This Valentine’s Day, we’re kicking things off with something red: a burly Honda Grom kit from K-Speed. Plus we look at Indian’s new Chief, a Japanese custom show that happened in a mall, a reissued favorite from the gear company Icon 1000, and a pint-sized electric motorcycle from Volcon.
Honda Grom kit by K-Speed Thailand’s most prolific custom shop, K-Speed, has just done the unimaginable: they’ve made the Honda Grom even more cartoon-like than it already is. Dubbed the ‘Super Grom,’ this exaggerated take on Big Red’s beloved mini-bike invokes all of our Gundam and Robotech fantasies, and we love it.
The best part is that most of what you see here, is a simple bolt-on kit. K-Speed is first and foremost a parts company, and so it makes sense that their custom work feeds back into their catalog. So you can buy pretty much anything on this particular Grom from them.
The design takes advantage of the new Grom’s bolt-on bodywork setup. This one’s sporting new tank covers, a chunky headlight nacelle and front fender combo, fork covers, different side panels and a belly pan. There’s also a upgraded seat with a small tail piece behind it, and a rear hugger to hold a license plate.
K-Speed also installed an LED taillight with built-in turn signals, and new front signals.
Other upgrades include the handlebars, lever protectors, and a fly screen around the speedo. K-Speed even threw in a couple of ‘performance’ mods—like a new exhaust system, and upgraded brake lines.
Indian Motorcycle’s new Chief The Indian Chief is about to turn 100, and to celebrate, Indian have redesigned it. Sure, cruisers aren’t our normal fare, but we’ve got our eye on the new Chief for a couple of reasons. For starters, this is the American marque’s first major release with our good friend Ola Stenegärd at the helm of the design department.
Secondly, it looks damn clean, with a minimalist aesthetic that eschews the art deco vibe the Chief’s had up until now. Rich Christoph (the same guy that designed the FTR 1200) penned it, starting with the tubular steel gooseneck frame. “We put tons of effort in the frame,” Ola tells us. “Everything starts with the frame—the bones have to sit right. You gotta be able to pull the tank and tins off without getting depressed!”
“We went at it the old school garage way: engine on a crate, wheels where they feel right… then bend tubes and weld shit up!”
Wedged into the frame is Indian’s Thunderstroke motor, in either 111 ci or 116 ci capacity, depending on the model (there are six in total). It’s good for 142 Nm (111) or 162 Nm (116) of torque, and runs with a six speed box and a wet clutch, and includes three riding modes.
Wrapped around the chassis on the base model Chief (111) and Chief Dark Horse (116) are a four gallon fuel tank, a solo seat and a bobber rear fender, with 19F/16R cast wheels. The Chief Bobber (111) and Chief Bobber Dark Horse (116, above) roll on bubbly 16” spoked wheels, and add mini ape hangers, a headlight nacelle, and fork and shock covers. And the Super Chief (111) and Super Chief Limited (116, below) include cruiser bars, a windshield, a passenger pad, luggage, and lots of chrome.
The overall package is a slick blend of retro style and modern tech. The speedo is one modern touch—it’s a round TFT touchscreen, with a full host of features that includes smartphone connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation.
Prices start at $14,499 for the Chief and run up to $20,999 for the Super Chief Limited. That puts it in the mix with Harley’s $15,999 Softail Slim and $20,449 Heritage Classic 114. But what we’re more interested to see what custom builders will get up to with it; we already have some ideas of our own brewing. [Indian Motorcycle]
The Volcon Runt Not too long ago we reported on the Volcon Grunt—a $5,955 electric bike with fat tires and a utilitarian vibe. Now the electric vehicle start-up’s just debuted something even radder: the kiddies-sized ‘Runt.’
The Runt is pretty much just a Grunt for little ‘uns, which is why it literally looks like the Grunt’s offspring. But it’s not just its size that makes it kid-friendly—Volcon have built some pretty sly tech features into it. Via an app, parents can set up geo-fencing controls, monitor usage, limit performance, and get notified when the Runt tips over.
Naturally it makes smaller numbers too. There’s 60 Nm of torque, a top speed of 35 mph, and a seat height of just 27”. The range is around 35 miles, and the Runt will charge to full capacity within two hours via a household outlet. And Volcon will offer different seats and handlebars too, so that the Runt can grow with its owner.
Most importantly, it looks downright adorable, and we’d love a Grunt/Runt combo parked in our garage. Volcon are planning to start production in spring (northern hemisphere), with the first units expected to roll out in summer. Pricing starts at $2,995 depending on how you configure it, and a refundable deposit of $100 bags you a spot in the build queue. [Volcon Runt]
Icon 1000 Elsinore 2 boot Good news for anyone who loves Icon 1000’s gear: one of the Portland brand’s perennial favorites, the Elsinore boot, is back.
With an overall vibe that harks back to the motocross boots of yesteryear, the Elsinore made a splash when Icon 1000 first released it, becoming a fast favorite in the alt-moto scene. Our own editor-in-chief, Chris, still has a pair of first-gen Elsinore’s at home—worn down from years of abuse.
The Elsinore disappeared from Icon 1000’s line-up for a while, but it’s back and slightly tweaked for 2021. Just like before it’s available in brown and black, and features premium leather uppers with a retro five-buckle size adjusting system. But unlike your dad’s old MX boots, the Elsinore also features an inside zipper for easy access, and D30 protection at the ankle. There’s also a reinforced shin plate, and a redesigned oil- and slip-resistant sole.
Part Mad Max and part vintage desert racer, the $225 Elsinore 2 lands high on our wishlist. [Icon 1000 Elsinore 2]
Custom World Japan We’ve lost count of how many events the global pandemic has canceled over the past few months—but in some corners of the globe, perseverance has prevailed. From the 16th of January up until today, Heiwa MC has been hosting ‘Custom World Japan’ in the Pacela mall in Hiroshima.
Hosting the show over a full month, and spreading it throughout a sprawling shopping mall, helped mitigate the number of spectators gathering at any one time.
But Heiwa MC’s founder, Kengo Kimura, opted for this format for other reasons too: hosting a show in a mall meant that the general public would be exposed to custom motorcycles. And spreading it over a month meant that enthusiasts could drop in at any time, and repeatedly.
Kimura-san exhibited his own work at the show, but also pulled in the cream of Japan’s custom scene. The legendary Shinya Kimura had two bikes on display, as did Kaichiro Kurosu of Cherry’s Company, and Yuichi Yoshizawa from Custom Works Zon (including one of our bikes of the year, the BMW K1600B ‘Stealth Crow‘).
Also in attendance were 46 Works’ Shiro Nakajima with a BMW R nineT and a 1970 BMW R75/5, and Hide Motorcycle’s Hideya Togashi with a Triumph Bonneville T120 bobber. Rounding out the show were a Honda CB750 and GL400 from Wedge Motorcycle.
Travel restrictions meant there was no chance of getting out to the show in person this year, but we hope this changes in the future. The chance to see some of the world’s best custom motorcycles wedged in between Prada handbags is just too good to resist. [Images by, and with special thanks to, Kazuo Matsumoto]