Building character

Somewhere in here I painted the tank. There were some small dents I had to take care of and the whole thing got sanded down to metal through several layers of none original paint. I’m a rattle can painter. Slow buildup of lots of layers and lots of fine sanding and I really believe to can get a really nice result. I also have a secret weapon, a clear coat made for those gas powered remote control cars that has really good fuel resistance and I’ve never had problems with paint incompatibilities either. I had simpler ideas for the tank as I remember when I started but as the masking tape goes on sometimes plans change. I love how it came out and defines the character of the bike. Its not stock but pays a little tribute to the original paint schemes and adds tasteful customization that make it mine. The logo is just a decal available from lowbrow customs but never understood emblems. After finishing the tank paint I completely screwed it up with the clear coat running. So whole thing will get redone at some point but think in the end it was necessary to get “rough” draft of it down.

Taking stock

That engine intimidated the hell out of me for a while. A 750cc bike was never in my scheme. I like small bikes that you can manhandle a bit if you have to. Its because of this I think I avoided the engine itself for awhile. But I did manage to pull that chopper apart and sell off most of it in the end pretty much making my engine free. Well before the rebuild. Selling off the parts was really less about making money than it was about making room enough to work in the shed. With some money back though some parts collecting started. Some of the first things were the forks, rims and hubs. The forks came pretty complete and dictated the front hub a 71 conical with that big scoop facing strait into the wind. With that the rear needed to be a drum conical to match no disks for me. That meant switching the swingarm so my brake stay was on the right side. Going this route I think really simplified some things for me. Although finding rearsets for right side shift and left brake wasn’t easy, overall the simplicity will be of benefit in the build plus I just love the weirdness of the conical drums. Slowly the shed is becoming more functional at this point. Peg board up, a couple shelves, and lots of screws driven in to hang stuff on. Probably had my first camp lantern in there to work in the evenings by now also.

What I found

What I found was 2 frames a 78′ and and a 79′ T140v. Both were in nice condition but the 78′ had the rear loop cut off and a support bar welded in. This was also the one with the title. The guy that had them was named Dominic and told me he had bought them for his brother who had never come get them. Unfortunately the title hadn’t been transferred to him and was still in the name of a gentleman 2 1/2 hours southwest of me. Additionally I got a nice slim line gas tank with the deal, sometimes things just fall into place. The thing is its the perfect tank. Didn’t plan it, didn’t expect it but somehow it found the project in a way shapes the project. Next was the engine. Found it couple hours away and identified it as what I was looking for with little more then a dark grainy cell phone picture on craigslist. I got my power plant a 74′ 750 motor. It came attached to a late 60’s frame which had a bolt on hardtail with some pretty horrible bondo blending of joints. Additionally a cool little peanut tank with a club insignia on it, a hexagon oil tank, invader rims with the front mini drum that couldn’t stop a monkey bike with a toddler on it, and a well worn king and queen with a bitchin eagle triumph sissy bar. It was old school in the truest most authentic 70’s chopper form. The motor was stuck and I had to pay a college kid 10 buck to help drag it into the shed but once I had it I felt alot less crazy for deciding I could build a bike from the ground up.

How it started

About 5 years ago while  browsing through craigslist I came across and bought a 1971 CL175 Honda from and Orthodox Minister a couple miles from where I lived. I wasn’t much of a bike, something about it just said “plucky”. I had caught the bug some time before that for cafe racer style bikes. There was something about the aesthetic and subculture of them that I identified with. I think I paid $225 for it and about $50 bucks for a plate and title transfer. I told my then pregnant wife not to worry it doesn’t even run, it will probably take me all summer to get it going. Surprised by my own mechanical aptitude and pure drive I had it running in less than 2 weeks. New coil, a carb bowl and battery was about all it took. I removed the tank and tins, put a pretty nice rattle can finish on it and coated the grungy aluminum surfaces with some black. A new seat cover, cafe bars, and some grips and it looked pretty good didn’t run half bad either. I road that bike every chance I got through the summer and well into the cold weather. I could wax nostalgic about how riding makes you feel free but everyone who writes about motorcycles does that. I’m gonna just leave it at, its just a whole damn lotta fun to be on one. The Next summer came around and the weight of being a new father pressed on me and I did what is all to common and sold it so I could have some spending money to take my family to the beach on vacation that year. I got a whooping 850 bucks, some kid came up from about 2 1/2 hours south west of me to buy it. He didn’t know how to ride at all. Actually had him get on the back and road him a round a bit to show him it was in fair running order. I got worried he as going to break his neck so I threw in my helmet and gloves on the deal. I still regret selling that but I’m glad it went to that kid. I hope he had or still has fun on it and that he didn’t break his neck. That bike wasn’t the bike in the shed. That regret sat in me till it built up into drive to build and ride a bike I would never have the heart to get rid of.  After about another year I found myself looking for it.