Randall’s Nighthawk

Awhile back we took a liking to the Honda CB750 Nighthawk. Specifically, the ones built from the early ’90s through 2002 or so. It seems we unintentionally built our little company on the success of our Yamaha XV920R projects, and before we knew it, we couldn’t talk people out of them. Despite the avalanche of work it took to make them run well and look suitably Classified, we kept on accepting orders until officially retiring from the XV game. We have a few left to finish but won’t be taking on any more. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Enter the Nighthawk. It has proven to be just the thing to reduce stress around the shop. Donor bikes are in good supply. Parts to rebuild them are similarly available. They have plenty of power. And they respond well to the mods we like to do to them. And as with all of our donor bikes, they aren’t sought-after collectibles that enrage people when chopped up and re-imagined.


This one was commissioned for our Canadian neighbor Randall Reimer and delivered this past fall. Built as a Level 2, this skeletal Honda started life as a 1992 CB750. It went on a major diet, first off. The bulky and somewhat bulbous Nighthawk tank was replaced with a ’70s Kawasaki KZ650 unit, nickel-plated and powder coated. The factory airbox was ditched in favor of a pair of billet aluminum intakes CNC’d by Seth Ingham here in Richmond before relocating to Vegas.



As is customary we replaced the old stock front suspension with that of a late model Yamaha R6-R — black, not gold, but the guts are the same. (If you’re looking to do this kind of swap on your project, our CM Triple Tree Exchange Service makes it easy.) Weight reduction, a big-time brake update and a decidedly modern look make make for a highly effective upgrade on this old bird.

The Nighthawk’s naked frame reveals some strange twists and turns, particularly on the asymmetric subframe. Instead of fighting it, we embraced the weirdness, making the seat pan follow the interesting lines. Our buddy Roy Baird whipped up a sweet cushion and cover to cap it off.


Another major discovery for us of late has been lithium ion batteries. After experimenting with random brands, we finally landed with Shorai Power batteries. They are freakishly small and they crank over the big four-cylinder without complaints. For the Nighthawks we build, we tuck the battery in the swing arm where it almost disappears.

We finished the bike off with fun bits like an Acewell digital gauge and DID Gold X-Ring chain. Tires are Shinko Ravens. A billion or so hidden tabs and brackets sprouted from the hands (and very organized mind) of CM shop chief Danik Herashchanka to keep the look clean.

Stay tuned for a bunch more Classified Nighthawks making some noise this spring.


Hello, a year later


It wasn’t one of my prouder moments when I realized the last time I posted to this blog was a little over a year ago. And to all of you who might have thought we packed it in and rode off into the sunset, I understand your confusion. The truth is that we’re in the process of relaunching this entire website, adding a bunch of items to our store and making up for lost time when it comes to staying in touch with the people who follow what happens here at CM. Thanks for your patience, my friends.

Why the radio silence? Workload, y’all. We took on a bunch of builds this time last year and finally have most of them squared away. There are others still in the works from even longer ago — like Chris Czel’s angelic Bonneville, Bob Ranew’s fairly evil CB750 and Wes Malmay’s low and mean XV920. Those guys have earned themselves a place in the Classified Moto inner sanctum for their patience and demeanor. As in, they won’t even have to knock when they visit. They can help themselves to the contents of our fridge, etc. Stay tuned for the release of those bikes and a few more in short order.

This also happened. We took on a partner in crime — Alex Martin — who brings a lot of amazing qualities to Classified, most notably his ability to do mathematics and also his MMA fighting skills. Alex inquired about a build awhile back, but opted to become invested in the company instead. He owns less of the company than I do, but again, he is basically a ninja, so what he says goes.

Also, huge news is the hiring of our first full-time employee, Danik Herashchanka. I met Danik when looking for donor bikes on Craigslist. He was selling a nicely done early GSXR cafe bike that caught my eye. When I called about it, he said, “Is this John from Classified Moto?” Turns out he already knew about us and didn’t need much arm twisting to join the team. He now does all the hard stuff (or the fun stuff, depending on how you see it). Welding, fabrication, electrical, tuning. He was born with shop manuals in his memory banks it seems. The guy is a genius and we’re lucky to have him.

