The Honda 450

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This is the first post of my adventure of getting an old 1974 Honda motorcycle running. I found this classic on Craigslist for $450. The motor is 450 cubic centimeters of displacement, so $1/cc seemed like a pretty great deal.

When I went down to have a look the previous owner gave me his play by play of how he came to own the bike and what he knew about its prior life. When the bike was running, it was owned by an older gentleman that loved to take his wife on rides in the Texas countryside. On one of these rides he looked down and noticed there was oil spraying out onto his boot. One of the engine’s cam chain guides had broken loose in the engine and wore a hole right through the cylinder head, launching the oil out of the motor. Apparently he parked the bike and bought something else and this poor old thing sat for 15 years.

The bike was passed from one friend to the next with the intention to fix it and get it back on the road, but many of us tend to imagine the task of finishing a project like this is less intensive and that we have more time than we actually do, and so the bike was passed on to the next person who thought they could fix it.

I knew it was going to take a lot to get this guy back on the road, but I wanted that challenge and I also knew that I’d have a project that I could pick away at in my garage as the time presented itself. So I jumped in.

We backed the bike into the back of my Honda Odyssey. It was a tight fit, but after rotating the handlebars down and compressing the fork with a ratcheting strap, there was just enough space to get it in. I used a second strap to secure it to one of the rear seats, handed over the cash and drove home.

My first assessment:

  • The recovered seat is horrible
  • The tank is very rusty inside and dented pretty badly (I’d love to find a replacement)
  • The previous owner took off the front brake, but doesn’t look like there was any plan to put it back.
  • Why do old motorbikes have such HUGE rear taillights?
  • There was a nice box of parts included with the bike and a receipt that totaled over $400 including a full engine gasket set (score!)

I originally thought that I might try to create a cafe racer out of this bike and completely strip and rebuild it. Maybe I could even do some frame modifications. We’ll see. Here’s how it looked the night I dragged it into the garage:

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