When this sleek Honda popped up on our email, it stopped us in our tracks. And then we got an extra surprise—it’s based on a police bike. We just had to find out more.
We got talking to builder Irwann Cheng, who intrigued us with his tiny bōsōzoku-style custom a couple of years ago. And it turns out that the backstory on this machine is just as interesting as the cyberpunk-influenced bodywork.
In the 80s and 90s, one of the most popular bikes used by police forces around the world was the Honda CBX750 P. It’s similar to the Nighthawk, but has an 18-inch front wheel, a slipper clutch, and easy-maintenance shaft drive.
The Malaysian police force was one of Honda’s big clients for this bike, and decommissioned examples occasionally pop up on the local secondhand market. Three years ago, Kerkus Motorworks of Kuala Lumpur built a custom based on the CBX750 P; now it’s the turn of Irwann Cheng and his FNG Works shop, a couple of hours up the road in Ipoh.
“The Malaysian government now uses newer bikes such as the VFR800,” says Irwann. “There are a few CBX750s still being used, but it is being phased out. A lot are auctioned to the public, but most end up in the hands of retired policemen.”
This striking 1994 CBX is definitely not the sort of bike you’d expect to be owned by a former cop. But it is…
“The brief was simple,” says Irwann. “He wanted a ‘cafe racer’ but with no frame cutting or modification. This is my second cafe racer build, and I wonder, why do some older men love that riding position? Maybe they just enjoy the looks of it? Because my first cafe build was for an older man too.”
Without getting out the grinder, building such a radical custom was almost impossible. So FNG’s client agreed to let Irwann cut the frame behind the rear shock mounts.
“The original frame is slanted at the back, like a chopper or cruiser. And we all know that for a cafe racer, it should be at least horizontal.” So Irwann decided to hide the frame rail behind the new bodywork, which gives the Honda completely new lines.
Irwann usually hand-draws his ground-up builds, but this time he designed the body in MS Paint. “I snapped a photo of the bike with the bodywork and tank off, then started sketching in Paint. I’m not familiar with Photoshop, so I did what I could with all I have.”
The new bodywork was handmade from mild steel. “During the build, I was infatuated with the cyberpunk genre and aesthetics. The front has a deep, ‘tunneled’ look for the headlights to sit in, to make it look more aggressive.”
The headlights are aftermarket LED daytime running lights, and make us think of the Star Wars Jawa characters.
The shape of the new tank is similar to those on older (and smaller) Honda CBs, and Irwann has added a fuel gauge sensor—which, bizarrely, was omitted from the police models. “It was a client request, and I straight off thought about the years he rode this bike on duty, and struggled by not having a gauge.”
The back is inspired by 70s and 80s TT racers, and the taillight is purposely offset slightly, and finished with chrome trim.
To level out the stance and compensate for the weight loss, Irwann has lowered the anti-dive forks just over two inches. He’s kept the drivetrain stock, though: “This bike was reliable and came with enough power, and I don’t want to ruin that. The only thing I changed was the exhaust system, which now sports two megaphones and a more aggressive sound.”
Irwann also modified the exhaust crossover to turn it into a 4-2-2 system, instead of the complicated stock 4-2-1-2 layout. The carburetors have been rejetted to keep the DOHC inline four in optimum tune.
After all the fabrication was finished, and the CBX checked out well on a test ride, Irwann stripped it down again. The frame was powder coated, the engine was cleaned and painted, and some smaller parts were chrome plated to add contrast.
“The livery was chosen by the customer,” says Irwann. “To be honest, I would have liked it to be a different color, because I was infatuated by cyberpunk.”
“But in the end, this is not my bike. And at the end of the day, the customer is happy.”