XTR Pepo takes a humble CBF 250 commuter and turns it into a hot little custom

Words: Mike Ryan

Photos: Cesar Godoy

Jose “Pepo” Rosell would have to be one of the most prolific custom bike builders going around. It seems there’s a new project rolling out of his Madrid workshop every couple of months.

When he was the head of Radical Ducati, the Bologna marque was the sole source of his builds, but since founding XTR Pepo, all sorts of bikes have served as the base unit for his creations.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom

It’s not all big dollar bikes and big dollar builds, either, as evidenced by this custom, based on a humble Honda CBF 250.

While it was a practical, reliable and functional commuter, as well as the machine that served as the first bike for many, the CBF 250 was never the last word in performance. Or style for that matter. You could almost call it dull. But taking something so middle-of-the-road and making it stunning was a challenge Pepo was willing to take on.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
The ‘Mk1’ version of Tracker looked like this.

Strip Down, Build Up

The base for this build, dubbed ‘Tracker Mk2,’ was a 2004-model CBF 250 that Rosell sourced in 2015.

What sort of condition the bike was in when purchased is unknown, but it got a typically comprehensive XTR Pepo strip down and rebuild.

Starting with the strip down, the Honda was pared back to its frame and all the essentials checked. The engine proved to be good, as did the transmission, suspension, brakes, wheels and a few of the cycle parts.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom

With a retro street tracker look defining the thinking behind this creation, some of the Honda’s mechanical parts and tinware obviously wouldn’t make a return, starting with the bulky rear subframe and suspension.

An all-new subframe was fabricated in-house at XTR Pepo, while the main section of the frame came in for some attention, too, mainly trimming off surplus tabs and deleting unwanted parts like the pillion peg mounts.

The factory swingarm was retained, but a more capable progressive monoshock was fitted in place of the soft factory suspension.

The decision to retain the Honda’s 5-spoke alloy wheels was a bit of a surprise, but it was a deliberate decision on Rosell’s part. Would this build look better with wire spoke rims? The jury’s probably still out on that one, but thanks to the blackout paint on the rims, attention is diverted to other parts of the build.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
Rich and deep metalflake orange for Tracker Mk2 was applied by Pintumoto.

XTR, Mash and Bandit

The Honda’s 249cc DOHC single is stock for the most part, with the obvious exception of the exhaust system. This was fabricated by regular XTR Pepo collaborator, Super Mario, with the underslung custom pipe topped with a Spark GP silencer. The only other modification is a DNA air filter, which, along with the custom exhaust, probably adds a fraction more power over the factory 15kW this unit would have originally put out with its more restrictive stock airbox and exhaust.

Cutting away some of the primary cover and fitting a Tsubaki gold chain were the only changes made to the transmission, but thanks to an all-new tail, that swingarm looks longer than it actually is.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
All new subframe and compact fibreglass tail unit removes the bulk of the factory CBF250 back end.

That slim and stubby fibreglass tail unit is one of XTR Pepo’s own pieces, as is the licence plate mount slung beneath it. Those side race number plates are another XTR Pepo product, with the seat upholstery done in-house, too.

Moving to the tank, it’s off a Mash Motors motorcycle. Never heard of them? Neither had we until this build. Popular in Europe and the UK, Mash is a French-owned, Chinese-made brand that’s been around since 2006. Their range, while exclusively small-capacity (400cc and below), is pretty broad with a retro aesthetic behind each model. Mash calls it “inspired by the style of the ‘70s”, which makes the Mash fuel tank used on this build look a lot older than it actually is.

A Mash 125 model donated its headlight to this project, too, while the front guard comes from a Ducati Monster and those support guards for the rearset footpegs are off a Suzuki Bandit.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
2004 Honda CBF 250 custom

Rolling, Stopping and Looking Good

While the CBF 250 will never set lap records, Rosell gave this particular example the gear to best exploit the speeds it can reach in the form of a set of Pirelli Sport Demon tyres.

To haul it up, the factory front brake rotor has been replaced with an NG unit, with Frentubo brake lines fitted.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
2004 Honda CBF 250 custom

Other custom and aftermarket parts fitted to Tracker Mk2 include a Vicma handlebar, Goneli grips and one of XTR Pepo’s own instrument pods, which sits low ahead of the handlebar risers.

Puig footpegs in silver-finished ergal alloy are CNC-machined units that were modified to fit this build, while tiny LED indicators have been incorporated at each end – this is a street tracker after all!

A flip-up Monza-style fuel cap offers a retro look, but the paint does a lot more to take this build back in time. The interesting thing is, though, what you see here was not the first colour that Tracker wore.

FEATURE - 2004 Honda CBF 250 custom
Handlebar, grips and indicators are all custom units.

Second Skin

When it was completed in late 2015, Tracker wore a satin burgundy on the tank and tinware. Applied by Artenruta, there was nothing wrong with the colour, but it arguably lacked some ‘pop’, so after about a year (and perhaps inspired by the fact there were no takers for this custom that Rosell had built to sell), a new paint scheme was applied, this time by another XTR Pepo partner in Pintumoto.

The new colour, a rich and deep metalflake orange, absolutely screams ‘70s, while black scallops on the tank add the requisite custom touch.

It’s a colour choice that absolutely works and certainly has more impact than the previous paint. That led to the build being relabelled ‘Tracker Mk2’.

“I wanted to make something more astonishing,” Rosell said of the new look for Tracker Mk2. Well, mission accomplished, we reckon!

We also reckon Tracker Mk2 would be a bunch of fun to ride.


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About Author

Mike Ryan

A 30+ year veteran of the JUST AUTO Network working as a journalist and getting behind the camera at motoring events, Mike brings a wealth of knowledge from the local Australian car scene from over the decades.

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