The Honda CB650R has a lot going for it. The middleweight roadster is easy to ride and well made, and it comes with decent suspension and a 94 hp inline four. It also has some of the best exhaust pipework of any showroom-stock bike.
This modern CB doesn’t, however, get the love that the older CBs have attracted in the custom scene—or the attention lavished on less elegant rivals such as the Yamaha MT-07. And that’s a shame, given the strength of the underlying mechanicals.
This might be about to change, though. Dirk Oehlerking of Kingstom Custom was recently commissioned by Honda Germany to customize a CB650R, and he’s delivered an absolute banger of a street tracker.
We tend to associate Dirk with high-end, show-quality builds such as his boxer BMWs with all-enveloping bodywork. But he’s a very adaptable builder who can also turn out bikes that are funky, fun and streetable.
Honda wanted to explore the custom potential of the CB650R, so they didn’t smother Dirk with restrictions. After all, the TÜV laws already make life hard enough for German builders.
“I was given a free hand for the design,” says Dirk. There were no ‘specifications’. And when I saw the bike, I knew it was going to be a ‘flat tracker for the road’.”
Dirk started by dismantling the CB650R, examining the elements to see how he could best implement his design ideas without messing with the ‘technological’ parts of the Honda.
The biggest job was the new bodywork. After setting aside the stock plastics, Dirk shaped up slabs of rigid foam until the monocoque lines looked right.
The finished foam was covered with fiberglass, creating a completely new tank-to-tail until that weighs only six kilos (around 13 pounds). It’s securely attached to the original mounting points with just four screws.
Underneath, Dirk positioned an aluminum fuel tank that sits behind the original air filter, built from 2 mm aluminum. The tank uses the stock mounting points and pump.
Above the air filter, Dirk has repositioned the stock multi-function LCD dash, cleaning up the bar area and adding to the flat track vibe.
Meanwhile, it was time to fire up the grinder. The CB650R frame doesn’t have a huge amount of rear wheel overhang, but Dirk still gave it a nip and tuck to ensure a flatter line and sportier stance. “The seat height is the same as the original, at 810mm [31.9 inches],” he notes. The new bench is plush and covered in grippy black suede.
For a street bike, the measure of a good builder is knowing what to modify and what to leave alone. In this case, Dirk has left the magnificent exhaust pipes untouched—“the originals from Honda are so shapely”—and also the handlebars and controls, which are good quality and suit the stance well.
The wheels are stock too, but now shod with Pirelli MT60RS tires. (Speaking from personal experience, these are an excellent fit and Dirk obviously likes them too.)
For the finishing touches, Dirk has bobbed the stock front fender, slotted in footpegs from ABM, and selected compact turn signals and tail lighting from the LED specialist Shin Yo. The paint was a simple decision though: the classic HRC motorsport livery of red, blue and white.
The result is a bike we just want to jump on and ride. And it probably wouldn’t be too hard for Honda to put something similar into production …