I think I’ve finally found my Shangri-La, scratch that, I have absolutely found it, the mythical utopia exists! Just outside the French city of Rennes, with a motorcycle dealership on each side, sits the place of my dreams. Morex Customs is a large restaurant and bar, with indoor and outdoor dining and bar facilities, there is stunning interior design throughout and endless incredible food and drink on offer. It also serves as a gallery, where the company’s amazing custom motorcycles and hot rods are staged like the greatest of art in a world-class gallery. With live music filling the air, there is also a range of branded clothing, classic bikes and custom surfboards on sale. This is the brainchild of brothers Joan and Kevin Morel, and their latest piece on display in this gallery of dreams is a blacked-out street scrambler called ‘Phantom’, based on the beloved Honda Dominator.
At the confluence of the rivers, the Ille and the Vilaine sits the beautifully built historic city of Rennes. Here with its mild weather, festive joy and quick access to the country roads of Brittany, it makes for a biker’s paradise. With a rich automotive history things only get better and the culture of high-end craftsmanship, amazing food and a relaxed lifestyle, ticks all the right boxes. So, it made perfect sense for ex-moto-cross racer Kevin Morel and his brothers to set up their brand, which caters to everything that makes our scene so great.
Behind the restaurant and gallery is where they design and build a glorious range of bikes, hot rods and surfboards and given Kevin made his mark on the dirt, the Dominator is one of his favourite donors. But Morel does things a little differently, none of his creations is built for a specific customer. Like an artist he lets his creative mind run wild and then when the finished product has been brought to life, visitors to the gallery that sits within the bar are welcome to make an offer and ride off on their favourite piece.
“Some motorcycles go through the years without encountering any problems, so what better basis to work on than a Honda Dominator,” Kevin smiles. Having found the right donor it was straight down to work and the frame has been cleaned up, detabbed and an entirely new subframe built to suit. “The rear loop is designed to lighten the silhouette of the motorcycle as much as possible,” Kevin tells us. Into the all-new tail goes a signature of Morex, a grilled-out and enclosed taillight assembly that gives the bike an ultra clean look. Underneath the rails of the subframe, two sheets of metal are bent up to both act as an internal fender and protect the electronics box.
The front end is just as clean, with a superb mask to surround the small LED headlight, also incorporating into it a high-mount front fender. This part was created with the most cutting edge of technologies, designed in CAD, and 3D printed from Nylon in a ready to paint finish. Next, it was time to dive into the extensive parts collection at Morex Customs and come out with an old-school metal fuel tank complete with MX style breather hose on the cap. This perfectly takes the place of the ugly, plastic, dual-sport unit that came with the bike as stock.
The seat too is slick, and beautifully moulded to cover the contours of the chassis, while also providing plenty of padding for a hard day in the saddle. Ready for paint, there was only one hue necessary, black, black and more black covering everything from the structural components to the bodywork, and elements like the fork protectors, all nicely contrasted by the ultra clean finish on all of the metal surfaces. The brands logo features on an artisan style tank badge and has also been embossed into the tail.
With such a stunning machine, it had to have all of the best quality components to back it up. So, the wheels have been replaced with a set of new hubs, stainless spokes and lightweight Excel rims, all wrapped up in aggressive dual sport rubber. The suspension receives a major upgrade too, with a complete modern MX front end from a KTM replacing the old worn-out pogo sticks. Out back the rear is just as accomplished, with the shock and Pro-Link all built to suit the requirements Kevin had of the Phantom. And the larger disc brake is boosted by a big dollar Beringer master cylinder with a matching clutch side setup.
For Kevin, the engine was always the heart of the build, and that big thumping single now looks brand new thanks to a full vapour blast. Rebuilt and ready to go, the carb sucks its air via a pod filter on a custom mount. But it’s the exhaust that really gets screaming, with a beautifully fabricated stainless system running tight to the bike and finishing with a race style end can.
The blacked-out fat bars give the rider great control and the build is finished out with a quality digital speedo and high end switch blocks. Take my cash! I could ride this puppy all day on dirt tracks, single-lane tarmac and side streets, before parking up in style at Morex for a tasty meal and cold beer; Utopia, it exists after all.