And remember that bike we were building for actor Norman Reedus? Well it’s been finished for a long time at this point. And in fact, we’re already finished with Norman’s second build, which we will post in due time. So far, we’ve had tremendous luck when dealing with famous people. We hear some celebrities aren’t super nice. Not so in the case of Norman Reedus and Katee Sackhoff. They’re both real life action figures who are funny, smart and truly unique. The pleasure has been all ours.



And just this past week, we delivered a very significant build to actor/model Nic Huffman out in LA. We’re told Nic suited up at 2:00 am when the truck rolled into town with the bike. We love that kind of enthusiasm. Bike and rider are going to be a stellar pair.

The bike itself is the very same 1982 Yamaha XS650 “Yamazuki” that we built for our wizard-like photographer Adam Ewing back before we were officially Classified Moto. It’s our first bike that landed on Chris Hunter’s prestigious Bike EXIF site. Having been in the family for so long as a daily rider, test mule and shop ornament, we completely rebuilt it for Nic, while maintaining it’s character, we hope.

We upgraded the motor with a 750cc big bore kit, added a sweet stainless exhaust, leveled out the stance with matching Warp 9 supermoto 17-inch rims front and rear and rounded it out with a ton of higher quality components than in its first life.

A killer Shorai lithium ion battery fits in the same tiny space as the old gel battery, but made it so we could once again use the electric starter. Back in the day, we had to choose between a giant ugly battery or a kick-only setup. No more! We added an Acewell digital gauge, DID gold chain and powder coated everything that had been rattle canned previously.

Passenger accommodations are perhaps the coolest feature of the bike now. Nic did not want to forego the ability to give someone a lift, so we came up with a way to do so without spoiling the look of the bike. A sliding metal fairing covers the passenger portion of the sweet leather seat (upholstered by Roy Baird here in Richmond). This allows Nic to keep the solo look until date night when he can simply slide back the metal fairing (with integrated LED taillight) and bring his lady friend along for the ride.

Anyway, I have to get back to work, and I barely know how to use this computer anymore, so I need to get away from it. Stay tuned here for more info and BE SURE TO FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM … @classifiedmoto. We are able to post there on a regular basis until the new site is up and running.

Thanks again, for keeping up with the adventures of Classified Moto. More to come.

— John Ryland



Special build queue opens Friday 1/3 at noon


Here it is, finally. Answers to the big questions about Friday’s (1/3/14) launch of a special KT600/KT675 build queue. If you want to be prepared to pounce when we start accepting orders, PLEASE read this post and any pertinent links — a few times if necessary. It’ll be worth your time. When it goes live, the Moto Build Request will be available in our online store.

PRICES. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. As I’ve said before, figuring out pricing on bikes is absolutely my least favorite part of this job I love so much. Why? Because there’s math involved. Also because it’s so political — charge enough to make a profit that’s fitting for months of work and some will say we’re greedy. Don’t charge enough to make a profit and we can’t stay in business. I won’t get too far into the topic, but suffice it to say our prices reflect what goes into the builds, not what the Blue Book says. And yes, clearly, if you were to build the bike yourself, you might in fact save a bundle. This goes without saying, but I (and others) will say it anyway.

Enough with math and politics.

In a nutshell, we will be opening a special build queue for you to reserve one of 10 replicas of the two bikes we built for actress Katee Sackhoff. The first bike is what we call the KT600 ($17,000 USD) and the second is her new one, the KT675 ($21,000). Both bikes are high-end Level 4 customs, similar in character but with differences in components and performance. Still interested? Read on for details about the bikes and the process of buying one.

What follows is designed to answer as many of your questions as possible so you can decide if you want to skip lunch Friday and reserve your own KT Special. We are happy to answer questions by email or phone prior to opening the queue. All we ask is that you first read this carefully as your question is probably answered within.



