Honda XR650L Lil’ Kim Has Custom Traits Reflecting Old-School Hip-Hop Attitude

The sobriquet Lil’ Kim will have many people thinking about one Kimberly Denise Jones – the female hip-hop icon who made her breakthrough in the ‘90s with Junior M.A.F.I.A. Her solo debut happened in 1996 with the album Hard Core, which was certified double platinum as of 2001 and has sold over five million copies worldwide since its release.
Honda XR650L Lil’ Kim 9 photos
Photo: Dong Kim
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Four more studio albums had followed, continuing Jones’ successful career even after the tragic death of Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious B.I.G) in 1997. There’s no doubt she will always be regarded as one of the most prominent female figures in rap, but few could’ve imagined that her stage name would eventually be adopted by a custom bike, of all things.

It seems to be a pretty good fit, though, because the reworked Honda XR650L we’re about to look at packs tons of attitude and provocative looks. The name also hints at the owner’s hometown of Kimberley, British Columbia, and it was Randy Venhuis from Federal Moto who’d executed the transformation. This happened back in 2016, when Federal still operated as two separate entities in both Canada and the United States.

Nowadays, the firm is based solely in Chicago with Shaun Brandt at the helm, though its roots originate across the border in Canada. For the project, they refer to as Lil’ Kim, the chosen donor was a 2006 variant of Honda’s XR650L family, and the commission came from Kenny Dodd. He owns a craft brewery called Over Time Beer Works and likes to take things off the asphalt on occasion, so it only made sense for Randy to go down the dual-sport route with this build.

Federal’s bike-modding connoisseur had an excellent platform at his disposal, too, as the XR650L comes with heaps of off-roading prowess straight out of the box. However, its bulbous bodywork was a far cry from the slender aesthetic that Randy and his client had in mind, so it's been promptly ditched as the motorcycle was being dismantled.

Honda XR650L Lil’ Kim
Photo: Dong Kim
With everything taken apart, Sir Venhuis proceeded to source a 1980 Yamaha XT500’s gas tank, which was cleverly tweaked to suit its new host. Behind the retrofitted fuel chamber lies a bespoke saddle put together by Clo’s General Leather, seamlessly secured atop a fresh subframe that’s been fabricated in-house. A compact electronics tray fills the top part of the subframe triangle, encasing an Antigravity lithium-ion battery and several other electrical goodies.

Attached to the skeleton’s rearmost portion is a handmade fender topped with Bates-style LED lighting and a minimalistic license plate holder. Look closely, and you will also spot a pair of Motogadget m-Blaze turn signals mounted on each side of the rear frame tubing. Randy added a second, custom-built fender at the front, placing it nice and high right below the bottom triple clamp.

As you might be able to tell, the original forks have also been discarded, making way for the inverted units of a 2005 MY CR250. Their upper sections were anodized black, while the shock spring out back received a coat of red paint to make it stand out. By the way, that monoshock is still the XR650L’s factory component, as it was deemed perfectly capable of handling just about anything Kenny might throw at it.

Honda XR650L Lil’ Kim
Photo: Dong Kim
The wheels are stock, as well, but they now wear dual-purpose Enduro 3 Sahara rubber from Metzeler’s catalog. One may find a tailor-made skid plate protecting the bike’s 644cc single-cylinder motor, which is now equipped with Uni air filters and a high-mounted custom exhaust. The pipework was fashioned using FMF headers, a bespoke stainless-steel mid-pipe, and a premium Cone Engineering muffler.

Turning our attention back to the front end, we see a grilled PIAA headlamp and Motogadget blinkers just like the ones found at the rear. The cockpit area is home to a digital Trail Tech gauge, ProTaper risers, and a beefy Renthal handlebar – all pretty simple stuff, but it’ll definitely do the trick. A little further back, there’s an aluminum filler cap adorning the repurposed XT500 fuel tank.

Finally, the chosen color scheme combines two shades of grey and red highlights, with the XR650 tank graphics imitating the design of the former XT500 decals. Instead of going down the beaten path and painting the frame black, Randy did things a little differently by picking a dark green hue.

With the paintwork applied and all the parts pieced back together, Lil’ Kim attained its current form and was ready to make its way back to Kenny. We reckon he must’ve been over the moon when he came face to face with the completed bike for the first time, but there’s no word on any pricing details from Federal Moto. One thing’s for sure, though: this machine does a wonderful job at emulating the character of a rap legend from the golden days!
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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