|My favorite place to charge an old Honda motorcycle is in outside and in the rain. (CB750K6)|
The Single Overhead Cam 4 (SOHC4) forums is a group of borderline (if not full-blown) obsessives with a penchant for antiquated crap. I should know - I'm one of them. It's all about SOHC4 Honda motorcycles, a breed born of the CB750K0 "Sandcast" in '69, and it encompasses half a dozen machines that were produced until '82. It's a niche market, which makes the people both friendly and intense, and the forums are a place that constantly redraw the line between collector and hoarder, such is the byproduct of intense hobbying and producing quality work.
These folks aren't just collectors, they are restorers, both artists and engineers, and nowhere is this seen better than in the Bike of the Month contest on the forums... uh, monthly.
|robdrobd's '75 CB750|
It's fun, less a contest than means of recognition. The community nominates a handful of machines that they find exceptional - not difficult given the vast pool to draw from, and vote in a straight popular format. Most of the featured machines have months, or years, invested, and each one has a story often odder than the fiction. It gets hard to choose.
The real appeal to me, in Hondas and this 'contest', is the accessibility. They're reliable (relatively) and affordable (again, relatively), which means the bike of the month contest is open to anyone with a few spare dollars and a lot of heart. Also, it's flexible. It's not a purebred chopper contest, cafe showdown, or specialty zone for diggers, rat rods or drag bikes - anything goes. Anything that captures the hearts of the community. And that's this month's winner in a nutshell. Project Gunfighter, is a custom. Heavy cafe or chopper? No, just custom.
|Greggo's finished (for the moment) CB750K6, with K1 side covers and tank in gold and H300 Pipes.|
The origin of this particular CB750K6 (from 1976) is murky. It started the custom journey when forum user Domer found it at the side of the road in San Fransisco, a sign reading Free hanging around it's neck (or so the story goes). I would have liked to be a fly on the... tank for that one. I don't know the details, but I imagine a couple of guys wheeling down only to happen across a bike. Furtive glances and hard shrugged shoulders are exchanged, and they decide fortune favors the bold.
I think the unofficial motto of vintage should be Load It in the Back of the Truck!
|Shop pictures of the cb750k6|
Once this machine found itself halfway back to the grid, Domer wheeled it down to Corbin. Yeah, the seat guys. Apparently, they saw it as a glorified seat pan, but not much more. Hey, fine, because it served as the template for the Gunfighter Saddle - which I have to say, looks to be one of the sexiest bolt-and-go cafe-esque mounts in the game.
|Greggo said the jets looked so strange|
that it looked like heat damage.
After they and Domer were done Domer sold the mystery meat, seat and all, to another forum member, Greggo for what appears to be a small bag of peanuts and that's where the custom building started.
|It's like Christmas every|
day when you're in project
Gunfighter as a roadside find was not a bad deal. However, as a daily runner, it was less than pristine. The machine hadn't run in 15 years - bad coils, bad ignition, and brakes crustier than a week old head wound.
Remember when I said Honda is accessible? Here's why: after a couple of swaps later, the appropriately named FrankenFrankenstuff cheed Greggo on "You are a god among men at the moment the bike starts for the first time." Honda is accessible, because after fifteen years even a machine found on the side of the road can be brought back to life. Provided, of course, there's no actual standing water inside the motor.
|A seal replacement and|
a coat of paint later.
|Ever try to replace your|
brakes with a baked potato?
Ride an old Honda with rotten
|Electrolysis pulls the rust|
out of an old tank
So, it was early (and relatively) easy success, at least for the motor. However, if you've ever been in that position, you know that those first self-propelled revolutions is just the door as it swings open to let the flies in. Swarming problems. There's always something more. And there was.
|Work in progress. CB750K6.|
The carburetors were so worn that Greggo feared that the primary jet towers were, "corroded down just about to the jet itself." That meant new carbs had to be sourced, (which usually means a lot of money, or cobbling together ever part you have, then coming up just a seal or two short). Also on the list was a new air cleaner, (in place of the corroding velocity stacks) ignition, coils, blinkers, handlebars, and, of course the brakes, as if they weren't bad enough before they went to hell. If you've only ever ridden modern machines, you don't know what old brakes are like. Imagine a downhill ride inside a metal trash can (think Big Bird fed up with Oscar the Grouch), arms flailing wildly. Really rolling. Now imagine you want to stop and, and the only thing in the bottom of the can is a superheated baked potato. Why is it superheated? I know it doesn't make sense but that's basically what vintage is like, and it explains why Greggo's bolted a second brake disk and caliper to the front before he finished with a HM300 pipes and finned engine covers, and, of course, the beautiful gold tank and side covers (original sprays) from'71. for aesthetics. There's more of course, polish, broken screws, a myriad of small parts that had to be be meticulously collected. Examining the rebuild of an old machine is like an archaeological dig. How close do you want to look? Well, if you want all the details (and a few more pictures) you can have them. For here, though, that'll have to do.
|Greggo's CB750K6 nearing completion next to his next project a CB500 Turbo bought from Carpy "for a song."|
Want to get your own project rolling? CBs are a great place to start, easy and cheap - and with a hell a support crew available over at sohc4.net. You're going to need one of these, though:
Click for details. It's how I got started - a repair manual and a busted, old machine. No better way to live, and not as difficult as you think. Just follow the directions... (I'm not sure what this shirt actually loves, by the way, Honda's brakes, Honda's paint, Honda's style.)