Last year we were lucky enough to build a custom Honda XL600R for actress Katee Sackhoff. The build and delivery were documented on Velocity Channel’s Café Racer series. We had a great time and the bike was a hit. In honor of Katee we named the bike the KT600. It started life as a Honda enduro sporting a very patriotic red, white and blue color scheme. We grafted on a front end from a modern sport bike and a single-sided swing arm from a Triumph Sprint ST1050. It’s a visual mix of modern, vintage, repurposed and custom components, and it sounds like a big single cylinder thumper should. Here’s the spec sheet:

—   Donor bike: Late 1980’s Honda XL600R (KICK START ONLY)

—   Front end: Kawasaki ZX6-R

—   CM front end conversion with custom billet upper clamp

—   Swing arm: Triumph Sprint ST1050

—   Wheels: Triumph (rear), Ninja 636 (front)

—   Tires: Dunlop D616 180/55-17 (rear), Metzeler 880 130/80-17 (front)

—   Tank: 1970’s Honda CB360T, nickel plated with CM badging

—   Headlights: Dual 4-inch halogens

—   Subframe: Custom

—   Seat: Custom single

—   Exhaust: Full stainless custom with underseat silencer

—   Clip on bars

—   Battery: Shorai Lithium Ion

—   Gauge: Acewell digital or custom billet iPhone mount for use with speed app.

—   Galfer stainless brake lines, turn signals, Oury grips, DID gold X-Ring chain

KT600 available alterations

—   Dual headlight may be be swapped for a black single 5.75” Bates style light

—   Low rise Superbike style bars may be be substituted for clip ons

—   Black forks may be substituted for gold

—   A Dunlop D616 front tire can be substituted for the Metzeler if you want the front and rear tread patterns to match. The Dunlop will be a smaller, more standard size of 120/70-17 as opposed to the Metzeler at 130/80-17.



The KT600 is a scrappy, lightweight brawler at home in the city or on the back roads. We rode Katee’s bike all over LA, splitting lanes and carving canyons. It’s geared for fun and can cruise the freeway or pull a big old wheelie if the occasion calls for it. Power is on par with the stock XL600R while some gains are realized through jetting and exhaust. The bike is kick start only and is recommended for riders who have been kickin’ it for years. Like with any big single, there’s a right way and a wrong way to kick it — equal parts finesse and authority. If you buy this version, just know that there is no electric start.


The KT675

After we built and delivered Katee’s original bike she was amazingly cool and agreed to let us sell it to an eager customer and build her a Version 2.0. Selfishly, we were happy to get to continue being best buds with such an action superstar for another project. For her troubles, Katee gets a bunch more horsepower, electric start, a significant weight reduction and some pretty trick Ducati running gear.


We didn’t want to simply build her an exact copy of the original, so we started with a nicely evolved version of the Honda dual sport platform — the XR650L. We began by bumping the displacement up from 644cc to just over 675. This big bore version features a Wiseco piston and a Stage 1 cam. A fully custom stainless steel exhaust tucks up almost completely under the seat for an extra tidy profile.


Here’s the extended spec sheet:

—   Donor bike: early-to-mid 2000’s Honda XR650L (ELECTRIC START ONLY)

—   Front end: Modern USD fork (we use Yamaha R6R or Kawi ZX6-R)

—   CM front end conversion with custom billet upper clamp

—   Swing arm: Ducati Multistrada single sider

—   Wheels: Ducati (rear), R6R or Ninja 636 (front)

—   Tires: Dunlop D616 180/55-17 (rear), Metzeler 880 130/80-17 (front)

—   Tank: 1980’s Honda CB400T Hawk, nickel plated with CM badging

—   Headlights: Dual halogens — one clear standard and one amber fog

—   Subframe: Custom

—   Seat: Custom single

—   Exhaust: Full stainless custom with underseat silencer

—   Superbike style

—   Battery: Shorai Lithium Ion

—   Gauge: Acewell digital or custom billet iPhone mount for use with speed app.

—   Chain: Gold O-ring style

—   Bodywork: Custom nickel side panels, battery box and rear fender

—   Galfer stainless brake lines, turn signals, Oury grips, DID gold X-Ring chain

KT675 available alterations

—   Dual headlight may be be swapped for a black single 5.75” Bates style light

—   The KT675 can be equipped with dual headlights — amber & clear — (standard), KT600-style symmetric dual round lights, OR a single 5.75″ round Bates-style light.

—   Clip on bars may be swapped for the standard Superbike bars

—   Black forks may be substituted for gold

—   Standard tank may be swapped for a 70’s Honda CB360T tank. This is the tank that comes standard on the KT600.

—   A Dunlop D616 front tire can be substituted for the Metzeler if you want the front and rear tread patterns to match. The Dunlop will be a smaller, more standard size of 120/70-17 as opposed to the Metzeler at 130/80-17.


