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Honda VTR1000 custom

Honda VTR1000 Firestorm
Most people accessorize their bikes from aftermarket catalogs. But when Australian Shawn Zammit got a Honda VTR1000 Firestorm in 2002, he decided to stick to the Honda production parts bin. And in the process, discovered the constraints that often face the designers employed by motorcycle manufacturers. Shawn’s plan was to transform his VTR (Super Hawk in the U.S.) into a sporty V-twin cruiser, so he called Honda Australia and ran his ideas past them. “They suggested I build the bike first, then talk,” he says. “The main point was to create a cruiser that had mumbo (110hp) and light weight (200kg), with brakes to match.”

Shawn fitted a Hornet 600 tank with a custom air box underneath, a Varadero 19″ front wheel and a VFR800 front fender. The top spars of the frame were re-made, split to accept the tank, and stretched 25mm. He increased the neck angle to 28 degrees, and stretched the swingarm by 25mm. Then he lowered the VTR by 25mm and modified the subframe to lower the passenger seat another 50mm. A small bikini fairing was fitted and the headlight now turns with the front end. The radiator shrouds were restyled and pulled in closer to the bike. “There were a few other mods done to make things ‘fit and flow’,” says Shawn. “It sounds easy but it took two years to build, as it was crucial that the bike rode as it should.”

When Shawn showed his Storm Cruiser to Honda Australia, they referred him to the U.S. “Honda U.S. were happy with the end result, but felt it wasn’t the direction they wanted to go at that point in time.” Today, Shawn rides the bike every month or so just for fun, where it “confuses the hell out of VTR riders.” If you had a Firestorm or Super Hawk, what would you do to it?

Honda VTR1000 Firestorm
Honda VTR1000 Firestorm
Honda VTR1000 Firestorm
Honda VTR1000 Firestorm

  • Scott

    “If you had a Firestorm or Super Hawk, what would you do to it?”

    Leave it alone & ride it, that’s what.

  • David Enfield

    The point is ………………..?

  • T-Bone

    Excellent job of trying to do something ‘a little different’ yet trying to keep a cohesive presentation. Kudos for pulling it off.

  • RJ

    The “Storm Cruiser” panel has such odd placement that I really don’t get the look of the bike. From that low-front angle it looks like it’s about 14 feet long

  • Peter B

    A skilled job, alas it looks as if he was working off an ‘exploded’ diagram as a plan…
    The side panels and nose fairing are all too far forward. No balance… but then no point either.

  • Leave me alone

    I’m glad Honda had never rolled this out of the production line

  • bogdan d

    Sorry but this bike shouldn’t be on bikeexif :(
    It’s wrong in so many ways :(

  • Craig

    A+ for craftsmanship, but from the side it looks the primary design tool was a sawzall.

    The gaping crevasse left in order to clear the bikini fairing needs … something else. He went to the work of reshaping the radiator shrouds, but the short tank doesn’t look like it belongs there.

  • I know it’s not a bike we’d normally feature, but I found it an interesting tale of initiative and an approach to motorcycle customization that I haven’t seen before.

  • GB400TT

    good on ya Chris for stepping outside of the box for a change. it was a bit of a surprise to not only I, but several others :)
    so many bikes, and not enough space on the page…

  • Walter

    it’s a Honda and it’s Fugly

  • Ben C

    Man-is that genuine Honda factory welding on that headstock? Looks Fkinugly.

  • Ken Double

    Used to have a VTR, and like all Hondas they’re made to work of a piece. They’re great because everything is optimised to get the best out of the budget componentry. Apart from a fruity pipe it was hard to see what you could do to improve one. There was no one thing obviously holding the bike back. The fact that Shawn has taken such an arcane approach to customisation shows how difficult it is to do. That’s a hell of a lot of work for a very subtle result.

  • Mingh

    ” If you had a Firestorm or Super Hawk, what would you do to it?”

    sell it and get a laverda 3C or 750 SF2, a triumph TR6c, morini 500, norton TT, guzzi lemon2 or guzzi1000S instead. If you add some of the money that was spent to this one, you could easily land yourself a classic bimota or used MV

  • It’s a little bit ugly. It looks like some part do not match with others.

    A cafe racer (or street fighter) mod would have been better for that bike.

  • Christian J

    I loved my VTR, rode the nuts off it and made the following radical mods:
    PAIR blockoff plates
    cored pipes
    db windscreen
    gold valves
    VTR owners are a defensive & practical lot, so a used bimota would NEVER EVER be considered.

  • At first glance I thought it was a stock motorcycle. Didn’t realize the level of detail going into this bike. I guess you do a good job when it looks factory!

  • Beast

    While i appreciate the idea i can’t say it has really worked out n the flesh, it looks like a parts bin special for sure, but a slap together special. The is a lack of continuity and balance through out the bike just leaves me asking why?

  • lascaz

    “If you had a Firestorm or Super Hawk, what would you do to it?”

    Leave it alone & ride it, that’s what I have been doing for the past 12 years on my ’97 VTR and 64000 km later( not a lot for 12yrs worth of riding I know) but it is still pulling 100+ metre monos 2 up off at the lights.
    …..ok the mods I would’ve liked were upside down forks and an upgrade brake break package, but the thing is so reliable and fuss free that now i don’t see the point. I was hanging out for the factory to update the model but instead they discontinued it completely. Even though they bought out the SP1 and SP2, incomparison to the firestorm, in my opinion they were hit with the ugly stick!

    As for this example I agree with most of the others comments and don’t see the point of it. There are so many other customised VTR’s on the net and this one was chosen for being “different”??? In Aus they were the highest selling bike when first released. A for effort and execution but another waste of time. Sorry mate. At least it has generated a huge debate and keeps you riding! Good luck with your next biuld.

