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The trend of customising a motorcycle to suit one's own needs has probably been in existence right from the time the first bikes were built. Some do it to suit their style and preferences, and some do it to impress others.
Motorcraft, a Bangalore-based custom motorcycle shop has built the XRE 160 - a bike to fulfill one of their customer's needs, and we like it a lot. If you are one who loves small-capacity adventure/dirt bikes, you would love it too.
The customer, named Annappa, approached Motorcraft to build a motorcycle that would help him satisfy his wanderlust cravings. The end that need, as you see, is more than satisfying.
Motorcraft picked up a pre-owned Hero Impulse and stripped it out completely including the engine. The Hero Impulse in its stock form itself is a good motorcycle, but lacked sorely in one area - power output. Motorcraft solved this by swapping the entire engine for a powerplant from Honda.
Annappa had previously ridden the Royal Enfield Himalayan in a bid to find the right motorcycle he can go touring on, he however found that it didn't handle as well as he would like, and that it wasn't as refined.
As an alternative, he would have to look at adventure motorcycles in the higher 800cc-1000cc bracket, which would burn a hole in his pocket. Hence he took the customisation route through Motorcraft, to get a custom fun-to-ride small bike.
For the XRE 160, the plastic headlight assembly of the Hero Impulse was swapped with a handmade sheet metal replacement. The rear end too sports significant aesthetic changes including a new tail-lamp, number plate and indicator mounts.
Custom-fabricated bodywork bits include front tyre hugger, engine bash plate and tail lamp mounts. A stealth camo paint job completes the aesthetic modifications. The modifications are not just skin deep.
The Motorcraft XRE 160 is powered by a 160cc engine taken from a Honda Hornet, which was adapted to fit the stock chassis of the Hero Impulse. A custom exhaust end can was fabricated which according to Motorcraft is less restrictive.
Motorcraft also toyed around with the final gearing to increase torque, favouring off-road riding conditions. Carburetion and jetting were revised to match the upgraded components. According to Motorcraft, the stock front suspension bottomed out on bumps. Motorcraft therefore modified it's internals to suit the rider's weight and riding style.
Timsun tube type dual purpose tyres perform duties front and rear. A month-long 2,500km ride to northeast India was successfully completed and Motorcraft is planning the next set of upgrades on the bike.
Modifying a motorcycle is not an easy job. Modifying it and making it work reliably is harder than even that. Motorcraft has proved its engineering by building the XRE 160, which other than performing better, also displayed its reliability during the North-East India ride undertaken by the rider.