The KT675 was designed and built as an upgraded and visually distinct sibling to the KT600. That said, you might prefer certain features of the original bike. For this reason we are offering some very specific variations that apply to one or both versions. They provide a little flexibility to suit personal preferences without affecting pricing. Below is the breakdown:


Special Requests

This special short run build queue focuses on two specific models. Our pricing and scheduling are based on building multiples of the same two bikes. So for this round, we can’t honor special requests beyond the variants described above. Our goal is to open the queue within four months and offer a limited number of one-off customs.


Process and payments

When the build queue opens, the Moto Build Request listing will go live in our web shop. The price listed is $500. Please don’t think that the bike costs $500. It does not. The $500 is a deposit that guarantees your place in line to purchase one of the two models. It will be first come, first served — preference determined by date and time of the online purchase. The queue will close once we’ve sold our allotment of bikes.

Since there is no design phase to speak of (save for indicating any available variations you might choose), the build will be expected to begin immediately. Once you pay your $500 you will be required to pay half of the balance down immediately to get the ball rolling. By immediately, let’s say within a week of purchasing the Build Request. We’ll work with you to make the payment go smoothly. Just note that delays in payment can bump your place down the pecking order in the queue. That’s no fun. The remainder of the balance will be paid in two equal installments — one at the midpoint and one at the end of the build. EXAMPLE: Put $500 on a KT675 (build queue fee). Your balance is now $20,500 USD. Split that in half for a first payment of $10,250. The remaining $10,250 in this case, is split in half with $5125 due at the midpoint of the build and the remaining $5125 due when we release the bike to you or your shipper.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND that by purchasing the $500 Build Request Fee, you are agreeing to buy a pretty expensive motorcycle. You are also taking one of the limited spots in the queue. So we hereby declare the $500 fee non refundable — not refundable but it is credited to your balance, so as long as you proceed with the build as agreed, you won’t lose anything.

We have made every effort to accurately describe the bikes we’re offering at this time. If you have any questions please contact us BEFORE you purchase the build request. I have found that (on rare occasion) people get excited and fail to read everything, then expect us to eat the cost when they change their mind. Not how we want to roll this time.



We will be glad to assist you in arranging shipping within the US or abroad. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the buyer to coordinate and pay for shipping. We are located in Richmond, Virginia at zip code 23229 if you would like to look into shipping quotes. Please keep in mind if ordering from outside the US, to check your local laws and registration requirements, including any taxes or tariffs you might be required to pay.



Build times in this round will range from six to 18 months, depending on your place in the queue. As with any custom build, we can’t foresee every possible hurdle or snag. Therefore delivery dates can never truly be set in stone. We will do our best to get the work done by the target date. If your patience is ever called into play, please know how much we appreciate it!

So that’s about it. Feel free to email john@classifiedmoto or call 804.512.9782 to ask questions about this round of builds. Then be ready at 12 noon (EST) on Friday, January 3, 2014 to pounce as soon as the listing goes live. Thanks for reading this far, and good luck to you!  We will be announcing it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well. —JR

PHOTOS BY Adam Ewing

Well, we’re movin’ on up


Those of you who have been with us from the beginning will remember a time when we made a blog post every time we did anything even slightly interesting. Now, it seems even momentous occasions barely get a pic and a hashtag. But this is news that simply can’t go unannounced — we’re finally, for real, cross our hearts moving into a phenomenal new space near downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Since the beginning, we have been crammed into a tiny suburban garage, trying our best to shield our neighbors from our goings on — sometimes sending them texts to warn of impending loud noises. Sometimes pushing bikes down the street before starting them up. Always tripping over each other. Rolling bikes out in the nice weather. Rolling them back in when it starts to rain. We got a lot done in the last few years, but alas, it’s time to move on.

The new shop is a former stable for the early cable cars in Manchester (a little section of Richmond that used to be its own town). It’s got an amazing historic vibe to it and the coolest landlord an upstart bike shop could ever want — Jimmy Kastleberg, owner of Caravati’s Architectural Salvage. He does to houses what we do to bikes — recycles, repurposes and reinvents. It’s a match made in heaven and we could not be more excited.

As we get settled in, we’ll continue to see clients on an appointment basis, but before long, we’ll be able to handle walk-in retail traffic. Just give us time to figure out where to put all our stuff.

