Honda proved that the Japanese could build capable v-twin cruisers with motorcycles like their VT series. Compared to US-built alternatives the VT cruisers were technologically advanced, offered unrelenting reliability and excellent value for money. Sitting in the middle of the range was the VT750 which during the early 2000s recorded class-leading sales around the world.
In 2010 Honda released the VT750S, the first fuel-injected iteration of the 750cc v-twin to be offered. It delivered the same reliability, an even more refined ride and a lower price tag. It seemed they had perfected the formula.
But the VT750S wasn’t what most would consider an exhilarating ride. The rider position was as neutral as they come. The engines peak power output was a passable, but certainly not exhilarating, 42bhp and the suspension was a reflection of the price point. As for styling, it ticked all the boxes but close inspection revealed chrome plated plastic.
Similar to its US counterpart, (the H-D Sportster) the VT750S was ripe for customisation and performance upgrades. But we never imagined seeing it done like this.
This 2010 Honda VT750S could have been Japans take on the iconic Harley XR750 flat tracker. Instead, it took a group of ingenious French builders who work under the title of Steel Bike Concept to turn the staid cruiser into this brazen street tracker.
“Steel Bike Concept is a team of young enthusiasts who settled in Bordeaux 6 years ago,” says SBC team member Marco. “In order for a build to meet our own objectives, there must also be a significant improvement in the performance of the machine.”
In the case of this VT750S however, at the request of the customer, the engine was to remain untouched. So the only increase in engine power here comes from a custom made exhaust, HP Corse muffler and free-flowing K&N air filter. This meant SBC would have to use other means to extract more excitement from their donor.
At 232kg the VT750S carried a lot of weight for its size. So this was the obvious place to start. So SBC stripped away all of the Honda’s standard bodywork, spoked wheels, heavy front end. They then cut off a significant amount of the chassis.
“On this machine, only the stem and the front section were kept from the original frame,” Marco explains. “The rest has been completely rebuilt and refurbished.” This translates to a tightly proportioned subframe and tail unit with zero space for a pillion. Beneath the tail, you’ll also find a one of a kind swingarm. Working closely with EMC Suspension Steel Bike Concept designed and built a bespoke swingarm that is supported by a centrally mounted EMC shock absorber.
Replacing the original bodywork is flat track racing styled aluminium components. At the rear sits a hard-angled tail unit flanked by racing style plates that give the bike a distinctly modern aesthetic. In the front sits another racing style plate that houses an LED headlight and the forks wear guards to protect them from any debris thrown up by the fenderless front wheel.
Next, they set their sights on handling improvements.
To complement the upgraded rear they swapped the VT750S front end with a set of Kawasaki ZX-6R forks sitting in Z1000 triple trees. As for braking that’s taken care of by a more than capable GSX-R 1000 system. Last but not least, ample unsprung weight has been shed thanks to the addition of Kawasaki ER-6 wheels wrapped in style appropriate Heidenau K73 Super Rain rubber.
There are of course countless other details at play here that contribute to this radical transformation. Flat track style bars and rearward mounted footpegs set up an ideal riding position. The scantily clad bars wear custom switches and there’s not an electrical cable in sight. The lighting has been reduced to a selection of discreet Kellermann LED components and tucked in behind the No. 5 plate is a Motogadget Chronoclassic digital speedometer. The entire bike has also been rewired using a Bluetooth enabled Motogadget m.Unit Blue.
Above all else, what has us dumbfounded with the build is the impeccable fit and finish. Every single part of the Honda has undergone a refresh. From the freshly painted v-twin to the powder-coated gunmetal frame and triple trees. The stand out though is the unique finish applied to the bodywork. At the base level, the steel and alloy have all been spun using a technique popular with hot rodders. Laid over the top is a vibrant metallic blue featuring asymmetrical honeycomb graphics by local painters Kolor Bikes. To tie everything together upholsterer David Follain created a nubuck saddle that uses a similar honeycomb stitch pattern.
Steel Bike Concept has achieved the unimaginable with their Honda VT750S Street Tracker transformation – and it makes us wonder… If the Indian FTR1200 and Ducati Scrambler have proved so successful, maybe it’s time Honda ventured down a similar path?
STEEL BIKE CONCEPT
Photos are by David Marvier.