Project: Honda CB450 Cafe Racer Begins..
I’ve had the itch to pick up an old Honda again for several months now. That itch finally got scratched thanks to my good friend Scottie.
During college, I bought a 1976 Honda CB750k6 off eBay for about $500. It was going to be a summer project/straight-up restoration. The eBay listing described the bike in rough shape: it wouldn’t run, or turnover. After I brought it home, all I did was change the battery, spark plugs, and chain and the sucker roared to life. Talk about a quick project. I rode the bike around during the summer and the summer after that. I never got it registered, inspected, or even got my motorcycle license. Don’t tell anyone.
About a year later my friend Scottie picked up a CB450 that he rode for awhile. He found it to be a little too small for him, and since my 750 was pretty much just taking up space in the garage, I sold it to him for the price that I bought it for plus the cost of the maintenance items. I had lost the itch for riding it or doing any further work on it because I lost interest in restoring it and there wasn’t much of a scene for building a cafe racer. But that’s all different now.
I started getting the itch to get a bike again when several of my friends got new bikes last summer. It turned into a blood lust over the winter when I caught an episode of Cafe Racer TV on Velocity. I didn’t realize how big a scene the cafe style had become. I started trolling hondatwins.net, dotheton.com, and subscribing to blogs like motomucci.com and returnofthecaferacer.com.
So, I knew I wanted another Honda CB. What I didn’t know is how much the prices had skyrocketed since 2005. Finding a fully restored and running CB back then would run you about $1,000. Now, people are posting junkers and basket cases for $600 and up! I spent about a month and half checking Craigslist every day. I had all but given up hope of sneaking a sub-$500 bike into the garage, when I found out my buddy still had this 450 sitting in his parent’s garage. My old 750 was with him at his new place in another state, patiently awaiting for him to find time to convert it over (which he’s planning to do).
So I found out he still had the bike on Friday night over pizza and beers. It was at my house within 24 hours.
So today begins my newest ADHD-therapy turning this former slugger into a cafe racer:
This bike has a lot going for it and a lot that’s not. In my friend’s defense, this bike is unchanged from the state he purchased it, aside from performing maintenance and putting a new rear tire on it.
To start, the sissy bar and locker-style airfilter boxes had to go. I also removed the battery, both to inspect it and see how the center would look opened up in the future. That made the bike 50% more visually appealing. Here it is after an hour:
The front forks look like they are +/- 4 too long. I don’t know yet if these are the stock forks that were somehow modified or swapped from a different bike or some aftermarket jobber. Either way, it looks terrible and I’m sure is affecting the ride. Both my friends who have ridden it say that it rides a little rough or that something’s wrong with the front wheel. I’m guessing its the absurd rake. As you can see, basically its just the front tubes that got longer. The triple tree and neck weren’t changed, therefore the whole bike is leaning back. My friend said the bike would also run rough when throttling back, which is probably the angle messing with the carb’s vacuum and fuel mixture.
Leveling this bike is one of my top priorities to get it running properly again. That and a new battery (may go with a kickstart only too).
If anyone has any insight on these forks, what length they should be, or if I’m crazy and those are normal, please chime in. I’m using these posts as a project log and also to reach out to other people out there doing this.