Woodface: George Woodman’s Honda SS50 custom moped

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
Punk’s Peak is a highlight of the growing Wheels & Waves festival in France. It’s a hill climb that happens on the Jaizkibel, a mountain just over the border in Spain and less than an hour’s ride from the festival grounds in Biarritz.

When entries opened for this year’s race, George Woodman couldn’t help himself. Woodman—who is known to his friends as Sébastien Valliergues—actually lives in Biarritz, and put his name down without hesitation.

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
There was one small problème: he didn’t have a bike to race. With just two months to go, he set to work.

“The inspiration for this one was the Sultans of Sprint,” Woodman tells us. “But the only bike that I had in my hands was this little Honda SS50. A fun challenge!”

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
He’s called this little custom moped La Chute. It’s French for ‘the fall,’ but it’s also used to refer to pieces of wood left over when making furniture.

“The wooden parts of La Chute were made from pieces lying around my atelier,” says Woodman. “It’s a mix of Birch multi-ply and Paulownia wood.”

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
The little Honda is now capped at both ends with charming handcrafted pieces. Between them are a hand-made seat and the stock fuel tank.

Woodman has re-mounted the tank at a more pleasing angle though, and fettled the subframe to match the new tail unit. The swing-arm is a custom job—set up to take a larger 18-inch rear wheel with a drag tire.

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
The rearset foot pegs and controls are mounted directly to the swingarm. But the bike’s now running super-stiff springs, so there’s not much movement. “It nearly feels like a rigid frame,” Woodman tells us.

At the front, the forks and 18” wheel are reproduction Honda Dream units, with a disc brake for extra stopping power. The strange black discs are from a BMX: “I put them on at the beginning to have more space for sponsor stickers, but right now it’s just for looking good!”

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
Woodman needed a little go to match the show, so he’s installed a tuned 190cc, 4-valve Daytona pitbike engine. “It was prepared by Stomp 777, the best guy in France for this kind of engine,” he says.

A minimal cockpit with clip-ons and new controls finish things off. Lighting is limited to a small taillight, and a yellow headlight behind the fairing’s ‘smiley.’ Both run off a small, rechargeable battery.

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
Woodman finished his custom moped racer the day before Punk’s Peak: “I had time to test and adjust it in a huge parking lot,” he says, “spending a complete fuel tank. It really moves fast—the acceleration is mad!”

Sadly, fog set in and Punk’s Peak was cancelled. But Woodman is already planning future races, and he’s been taking the SS50 out for sneaky rides on the road too.

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
“It’s a competition bike—not street legal,” he admits. “But in France—as my Swiss friend says—it’s république bananière!

“I’ve taken the risk several times, and it’s a really cool machine. So light: only 82kg for 27 horsepower. Corners can be tricky with the drag tire, but with attention it works.”

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped
“And whatever,” he shrugs. “It is a sprint bike.”

George Woodman Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Frantz Boris

Woodface: George Woodman's Honda SS50 custom moped