Something From Nothing

The Transformation Of A Yard Find 1978 CB750

Article By: J. Ken Conte

Photos: Courtesy Of MotoAuct

Originally Published In The April 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

As an avid motorcyclist, I want to see as many people out riding motorcycles as possible. The feeling of being on an open road with the wind in your face is unparalleled and only surpassed by experiencing it on a machine you know intimately that you’ve built with your own hands. Over the next few issues, we are going to show how a free motorcycle— that’s right, this bike was free—can be transformed into an auction-worthy café racer and encourage the non-riding public to get out and ride. Jason Delacroix and Jason Williams, cofounders of Motoauct. com, are passionate about vintage motorcycles—so much so that they started the only online auction site dedicated to vintage motorcycles. The idea was to take some of the financial sting and budgetary constraint out of typical vintage motorcycle auctions and provide the vintage community with a common place to meet online. They’d bought and sold at “tent-pole” auctions over the years, scoured eBay and won auctions only to get burned, and had way too many sketchy craigslist encounters. Motoauct. com was born out of necessity, and it has blossomed since launching as the only online vintage motorcycle auction site of its kind.

To celebrate their launch, Delacroix and Williams decided to find what looked like an unsalvageable project bike, put some elbow grease into it and offer it up for auction on their site in time for the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in May. If you keep your eyes open, anyone can find a bike in similar shape, rotting in a yard. Heck, I know a guy who found an Indian Chief that way and restored it. Keep your eyes open, carry cash and don’t be afraid to ask. They did exactly that and found an original-owner 1978 Honda CB750, with only 25K miles on it that had been parked for the last 30 years. There were a lot of questions that needed answers, but first the bike had to be hosed down with insecticide and left for a few days. It was found in an arid climate, so the critters hiding out in it were not to be messed with—they did a thorough cleaning of the bike and set to work.

The first and most timely proposition is tearing down the drivetrain. This can be very intimidating work if you haven’t done it before, but with all the resources out there, including Clymer’s guides, blogs and YouTube, you can get everything freshened up and moving freely. The best tip is to take lots of pictures, be methodical about labeling parts and have a system in place for storing them. The next order of business is to see if the heads are worth saving. The Motoauct.com guys filled the combustion chambers with gas to see if they’d hold liquid, making sure the valves seated properly. There were no issues. Then they pulled the carbs and the drivetrain, removed the valves, decked the heads, and honed and touched the valve seats in preparation for a full-scale rebuild to make it a solid runner. If it was going to carry the Motoauct.com name and be sold on the site, they were going to make sure the drivetrain was bulletproof.

The carb bank was stuck, but after some time in the ultra sonic cleaner they were ready for a rebuild and re-jetting. Once the bodywork was removed, they saw period lowering blocks had been added, giving this CB its long, low look, which they planned to keep and upgrade with modern parts. They stripped everything from the frame and discovered more critters and crud. Then they commenced a thorough scrubbing of the frame, inspected it for any signs of wear that needed addressing, and began their modifications. One of the great things about the Honda CB platform is that there is a plethora of bolt-on and weld-on parts available. It doesn’t matter if you want to craft a chopper, bobber or a café racer. Dime City Cycles got us hooked up with a $55 “Brat” seat pan and a $95 DIY upswept custom rear tail hoop to clean up the CB’s rear end. This is where it gets fun, and, as a new builder, your creative side can come out. You can hand-form a rear cowl, leave it flat or make a giant 70s-style king-and-queen seat, depending on the look you’re going for. In the next issue, we’ll show how we started to get the rebuild done and some of the great aftermarket parts we used to make this supposed hunk of junk into a solid café racer. Check back on the Motoauct.com site for more news and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more information.

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