Nick O’Kane’s Carbon Fiber Clad Honda CBX Custom is a Show Stopper

custom carbon fiber 1982 Honda CBX built by Nick O'Kane

This gorgeous custom carbon fiber 1982 Honda CBX was built by custom bike builder Nick O'Kane

When I talk to custom bike builders, my first question to them always revolves around the nature of their inspiration for a specific build. More often than not, builders will tell me of a special, even visceral connection they feel with the donor bike. Nick O’Kane’s fascination and connection with the iconic Honda CBX is understandable. The engine note emitted from the bike’s inline 6-cylinder power plant is like nothing else in motorcycling. Visceral indeed.

Nick O’Kane, who is a national account manager for K&N, studied the history of the CBX to find the heritage and legacy that would be his inspiration for his custom street burner. The bike, which was produced in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, holds an intrigue to motorcycle enthusiasts that only grows as the marquee ages. O’Kane decided that his mission would be to, “build a minimalistic CBX racer, (and to) keep a blend of the original CBX lines and add modern sport bike components.”

custom K&N filters on a 1982 Honda CBX built by Nick O'Kane

The custom carbon fiber topped K&N filters complement the build beautifully

The wisdom in Nick O’Kane’s vision is clear. Since the CBX’s engine is so over-the-top, the build would need to be carried out with a keen eye and a subtle hand. Subtle, yes; but the work was detailed and labor-intensive on the bike that O’Kane purchased, a 1982 Honda CBX, as a true basket case. To start the process, the engine was stripped down, the valve train was thoroughly refurbished, and the pistons were re-ringed. After it was reassembled, the engine was vapor blasted to provide a silver satin finish on the cases.

CBX custom front view built by Nick O'Kane

The iconic six cylinder engine of the CBX cuts a wide berth in O'Kane's custom

The CBX frame was modified and beefed up to handle the modern suspension components. Nick O’Kane paid special attention to frame geometry and ride height with the careful selection and integration of that suspension. He then decided on forged aluminum wheels sized at 17” front and rear for just the right look for the build. The CBX then needed rubber and Pirelli race slicks fit the bill.

Of course, that big six needs to breathe, so Nick O’Kane and K&N's R&D team built a pair of custom carbon fiber topped "clamp-on" K&N air filters. To complete the powertrain, a Roland Sands Design exhaust with a carbon fiber tip was welded to a set of DG headers and then ceramic coated in black. British born O’Kane describes the sound of his custom as only someone from the land of Shakespeare could. “A symphony of six cylinders comes to life as you open the throttle. It sounds like god gargling.”

Okay, okay! Let’s talk about the build’s most talked-about feature – the stunning carbon fiber bodywork. Nick O’Kane’s goal was to retain the original lines of the CBX wherever possible. To that end, using an original tail section from a 1979 and the side panels and tank design from the 1982, carbon fiber molds were made in K&N’s own carbon fiber shop. “The body panels and tank took four months to produce,” O’Kane said. “Then we added eight coats of clear to finish the panels and tank off nicely.” ‘Nicely’ is an understatement. The carbon fiber bodywork on the CBX is magnificent. To finish off the body, a custom seat was designed and produced by the seat masters at Saddlemen Seats

custom carbon fiber and seat on 1982 Honda CBX built by Nick O'Kane

The carbon fiber body work and custom Saddlemen seat really finish this build off nicely

Custom motorcycle fans agree that Nick O’Kane’s CBX is a stunner. The bike garnered a podium finish in the first stop of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. “Taking runner up in the 2017 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Show at the Long Beach IMS show was great. I would like to send out a big thank you to all my sponsors including K&N Filters,” O’Kane said. “The biggest thanks goes to my amazing wife Anja for her endless support of my bike building habits.”

So what will the next focus of Nick O’Kane’s ‘bike building habit’ be? “I am in the beginning stages of a Yamaha RD400 from 1974,” the builder revealed. Clearly, O’Kane is attracted to the coolest sounding engines produced in the golden years of motorcycling. We can’t wait to hear the 2-stroke scream and the artistic vision of his next creation!