and injected it with some old school cool. He raked-out the front end to a crazy 45-degrees, seven degrees over stock and threw on a bigger hoop, 23-inches tall. He did away with the front fender altogether and dropped the bars, replacing them with oversized drag bars. Internal wiring and the absence of control housings also gives the handlebars a much cleaner look. He also made the stock VT1300 engine stand out more by replacing some of the bulky covers by relocating the battery and doing away with the faux chrome for blacked-out components. Renner did away with the mass of wires between the cylinders and replaced the air intake, creating a space that also makes the engine more prominent as a focal point.
Unlike the other two, Renner modified the frame, transforming “Furious” into a rigid with a custom hardtail frame conversion. The rear fender has been chopped down and hugs the custom five-spoke, 20-inch rear wheel. Dual straight pipes add to its throwback style, as does the diamond-tuck seat. The tank is stock, but the Fury’s original tank was already one of its strong suits. Its metal flake paint job and variegated leafing, though, adds to its retro-styling chops.
The three Honda designers did a bang-up job of creating three totally different styles of custom Honda motorcycles based on the VT1300 platform. These motorcycles definitely give Honda more street credibility. The “Slammer,” “Switchblade” and “Furious” are currently making the rounds at the IMS, so if you plan on going to one of the remaining shows, stop by the Honda booth to check ‘em out.