Think it takes large capacity to make a cool custom? Here’s Argentina’s Lucky Customs to prove you very, very wrong.
Australians, like our American and British brethren, are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying and customising bikes. We’re lucky enough to have global access to pretty much any bike we desire. But spare a thought for those riders living in Asia and South America that don’t have that luxury. For whatever nutso reasons their governments or the manufacturers may have, checking out the top speed on a bling Hayabusa down the local village’s main road and/or dirt track just isn’t possible. Go figure.
But bike customisers are a determined bunch – put them on and island with nothing but a BMX and an outboard motor and you can guarantee what will happen next. So it should be no surprise when we see plenty of quality, smaller capacity custom builds coming out of Indonesia, Thailand and Brazil. But this here work of 249cc genius, titled ‘Tigra’, comes to us from Argentina’s Lucky Customs.
Owned by local customising legend Lucas Layum, the shop is becoming renowned both locally and globally for some of the best builds South America has to offer. So naturally we caught up with him to see what he thinks of working with more modest capacity bikes, what inspired him for this project.
Like many contemporary builders, Lucas was looking for more the usual bobber, café racer and scrambler thought-starters. He eventually decided on something spacey and futuristic. “Lately I’ve been thinking that everything is looking the same,” he notes. “So I thought I’d try to go beyond all that. Way beyond.”
What’s it based on?
The bike started life as a rather plain-looking Honda CBX250. Known as the ‘Twister’ locally, they are also sold over here as the CBF250, and are a firm favourite among learners.
“They are also very popular in Latin America,” says Lucas. “They are a Japanese bike, and they are also made in Brazil, so it’s the best of both worlds. Pretty much everyone knows them, and they are popular for commuting and also with younger riders.”
The specs are as humble as the bikes are reliable – an air-cooled Honda single-cylinder 249cc engine with a DOHC and six speeds. You may have heard the stories of some less sharp riders running them without any oil for thousands of kilometres and the engines battling on regardless. Make no mistake, CBXs are stronger than Donald Trump’s hairspray and a whole lot cooler, too.
What’s it got?
Lucas’ first step for the build was to pull the donor bike to bits. “We started by totally disassembling the bike, as the only thing we really needed for the build was the engine and the engine mounts. The rest, including the chassis, was to be changed radically.”
Next came the tank redesign that would form the centrepiece of the bike’s new, more sci-fi look. With its shape largely sorted, it was the turn of the tailpiece. ‘As you can see, its shape echoes the rear of the tank,” notes Lucas. And although the temptation was to make it larger to house the battery, it was decided to locate it elsewhere so that this particular baby didn’t have back.
Look closely and you’ll see exactly where they wound up. The cleverly disguised container with all the bike’s electrics and wiring now sits on the engine’s left side, looking for all the world like heat sinks.
“The fairing is crafted from a Honda Dax fender, then three LEDs were added to serve as headlights, along with an acrylic visor from an old helmet,” says Lucas. The ex-visor-come-wind-protection is affixed with hex bolts to give a riveted effect, perfectly matched to the mechanical futurism of the build.
What was tricky?
With a sigh, Lucas tells us about the process of getting the wheels on the bike. Being contrast cut items from Performance Machine in the US, they are easily worth more than a new CBX to begin with. But their price tag was just the start of the pain.
Being designed for big Harleys and the like, they’re no bolt-on items. For Lucas this was the most complicated part of the build, as new bearings had to be designed, axles machined and adapters made to fit the braking hardware front and rear. With so much money and effort spent, the rear sprocket and brake disc are both mounted on the left side so that when viewed from the right side, both wheels reveal their entire face.
Finally the bearings and other surfaces were double checked for correct fitment, and then were shod with a tasty set of Bridgestone rubber.
If you happen to find yourself in Córdoba with no bike and a wad of cash burning a hole in your pantalones, the bike is up for sale. And rest assured, the funds will be channelled into Lucas’ next build: a 1450cc turbo Harley board tracker with a frame built from scratch. Yep, you did read that right.
Even before we translated that sentence into English, it was pretty much the coolest thing we’d read all week. Assuming Lucas doesn’t suffer an overdose of fun testing the thing, make sure you watch this space for the full exposé, en un momento.
WORDS ANDREW JONES – EDITOR, PIPEBURN.COM PHOTOGRAPHY RAUL ORIGLIA