This is Bill’s ’72 Honda CB750, otherwise known as Red Rider, which he sent in to the Bike Shed last week as a very timely Christmas present. The bike has been put together by Bill himself who normally works as a Respiratory Therapist at a local hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. This bike is his very first attempt at putting a motorcycle together and features a custom spherical oil tank, custom rear sets, the stock tank lengthened 4 inches and License plate coming out of his first attempts at MIG welding.
The tail section was made from a cut down stock fuel tank with the seat pan shaped to match tank contours. All the electrical components and battery are housed in the tail section. Dresda style swing arm.
But that’s enough from me, here’s Bill’s story in his own words:
In August 2010 I sold a ’33 Ford project at the Mecum auction in Monterey Ca. My plan had been to realize a small profit and use it to buy a CB750 Café from Carpy at Nostalgia Speed & Cycle. As so often happens with plans, they go awry, I did not make a profit – didn’t lose my shirt either – so I realized I would have to build my own. Searched for a likely candidate locally and found a very well worn example for $800. It needed everything except the motor ran good and had decent compression.
I brought it home and realized that with two bikes I needed a lift, so headed down to the local Harbor Freight for a lift. What a back saver. I proceeded to strip the bike down to a bare frame. The overwhelming feeling of – ‘what have I got myself into’ – as I looked at the piles of parts almost overcame my resolve to see this project through. This was, after all, my first venture into motorcycle rebuilding. I spent hours scouring the internet looking at other cafés to get ideas and see what was available. I soon realized that no one made a tank or tail section that fit the picture I had in my mind. I didn’t relish using one of the same fiberglass tanks and tails that every other café used. What I wanted was a stock tank but longer than original and the tail needed to be metal as well. Knowing my welding skills were non-existent at that time I searched for a fabricator who could help me create my vision. He listened to my ideas and assured me he could handle the chore but wanted a drawing of what I envisioned. I did my best to put my idea on paper and took it to him with the frame and 3 tanks. Thus begins one of the sagas of the build – more on that later.
I busied myself making lists of parts I needed and finding sources for same. One of the reasons I had decided to use a CB750 as the basis for the build was the wealth of parts, both original, used and aftermarket, that are available for that model. I placed orders with numerous sources and while waiting for deliveries continued to dismantle and assess all of the parts.
I visited the fabricator each week to see the progress. Hmmm, it seemed that he had under estimated how soon he could get to the job. What I had expected to be a 2-3 month job stretched on and on. At 5 months I took a welding basics course in case I would need to finish the job myself. This prodded the fabricator to start and finally complete the job 7 months after getting the bike. I must say that I was very pleased with the result. The benefit of his stretching it that long meant I had finished refurbishing or replacing all of the mechanical and electrical systems. The only one that didn’t get rebuilt was the motor as it ran so well originally. I had learned all about metal polishing and taught myself skills like fork rebuilding, lacing and truing wheels – all very enjoyable as each was mastered.
Luckily I have a friend who is a very accomplished painter who helped me refine the colors and design to a fairly unique look. Then it took a couple of months of re-assembly until completed almost exactly one year after started. I have learned a wealth of knowledge about things to do and others not to try or bother with.
After the usual teething problems any complete rebuild encounters, Red Rider is now a dependable little café that I run a favorite road with each Sunday, Sandia Crest Road (110 curves in 14 miles to 10,000 feet). I ride it to work many days and it is a really fun little street fighter. I have started another project, this one a 1936 Chevrolet Pickup truck that will carry Red Rider to far off rides.
The number one lesson I would pass to anyone contemplating a build, have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and put in, at the very least, a half hour every day working toward the vision. Otherwise it will join so many other projects that will get done someday – someday never comes.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Bill. Your build has definitely earned it’s rightful place in The Bike Shed.