Dream Wheels Heritage CLR125 'Serena'
By Ross Sharp - 27 Oct 16
When imagining what the physical Bike Shed would look like we dreamed of having a showroom packed full of custom bikes, not just from local builders but also from friends on far away shores. We also wanted to offer new riders the chance to choose a different path from the generic and uninspiring plastic clad motorcycles that until recently were the only options available t CBT'd folk with little interest or facility to wield a spanner. Dream Wheels Heritage are no strangers to our virtual world and their work has even been published in the renowned Ride 2 book, but seeing their bikes in the metal is a different thing altogether. When a customer contacted us asking if he could pick up his new DWH machine from the Bike Shed HQ a mini dream became reality. That might sound overly encomiastic but we can still remember our first bikes (some more clearly than others) and the excitement that first experience held. What must it be like all these years later being able to liaise over the ether with a man thousands of miles away and choose how you want your first bike to look, in a way that'd be individual to your taste. That's too much to compute. My first bike was from the local shop and I chose it because Mike Larocco had one, and it had pink grips. That's about as custom as I got. Well, I did strip and polish the swingarm, but that was because I couldn't start it on my own and got bored. Brit based Andrew Wilkinson was able to reap the rewards of passing his bike test in more modern times of interweb, Instagram and inexpensive European shipping. Andrew liked what he'd seen from the hands of Hélder Moura, DWH's founder, and having checked out a few previous builds felt confident in ordering from the Portuguese outfit. So, after a few emails and some Skype the design was in place and the work could commence. Honda's CLR125 is the staple fleet machine for any pizza delivery firm in regions where the terrain would uncover the weaknesses of cheap Chinese step-though scoots. The CLR, also known as the City Fly, is a great learner bike due to its light weight but finding a decent one is tricky. Luckily Hélder found an older gent with a really tidy and well maintained CLR and parted with decent cash for it, knowing that would pay dividends in the long run. Back at the DWH headquarters the little Honda was stripped bare. While the engine was being treated to rebuilt and refreshed internals and a fresh coat of matt black high temp paint the more time consuming aesthetic upgrades started taking shape. The stock subframe looks a bit awkward so a new one was fabricated, incorporating the rear loop. The battery box was then made to fit between the new rails, with the ignition relocated to the lefthand side to keep cable runs to a minimum. The loom was modified to accept the Motogadget all-in-one speedo and LED indicators.
The mudguards are also Hélder's handiwork, preferring to form his own than try to make cheap set fit. Whilst at it he employed the services of the local laser cutter for to produce a pair of side panels. The exhaust header, licence plate bracket and mirror mount were also in-house jobs.
As this was to be Andrew's first, bike budget wasn't going to stretch to a completely bespoke fuel tank but the original CLR unit isn't a looker so an alternative was sought. A dent-free Yamaha AF1 tank fitted the lines of the project perfectly and with its fresh two-tone paint looks as if Honda's designers had meant to go for this shape. Or at least they should have done.
The stock wheels are a perfect size but now look loads better with black powder coated rims and stainless spokes, rolling on Continental's TKC80s, 18" up front and 17" out back. The spindly, conventional CLR forks would never do though so Hélder recycled those and installed some Showa upside downers from a Suzuki RMX50. Brake lines are all new and braided.
Perhaps one of the most striking parts of the build is the saddle. Although subtle, the quality suggests it could have graced a larger capacity, higher priced machine. Utilising both sides of the hide gives a great finish and will provide plenty of grip should Andrew fancy a spot of spirited off-roading. Although it'd be a shame to get the thing dirty, we've never seen a cleaner bike arrive from a transport company. It was wrapped in acres of foam and plastic which once removed had us scratching our heads as we'd been expecting a bike that had originally left Honda in 2001, the Dream Wheels CLR looked brand new.
While Andrew is juggling the UK's new DVSA registration system and sorting MOTs etc we've been lucky enough to have 'Serena' staying with us at our Shoreditch HQ. Despite being a small capacity machine staff and customers have been united in their enthusiasm for it. This might be the first fully fledged export to the UK for Hélder and DWH but something tells me it won't be the last.
Never mind being a lovely first bike, Andrew has treated himself to lovely motorbike full stop. We look forward to welcoming him to a joyous two-wheeled world and patting him on the back for doing the right thing. These days there's no excuse to ride stock.
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Photo by Hélder Couto