Work began by selecting a fresh fuel tank. A Suzuki GS750 tank fit the bill, adding a nice custom look. Instead of filling in the original gas cap, the hole was trimmed out with a fuel gauge and towards the rear of the GS750 tank, a custom water-jetted trim piece was developed, adding a bit of flair to the now recessed gas cap.
Additionally, Halbleib’s team neatly tucked the wiring away in the fuel tank’s crevices, making sure that errand wires didn’t sully the lines—especially when it came to the trick, push-button start switch.
Next, his team turned their attention to the front end of the machine, knowing that it would need some serious attention. Halbleib removed the original headlight unit and the preposterous amount of wiring, moving a single headlight with integrated blinkers.
No café racer is complete without clip-ons. However, to allow for a more comfortable riding position, low-rise handlebars were adapted. Fresh levers, master cylinder, and cables were bolted on, as well as a fork brace to keep things steady when tipping into corners.
The non-descript Gold Wing frame presented a styling challenge. Typically hidden, the frame of the ’83 Gold Wing is not displeasing to the eye by any means, though certainly not something that most would consider to be a showpiece.
With the right accoutrements, that perception quickly changes. The frame was gone over with a fine-tooth comb, filling in unnecessary holes, cutting offending tabs off, and removing the centerstand.
Though the 1983 Honda Goldwing GL1100 was once dressed in bulbous fairing bits, Halbleib went for a far more dashing appearance. A small, custom chin guard was added to the front of the bike and the rear a custom tail piece, which features recessed lighting, completely pulls the look of the Vampire Squadron together. Bronze wheels and various engine bits elevate the build to a truly exemplary level.
Complemented by a quilted seat done by Mike Brewer of Mike’s Auto Upholstery in Louisville, the low profile saddle blends perfectly with the fuel tank and tail section, allowing one’s view to be unimpeded.
The counter lines of the Goldwing’s tubular frame draw our gaze towards a 1084cc four-cylinder boxer engine that has had its covers emblazoned with a bronze finish, only enhanced by the freshly designed exhaust featuring a golden-brown ceramic coating. Though the engine itself remains relatively unmodified, H Garage did tap the expert hands of Chad Francis of Retro Wrench, also in Louisville, to dial in the carburetors and take care of any loose ends within the electrical system.
Perhaps one of the most stunning features on the Vampire Squadron build is the Louisville-sourced paintwork by Josh LaFountain of LaFountain’s Custom Paint.
Initially, Halbleib and the client settled on a hot rod theme for the bike, and this couldn’t be more apparent in the paint scheme.
Gorgeous indigo with a classic white racing stripe is one of the most impressive features, though the finishing touch can be found on the tailpiece. The vampire bat logo of the Vampire Squadron sits proudly atop this transformed Gold Wing.
There is uncertainty in remembrance, as we are rarely there to see it take shape and oddly enough. I find some comfort in that. Vampire Squadron may have been a nod to the life and experiences of one man, but it pulls on the threads that bind all enthusiasts, those of us that have always gone searching for likeminded people and better experiences. In that way, it becomes much more.
Photography by Craig Schneider/Kitestring Visuals
Story from the October issue of our digital magazine; check it out for free at the Ultimate Motorcycling digital app.
H Garage Vampire Squadron| Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer Photo Gallery