CUSTOM & STYLE: Custom Bike of the Year?

El Chapo’s escape Honda has been grabbing all the headlines.

El Chapo Bike rear view

Motorcyclists around the world pricked up their ears upon hearing word that notorious billionaire drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman used a motorcycle on rails to speed his escape from Mexico's maximum-security Altiplano prison. It took two days for photos of a cleverly modified (and very dusty) Honda SDH125 to surface in the media, as details of his escape were made public.

The little Honda, a popular workhorse machine in developing countries, was stripped of its front end, which was replaced by a flatbed platform running on rail-wheels. The rear wheel ran between the rails, and the bike retained its muffler for obvious reasons. Seat and gas tank were removed, and an innocuous little plastic tank was used for the economical motor.

The tunnel connecting an under-construction house with the prison was over a mile long, and built to perfectly accommodate the lone treasure mined from its depths: El Chapo. That means “shorty” en español, and the tunnel was just over 2 feet wide and 5 feet tall, so the kingpin could keep his dignity, standing upright while he smashed the interior tunnel lighting on the way out of his cell, and onward to freedom (no matter how temporary).

El Chapo Bike front view

No crawling through the dirt for the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. The tunnel was no surprise, as the Sinaloans are notorious tunnel-builders, using them to escape the notice of authorities in Mexico and the US, or both in the case of passages carrying humans and contraband beneath the border.

Among all the disappointments of a major prison escape, we must include that El Chapo's custom Honda railbike has zero bling. The trade in decorating light arms is booming in Mexico, and the federales regularly capture outrageously decked out handguns and machine guns, gold plated with diamond pavé and carvings of Aztec gods or the Virgin Mary on the stocks, plus lots of engraving. Doubtless El Chapo is carrying his favorite gem-crusted sidearm this very moment.

But why not the star of his escape plan? His dusty, utilitarian, and undecorated Honda railbike is the most-Googled motorcycle on the planet in 2015. You never know when bikes will feature in the news.