Most customs look nothing like a manufacturing facility bike, with radical styling and, let’s face it, typically doubtful legality. However sometimes we see a machine that would have rolled straight off a manufacturing line.
This tradition Sym Wolf appears to be like it might have been a ‘retro’ made by a Japanese manufacturing facility within the Nineteen Eighties—with the same vibe to bikes just like the Honda GB500. But it surely’s the work of scholar Charlie Huang, who additionally provides us an fascinating perception into Taiwanese customized tradition.
Charlie lives in Taichung, but in addition spends time in California—the place attends the famend ArtCenter School of Design.
His bike is a 1994 Sym Wolf 125, which began life as a considerably inelegant commuter instrument. “It belonged to my uncle, till he handed it all the way down to me in 2020,” Charlie tells us. “It had been my dream bike since I used to be a toddler, so I needed to honor it—by enhancing it and bringing it again to life.” He began with a sketch.
Passing down bikes is frequent in Taiwan: younger individuals typically tackle the bike utilized by a grandfather or father, and the Wolf has lengthy been the most well-liked bike within the nation.
Customizing is much less frequent although. “As a consequence of a ban on giant bike imports within the late 60s, there was an enormous hole in our bike tradition,” Charlie explains. “This is the reason our customized bike tradition began very late, and small-engine bikes are the primary theme.”
Charlie’s aim was to not solely rebuild the Wolf 125, but in addition improve its styling and efficiency with out resorting to the fat-tire, mini-bobber look that afflicts a whole lot of native customs.
“The most important modifications right here embody a full engine and transmission rebuild. I upgraded the unique four-speed transmission to a extra environment friendly six-speed, and likewise elevated the engine from 125 to 164 cc.”
To remain on the best facet of the legislation, Charlie needed to hold the powertrain circumstances, together with their stamped numbers. It helped that the Wolf 125 makes use of a growth of the Honda CB/CG sequence powertrains, and a few of the engine internals on this machine at the moment are Honda CB125S components.
The valves have additionally been enlarged and polished to accommodate the bigger displacement, and a Keihin PE26 carb improves the gas provide.
The transmission makes use of Chinese language-made internals, and there’s a brand new high-spec FCC clutch plate too. For the exhaust pipe, Charlie sourced a hand-crafted stainless-steel header from a Taiwanese craftsman to create an attractive curve, and added a SuperTrapp muffler.
Alongside is a modified swingarm that makes use of Kymco KTR components, hooked as much as a pair of adjustable RPM RR shocks. It’s not stretched: “An extended swingarm with large tires has a huge effect on small displacement bikes,” Charlie notes. “It makes the dealing with worse, and due to the small horsepower, giant tires additionally scale back acceleration.”
The entrance fork is refurbished and shortened barely to enhance the stance. “Since there is no such thing as a perfect triple tree available on the market, I did 3D modeling and commissioned a CNC producer to make a totally personalized triple tree.”
For the tank, Charlie needed to return the Wolf 125 to its good proportions, which got here from the Honda CB125S. So he tracked down a CB100 K3 tank in Indonesia—which has the identical outer form because the CB125S—and adjusted the mounting factors in order that it might match on the body.
The wheels are Shanghai Unison vintage-style aluminum rims, in a F18/R17 set. The tires are Dunlop’s grippy TT900GP compound, in intentionally slim profiles to maintain the dealing with crisp. Charlie’s stored the unique rear drum brake, however selected Brembo calipers for the entrance—painted black to remain in tune with the colour scheme.
The cafe racer-style tail was handmade by a Taiwanese sheet steel retailer, SanHe Storage, and Charlie had the subframe modified to accommodate a brand new rear fender.
The seat is upholstered with cowhide that Charlie dyed himself. A Taipei specialist helped with the shaping of the froth and the stitching.
Jeffrey Chang dealt with the splendid blue paint. “He’s a grasp painter in Taiwan, and has labored with many well-known customized bike builders,” says Charlie. “The colour of this bike was specifically commissioned—it’s not an current coloration available in the market. I needed a vivid coloration that might distinction in opposition to the gray structure of Taiwan.”
Just about each smaller half on this Sym Wolf has been changed or upgraded, proper all the way down to the lighting, the grips, and the speedo, which is a duplicate CB100 unit.
It’s an train in enhancing aesthetics with out compromising efficiency, and all of it hangs collectively superbly.
Charlie’s aim was to indicate that smaller bikes don’t want to duplicate the fashion of heavyweight equipment—and likewise to affect the native customized bike tradition alongside the way in which. A laudable goal, and we hope he succeeds.