It is one of the most horrific moments ever caught on camera, the utter devastation at the Port of Beirut when an unimaginable amount of ammonium nitrate exploded and left 218 dead, 7,000 injured, 300,000 homeless and caused $15 billion in property damage. It was felt as far away as Europe, was measured in the US as a seismic event of magnitude 3.3 and remains one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. And just a kilometre from the epicentre was, our friend and fellow bike builder, Rami Bishara. It was a miracle the Syrian designer survived, but his workshop, The Assembly Motors, wasn’t so lucky and he lost everything. The tale would end there if it wasn’t for the tenacity of the human spirit, and the triumphant result is this dystopian 1983 Honda CX650, with a much-needed splash of colour.
Before he could get back to doing what he does best and building incredible bikes, Rami, like the people of Lebanon, first had to rebuild their lives. It is of course an ongoing process, and the scars will forever run deep, but as Rumi testified, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” And just as the great Persian poet had instructed, the suffering would not be the defining moment of Rami’s life, but instead, a new perception of the world had been fermented. A GoFundMe page was created and the custom motorcycle community from around the world pulled together.
So, with his new workshop once again functioning at its best, there was a very special project that had to be finished. When that explosion occurred, amongst the rubble and literally with shards of glass in its engine was this Honda CX650. In some of the photos of the aftermath, you can see the CX sitting beyond the blown-out front doors, beneath the neon lights shattered and hanging by a single cable and amongst the endless damaged and destroyed equipment. The bike was pulled apart, cleaned up and placed on the new bench ready for its overhaul.
The subframe has been cut off behind the unique CX centre posts, and Rami has fabricated a much cleaner piece, with upswept seat support. With that new rear end angle achieved, the underside was boxed in, and the tail creates the perfect place for a custom light assembly. Using an array of LED red lights, the taillight now emerges from beneath the seat. The look is incredibly clean but left no place for a license plate, so a new support bracket was fabricated in a trellis style to hang the plate out past the rear tyre.
The rest of the frame was smoothed out and a bunch of the mounts and tabs that were surplus to requirement were cut off. Then Rami hit the whole thing with a nice coat of satin black that sets the stage for the overall colour scheme of the bike. The tank, in its unique ’80s style, was next to go under the gun and here the build comes to life. The triple colour combo was inspired by the Hitachi EX100 excavator and helps to break up the boxy lines and despite their matte finish, those colours pop against the fade to black. To finish out the styling of the bike, Rami cut down a Honda front fender and hit it with a frame matching hue.
At the heart of the beast is of course the unique Honda V-Twin that first appeared in a slightly smaller capacity in the venerable ‘plastic maggot’. Following the explosion, the engine had to be completely stripped to every last part and then slowly rebuilt. With good friends dropping off the coffee, Rami poured the hours into overhauling the heads and treating them to a good port and polish. To provide the air and fuel fix is a conversion to a set of custom Mikuni round-slid carbs that pull through K&N filters.
The entire engine has been hit with a very flat matte black to distinguish it from the frame, with a few glossier detail pieces and some nice file finishing. The two into two exhaust gets the same industrial treatment and sings a sweet song of anger through its pair of reverse cone mufflers. To run the show, Rami selected the ever-popular m.unit from Motogadget with Bluetooth and keyless ignition. The bulk of the wiring has been discarded and a new loom built from scratch, with key components like the reg/rec hidden beneath the seat.
The rest of the wiring is up on the flat bars, with Motogadget supplying their small switch blocks, bar-end turn signals and the beautiful Motoscope Pro, for all the information you could ever desire on a forty-year-old set of two wheels. The custom grilles on the headlight and radiator fit the theme to perfection and a set of gaiters helps to reduce the amount of chrome emanating from the fork stanchions. The rear shock is adjustable and brand new and all of the vital components like the twin disc brakes are rebuilt.
The final and fitting touch is the set of Michelin Anakee tyres, capable of traversing any and all landscapes. And from utter tragedy comes triumph and we tip our cap to Rami and all the bikers of Beirut, ride on!