EB1035 - 1998 Honda XR600 V02
Author: Ellaspede Date Posted:12 July 2022
This is the second iteration of our beloved 1998 Honda XR600 dubbed EB004. Originally built way back in 2011 and the second bike Ellaspede completed alongside EB001 Honda CB350. It was these two bikes that caught the attention of others and spurred a home garage operation into the custom shop Ellaspede is today, so in many ways this is a special bike for us.
It’s always hard to let go of the first loves, so this XR600 was ridden around and used for promotional duties and shows throughout the early years until the motor was due for a refresh and pulled from the frame. But as customer builds come first it then sat stagnant for the following years waiting in the wings for its second lease of life.
In 2021 we decided it was due for a birthday 10 years after it was originally built and plans were being hatched to get it back on the road when the new owner and serious XR enthusiast Tom got in touch making noise about a big thumper custom build. After a walk with him down memory lane about our original XR600 that we still owned it seemed like a perfect match to get him behind the bars on this renewed build.
Tom continues the story…
“The Ellaspede XR600 was a happy accident. I originally approached Ellaspede with the ambition to build a street scrambler from an old XR that I had owned for only the best part of 6-months. I had always taken a liking to the thumpers of the 90s, and knowing the XR has always been a popular go-to for a donor bike, my goal was to create something one-of-a-kind, I loved the idea of creating something personal that you could enjoy and keep forever.”
“When Leo and I first met in the workshop to talk through what was to be an XR with a white tank, low and behold, he nodded toward an old frame that was sitting in the corner of the workshop, followed by a short history lesson. As it turns out, one of the original Ellaspede builds was an XR! I learnt that the green EB004 Honda XR600 was the second edition to the lineup, now 10 years in the past.”
“Leo casually talked me through some plans that they had for this bike that was built years ahead of its time, the plan was to give this beast a new lease on life with a larger, electric start engine from a Honda NX650 Dominator. I was really taken by the original photos of the mighty EB004, and I loved that this bike had a part to play in the formative years of a few creatives that decided to begin building bikes in their backyard, at the time, what was to become Ellaspede.”
“Given my newfound attraction to the EB004 build, Leo gave me the option of taking the motor-less green machine and pursuing a build in a different direction than what I had originally planned.”
“I'm happy to say that after having this revelation, I quickly hijacked Leo's plans, and it wasn't a week before I found an old NX650 Dominator for sale on Facebook marketplace. The bike was in bits, which suited me fine, and It was a bonus that the bike came with a complete rebuild kit for the motor.”
“So now with three bikes, two in my shed, and one in the build, we began the process of re-designing and refreshing one of the original bikes in the Ellaspede Lineup.”
“I really loved the look of the original build, and still to this day, even with the excessive amount of XR builds that are scattered across the web, I haven't seen an XR quite like it. I put it down to the textbook slender XR600 frame (as far as road bikes go!), the unusual colour scheme, 18/18 wheel combination and fat tyres that really set this bike off and separate it from the rest of the crowd.”
“Keeping with this theme, the plan was to essentially keep the bike for the most part the same, with the addition of a new battery box, a CRF upside down front end, new lighting, a larger remote reservoir rear shock and a revised stitching design for the seat. As well as many other goodies that the boys through in the mix to bring the bike from 2011, to 2021.”
“As far as the motor was concerned, my approach was to leave no stone unturned and completely rebuild the motor down to the fine details. Of course with the addition of a larger piston, porting, and any other upgrades that we could throw at it along the way. The motor was in the capable hands of Wayne from All Carts & Cycles in Gympie, QLD. Wayne had been a small engine mechanic for most of his life, and knew the 90's Honda engines inside out!”
While the motor was away getting the full treatment, it was time for the rest of the bike to get a complete strip down for some minor mods and fresh coatings. We’ve learnt a lot in the last 10+ years of building bikes, so there was plenty we wanted to update or upgrade based on those learnings to ensure the XR600 was once again the best it could be.
