Precision. It's either your thing or it's not. Some dance around in the hinterland pretending but for me you're either a Chabott Engineering type of creative freestyling genius or a methodical engineer. Simon Dabadie from Dab Design is the latter. A young Frenchman and recently qualified engineer who worked in 3D design & printing and rapid prototyping for custom builders while still a student and has built up a black book of satisfied big name customers including Roland Sands Design, Holographic Hammer, Deus Ex Machina, Skully Systems and VIBA Motor.
Clearly a talented and ambitious chap, Simon has started his own company Dab Design and showcased a prototype for this project at Wheels & Waves last summer. The LM
series is limited to 10 bikes, this being the first, built to order at Simon's facility in Bayonne, just up the river from Biarritz, France.
Simon doesn't start his builds with a smouldering angle grinder but scans the donor bike, in this case Honda's revered NX650 Dominator, with the very latest 3D modelling equipment. And not just a quick shot with a fancy camera, each major component and areas in line for upgrade are captured and converted into photorealistic drawings. A detailed render is then revealed to the client for them to fine tune small intricacies.
Supermoto and Enduro influences fuel Simon's designs but the client is able to choose finishes, materials and specifications. The tank and seat on the LM#01 combine cutting edge tech and one of Mother Nature's tried and treated recipes - flax. Yup, the grassy plant that yields linen, linseed oil and seeds for vegans to sprinkle on their righteous almond milk porridge. Carbon fibre might have been the lightweight and decadent alternative to metal used in racing, and more recently consumer vehicles, but environmentally it's horrendous stuff. And pretty expensive. The same lay-up methods are used here, simply replacing carbon weave for flax.
Drawings are converted into 3D printed reverse moulds. Flax sheets are then laid along with a good few cupfuls of epoxy resin to form sleek shapes and a unique finish. Anyone who's tried their hand with either glass or carbon fibre moulding will be aware of just how labour intensive and messy the mould making process is. If Simon wants to alter a curve, add a rebate for a badge or incorporate an additional fuel tap, all he need do is change the drawing and fire-up the printer.
The natural strands are not only visible through the high gloss outer coating but so are the lights beneath. Strips of high output LEDs set into the innocuous looking number board sear through when on high beam and can provide a daytime running visibility on the low setting. These minimal and slightly futuristic accents combine with the near three decade old donor, making for a pure and clean overall look.
With this much effort having gone into the aesthetics, mechanicals need to be on par. The bombproof 650cc single was stripped and completely rebuilt internally, hidden by vapour blasted and painted cases. Honda probably didn't manage this level of finish back in 1988, but as you can tell by now, Simon is a perfectionist.
The subframe was also designed to remain on show, neatly formed and welded to the original cradle frame. An LED tail light is grafted into a saddle that looks pretty comfy from here, without being overly thick.
Hiding shabby welding beneath pipe wrap wasn't an option for the LM#1 so a simple header feeds a rarely used these days Supertrapp silencer. It's tune-ability, by way of varying the stack height of perforated discs, probably appealed to Simon's considered yet flexible design brief.
Adjustable Neken risers clamp a pair of Renthals, with minimal wiring on show courtesy of Motogadget's micro buttons. The triple clamp with integrated Motogadget speedo is Dab Designed and machined from solid, as is the fuel cap. The last piece of customisation is the grips, 3D printed to the client's requirements. Hand size, logo or motto and colour are all personalised options.
Finally a pair of the now ubiquitous Excel rims and stainless spokes complete the look. 17 inchers and sticky Pirelli Supercorsas for that unmissable and oh so appealing Supermoto feel. Custom bikes are such a personal thing but a couple of things they must do is impress in terms of the craftsmanship or design, but perhaps primarily ooze that "just gimmie the damn keys, I wanna ride it" factor. Simon has managed to tick both of these boxes, very convincingly indeed, and we look forward to seeing more from Dab Design in the future.
For images of the build process and to discuss ordering one of the other nine LM series head to
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Photos Julien Binet
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Dab teamed-up with Bud Racing, one of France's leading Öhlins distributors, to add plushness to their range. To talk to Simon about Dab #3 or a build to your specification send him an email here.