We live in strange times. So it feels right to kick off 2017 with one of the strangest customs we’ve seen in the history of Bike EXIF.
Yes, this is a fully functioning motorcycle with stone bodywork. It’s a 1982 Honda CX500 modified by Chris Zernia, who lives in Mendig, Germany, and is clearly one wave short of a shipwreck.
The bike is Zernia’s entry into the charmingly-named “Build da Fukker” contest run by the German magazine Custombike. Not surprisingly, Zernia is now one of the three finalists in the competition.
The stone is basalt, mined from the Eifel mountain range a few kilometers away from Zernia’s house. Basalt is a dense volcanic rock, and rather heavy, but it can be shaped relatively easily.
Zernia started out with 450 kilos (990 pounds) of basalt, and whittled it down to individual pieces weighing around 60 kilos in total.
First off was the fuel tank: It’s similar in shape to the Honda original, with a small cavity inside for the fuel. The standard fuel filler neck still fits, although it’s been lengthened.
Zernia has reinforced the CX500’s frame, we are most pleased to hear, including extra runs of four-millimeter steel tube along the top to help support the screwed-on seat unit. (Which is a work of art, right down to the tuck and roll pleating of the ‘upholstery.’)
The seat is not as unpleasant to use as you’d imagine, Zernia says. “I’ve sat down for a long time, I swear.”
There’s an LED striplight neatly flushed into a carved recess at the back of the tail unit, but the headlight was the actually hardest part of the stonework—calling for very fine carving and adjustments. A real lamp fits precisely into the cavity, held with glue, and works just fine.
But midway through the build, disaster struck: The 500 cc water-cooled engine blew up. Zernia paused the build, closed the garage door and went on holiday to Tuscany with his wife. He soon spotted examples of the alabaster carving the region is famous for, and his energy was revived.
Back in home in Mendig, Zernia installed a replacement engine and carried on with the build. It was obvious the suspension needed help with the extra weight, so he’s fitted the forks from a Honda VT600 Shadow up front, and Harley Dyna shocks out back.
The Comstar wheels are now fitted with Bates Baja tires, a modern-day homage to the legendary Goodyear Grasshopper.
The CX500 now weighs 355 kilos dry—around 780 pounds—which is still considerably less than a large American cruiser such as the Harley Road Glide. “The Honda goes quite normally,” Zernia shrugs.
Right now, he’s enjoying his new-found celebrity, with TV crews turning up at his door. Next, he’s going to aim for a Guinness World Record for the fastest motorcycle made of stone. And after that, he’s going to build a Harley Sportster out of basalt.
That Harley, though, will be fitted with a front brake. “Riding without one is something I will never do to myself again,” he says…