Throughout the late eighties and early nineties, 600cc sportbikes dominated the sales charts of Japan’s big 4 manufacturers. Leading the middleweight class in both performance and sales was Honda’s CBR600 F. Over a 7 year period, Honda sold in excess of 50,000 600cc motorcycles spearheaded by the CBR600 F and its successor the CBR600 F2. The CBR is a legend of the early nineties and yet it’s a relatively untouched platform in today’s custom scene. Wido Veldkamp, the owner of WiMoto in The Netherlands, aims to change that.
“This bike started as a tired old ’92 Honda CBR600 F2. My first motorcycle was an F2.” says Wido. “Nowadays many custom projects are using the same old donor bikes. Models like the Honda CB750, Suzuki GS550, BMW R80 etc. But the one thing all these bikes have in common is that they don’t have a lot of power, do not have the best brakes and handling is not so good either. So we thought why not take a donor that has already proven itself. The CBR600 F2 is still used for track day racing, its engine is indestructible, it has approx 90 bhp, the handles and stops as it should.”
Wido certainly makes a solid CBR600 argument. At the time of its release, the CBR600 F was Honda’s most modern and innovative sportsbike. With the release of the CBR600 F2 came more refinement and even better performance. As far as performance goes those other bikes can’t hold a candle to the CBR.
Wido’s goal was to build a bike that blended Scrambler and Cafe Racer styling. A lean, naked motorcycle with a tall stance and plenty of usable power. The biggest challenge here was ditching all of the CBR’s plastic, of which there was a lot. So after a complete strip down Wido and his team began figuring where to hide everything that was exposed after the fairings were removed. The frame itself featured a plethora of mounting points. So Wido and his team put in the hard yards cutting them off and grinding away any evidence they ever existed. A complete rewire then allowed all of the unsightly electrical components to be relocated out of sight.
As a qualified industrial design engineer, Wido has no problem tackling structural modifications, and his Honda CBR600 has its fair share of them. In order to install his slimmed-down vision for the bikes rear end, he built a custom subframe from scratch. Perched on top of the new subframe is a bespoke saddle upholstered by Wido’s go-to guys, Tijger Leathers. Another big structural change sits directly beneath the tail and it’s a part they plan to sell through the WiMoto store.
“The CBR600 F2 has an ugly rectangular boxed swingarm which had to go!” says Wido. “So I made a new chromoly tubular swingarm with eccentric chain adjusters. This is a plug and play solution. Out with the old and in with the WiMoto swingarm.”
With the change of swingarm also came the opportunity to upgrade the rear shock and Wido has gone with a fully adjustable Wilbers race shock.
To satisfy the Scrambler element of his brief Wido had to swap the CBR’s clip-on style bars for a more suitably styled set. In order to get them to fit he either had to install ungainly risers or do some rather complicated fabrication work, Wido, of course, opted for the latter.
“Shortening the front forks was challenging,” he says. “Originally the clipons are above the triple clamp; this means that when you want to install handlebars, you need huge risers. This is ugly. I wanted to fork legs flush with the triple clamp. And because I wanted to keep the original stroke in the front fork, I needed to chop the inner tubes and make a new thread on the lathe.” When the job was done the new bars sat exactly as desired without any loss in front end performance.
Despite the CBR600’s DOHC inline-four already offering awesome bang for buck, Wido wasn’t leaving any stone unturned. After a full rebuild, he installed a bespoke WiMoto 4-into-1 exhaust system with an underslung muffler to keep the rear end clean. The intricately measured and welded pie cut headers are almost identical in length to the original system and they’re capped off with a performance muffler. A K&N filter frees up the flow of air and the carbs were all tuned to make the most of the upgrades.
To complete the transformation, Wido swapped all the CBR’s lighting out for LED alternatives. A set of bullet-style LED indicators flank a Halo headlight while rear-end lighting duties are managed by a dual function LED strip built into the subframe. A single Daytona speedometer occupies the cockpit, and the front mudguard was custom made in house. Motomaster brake rotors add a bit of extra stopping response, and the rubber is Hidenau’s Motard style K73. About the only original part of the bike that remains is the factory fuel tank which has been finished in a vibrant orange scheme.
Wido’s enjoyed the experience of modifying this Honda CBR600 F2 so much he now plans to release a WiMoto kit for the bike. So if you’re chasing a project that’ll leave the classics in its wake, this nineties legend could be just the ticket.