Motorbikes

I grew up riding motorcycles. I started on a Honda Super Cub 55 when I was 13. Spent some time on a Honda Rebel 250, then grew up to a Kawasaki 454 LTD. A nice bike. Then I wrecked it under a truck on the highway. Next up was a Suzuki GS450. A reliable little thing that took me all over, but eventually wasn’t enough. I bought an old (’82) Yamaha Virago 750 from a family friend. I put lower bars on it and rode it plenty. I didn’t really have any vision for it, however (unlike some). Then I traded it (with some money) to a buddy for a Yamaha FZR400. I raced that bike in MRA (amateur) Lightweight Super Sports. Was nearly always at the back, but it was fun. Then I put a blueprinted FZR600 motor in it. 380 lbs and 90 bhp was FUN. Kind of crazy/stupid fun on the street, however. There was some seriously epic canyon carving over the mountains on that thing (esp. Berthoud Pass!). Eventually, my tastes refined and my income grew, and I bought a Honda VTR1000. Very nice bike. Nice sound, nice grunt. Great all-rounder. Then I bought a house, got married. Basically got “serious”.

And I sold off the bikes. That was over 10 years ago.

Then I got bit by the bug again. I suppose motorbikes are kind of like alcoholism – you’re never really cured. Needless to say, my wife was not supportive.

I really liked the movement of rebuilding and tweaking vintage Japanese bikes. I started trolling Craigslist for donor bikes for my own project. I found one – a ’81 Honda CB750K with only 8700 miles on it. Basically a barn bike in Austin, MN. I was also looking at a tempting ’79 BMW RT100, but it had a lot more miles, the airheads are wider than a barge, and it’s just too cliched for a middle aged man to rebuild an old airhead. So, the CB it was.

Here’s how I got it:

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Pretty rough shape. After spending hours scouring the internet for inspiration, I decided I wanted to do my own Classified Moto style custom. My imitation would be as much flattery as I could manage.

So I sourced a bunch of parts from eBay. A complete front-end from a 2012 CBR600RR was the biggest thing. A few things from Dime City Cycles (headlight, etc.). I tried a rear-seat cowl from Dime City, but it didn’t fit, and I decided to re-use the original seat pan, but have it re-done.

I stripped the bike to the frame. This was hard. I don’t have a shop. I have a 1-car garage that is, first and foremost, home to my wife’s Jetta. There was not a lot of space. You see some things that somebody calls a “shed build” but mine really was a joke. Crammed in a 3’x 8′ space up against the uninsulated wall of the detached garage. I started this project in February. In Minnesota. It was hard to stay warm and tear down a bike in 15deg temps.

At one point, then bike looked like this:
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Then it looked like this:
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See my high-tech facilities? Some saw horses, some bricks, and a bit of 2″ square stock is what held up the front so I could get the forks off.

I sent the triples from the new front-end off to Classified Moto for their magic, along with the originals:
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Working alone, in tight quarters made it challenging to get the motor out of the frame. No hoist. No stands. Just me and gravity. And some clever Japanese engineers who made part of the frame detachable on the right side. Genius. Undo all the bolts on the right side. Lay it down on the right side. Lift the frame off. That’s all good because the frame weighs WAY less than the motor (which is a pig!). Looks a little like this (if you forget to remove the throttle cables first):
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But it came free:
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Then the frame and some bits went to Anthony Paints for powder coating. And he did a stellar job. I figured out some tricks with threaded rod and fender washers to keep the sensitive bits (like headset races and swing arm races) protected:

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It came back looking awesome!

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Then the triples came back from Classified Moto, and I popped those forks right on that frame, and admired the sights.

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I had scrubbed the motor as best I could as it was out of the bike, then I put it back in after the frame came back. Just reversed the on-it’s-side trick.
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Then I got carried away and slapped on the front- and rear-end:

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Then I spent a lot of time fiddling with little crap. Electrics. Dashboard prototypes in cardboard. Chopping the rear fender. Fabricating a new electrics box to hold the new L-ION battery. Nothing that screams PROGRESS! The seat pan was at the upholsterers, and the tank was at the body shop. Waiting and fiddling.

I went through 3 (three!) different headlight mounting bracket setups before I made one that I liked. I won’t bore you with pictures …

Finally the seat came in!

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Then the tank came in! I put it on, tweaked a few other things, and took some pictures:
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A lot nicer than it started, hmmm?

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The overall look and stance is just what I was going for. There’s now matching tires and braided steel brake lines. There are still some electrical gremlins that I need to figure out. These old CB’s are a PITA for charging … Oh, yeah, I still need a front fender! But, generally, I’m pretty pleased with my project bike. I’ll get some “studio” photos with the nice camera up in a bit.

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