Stay tuned for updates, including The Portland One Show (February) and our latest build for actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead. Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to watch ourselves on Velocity Network’s ‘Cafe Racer’. Then back to work. —JR

Modern forks on old bikes


We certainly weren’t the first ones to start putting modern front ends on older bikes, but I will say when I first attempted it, there was no info to be found on it. Over the last few years, we have fielded hundreds of questions about our swaps and not too long ago we began offering it as a service. We still do.

Lately the interest in swaps seems to have spiked, so I thought it would be good to try and answer some frequently asked questions. Mind you, this is a service we offer at Classified, and as such, is something we do to make money (i.e., pay the bills). So what follows is not a how-to article designed to help you avoid using our service. It’s simply the basics of letting us help you make your old bike a little more awesome (and a little more Classified).

First and foremost, here is the link to the TRIPLE TREE EXCHANGE service offered in our online store. The listing, if read carefully, conveys all the information you might need to fit your bike with a modern (upside down/inverted) front end. Most of the questions I answer on a regular basis are addressed in the listing.

That said, here are the highlights. The service costs $485 plus shipping. The price covers modification of your supplied parts so that you may, with great pride and joy, bolt a sweet front end onto your bike as if it were factory made to do so. It does not cover the front end itself, the wheel, brakes or any other equipment you might need. We respond to a surprising number of questions as to whether the $485 includes the front end, wheel, brakes, controls — the list goes on. How cool would that be? I’d buy so many of them for myself if that were the case.

Sadly, these days, you can expect to pay between $600-$900 for a good used front end, another $350 for a wheel, plus other bits and bobs to make it complete. When I did my first swap, by the time I had ruined a handful of triple trees and paid for hours of fruitless labor, I had spent a mortgage payment, easily. Now it’s down to a science and we have several methods of hybridizing your triples based on the equipment we receive from you.

I’ve never been one to give the hard sell, but I will say again, if this service had been available when I was working on my old XS850, in hindsight I would have pounced on it.


OUT OF COUNTRY ORDERS. This has been a big topic lately. Here’s the best solution for foreign orders. Using eBay (USA), you can source a modern front end AND a triple tree that fits your bike. Have it shipped to us here in Richmond, thus saving yourself overseas shipping. We will modify the parts and ship the whole front end to you in your country. We will have to calculate shipping for the item, so email us before ordering and we’ll send you an invoice rather than ordering through the store.

SPOKE WHEEL SETUPS. On our Level 3 custom builds, we combine modern forks with spoke wheels. Sometimes we use dirt bike forks and sometimes we use sport bike forks with a custom axle and caliper spacers. This is a very labor intensive endeavor and unfortunately we don’t offer it as a service except on our builds. That said, the swap service we offer is not affected by whether you run wire spokes or not. If you’re willing to do the work necessary to shorten your dirt bike forks or make a spoke wheel work with your sport bike forks, we’re happy to provide the triple tree service.

BEARINGS. We like to use All-Balls tapered bearings on all our swaps. We can get them for you or you can order anywhere they are sold. In fact, All-Balls has a chart on their website that cross references bearing sizes to tell you what front ends might fit your bike without modification. They clearly state that the chart cross references bearing dimensions only and that it does not take into consideration the stem length or profile. That means it won’t fit without something like what we offer. It’s a bit like buying wheels for your car that have the correct bolt pattern but the wrong offset and hence, don’t clear your brake calipers. We have received many comments to the effect of, “Why pay $485 for your service when a set of bearings will do the same thing?” I fear these commenters have missed the point both we and All-Balls are trying to make.

GENERAL QUESTIONS. Here at Classified, we love interacting with moto folks whenever we can. We’re happy to steer you to good parts suppliers, give you our opinion on bike platforms, check out pics of your project and the like. Unfortunately (and surprisingly) we have found ourselves with less and less time to do anything but work on bikes and lamps. It’s a great problem to have but it means responding to general questions takes awhile. Thanks for your patience.

The bike build queue is currently closed again and there will be some changes to it when we open it again. Stay tuned for more info. However, the online store is still open for things like the aforementioned Triple Tree Service, tee shirts, lamps and posters. If it’s not sold out, it’s available. Oh, and Father’s Day is comin’ so…