Rosso Corsa: A Honda Cafe Racer Inspired by a Ferrari
Looking for a motorcycle to complement your classic Ferrari? Most guys would opt for something that’s also Italian and red—like a Ducati. But one collector wanted something truly unique, so he reached out to Art Henschell of One-Up Moto Garage with a very special brief.
In his collection is something even more rare than the Testarossa in these photos; a 1965 NART Le Mans Ferrari racing car. He wanted a bike inspired by his beloved vintage racer, with one caveat: it had to be powered by a Honda CB600F motor.
“He already owns another of my Honda CB600F builds,” explains Art, “and he loved the power, feel and reliability of that engine so much, he wanted this one to have the same qualities. I tried to get him to go with a Ducati, but he just wasn’t having it.”
“Silver lining: you probably won’t see another Honda-based ‘Ferrari bike’ ever again!”
Art runs One-Up Moto Garage as a one-man-band, out of his home workshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. There, he began gathering together the parts that would eventually become ‘Rosso Corsa.’
“There wasn’t any one donor bike to begin with,” he explains. “My inventory is almost entirely a collection of Craigslist finds that I store for future work.”
The starting point was a 2006 Honda CB600F Hornet motor and frame. Then Art sourced a VFR800 from a salvage yard, and pillaged it for its swing arm, rear shock and wheels.
“I chose the race-inspired single sided swing arm because of its track-based origins and the car-like rear wheel aesthetic,” he says. “It also allowed me to tuck the twin pipes up behind the rear sets, so they don’t get in the way of a good corner lean.”
Getting the rear end to look (and sit) right took a little thinking. Art designed a new subframe and shock mounts, then plasma cut the final parts and assembled it. The frame and swing-arm were powder coated black, and the wheels gold. “Gold rims are a tradition for race Ferraris,” he quips, “so of course I had to powder them appropriately.”
Up front, Art mounted a set of rebuilt and shortened CBR upside-downs. They’re held in place by custom-made triple trees—specifically designed with an integrated smartphone mount. (An app on the rider’s smartphone now handles speedo duties.)
Up top is a hand-shaped, 18-gauge steel fuel tank. “Gas tanks are the focal point of a bike, so I created one that had both the smooth curves and the hard edges of this build’s muse,” says Art.
There’s a new seat just behind the tank, custom-made by Art from start to finish. It consists of a PVC base, closed cell neoprene foam with gel inserts, and a two-tone leather cover.
“I went with the classic diamond stitch tan on black because it is a common finish in vintage Ferraris,” he says. “I upholstered it on a walking-foot JUKI industrial sewing machine that sits in my living room.”
On the performance side, Art has left the motor mostly stock, But he’s vapor-honed the carbs, rejetted them, and fitted UNI pod filters. He then pie-cut and TIG-welded a new stainless steel four-into-two exhaust system, terminating it with a pair of Lossa Engineering mufflers.
He’s showed the electrical system some love too, rewiring everything around his own “secret power hub design,” which hides under the tank. Upgrades include a lithium-ion battery from Shorai, a MOSFET regulator/rectifier, and Motogadget turn signals.
Two rows of LEDs under the new seat act as a taillight, but it’s the headlight shroud that caught our attention first. “I made it out of stainless rod and perforated metal,” says Art. “The engine shrouds on Ferraris often have a mesh cover, so I made it to reflect that. On all my builds, creating a unique faceplate is a fun challenge for me.”
Clip-ons and custom-made adjustable rear sets (with neat carbon heel guards) round out the package. There are more details lurking, but Art wants to keep a few secrets to himself. What’s remarkable though, is that everything you see here he handled himself.
“Only thing I don’t do is the powder coating,” he says. “I live right by an industrial powder coater and they do an unbeatable job.”
He even took care of the paint, shooting the tank in Ferrari’s signature Rosso Corsa. Eric Snodgrass added a final touch, with a hand-painted Ferrari shield on the swing arm, modded with the One-Up logo.
With the bike all buttoned up and ready to ship, Art had one small problem left to tackle. His client lives in Miami, so he couldn’t shoot the Honda alongside the car that inspired it. Luckily Ehrlich Motorwerks jumped in with this 1986 Testarossa for our viewing pleasure.
It’s refreshing to know that the owner could simply have gone out and bought a Superleggera. Instead, he chose the autostrada less traveled and got something truly hand-built…and arguably more charming.