After trawling the likes of Gumtree and eBay on my toilet breaks (those Apps come in awful handy), I finally found the bike of my dreams. Alright, it might not be a motorcycle that I’ve had an actual dream about but the Honda CB400F Super Sports is the perfect Jap blapper to chop down into the coolest-of-cool Cafe Racer styles.
The bike in’t to everyone’s taste, a fact that was rammed home when I recently visited a garage to replace a knackered timing chain. The owner (who I will not mention) simply looked over the machine and said “there’s no love between us. If you want anymore work doing, you’ll have to take it elsewhere”. I didn’t realise mechanics pick and choose their work based on personal tastes, but there you go.
I hope this is a one-off, because for a 35-year-old bike this thing still goes well. It isn’t the punchiest of engines- you have to really ring its neck to get the most out of her- but she still handles like a dream and I put it to anyone to find something better at weaving in and out of busy London traffic.
Firs things first I need to get her mechanically sound and that means sorting out this damn timing chain and replacing the brake hoses. Once she can go (and stop) without the risk of explosions and other general accidents its time to touch on the cosmetics.
A new seat, shaped and re-upholstered in classic cafe racer style is first on the list. This will provide the base for the sculptured cockpit. Next up is a set of drop bars that will help to transform the riding position from upright commuter to low down-and-dirty racer.
Finally, I’ll be purchasing a new spoke set for the front wheel. The current set are so corroded they resemble Jeremy Clarkson’s teeth. Then- if the budget allows- I will be investing in a new exhaust system. The current Motad model looks great but sounds a bit farty for my liking.
After my run-in with bell-end numero uno at a local garage, I decided to take the CB down to Big Jim’s Rims in Ealing. It might be an uncomfortable trek around the North Circular but they specialise in custom chops and generally love to tinker around with old bikes. The warehouse is like a little treasure trove of half-built Harleys and Jap racers in various states of undress. The boys knew exactly what I wanted and are convinced we can get her looking good with just a few simple steps. So I’ll keep you posted over the coming weeks…
P.S We can’t talk about Cafe Racers without a link to the coolest man in customs
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