Over the last ten years the custom scene has grown so big that you can practically build a show level bike with off the shelf parts. All the R&D has been done for you and even complex modifications for many models have become mainstream. Despite his demanding schedule, Sean Skinner of Virginia’s MotoRelic decided it was his turn for a bike of his own and chose a left-field option that would be no easy task and sans bolt-on options. But having previously taken out the No. 2 spot in the Pipeburn Bike of the Year, there was never any doubt he’d hit it out of the park with this incredible transformation of a 1984 Honda Magna V30.
“I saw one of these bikes while flipping through Facebook marketplace. I noticed the tubular frame and saw that it was chain-drive. Two things that definitely help when building a custom bike. I was curious about what other builders have done with them and my search turned up pretty empty. That actually got me excited because I could ride my own path with this bike and hopefully make the V30 the next CX500, Probably not,” Sean smiles. And with its worn-out condition and no love in the used bike marketplace for the model, he took himself home a steal.
The first task was to strip the bike of its ugly ’80s clothing and get it down to the bare bones to see what he was working with. The stock bikes shocking looks might put off some, but probably the real turn off for customisers is the fact the V30 has two fuel tanks. A conventional one that hides an enormous airbox and a sub-tank under the seat. “I saw that Honda used the bottom of the airbox which is aluminum to hold the 4 carbs together. This gave an excellent base to start a new airbox. I cut out aluminum plates to sandwich a custom sized K&N air filter in. Once I had the spacer machined and the air filter assembly properly aligned I drilled and threaded the base to hold it all in place.”
With the under-seat area now clear, Sean could focus on getting the bike into a rolling chassis and sorting out the suspension. To convert the bike to a mono-shock setup an Interceptor 500 swingarm fits up nicely but required customisation for what was to come. A switch to a set of CBR600 wheels meant using the Magna cush drive as well as time spent machining spacers and utilising new bearings. Then on went a VTR1000 brake bracket that allowed the use of the CBR rear brake setup, again with more machining required. To control this entire new rear end a custom shock was required and Sean worked with Klaus from EPM Performance.
Speaking at great length, “Klaus walked me through everything I needed to make a HyperPro rear shock from a VF1000 work with my set up. Some valve and spring changes and it was perfect! When the custom shock arrived I got to work on the subframe and shock mounts,” Sean explains. Turning his attention to the front end the entire setup from the CBR600 was used, forks, brakes, and wheel. But to make it fit a set of Honda Nighthawk triples had to be used due to the long steering stem of the V30. With the roller now before him Sean decided on the visual approach, an HRC like tracker/supermotard.
Having solved the two tank problem he selected a Suzuki T500 and cut and reshaped the tunnel to make it all fit. Adamant about the bodywork flowing together rearward for the racer theme the “number plates and a tracker shape were a must. Once I got the seat shaped to flow with the bodywork it was sent to Wes at Counterbalance Cycles. I sent him a poor drawing of how I wanted the pattern to go and he knocked it out perfectly.” With the front end a stunning mix of LED light, high mount mini fender and alloy screen, all neatly held on by just two bolts.
If the Magna has a saving grace in its original form it’s the howling V4 engine, the configuration becoming ever more popular for modern Superbikes. “I contacted Cone Engineering for all of my pieces to make two, 2 into 1 stainless exhaust systems. The front set was easy and fairly straightforward. The rear set was a bit challenging to snake around the shock and up through the back trying to keep all of the pipes nearly the same length. The V4 sound is incredible.” Sean tells us. The engine was given a full rebuild with new bolts, gaskets and seals. While also going to the effort of doing a full 520 chain conversion, the man leaves no stone left unturned!
Now it could be all pieced back together and Sean went with the bold choice of having Right Away Powder Coat finish the frame in red. “I just trusted my gut and knew that it would be ok. I have to say I love it!” The wheels got the gold treatment and then it was over to Danny Knight of Knights Kustoms to beautifully lay down the Honda colors that work perfectly with the frame and wheels! For tyres Sean considered the style of bike he’d built and always wanting to use slicks on a build the time had arrived. “Even though they are illegal for street use, whatever, I’m using them!” he grins. And having got the Magna below 370lbs, screaming to 12,000rpm and looking a million dollars, surely the local police can let that one little infraction go!