Honda Super Rune - a Wrinkle Free Ride

Hanna wanted his one-off Rune to sport a 260-section rear tire, yet not fall prey to slow handling and reduced ground clearance-liabilities that could potentially crop up in a poorly engineered execution. He also wanted the lines to be cleaned up even further from the sleek-for-a-stocker curves of the original, and to nudge the big beast into more of a classic hot-rod look, complete with flames and lots of chrome. Hagan's response? "It's just metal."

Unlike some of the more elemental bikes out there (most Stars and Harleys), the Rune is a typical Honda in its innate complexity. To squeeze in a larger slice of "meat" under the rear fender, everything from the seat on back had to be junked and redesigned. So before he even spun any wrenches, Hagan photographed the stock bike from all angles to capture the essence of the machine and note how components lined up. He then used the data to generate a blueprint for the eventual custom. For a custom that, in the end, would appear relatively mild, a lot of re-engineering had to happen.

In part, all this prep work was needed because Hagan didn't want to utilize the cheap parlor trick of offsetting the rear wheel to generate clearance for the fat 260 tire. Instead, he fabricated a whole new swingarm, drive shaft and hub. Utilizing the ends of the hollow stock drive shaft, he welded in a new center made of 1.5-inch solid steel. The resulting shaft was thinner than the stocker and left more room for the tire, which in turn allowed the single-sided arm to hug the body a little closer. A stock rear U-joint was also used in the all-new hub, which hides all of the hardware beneath its star-shaped spinner. While most hardware on the bike was of the one-off variety, the wheel is actually a production piece for Iron Thunder (of which this one was the first). And because a 260-series tire won't fit between the stock mufflers, the system was cut and extended with a new muffler system that has a slightly more robust (but not obnoxious) sound.

Overhead shots of the bike show the precision with which Hagan centered the tire-hugging fender over the big rear tire. As with the dirty underthings, the seat and fender were made from scratch by IT as well. The stock chrome side covers were incorporated into the new tailsection, giving a more "factory" look to the conversion. On the other hand, the new rear fender is a molded hot-rod-esque piece. A piece of glass is set into the curve of it, covering the tag and holding the unbroken line of the fender. Gone are the unsightly gaps between seat and fender; the new saddle sets into a seat pocket designed in tandem with it. All molding and finishing work on the new rear section was completed by IT's Jimmy G, who also tied all the curvaceousness together with an all-new sub-frame that hides and supports a new battery box as well.

Other than the aforementioned reconstruction, the rest of the bike remained relatively untouched. Chrome bits were added through- out, and the bodywork was shot with flames over a Vivid Black base. The recessed seat was designed to look like it came out of a '69 Camaro (complete with Chevy SS logo). And so, despite all the work, the Super Sport Rune doesn't look like some kind of outrageous custom. The fat rear suits the overall look of the bike far better than the skinny stock rubber.

Normally, in the case of a one-of-a-kind bike like this, we wouldn't get to test the builder's claims of neutral handling, but fate interceded in the form of the Florida State Police. After a confrontation with a trooper while we were shooting some photos, the parties involved came to find out that Hagan's license had expired-so someone else had to ride the Rune back!

Indeed, during our ride we discovered that the modified Rune really did handle like a stock machine (other than possessing the tendency of all bikes with a sizeable tire-contact patch to get jostled on uneven pavement). Compared with other fat-tired cruisers, the agility of the long machine lay somewhere between the heavy-steering Victory Hammer and the more nimble Suzuki M109.

Despite its affinity for the open road, however, the Super Sport Rune would not go on to a glorious career riding the twisting roads of Alabama. Instead, Hanna, after a short time with it, decided this bike's place is in the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham. And if you're wondering why you haven't heard more noise from a talented builder like Iron Thunder's Bryan Hagan, after building the Super Sport Rune, he took a sabbatical from building bikes to return to his military roots, maintaining the oft-abused machinery of the 82nd Airborne (of which he's a veteran) in southern Iraq.

Owner Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, donated by Hanna Steel Corp.
Fabrication Bryan Hagan and Jimmy G of Iron Thunder Cycles
Assembly Bryan Hagan of Iron Thunder Cycles
Exhaust Iron Thunder Cycles with modified stock heat shields
Frame Stock main frame with custom rear sub-frame (bike was cut in half just aft of the fuel tank and custom fabricated from there back)
Swingarm Custom fabricated with drive shaft 0 offset with billet 1.75 hub
Rear wheel 18/8.5 wide custom-made-three-piece, double spinner with blind hub
Rear tire 260 18-inch Metzeler
Brakes Chromed stock rotors and calipers
Paint Vivid black with hot-rod flames by Jimmy G Paint and Design
Other finishes Chrome by S&H;
Miscellaneous Custom-made rear fender by Iron Thunder Cycles (steel); Drag Specialties' rear turn signals; custom-made seat pan and seat by Matt Earp of Earp's Upholstery