The day to day running of a custom bike shop is not all the glitz and glamour that many people believe it to be. A niche industry rides the waves of global and local economic strength, and for all but the most hardcore devotees, a tricked out motorcycle is a want, not a need. So amongst the big dollar builds comes the day to day grind and when a friend’s bike is vandalised it’s a good time to help out. But despite the state of the bike and the small budget to get it back on the road, Leonid Skakunov of Drive-In Workshop just couldn’t help himself but get a little out of hand. On small money, he’s delivered a Honda CB600F featuring some seriously clever tricks and fitted with his signature styled killer bodywork.
From his base in Russia’s port city on the Baltic Sea, St Petersburg, Leonid has been hard at work transforming the bike scene on the city’s streets. He’s not much into the ordinary, his motorcycles are built to an incredible standard and most of all they shatter convention in a country where tradition is held in the highest regard. Understandably this is creating his outfit, Drive-In, a cult following and when Denis brought in his severally abused Honda Hornet he was hoping to get it back on the road and tricked out in the workshop’s signature style.
Oh, and there wasn’t much money to work with. At Drive-In Leonid does it all, from concept to finished product and even when things are tight, he has a simple and admirable attitude to his job, “Customization starts with a drawing and ends with a satisfied client.” Hearing what his client was after he sketched out a design, got the green light, and commenced the task. But first, he had to get the bike running. The ignition switch was gone and the wiring had all been cut. A new battery was sourced and slotted in, the loom tediously was redone and everything put back in its place.
Now that the Hornet was out of the ICU he could begin work on the killer body, but, “Since the budget was limited, I decided not to make a new gas tank,” he explains. So starting at the rear the bodywork begins with a simple but effective addition in the form of a clever numberplate holder and rear hugger that are two unique pieces that from the back view appear to be one. Above, the complex work of a new tail section started with shortening the subframe rails before the sides were boxed in with handmade louvered covers and a smaller set to shield off the frame.
Up to the tailpiece and it is a seriously trick bit of kit with a rounded-off rear end that has no brake light. Instead, the sides feature recessed projector like pieces that serve as both the taillight and rear turn signals. Then a removable piece was added underneath that takes nothing away from the design but allows easy access to the battery and electrics. For the seat itself, Leonid made a mould that is then filled with injected foam, a more difficult process than shaping traditional material but is much more comfortable. Then over the top smooth black leather and colour matched stitching ties it all together.
At the front the clever details continue with the forks covers and a fabricated front guard that give the original telescopic suspension units a futuristic feel. The radiator side covers keep the lines flowing and then it was up to the top cowl with an integrated instrument and space-age lines that help merge the stock tank into the design. It was at this point a friend asked Leonid why motorcycles don’t have adaptive headlights like new cars, so of course, the genius he is made one using a new LED light and hid the linkages and wires behind the cowl.
With the new panels all done, everything was unbolted and sent to good friend and painter Anton at Octopus Art Aerografia, who was keen to throw some candy apple green at the bike to make all that brilliant panel work pop. But with those budget constraints always in mind, the rest of the clever touches had to be cost-effective. The rearsets are taken from a Suzuki GSXR with Leonid making adaptors so they’re fully adjustable. Before adding a set of Barracuda grips, adjustable levers and sweet machined mirrors from Innovative components.
The sweet revving four-cylinder wasn’t left untouched, 100hp at 12000rpm in an ultra-reliable package from the factory is nothing to be sneezed at. But the soundtrack had to be improved, “The exhaust system partially remained original, I changed the rear part (Leo Vince muffler), but it remained too loud and harsh, so I added a Helm Goltz resonator to the system.” While firing it all into life comes by way of a new custom start button and switch blocks that had been damaged when the bike was abused. Having rolled into Drive-In with a broken heart, wrecked bike, and a small chunk of money in his pocket, Denis now leaves with the throttle pinned on a bike truly like no other and ready to join a growing swarm of custom machines buzzing the historic city’s streets in style.
[ Drive-in Workshop | Photography by Atwo Photo ]