Jeff Gallo's Bike Build
CB/CBR SOHC 750 Build
The initial idea for the project, (led by Mark Smit, owner of M&M Motorsports in Westmont, IL) was to find a 1973 – 1977 SOHC Honda CB and anywhere from 400 to 750cc's with a motor that at least turned over. This proved itself difficult since these early superbikes - in any condition - get nabbed up almost as quickly as they’re posted for sale. During the mad search on the interwebs, a great customer offered up an old bike of his to be taken off his hands that had been sitting outside for years, a 1978 CB750A.
We weren’t looking for a Hondamatic, but with this bike having a clear title to go along with being given to us at no cost, this was to be our new project bike.
Looking at what we had to work with, and knowing this wasn’t going to be a restoration project, logically the choice was to just use the frame because it’s titled. So the next idea evolved, and it was time to find another bike for the rear and front ends to add some modern suspension and performance. And we kept the CB750A’s gas tank, steering stem and kickstand.
December 2018, going to a friend’s shop, Albrecht's Fast Track in Des Plaines, IL and picking out a bike with a mono shock swingarm. We found a worthy donor, a 1996 CBR900RR.
The CBR had its rear and front ends dismantled and added to the first initial mockup beginning of February, 2019. We were able to salvage the steering stem from the CB750A to work with the CBR front end.
No bar risers? No problem!
Time to start choppin’! Additional support fabrication for the swingarm was added, as well the seat hoop - along with support bars for this as well.
Supports were added to the frame for the monoshock as well as the hoop. Welds are being done in phases by Mark’s friend, a race car chassis builder (Dennis of High Speed Welding) who’s shop is in the same industrial park, so that couldn’t be more convenient.
At this point, decent headway is being made on the build since the weather has been, well, shit. Nothing’s salvageable in the A motor, so it’s nothing but a glorified doorstop or boat anchor. We used its cases for the mockup, and low and behold, got our hands on a ‘77 K motor.
We still needed to fab up the battery tray beneath the seat. Once that’s done, and any tabs that may have been forgotten in between, all of this and the frame will go off to the powder coater.
A Delkevic 4-into-1 exhaust system was fitted up to the K motor, and great to see there were no clearance issues with the right side foot controls. A fab’d bracket will eventually be added to the frame for muffler support.
The bike was torn down completely again with a few more added spot welded tabs and brackets, while final welds should complete the frame. Frame went off to powder coating for a few weeks while I worked on wet sanding and polishing all the covers that need it, and some desperately did. The points cover was shot, so a new one was purchased.
There's a whole new level of respect for bike building - and wet sanding/polishing. It’s been fun getting my hands dirty wherever I can, and can’t wait to help tear into everything even more.
The frame came back on May 3rd. what a stunning powder coat job from Lo Ko Coatings in Oak Lawn, IL, and totally worth the wait. Went to the shop first thing the next morning to check it out, as well as brought over the motor covers to polish them up. The plan was to at least put the valve cover on the motor. Well, not only did that happen, we ended up dropping the motor into the frame, put the front end back on - and then also the rear end.
Completely unplanned, we had the time and made the bike a roller on May 4, 2018.
I took the tank home with me to try to get some new ideas for it, looking into a dark red paint scheme now that’s similar to either to either Honda OEM Candy Anteres Red or Candy Alpha Red.
The OEM badges that I ordered (that are not so perfect but better than the ones I have) can be touched up. The better replicas I bought have screw holes that won’t line up with the tank. Glad those only cost me $12. They’ll make nice beer fridge door magnets.
I’m holding on to the stator cover, that still needs sanding work and high temp flat black paint in the outer ring and behind the HONDA letters.
We mocked up a foam battery to spec for fit into the battery/electronics tray before the tray was fabricated. And before the battery was ordered. Eventually it will be time to mock up another foam piece that’s equally if not more important, the custom oil tank.
At first I was researching A and B oil tank fittings on eBay, damn those things were pricey and even more when sold together with braided lines. So I started looking for oil tanks that had everything attached, and found this one for $30 on eBay. I offered $20 and the offer was accepted. Hot damn. Not in great shape but parts could easily be salvaged off of it, and used again for this project.
So back to the oil tank mock-up. We needed to start with an 8x8x3 shape and go from there. Unlike the battery who’s foam shape can’t change, I needed to find foam that we can sand down if needed and consider tab placement to hang in the frame. So off to Hobby Lobby I went, found something called Smoothfoam® which is more workable than styrofoam, and stacked 5 pieces of 5/8” thickness that equals 3.125”, glued it all together and had a foundation for a mock up.
The Smoothfoam worked great, as it was able to be cut at angles to get the desired fit in the frame. Foot controls and exhaust system are now back on for good. The exhaust baffle is very restrictive so we only kept about 2” of the total 10”. Cut and grinded out half of the hanger tab since we won’t need all of it (looked really clunky) and need to attach a fab’d
Finally finished the sanding, polishing and painting of the stator cover. This piece alone took the most time of all the covers, probably 30 hours over 6 weeks time.
Since other projects have picked up at the shop now that good weather is in full swing, we took a break after the brake lines were added.
And with that, it was time to focus on searching for a headlight. Sounds easy, right? Well, if you try sourcing one that’s streetfighter-style, all you’ll come up with are cheap units between $20 and $40, or the highest priced unit, the MT-03. Absolutely NOTHING available in between. The MT-03 headlight with fairing, brackets and clamps costs well over $400. With a little luck, I found the same headlight with very inexpensive brackets and clamps being sold in the UK for $155 USD.
A friend (Joe) who makes custom parts for the RC racing community was able to fabricate custom carbon fiber brackets for my light housing that turned out great.
I ordered a set of 4 clamps for $12 each from speedmotoco.com that fit up to the brackets quite nicely. In total, the setup with everything cost me under $200 as opposed to over double that.
The idea of restoring the tank emblems has now been shelved for a new design as an applied vinyl decal. In a quick glance, it’s the Honda wing, but the wing has both the detailed feathers from the 70’s, and the streamlined feathers that were introduced to the newest wing logo in the 1990’s. Since the bike is a mix of both of these decades, I thought it would be cool to make a hybrid of the wing logo.
We had a local source make me a rough vinyl of another version (just the wing and very large) to test on the unrestored tank, and was able to get a feel for size and position, should we still go this route.
(Oct. 12th, 2019)
No plans as of yet to start digging into the build, but the stock oil tank was calling our name. We cut into it to see what we need to keep for the custom tank. It was the coldest morning in 4 months, so you can say the bug is coming back a little early - and before the project goes into full swing again this winter.
(Oct. 19th, 2019)
It was time to see if the MT-03 headlight, 45mm clamps from speedmotoco.com and brackets would fit up to the bike. Tape inside the clamps helped give them a snug fit, while spacers were made to add support between the brackets and light housing. The headlight unit was shipped with useless rubber grommets, so it was off to Ace Hardware to pick up real, properly sized well nuts for fitting bolts into the top left and right sides of the housing. Everything was correctly sized and spaced for when we eventually add the right hardware.
There are plans for a new location for the custom oil tank that will be part of the top of the swingarm. Stay tuned!
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