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Honda XL500 Tracker

By August 28, 2017Cafe Racer

Never has a new motorcycle received a better blessing. For this shoot we selected a seldom used road smack dab in the center of Cape Town next to a stretch of distressed wooden boundary wall but as we arrived who should step out of the gates but Mr.Peter Forbes, the man responsible for so many of those fantastic vehicles featured in Mad Max – Fury Road. To keep it short ( Peter gave a us a great little tour of his factory/clubhouse/venue) he gave our Honda XL500 tracker the nod.

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This tracker is based on a fairly raggedy early 80’s Honda XL500R which Lucas delivered to us with basic instructions and some ideas on what the final design would look like. A cut down, svelte city scrambler with off-road pretentions. Key to the design was the liberal use of LED technology and the side panels & face plate, which with it’s complex curves mating to a custom and equally attractive bracket and dual LED running lights presented a challenge best tackled by an industrial designer.

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The long standard forks were swapped out for upside-down units from a Yamaha YZF-R1 which lowered the front to the acceptable tracker standard with the added benefit of seriously beefed up stopping power considering the standard XL’s drum arrangement. The electrics and battery found a new home in a custom steel battery box, now located under the seat, hanging just above the somewhat controversial hand made fenders. These are a compromise towards the bike’s intended use as a sometime commuter and are removable thanks to custom designed mounting points.

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The riders view was cleaned up with new switch gear, tiny LED flashers, Renthal Fat Bars, and a turned aluminium cup to house the classic style speedo unit digital mileage read-out with our RPM logo emblazoned. Legal considerations led to an elegant solution for the green neutral indicator light where we’ve again harnessed LED’s in a reflected light configuration, easily visible in daylight.

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Clearing out the airbox presented another challenge. The limited space between the carburetor mouth and the mono-shock necessitated another piece of uniquery in the form of a stainless induction pipe with a bend in it to clear the rear shock and mount the new cone filter just inside of the side-cover. This took some consideration of the air-flow into the carburetor, being careful not to restrict it in any way with subsequent test riding having proved the design.

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No doubt about it, she’s one of our favourite builds and makes for interesting comparison to our last tracker creation, also a Honda, the Youngman CBX750.

Be sure to follow our Facebook or Instagram pages, and check out the build catalogue under the XL500tracker hashtag and the build catalogue album on Facebook.

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