The new front and rear suspension required some changes. The XR600 stem was pressed in to the CRF triple clamp with a sleeve at the bottom and some machining of the top clamp to recess the securing nut at the top. The CRF forks were weathered from a life of off-roading on a previous bike so they were disassembled before the outers were lathed down to remove some imperfections and black anodised with the axle knuckles before being rebuilt at a 100mm lower height.
New wheels spacers were measured and spun up to slot the 18” front wheel into place between the new front forks. At the back the top suspension mount required some modifications to fit the larger top mount of the external res rear shock. The rear shock was also rebuilt before going in and now features a shorter stroke and larger bump stop than factory.
The subframe sections on these XR600’s is asymmetrical and we knew that the air filter would be poking out one side, so the new battery box was design was a little more complex than usual, but it came together nicely for a neat finish to house the battery and upgraded electrical items that weren’t present with the previous kickstart only engine.
Almost all the original parts and pieces were stripped and re-powdercoated, repainted or re-polished to bring the bike back to a fresh factory looking finish.
As the engine displacement changed with the new electric start NX650 motor Tom opted to have a new seat cover stitched up as the original had large ‘630’ numbering across the rear section. This ‘630 seat’ was a key part of the original build so we decided to keep it for nostalgic reasons and bent up a new metal pan to be foamed and upholstered in a black tuck-and-roll style with green stitching to match the tank.
New front and rear guards were also made for the bike. The original build had a low front guard but we’ve opted for a high mount on this iteration. At the back we wanted to reshape the rear guard and add some new mounts for a Ninja Star licence plate holder to hang off so it was also made fresh for this bike. Both were coated in satin black.
We wanted to update some of the electrical items with our favourite new bits, so a Daytona Velona gauge now sits up front, Koso provided the 6.5” Thunderbolt LED headlight and Hawkeye LED taillight. The custom recessed taillight and Posh Classic indicators were retained as they were still in great condition.
Both the original wiring loom and the one on the donor NX650 Dominator would have been more work than it was worth to modify and use, so it was decided that making a custom loom from scratch was the way to go. Hence all new plugs and relays etc now feature throughout the bike.
With the electrical system now providing spark the fuel and air is mixed in a new 42mm Mikuni pumper carb. Exhaust gasses exit through the re-coated custom 2-into-2 exhaust that now features upgraded baffles to keep the built 650cc single sound in check.
Other notable items include brake rebuilds, lengthening the side stand for the slightly higher stance of the new suspension, new chain and sprockets, plus a USB charger unit up front.
The original rubber hard gone a little hard after 10 years, so it was rolled out in favour of some more ‘scrambler’ style Heidenau K60’s measuring 110/80-18 front and 140/80-18 rear on the custom 18x3.5” and 18x4.25” wheels.
With all the specifics covered, we’ll let owner Tom finish the story…
“Now that the bike is finished, it continues to grow on me, I really do feel as if you would be hard-pressed to find a build anything quite like the EB004.”
“It's not often that you see a naked XR600 frame retrofitted with a 650cc electric start motor, I think this bike will have a few people scratching their heads for the right reasons.”
“Credit to the crew at Ellaspede, they do have a habit of building unique machines! I'm glad that I own an original piece of that history.”
“You'll catch this bike sitting pretty in my shed, while I gaze over it with a beer and some kind of 60's/70's throwback music playing in the background. Failing that, this bike will be my coastal and mountain cruiser for many years to come.”
“Cheers to the legends at Ellaspede for holding onto this fine machine for me for the best part of 12 years! One thing is for sure, I'll be holding onto this bike for many years to come, as I'm sure it will outlive me!”
Albums we listened to during the build of this bike:
|1. Nigo - I know NIGO!||2. Surprise Chef - All News Is Good News||3. IDLES - Crawler|
|Photos by AJ Moller Photography||As featured on Bike Exif|