Thursday, February 17, 2011

CB400F Phase One

The idea with this bike is a 70's club racer style. Back before the Superbikes existed, stock looking Japanese fours had big oil coolers, black headers, gold mag wheels and contingency decals on their stock bodywork. Outfits like Moriwaki, Yoshimura, and Race Crafters were building these bikes for guys like Reg Pridmore
and Wayne Gardner. When someone says Superbike this is what I think of. Actually, I think of bikes from slightly later, around 1980 but since this bike is a 75' just play along o.k.? So I realize that if I poured a boat load of money at this thing I would have a bike that was not reliable, slower than a used clapped out 600, uncomfortable, and will not handle or brake well. O.k. for the sake of this project, forget the comfort thing. So what I want this to be is my version of late 70's cool and keep things realistic. I've blogged before about Kaz Yashima and his 400. This will be sort of an homage to that bike. Eventually. For now I've got to get it papered and running. One of the issues I have with these things are the carbs and the damn airbox. Cleaning and rebuilding these tiny sludge piles notwithstanding, getting them on and off with the 30 year old rubber boots is a motherfucker; If I may be so bold. I hated it on the 550 and I'm sure it won't be a joy on this bike. I think I'd like to build a custom aluminum airbox with a modern (read: you can actually go to a store and buy one) air filter element that has some sort of interface with the carbs that is user friendly. I should be able to get the carbs on and off with out looking like I lost a fight with a rabid house cat. Pod filters...I'm just not gonna go there. The issue with a new airbox is the battery. This bike is tiny. The area in the frame where the airbox lives shares space with the battery. If I had that Laverda SFC seat I could remount the battery and electrics and have room for a spiffy new airbox. Great, but that's a bit much for phase one. The seat's a bit pricey, does not include upholstery and would require quite a bit of wiring. My plan is a complete rewire but that's also for a later day. Don't get me wrong, the seat price is fair but not in the current budget. Budget and safety are the number one factors at this point. The front brakes are a mess. Luckily, I can get all the parts I need to rebuild the entire system. That will be the biggest expense along with tires. I don't have too many choices for tires considering the rim sizes. I need 90/90-18 up front and 100/90-18 in the rear. Looks like I get AM26 Avons or some slip and slide Asian tires. Carb parts for the 550 were fairly expensive too but they had weird carbs. I had about $125 just in parts to rebuild those. All these S.O.H.C Hondas have leaky heads so the top end gaskets will need to be replaced but we'll see about that after I hear her run. So, I'm in for more than I paid for the bike just to make it go round the block but any asshole can buy a shiny bike, right? It takes a special asshole like me to spend more money and waste a bunch of time. I'm just being my old wise-ass self here, it actually feels really good to have dirt under my fingernails and blogging about motorcycles.
Preserve the old parts?
I have always been of the opinion that when building a custom you should save the stock parts. Ask anyone restoring a KZ900 how hard it is to find a nice seat. While I'm not planning on cutting up the seat on this bike, I do have an issue with some other parts. The switchgear was pinned to the handlebars and the wiring was routed through them. Not a big deal but with the Ace bars it ain't gonna happen. I could do a little grinding and make some clearance for the wires and have them outside the bars but do I want to molest the original parts? I could just swap out parts with some other old Jap bike that does not have this issue. The clutch side perch has a pin to keep the whole thing from rotating. I would have to grind that thing off if I kept it. I don't know, it's not like I'm taking a Sawzall to the stock pipes or anything. They are just sun-faded old parts with crappy wires. Real race bikes are not pretty. I've seen road race bikes that did not have paint just to save weight. They have rubber on them from the slicks wearing, oil on them from blowby. Safety wire. This bike will not be pretty. Ever. I just want it to work well. Fuck it, I'm grinding the stock shit. Stay tuned.


Gymi said...

It's nice to have ya back blogging about bikes again. It's also nice to have you in the same why am I spending so much on some shitty old bike club.

Surly said...

Thanks Gymi. I've been messing around with old P.O.S. for as long as I can remember. It's in our blood, you know?

Gymi said...

I haven't found a cure yet.