Why is that British politicians in Saville Row suits invariably look like scruff bags compared to their Italian or French counterparts? Style, you either have it, or you don’t. It’s not something that can be bought, not easily at least. Bob Ranew isn’t European at all but over the last few years he’s been sending us a steady stream of custom bikes to feature which always look just right.
There’s never a garish extra button hole, flashy lining or pocket at a jaunty angle, Bob’s an old school tailor with a tuned eye. Thankfully it’s seventies Hondas rather than suits which he applies his skills to and this 1975 CB750 is his first commission build under the Redeemed Cycles brand.
Up until now Bob’s just built stuff for his own amusement from a meagre workshop in North Carolina and sold the fruits of his labour to fund the next project, that was until social media intervened and the owner of a fairly tired donor bike, Chris Alexander, got in touch to talk about redeeming his ratty ride.
Bob is a traditional chap when it comes to business ethics, telling us “Chris had a 1975 CB750, that definitely looked a lot better in photos. Secretively, I’ve always wanted to build a SOHC CB but just hadn’t found a donor to work on. They were either too nice or a piece of crap. After calling Chris and talking with him I decided I should give it a shot. At least do a mock up and see what kind of response I got.”
“So, I did, he loved it and didn’t ask for any changes. I thought, ok that’s cool, let’s move forward. Next question, what do I charge? I made a parts list and added $800 all-in for my time. I know, I was crazy!! Showed him the total and we agreed that he’d pay my fee plus everything I spend out of pocket. With a virtual handshake the deal was made.”
500 quid! I think we’ll be shipping our bikes to Bob in future.
The bike arrived at night, it did run, but only by kickstarting and the sanded-down tank was full of filler. Chris liked the tank finish on a previous CB build of Bob’s but on a budget this tight raw metal wouldn’t be an option. “I went with a silver paint then had it scratched. It looked close to brushed metal, but after the clear was sprayed the effect diminished greatly. But it still had a classic simple look so I was happy with the way it turned out.”
Bob wanted to retain the original side covers, saying “I’ve never loved seeing the oil tank on these bikes and I hadn’t budgeted to move or modify Chris’ so the holes are drilled for aesthetic reasons only, with a hand drill. Never again! I immediately went out and bought a drill press for next time!”
“I had the wheels powder coated along with the lower fork tubes but the fork oil was like mud and had the worst smell ever so a full refresh was needed. After removing the handle bars and controls I discovered almost every wire had been cut, bummer! I went back with period correct re-pop switches. Chris also wanted an Acewell speedo and I’d had never installed one so was slightly nervous. Electronics have never been my strength but I have to say, programing the thing was harder than wiring it up.”
Bob added a neat subframe hoop and custom seat pan, topped-off with a double stitched vinyl saddle, deciding against leather for easier maintenance. Tyres are Firestone ANS 4.00 x 19 in the front and 4.50 x 19 in the rear, a decent balance between the traditional balloon Deluxe Champions and in-vogue knobblies.
The mechanicals were sound but to be on the safe side a new clutch was fitted and the engine received a comprehensive service. Mac header pipes and a Cone Engineering muffler release that familiar CB sound track and a set of foam filters deliver plenty of fresh air.
All in all Bob is really pleased with how his first foray into customising for customers “Every step of the way I communicated with Chris to keep him in the loop with zero issues or pushback when the bike needed additional parts or work. The bike definitely went above the estimated quote with some upgrades and finding other issues along the way but Chris still got a smoking deal. I could not have asked for a better first customer and Chris let me do my thing, with zero pressure. A terrific guy and I hope he gets miles of enjoyment from his new ride.”
With increasingly radical customs hitting the web these days it’s refreshing to see a simple yet really well executed Brat-style CB built in a shed with only a small fistful off dollars. Hat’s off to you Bob, the dapper bowler type of course.