John Ryland’s Classified Moto is going from strength to strength. The order book is healthy and the machines coming out of his Richmond, VA workshop are increasingly adventurous.
“KT600” is the latest, and named after its donor bike and owner. The starting point was a 1987 Honda XL600R enduro, and it was commissioned by Battlestar Galactica actress (and avid motorcyclist) Katee Sackhoff.
“From the get-go Katee was the perfect customer,” says Ryland. “She gave us 100 percent creative freedom. Her only request was that her feet not be behind her, since she’s used to having them forward on her Harley. So we left the pegs in the stock position.”
No Classified Moto bike would be complete without a front end swap, and this XL600 gets one from a Kawasaki ZX6-R. And for the second time, Ryland and his chief mechanic Greg upgraded the back end too—installing the single-sided swingarm from a 2006 Triumph Sprint.
“We’ve swapped front ends on probably 30 bikes at this point, so that was not a big deal,” says Ryland. “Maxum Machine did the triple tree conversion. But the rear end swaps are a lot more complicated. After much deliberation, Chase Metal’s Alex Heath fabricated a boxed section onto the frame to receive the swingarm. We used modified transmission gears to allow the front sprocket to clear the big 180 rear tire.”
Ryland leaned on Progressive Suspension’s David Zemla for advice on the XL600’s rear geometry. Then Chase Metal CNC’d a beautiful aluminum lower mount for the shock—a Progressive 465 unit, with a remote preload adjuster mounted below the tank. “I’m still no expert, but I learned a ton working with David,” says Ryland.
The icing on the cake is the custom stainless exhaust, fabricated by Chase Metal’s Seth Ingham. “It’s a work of art and sounds amazing,” says Ryland. “Seth is a perfectionist and I tend to ‘eyeball’ a lot of things when I’m working on a bike, so I’m sure it wasn’t fun for him to line things up. He asked me at one point, ‘Do you want me to line the tip up with the center of the tire or the center of the taillight?’ I told him to split the difference…”
Just to increase the pressure, the omnipresent cameras of Cafe Racer TV were recording the ups and downs. You’ll be able to watch the build during season four in early 2013—but in the meantime, head over to the Classified Moto website for more details.
And Katee? She was floored by the bike, and it fits her just right. Of course, there’s no kickstart on Katee’s Harley, so she had to learn—on camera—how to do it. “All I can say is she’s a trooper,” Ryland laughs. “It didn’t come easy but she did it.”
Images by Adam Ewing.
TECH SPECS 1987 Honda XL600R enduro motor and frame, heavily modified | 2005 Kawasaki ZX6-R forks and wheel | CM triple tree conversion, billet upper clamp, All-Balls bearing upgrade | 2006 Triumph Sprint ST 1050 single-sided swingarm | Progressive Suspension 465 shock, custom billet lower mount | Fully custom stainless pipes, collector and muffler built by Seth Ingham | Tires: Metzeler ME880 120/70-17 (front), Dunlop D616 180/55-17 (rear) | Brakes: Galfer stainless lines front and rear with stock Triumph and Kawasaki calipers and rotors. Relocated rear master cylinder | Seat: Custom made in-house and upholstered by Roy Baird | Tank: 1970s Honda CB350, two-tone nickel plated | Carbs jetted for pods and new exhaust | Misc: Acewell digital gauge, Oury grips, custom LED taillight, dual headlights, Driven aluminum rear sprocket with DID Gold X-ring chain.