Garage Build: Tweaking the Honda XR600R, French style

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
Taking on a garage project can be daunting. First-time builders often find themselves in a downward spiral of costs, time and motivation—and vow never to pick up a wrench again.

Not Dimitri Chaussinand though. He pulled off his first project—a cute Yamaha TW125—in the underground parking garage of his apartment block, on a limited budget. And when the Lyon-based architectural draughtsman sold the little TW, he already had a new build in mind …

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
“I wanted to build another motorcycle in the same vein,” the carefree Frenchman tells us. “But with more displacement, and with a little more work put into it.”

Dimitri found a suitable donor in the legendary Honda XR600R. The 1995-spec thumper had been outfitted with a pair of 17-inch supermotard wheels, but Dimitri quickly returned it to the stock 21F/18R setup, as befits a machine that has won the gruelling Baja 1000 race four times.

“I love the original large wheels, they give it a very balanced silhouette,” he explains.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
With the basic stance back on track, it was time to get stuck in.

“I wanted to keep the neo-retro style of my TW125, so I selected a fuel tank from a 1980 Honda XL125S.” The pocket-sized tank turned out to be a good fit for the frame rails of the XR600R.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
Dimitri decided to embrace the tank’s compact dimensions—by keeping everything else as tight as possible. So the subframe was cut-and-looped, and adorned with a slim, compact perch.

The rest of the bike is equally bare. “I didn’t want to spoil the straight-lined style with mudguards, turn signals and a license plate holder,” explains Dimitri. So he’s mounted the plate directly to the frame, and fitted wraparound LED strips to the forks for turn signals.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
Out back, there’s an LED strip built into the seat, which handles both tail light and turn signal duties. Dimitri borrowed the idea from fellow Lyon inhabitants FrenchMonkeys (they’ve used it on several builds.)

The rest of the XR600R’s running gear is equally minimal: a mini speedo, and a Bates-style headlight, mounted off-centre for a little asymmetry. MX bars with a throwback foam pad cover give the bike an extra shot of vintage.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
With the airbox gone (and no battery to contend with), the space under the seat is now occupied by a K&N filter on one side, and a Wrenchmonkees x Sandqvist bag on the other.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
Unfortunately we don’t have any clear photos of the exhaust, but that’s also a testament to Dimitri’s design and execution. “I re-routed the exhaust along the engine, and put on a megaphone muffler that hides behind the rear wheel when you look at it in profile.”

We love the XR600R’s big-boy-toy dimensions, but it’s the color scheme that really sets it off: a dead simple black, silver and red livery.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
And, just like before, Dimitri did all the work in his apartment building’s parking garage: “In between my neighbours with their strollers and groceries, thinking ‘this guy is completely crazy’!”

It’s not the most practical custom we’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t need to be: Dimitri has a Triumph Street Triple as his daily ride. The XR600R’s basically just there to have fun on.

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France
“Once you kick start it, it’s really enjoyable,” he says. “And it can go anywhere—road, trails or desert.”

Dimitri Chaussinand Instagram | Welding: PBSC. Paint: Raymond Planchat. Upholstery: Sebastien Fraioli. Mechanical assistance: Mondial Moto. ‘French Tracker’ tank motif Gilles Kergadallan

Garage Build: A custom Honda XR600R from France