Turning a Honda CB750 into a Cafe Racer

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My friend, Tim, used to ride bikes years ago before children came along and a couple of years ago, now that the children are older, he decided that it was the right time to get another bike but couldn’t decide what to get.

On a whim, Tim bought a ‘92 plate Honda CB750 RC42 or F2N as it is sometimes known, on eBay for £500. 

They were kind of retro looking when they came out at the end of the CB750 run and had a double overhead cam engine.

Tim’s bike was a tired old commuter hack and he thought it would be rather fun to modify it.

Many years ago Tim used to be a mechanical engineer and he thought it would be interesting to revisit his old skills and interests and set about looking for design ideas but in the meantime kept riding the bike around getting a feel for it.

The bike had come with a non original oil radiator so Tim decided to replace it with an original Honda one but when taking the old radiator off, the bolt sheared deeming the bike unrideable.

It turned out that the only way to repair the bolt was to take the engine out! That’s when the project began.

Tim went on Pinterest to gather some ideas and then set about designing what he was hoping to achieve.

Once the bike was taken apart the frame was chopped and sent off to a local company for powder coating in black. The tank had to be modified so that it would fit onto the frame and then the tank and the seat unit were given to a firm of welders in Brixham.

The original colour of the bike was maroon which was not going to work with the modern cafe racer look Tim was aiming for so Tim’s son photoshopped different colours onto a pic of the bike and he then sent it out to his friends on Facebook to get their opinions and feedback. The winning colour was green.

A modern metallic British racing green colour was decided upon and then Tim and a friend painted the seat unit and tank themselves. Norton gold stripes, which Tim designed himself, were then added to the tank. A local company made a seat to fit the design of the seat unit. The bike was starting to take shape.

The air filter at the back of the bike was not performing as it should and Tim could not work out how the jetting worked. After searching on the internet he eventually found the same one on Pinterest and after lengthy enquiries, managed to track down the person who had posted the pic and made contact with him to see if he could find out how it worked. Amazingly the guy replied and Tim was able to sort the problem.

Okay, techy bit here guys, the bike has four cylinders and four carbs fed by two air boxes and two K&N Air filters, one on each side of the bike. Tim decided it would be nice if the filters were in some type of aluminium air box and so he set about teaching himself how to use CAD on the computer and designed two air boxes himself. 

A local company then manufactured them at a cost of £350 for the pair. Some might say expensive for what they actually are but I think they add to the design and character of the bike.

The engine is original but it was treated to a refurb at a staggering cost of £1,000 just in parts alone (best not let the o/h see this bit just in case you have been glossing over the cost of parts) but the work on the refurb itself was carried out by Tim thus keeping further costs down.

The forks and brakes are original but the brake discs are new. The yoke was chopped and the risers were ground off and polished and replaced with clip ons. 

The light brackets are new as are the indicators albeit they are the third set of indicators as Tim did not take a liking to the first two sets!

The wheels are original but were treated to a polish but the mudguards are new and were designed and manufactured by Tim. The instruments are new but the headlight is original but with a replacement bracket which I think makes the front of the bike look cool.

After a long and labourous journey the bike was ready to ride. It is a pleasant bike to ride, it brakes and handles well and Tim has found that the seating position is actually comfy and is not too hard on the back after a long journey although the bike is not ideal for touring as there is nowhere to put luggage on the bike.

Tim has been away for a couple of weekends on the bike but as he has to carry his luggage on his back, he finds after a while that his back is aching too much. A touring bike now looks like it’s on the cards …..

Tim has found this project to be great fun and he has met some interesting people along the way and learnt a huge amount from the whole process. Tim is getting used to riding again after many years of being away from the riding scene and has found he is really enjoying the social side of biking.

Originally Tim bought this bike for the build but he is now doing it for the ride!