Honda's European design team has produced a couple of tasty concepts for EICMA Milan. Using the fairly conservative CB650F naked bike as a starting point, the Japanese giant has unveiled two very European-looking customs that wouldn't seem out of place with an Aprilia or Husqvarna logo on the tank.
Honda CB4 Concept
The CB4 is a retro-futurist streetfighter with some serious class. The front end is clean but detailed, with its simple single round headlight, pretty machined triple clamps and solid brake disc. Bar-end mirrors and a circular instrument panel built into the bar clamp keep things flat and minimal.
The rear end adds a single-sided swingarm and twin exhausts, as well as a brake light that's almost shaped like a third underseat pipe. The seat unit is sharp and minimal, and the axle-mounted license plate holder keeps things very tidy. Only the familiar 650cc 4-cylinder engine shape and its neatly routed exhaust headers really scream Honda – but that's no bad thing. I feel like a design overhaul in this direction could take Honda's reputation for relentless reliability and add a bit of emotional spark.
Honda Six50 Concept
Then there's the Six50, an urban-camo chunky-tired scrambler concept that maintains a similar shape but takes it in a completely different direction. Fitted with a bashplate, barkbusters and rudimentary crash bars as well as serious offroad tires, the Six50 makes a fairly clear promise of dirt squirting capability.
To that end, the swingarm is double-sided for extra strength, the tires are spoked and the headlight has a touch of "rally" about it. But the 4-cylinder engine won't be ideal on the trails, plus the bike looks quite heavy and expensive details like the GP-style pipe, billet brake reservoir, machined triple clamps and road-spec upside down forks give it away for what it is: more of a fashion statement, not unlike Ducati's Scrambler bikes.
It doesn't try to pull off the retro thing nearly as hard as the Ducati, but it's not a bad looker, and fashion is selling more than ever in today's market. Here's hoping the Euro design team gets its hands on more production models in the coming years, and Honda can start competing on style as well as substance.
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