I'd wager many of us in the garage-built scene have lived this: You pick up your first project bike, feverishly start to tear it down, and with anxious optimism, dream of a couple of weeks worth of effort and your new scoot will be cruising the streets and the pages of the myriad of internet motorcycle blogs to the permanent grin of the both yourself and the rest of the world. Ok, maybe you actually gave yourself a month give or take. Yeah, ok...right. Jonathan Wood went down this familiar path with a CB450. ”Project bikes always seem to turn into 400% more work than you anticipate... especially when you purchase a basket case like I did. That said, I was tired of looking at it and wrenching on it - damn, I just wanted to ride!"
Slacking off one day at his advertising job (Jonathan is a graphic designer), he did what all of us with the moto bug does: hop on Craigslist. It wasn't long before he ran into an available CL350 (pictured below) in great shape. A few emails and a visit later and he quickly realized what he was going to do with the 450...nothing.
Jonathan offers a tip he's learned along the way - buy a bike that runs well and make minor changes to make it look cool.
After a few weeks of glorious riding, Wood couldn't resist making some small “improvements.” He tells us, “I figured I'd keep it simple, some new handle bars, a general removal of some of the big clunky parts like the grab bar, tail light assembly, stock blinkers etc...One of the great things about vintage Japanese bikes is that they are a blank canvas for people to work from to be tailored to that individual's personality.”
He lowered the front end by sliding the forks up through the trees to match the 1.5" drop of the Redwing 12" shocks that he had installed in the back instead of the stock 13.5" springers. He added fatter Avon AM26 Road Riders in a 100/90-19 front and a 120/80-18 rear. The new tires were done for safety because the stock rubber was pretty old and dry, plus the fatter tires looked way cooler.
All was good for about a year until a bit of boredom set in and it was time to tinker some more.
He decided to ditch the stock scrambler pipes for a set of CB350 2-into-2 headers with some NOS MC Motorcycle's shorty bell-mouth mufflers attached. Bringing the pipes down made the bike appear lower to the ground and gave the bike some needed symmetry.
To help make the bike appear longer he swapped out the stock CL350 tank for a 1969 CB350 "breadbox" tank and CB350 seat pan/seat. Talking about the seat, “ I can't take credit for the seat on this one... I bought it from a guy online that had had the seat professionally shaped and upholstered before giving up on his project 350. The seat had the perfect lines for what I was wanting for my bike and I like using a stock seat pan to keep the hinges and helmet-lock operable.”
The "new" tank was cleaned and treated internally with POR-15 to inhibit rust and then sent over to a buddy, Josh Ferry, who filled the indentations for the stock Honda "wing" badges.
Wood then laid down the beautiful two-tone red-on-red paint job. The colors are Corvette Victory Red and he thinks the maroon is either a GM or Chrysler color.
He shares another tip - avoid metallic paint colors to keep a bike looking more vintage.
The pin striping was applied by the masterful hand of Josh Christy, Owner of VanChase Studio in Wichita, Kansas. (vanchase.com)
The clip-on handlebars were changed from the Tarozzi adjustable units to a set of TTR400.com CNC machined alloy clip-ons with no drop. This change lowered the bars and also gave the necessary clamp clearance for the new tank. Wood fabricated the headlight bracket pieces himself from 1/4" round steel to mount in the holes originally used or the stock gauges, and had a metal shop weld it all up for him using an extra set of crowns as a jig.
The design of the headlight bracket was derived from the work of Japanese builder Custom House Stinky, or CHS for short (http://stinky.jp/). It was important to him that the top of the headlight be level with the top of the triple-tree while protruding a bit forward to indicate — in his mind — speed. The Lucas style taillight and the blinkers were purchased on ebay and rounds out the rest of the lighting.
Upon completion, he did what any of us would do - rode the hell out of it loving every minute, and then - ( okay, most of us wouldn't do this ) decided it needed a new home with someone who would love it as much as he did. It now resides in Oklahoma with a member of the U.S. Air Force who saw it online and just had to have it as his first bike no less.
Oh, and about the original CB450? Jonathan says, “Umm, yeah...still not done.”
Have a garage-built custom you'd like us to show off online or in our upcoming print magazine? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.