Is ‘scrambler‘ the most overused description in the custom scene vernacular? Probably. It’s been allocated to everything from street bikes with upright ergonomics and knobby tires to true do-it-all machines.
We dig them all, but we’re suckers for the real deal. So this machine from Federal Moto has us giddy—a fully-functional dual sport given a classic scrambler vibe.
Randy Venhuis of Federal’s Canadian outpost in Edmonton, Alberta put it together. Federal now has a second branch in Chicago—but since the client for this project was based in Canada, Randy got the call.
The build was commissioned by Kenny Dodd of Over Time Beer Works in Kimberley, British Columbia. Kenny wanted something stripped-down with classic appeal, which he could use to rip around the forests and tear up the streets with equal enthusiasm.
“Kimberley is a small, beautiful city, nestled amongst the Rocky Mountains,” says Federal’s design director, Shaun Brandt. “So we gravitated towards a reliable dual sport that could fit the bill on both terrains.”
Honda’s XR650L ticked all the boxes: “The XR650L has the power, suspension and durability for great dirt road riding,” explains Shaun, “and the electric starter, fuel economy, and light weight make it the perfect commuter for bombing around town.”
A 2006 model XR650L was sourced and handed over to Randy. His mandate: strip off all unnecessary clutter, add some nods to the past, and mix in some modern features to keep it functional.
In stock form, the XR650L is delightfully utilitarian—but it’s also a little gawky. Randy remedied this by discarding all the bodywork and starting over. He then adapted and fitted a 1980 Yamaha XT500 fuel tank—adorned with ‘XR650’ decals that mimic the original XT graphics.
Behind it is a one-off leather seat, upholstered by Clo’s General Leather Goods. It’s sitting atop a custom-made subframe, complete with a small box that stores the electronics and new Antigravity Lithium-ion battery.
The airbox is gone, replaced by tough Uni foam filters. And the exhaust system is made up of FMF headers, a stainless steel connector and a 12” stainless steel Cone Engineering muffler.
Randy wisely left the Honda’s dirt-capable 21F/18R wheel size combo alone, and sensible dual-sport rubber: Metzeler’s popular Enduro 3 Sahara.
The rear suspension was left stock too, with just the spring redone in ‘Honda Red.’ But the front-end was swapped for one from a 2005 CR250, anodized in ‘Burnout Black.’ Hand-made fenders and mounts at both ends help keep things practical.
Equally sensible is the cockpit—it’s kitted with the sort of parts you’d expect to find on a Honda thumper. There are Pro-Taper risers, Renthal fatbars and half-waffle grips, and a Trail Tech Vapor dash.
The headlight’s a PIAA LP520 unit, and there’s a Bates-style LED tail light out back. Tiny (but bright) Motogadget m-Blaze turn signals round out the lighting package.
The Honda’s loaded with neat little touches—like the custom-made bash plate and aluminum gas cap—and the green coat on the frame is inspired.
The guys have called the build Lil’ Kim. It’s an obvious hat tip to the owner’s home town, as well as a reference to the 90s rap star: “just the right amount of attitude, and stripped down to almost nothing.”
It’s a damn fine looking motorcycle, but—more importantly—Federal’s mods all make sense. Kenny’s a lucky guy.