Motorcycle customizing is all about transformation: better looks, better functionality, or a combination of both. But we don’t often see a transformation as radical as this.
Canada-based KickMoto have taken an innocuous, almost-forgotten street bike, ditched the ungainly cruiser doo-dads, and turned it into a motocross-styled weapon built for urban streets and hardpack dirt.
It’s hard to believe this crisp Honda CM400 is only the third build from the Halifax, Novia Scotia, shop. It’s bristling with interesting concepts and neat details.
Co-founders Jeff (architect) and Jordan (mechanical engineer) launched KickMoto as an after-hours endeavor—a creative outlet for the boys to get their minds right, and their hands dirty.
But after just two commissioned builds, the duo was getting restless. “We wanted to showcase what we could do when given free rein,” they say. “We feel at home when we have total control of the design.”
So Jeff opened his pocketbook to fund their third official build—a totally client-less affair.
“The idea was to build something light, fun and aggressive. It’s inspired by Jeff’s passion for mountain biking and motocross, but geared towards urban riding and commuting—with the ability to take the back roads when desired.”
After doing their research, KickMoto settled on an unlikely base: a 1980 CM400T. The guys liked its backbone frame design and 400cc parallel twin mill—and saw the gawky styling as a welcome challenge.
A second Honda was picked as a parts donor: a 2009 CBR125R. It lent its mono shock swingarm, Nissin brakes and lightweight mag wheels to the project.
Both bikes were stripped and a plan formulated through a series of sketches. And then the real work began.
“Setting up the geometry and stance was a huge step,” the guys tell us. “We’ve taken a bike that was essentially a laid-back cruiser and turned it into an aggressive urban assault machine with a motocross riding position. That was a challenge.”
First the CBR swingarm was modded to fit via the CM400’s axle points. The shiny gold CBR rims were wrapped in dual sport rubber, and everything was loosely mocked up. Happy with the geometry, KickMoto turned some wheel spacers on the lathe, and fabricated a new shock mount on the frame to complete their rolling chassis.
Then it was time to get the tank and seat lines right. Rather than cut-and-loop the rear, the guys lopped off the whole back end, and designed a new one using CAD software. They sent their drawings to James Hale in Arizona, who sent them back a perfect new subframe.
The tank was then modified, and raised by 1.5 inches in the rear to line it all up. The bench seat was shaped and wrapped in-house, though the actual stitch work on the faux leather cover was handled by a friend at the Nova Fashion Incubator.
The biggest undertaking, though, was the intricately routed exhaust system. The initial plan was to use pre-bent pipes, but obtaining the desired effect proved too difficult. So the duo tackled the arduous task of hand cutting and welding sections of pipe themselves.
The system terminates in two custom-made, lathe-spun aluminum mufflers, attached to the subframe via a bracket that doubles as a taillight mount. Finishing the system off is a pair of perforated heat shields bearing a subtle ‘CM’ motif…neat.
There’s a host of smaller details to appreciate. The triple clamps were modified to accommodate the new headlight and number board setup. The foot pegs are hand-made, finished with replaceable mountain bike lock-on grips. And the custom carb intakes and gas cap were 3D printed.
Although there’s no speedo in the photos, there is a wireless bicycle computer mounted to the one-off brake adaptors. It connects to a wireless head unit, which can be mounted up top on the stem cap.
Low rise bars and adjustable levers drive home the MX vibe. And the bash plate not only protects the engine, but also hides a Ballistic Lithium-ion battery.
KickMoto enlisted a friend to wrap the project up. Sean has shot the tank in gloss white, with a little gold pearl mixed in for good measure. There’s a lick of gold on the Honda badges too—just enough to make those rims pop.
Sinking your own cash into a build is a bold move for any shop. But building an out-of-the-box street tracker with an old CM400T is even bolder.
Jeff and Jordan have three more bikes in the build queue right now. And yes, we’ll be keeping a close eye on them…