Welcome to the first episode of the Shannon’s Dream Bike Build with Purpose Built Moto | Episode 1: Finding the Honda CB500
It’s not as if there’s ever been a mystery behind the Purpose Built Moto process. We’re a transparent workshop not afraid to share the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years. If you’re a fan of the workshop or one of our many clients you will have been shown a lot more than most other custom bike shops give you. We’ve got nothing to hide, PBM churns out creative, exciting and high quality customs with the best of them.
As much as we’ve given away, there’s never been a series that delves quite as deep as the Shannons dream bike build does. Shannons insurance reached out and wanted to know exactly how Purpose Built Moto takes piles of vintage scrap metal and transforms it into gold. Following the process of a clients build from end to end. We start with the initial consult, get out hunting for a donor bike, and take you step by step through the rebuild and custom process right through to delivery of our clients dream bike. Its just like those discovery channel car shows, minus the corny one liners, and gimmicky designs. So are you in?
Assuming the answer is yes, lets get started on episode 1 of the Shannons dream bike build. It all starts with a phone call. Our client Scott got in touch with PBM about a custom dream he had – a vintage styled café racer. Something he, and his son could enjoy and ride on weekends, something to evoke a desire to ride just by looking at it and a piece of work that would transcend the passage of time with its style. Creating a motorcycle that would excite a rider at 60, just as much as it would excite them at 22.
With a few conversations between us, I had suggested to Scott a 1970’s model Honda CB500 or CB550 for the basis of his dream bike. These mid size Honda fours are well proportioned, nimble, and appropriately powered to get the sort of riding done that Scott was after. The 500 frame and engine is a perfect first foray into the world of classic motorcycles, and with the work that we would complete, would be reliable for years to come for both him and his son. The only problem is finding one…..
A far cry from the omnipresent big brother the Honda CB750 four, the CB500 was no where near as popular back when mutton chops and bell bottoms were a thing. This means 50 years later they are a little harder to find, and that’s putting it gently. Luckily I’ve made a nice lot of connections in my years building and restoring motorcycles, so I have at least a starting point. The call out usually reads something like this:
“Hello gentleman, I’m hunting for a Honda CB500 or CB550, early 70’s preferable. If you have one collecting dust or know of a neglected bike I can get my hands on. Please let me know, I have cash burning a hole in my pockey ready to be placed in your hand.”
Click, send, wait…..
This time around thankfully it was pretty easy and a local contact of mine had one sitting in the back of his shed un-used, un-appreciated and un-wanted. The man holding onto this diamond in the rough (and I mean rough) was a Gold Coast local, affectionately known to all that have dealt with him as “Honest Dave”. Honest Dave had a few bikes kicking around in his shed of wonders, but only one that I wanted. A rolling chassis, engine and tank of a 1972 Honda CB500 four. Despite his numerous attempts to to sell me every other motorcycle and part in his shed too, we walked out of there with the CB500 and a CB400 wreck for $1500.
The bike itself was missing a lot of parts, but would provide everything we need to get started on the Shannons Dream bike build. The scope for this build would see no nut left unturned. When dealing with motorcycles this old, especially unfinished and non-running bikes we want to make sure the client is delivered a perfectly reliable and well styled motorcycle. That meant a complete tear down. rebuild or replacement of every single component.
Often we will see a great looking bike with nice fabrication and some clean custom touches with no attention paid to the engine, carbs or electrics. We also come across the opposite where the a shop has rebuilt the engine, and got the bike running perfectly but their skills fall short in creating a well presented beautiful custom motorcycle. Both of these situations end up in the same place – with a rider that’s left wanting because he’s presented with a half finished project.
If you have a great looking bike but are afraid to ride it for fear of it letting you down, what’s the point? You have a garden ornament not a motorcycle. We aim a little higher at PBM. Delivering vintage motorcycles that visually excite our riders, and deliver the reliability and performance our clients expect and deserve.
With that said what’s the plan here? So, with a bare bones CB500 four the plan for this project and 6 part series is as follows:
Episode 2 – Engine Work Tear down engine, replace any faulty components, and rebuild with fresh parts to better than original spec. We won’t dig too deep for horsepower here, instead choosing to free up the power that’s already lurking in the CB500 motor. Port and polished heads, upgraded ignition, performance carburettors and a high flow exhaust. During this time we also start to upgrade the suspension, braking and wheels on the CB500 café racer stripping weight and improving the handling where we can.
Episode 3 -Fabrication This will include a strip and clean of the frame, smoothing out the lines of the Honda CB500. Creating a flowing seat section, with a removable café racer tail that will allow both single and double seat configuration. A highly refined free flowing exhaust 4 into 2 to create some nice symmetry on the build. Clean and simple lighting and gauge arrengements, clip on bars and some custom mounted semi-rear sets to allow for our riders tall stature on his purpose built café racer.
Episode 4 – Paint Nathan from Livin Loco will take the reigns here as we lay some colour down over the hand built café racer. For this project we will take a decidedly classic feel, utilising some early style flat colours to offset the fine polish and chrome finishes we’ve created with our previous design and fabrication work. At this point the Shannons Dream Bike build really starts to take shape. As Scotts CB500 comes together and the finishes begin to be revealed.
Episode 5 – Assembly With the finished parts in hand the Honda Café Racer begins final assembly. With the heavy lifting done we take you through the meticulous assembly, finishing and wiring of the new electronics system that will ensure the heart of our CB500 four beats on time. We get a surprise visit from Scott to check on progress as you see the completed custom motorcycle come together.
Episode 6 – Build Reveal The final reveal of the Shannons Dream Bike Build Honda CB500 (or 550). There’s nothing gritty about this episode as we wash our hands, put the tools away and give you an end to end run down on the completed bike. We give you a look at our clients reaction to his new bike and take him out for his first ride with a few camera’s in tow so you can experience the Purpose Built café racer in action. Months of hard work put into play as we run the new bike in and start to stretch its legs through the hills. Showing that our bikes are equal parts show and go.
Are you ready to come on this ride with us?
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