I had the opportunity to work on an abandoned project of a Honda CB 350 rebuild, and turned it into a Café Racer. With a frame, an engine and a box of parts, I started off rebuilding the old girl in the way they used to, back in the good old days.
Using the same philosophy as in the sixties, I rebuilt the bike from the ground up, voluntarily omitting useless (and sometimes heavy) parts.
Luckily for me, a period correct Honda Racing fiberglass racing tank was made available. I had it repainted in a very pure silver, to make a contrast with the black frame. The seat is based on a polyester shape, padded with recycled rubber. For added seating comfort, I « borrowed » the yoga mat of my significant other, cutting it to size and doubling up layers. Topping it off is a skai cover, made by the expert hands of my mother and her sewing machine.
The front fork comes off a CB500, with 35mm tubes. Once I had them on the bench, I took the opportunity to recondition them with new oil and dust seals, renewing the fluid in the process. Also, they have been carefully polished, making them shine anew. Both wheels have been powder coated in gloss black, and laced with new spokes. At a classic motorcycle jumble, I was lucky enough to find some period Dunstall bracelets, and thought that BSA clutch and brake levers did the trick, among a Triumph Bonneville throttle, wrapped in simple yet beautiful Beston grips.
The frame had to be modified as well, in order to fit the seat and the rear sets. I welded small brackets in place after measuring the adequate position so that your boots wont melt on the ‘Dunstall replica’ exhaust. The top of the frame, at the rear end, has been heavily reinforced to limit flexing movement. It is now solid as a rock. I have intentionally left the original indicator mounting holes in that part of the frame, because they are very convenient for strapping the old girl down to a trailer. You never know when you might have to load her up to go for a track day.
The engine has received a full check up and service, and has been set up per factory standards. The starter motor has been deleted, for obvious weight saving reasons, but also because who needs an electrical starter? I prefer the manner of finding the compression stroke and using mechanical force to get it going.
Electrically, it is as basic as you can get. The battery has been deleted as well, because it is cumbersome and heavy, and sits right in the middle of the frame, where you can now only find transparent fuel lines and a glass fuel filter. A modern voltage regulator is all that is needed to transform outgoing current from the alternator into a useful source of power.
The exhausts have been wrapped in special heat resistant, copper powder textile. This serves a useful purpose, other than just looking nice. What it does, is keep the exhaust temperature constant. In turn, the gases flow evenly and produce higher torque, especially low in the revs. It comes in handy mainly when the flag drops. The soundtrack is provided by a new Dunstall replica « silencer », as they call it. It only silences just a bit… It is sometimes more important to be heard before you are seen, especially in traffic. The carbs breathe through cone shaped gauze filters. It also adds a little torque, and especially, it produces that raucous breathing sound.
I have named this creation simply by my name: McEvoy. It is a tribute to my great great uncle, who built and raced motorcycles in the late twenties. I promise, this is only the first of more to come.
The legend lives on.
The bike has been sold at « Retromoteurs 2016″ in Ciney, and is now being cherished among a collection of exceptional and rare motorcycles.