  • Kerry

    It looks like something you might build out of parts from a V-Strom and a Bandit and were inspired by the movie Tron.

    I’m not all that fond of it but I bet it’s a hoot to ride.

  • Kerry

    It looks like something you might build out of parts from a V-Strom and a Bandit and were inspired by the movie Tron.

    I’m not all that fond of it but I bet it’s a hoot to ride.

  • Chad

    I did own one of these and wasn’t very happy. I’m a Honda man through-and-through, but this was one of those “crossovers” that just didn’t cut it IMHO. Too uncomfortable for “cruising” and too slow in the twisties compared to a straight-up sportbike. I sold it and bought a CBR600RR.

  • themark

    Sorry, not working for me either. Those side covers just throw the proportions off for me. The craftsmanship is obviously there, but the overall effect is just too disjointed. Especially the exposed welds on the headstock. That’s nasty.

  • Alister

    wow. you’d think after all that effort, it’d end up with something nice. but no..not at all.

  • chuckrocks

    i think it looks pretty good. it’s the unconventional stance, like the forks seem agile- while the frame appears like a rushing defensive lineman. not my favorite, but i do like it.

  • bobert

    Ugly? Compared to the standard 02′ VTR, I think it looks a whole lot better. The amount of work that would go into the frame alone to accept that tank would put most ‘custom’ builders off even attempting such a project. Good work Mr Zammit.

  • evilgiles

    Hey Chris… It’s your site, if you think it belongs here then it does. As for the bike… I it reminds me a little of the Ducati Diavel… Maybe Shawn should of taken it to them instead of Honda… I was also thinking that people would buy prefectly good standard cb750s when they were ‘modern’ and put their own spin on them… I see no reason my someone shouldn’t give a more modern honda tickle… Well done…

  • KevT

    Not the prettiest bike I’ve seen on exif but bloody well done for having a go! I know how hard it is to customize a Firestorm (Super Hawk), I owned one and often wondered what I could do to improve it – ended up doing a sticker job and loud cans cop out.

    The aesthetics are a little unbalanced, but If you squint it looks a little like the new 2011 Triumph Speed Triple from the side. Nice effort mate.

  • rossco

    no offence, but it looks like it’s been in an accident

  • Mattman27

    I say congrads! Its not the prettiest bike but its a damn fine piece of craftsmanship. I think it turned out great for such a self imposed design brief. Sure there are some design elements we would all improve, but consider how hard a cohesive parts bin bike would look? I’m pretty sure if he had chosen to make a bike completely custom he would had turned out with an amazing piece of kit, but he made something realistic and accessible. Superb Job, Mate :)

  • Phil

    I don’t understand why this bike is on here. If I wasn’t told this was a custom bike I would have thought it was stock. I like the way it looks, I like VTR’s it’s nether a classic or real custom….it’s sort of a parts bin deal. Like Honda had to get rid of some old parts and this is the result.

  • Im sure the guy who built it loves it but it does nothing for me at all.

  • ai,
    the lines don’t match at all
    all the pieces are out of balance
    super bad meaning bad

  • A

    The looks are a personal matter, and while those looks don’t churn my gears I’d say if the builder likes it as a one-off then so be it.

    However, if the attempt as stated in the article is to build a custom V-Twin CRUISER…then the rearsets have to go. The seat/bar heights might work for “cruising”, but the knee curl kinda defeats the stated purpose.

  • el vencejo

    lots of work, but it looks like what it is: a parts-bin special.
    Perhaps he should have used some filler to hide the ugly welding he did to change the headstock angle.

  • 1. If you took all that plastic off, it might look nice.

    2. Who the hell is in charge of quality control on those welds? Looks like a two year old child was playing with silly putty.

  • ac

    it’s just doesn’t look right.
    no balance.
    I guess every car has a buy and fat girls have lovers.

    this just ain’t for me

  • KIK

    Looks thrown together and painted to match,… could have tried a little harder, or take some lessons on fiberglass fab….nice try tho…

  • Booska

    This bike is terribly confusing to me. There is nothing on it that says cruiser, why would a cruiser have bodywork hanging off it’s sides. Would’ve been super cool to see those VTR radiators all polished up and pronounced rather than hidden just like the original. At least he didn’t muck up an NT650.

  • Ross

    The point is, you say? Making it your own. I’d say 99% of folks couldn’t make this as clean as he has.

    • Gilmore

      he didn’t make it. he paid others to do it. bike builder or bike assembler???

  • My personal opinion in one word: ugly!
    I even prefer the original, even though this piece of work seems to be properly done…

    Greetings from France.

  • This thread is like an episode of American Idol. “You have a great voice, but can’t sing for shit! Come back next season!”

    It looks like the guy put a lot of work into it. And he tried really hard to make the bad peices work together. Lipstick on a pig? Still a pig.

    I’m confused about the style or what it’s supposed to do better than it’s parents.

    If the builder reads all these comments, he’ll probably learn plenty about what he should consider BEFORE starting the next project. I don’t doubt he’ll do more and I’ll bet he gets really good at it. Everyone has to start somewhere and for sure this is a tough crowd! Good effort.

  • Eduardo Di Lascio

    It´s a very ugly bike.

  • CBRian1K

    Sorry to say, but this bike is a mess.

  • craigj

    A for effort … F for fugly.

    There’s really nothing wrong with a stock Super Hawk. This though, is wrong. I hope the builder enjoys it as who’s going to want to buy it?

  • Turgut


  • Io


  • TheKHAI

    look like he move the fairing a bit. thats all