1999 Honda Superhawk | Me & My Bike

Photography by Kevin Wing

Name: John Killian

Age: 51

Home: Simi Valley, CA

Occupation: Motorcycle marketing and advertising

“I’ve been riding and working on motorcycles for more than 30 years. My hobby consists of modifying stock bikes and building custom project bikes—like the dozen or so four-stroke mini-cycles I built for the Langtown backyard supercross races back in the day. I’m pretty much a Honda guy, and I’m disappointed that Honda doesn’t offer a ‘real’ adventure bike, so I decided to build one myself.

“I acquired this Honda Superhawk 996 when the original owner had an unfortunate incident with the bike. It received substantial damage, and he then tried to convert it to a streetfighter and sell it, but wasn’t successful. He had a deadline to leave the country, and with nothing else to do with the bike, he gave it to me as a gift! Included with the bike were two Corbin seats and hard bags, an oversized carbon-fiber gas tank, a German LSL handle-bar and clamps, a Zero Gravity windshield, Galfer hydraulic lines throughout, a K&N air filter and more. It was a real score—but it needed work.

“I got the bike on the road and rode it for about six months until I had an accident on it myself! The damage was extensive, and involved a bent fork. After failing to find a used replacement, I feared I might have to scrap the bike. That’s when I had the brilliant idea to convert it into an adventure bike.

“It took about a year of finagling, but I’m happy with the result. Modifications include a used Honda XR250 fork I found on eBay for $38, special front brake caliper carriers, an XR600R shock, a 2-into-2 exhaust, adjustable steering stops, throttle-lock cruise control, aluminum skid plate, XR kickstand, powdercoated rims with Dunlop tires, custom graphics and more. The bike gained several inches in height, the suspension travel almost doubled, and while it’s still really a streetbike, you can take it off the pavement if you’re so inclined. It can be a bit awkward in serious off-road situations, but works pretty well.

“The bike is definitely unique and gets some unusual looks and comments. But that’s okay: so do I!”

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