The Italian island of Sardinia just might be one of the most beautiful places on earth, a culturally rich paradise of sandy beaches and rugged mountains, surrounded by the turquoise blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the island’s imposing geography, there is of course a brilliant race track and it’s here at Autodromo di Mores that 45-year-old Massimiliano Satta keeps his heart racing as he flings his 1000cc race bikes around the circuit. But back down at sea level, in the capital city of Cagliari, he is the owner of M-CafeGarage. It’s become somewhat of a hang-out for the local custom biking community, but it’s also where the man himself builds one stunning bike after another. His latest creation is this HRC livery-wearing Honda CX650, which gets its own ‘Cabrio’ tail for a little extra fun in the sun.
Motorcycles have been a part of Massimiliano’s life since he was a little boy, first as a fascination that would act as inspiration for his school drawings, and then as a rider who loves nothing more than going fast and standing out from the crowd. And not much has changed since his childhood when it comes to his design methods, “Everything comes from my drawings and what goes through my head when I have an old motorbike in front of me that is almost ready to be thrown away.” Owner Nicola wanted something truly unique and while the donor CX wasn’t in throw-away condition, it had sat unused for the past 20 years.
Not to worry, as practically nothing on the bike would be left standard, with everything either being completely customised or refurbished back to factory fresh condition. Thankfully the CX650 frame doesn’t present some of the challenges of its little brother, the CX500, but Massimiliano still found a way to make a challenge for himself. Given his racing background, he felt he could drastically improve the bike’s handling with some changes to the steering head geometry, and what started as simply cutting off the headstock, ended up being a full chassis rebuild using timber templates, round bar and sheet metal.
The result is exceptional, with the steering angle helping to transform the bike from cruiser to corner carver, the sheet metal giving an almost perimeter frame appearance and the custom work around the centre post ensuring this bike looks like no other CX ever created. The stock subframe didn’t stand a chance of survival either, with an all-new item made from a smaller diameter tube, and hand bent to ensure every line and angle is perfect. Having created a flawless foundation, it was time to maximise those benefits with a superior suspension upgrade. For the front end, things are kept in the family and a set of Honda CBR 1000RR forks and triple clamps are converted to fit the old-school CX.
Having changed the steering head angle and added the modern suspension, it made sense to match the two with a wheel size that is common to each. So, both ends are now down an inch to hoops measuring 17in, which is achieved at the front by swapping in a spoked item from a BMW R nineT. The rear being shaft drive isn’t so easy, so the standard hub has been fitted with conversion plates and the rim laced up with stainless spokes and both ends are wrapped up in Pirelli rubber. The big CBR also lends its braking package, twin discs with beefy radial calipers that get their signal to slow down via stainless lines, that run back to the new clip-ons fitted with Accossato lever/master cylinder combos.
Turning to the visuals and both men had agreed early on that the bike needed to make a statement and it certainly does that! The tail section is a beautiful fibreglass creation that Massimiliano takes great pride in. There is a sporty element to his approach, and the small side winglets help to deliver some flair, but it is the way that it all rises up like the roof coming off a convertible that adds the true party trick. It is a signature of his builds, and something that he calls a “Cabrio Saddle”, made even more impressive by the fact the underneath, with its integrated fender, is as clean as anywhere else on the bike.
The fuel tank will be familiar to many, taken from a CX500 and modified to sit perfectly over the backbone of its big brother. There is some additional panel work done to suit the lift-up seat, and the front mask is another in-house creation.
To add a little classic touch to the front end, the fender is hand-rolled and sits on custom made struts, reminding all that even with an OEM level of finish, this bike is the creation of man and not machines. But the paint scheme is definitely Honda inspired, with the HRC colours rolled out and the blue chosen as the dominant colour, while the graphics package across the tins could have come straight from the ’80s race livery.
Having the spray gun still in hand, the time was taken to pull apart the YSS rear shock to hit the spring with some red and the theme even flows over the radiator and its shroud. The water-cooled engine is a peach, packing nearly 200cc extra over its little brother, the addition of a full MAD mid-rise exhaust and flowed carbs ensure that she pulls hard all the way to the redline.
As this work was done, the master Luca of LR Leather was stitching together the perfect two-piece saddle in blue leather, and even made the grips to match. The switch gear and electrics have all been replaced, LED lighting is used throughout and this CX650 is no longer a courier or a commuter, but a genuine classic sports bike with the sort of looks to match its stunning location.