Black and white version of the cover to Café Racer! It's the story of a half Japanese WW2 survivor who gets caught up in Café Racer society in London.
For my apprenticeship, I'm putting together this anthology that each student will contribute 5 pages to. My wife and I are writing each short story, and I'll be contributing 10 pages of art. The entire thing will be 100 pages long and include pencils and other concept art that we each complete. I'll be posting more about the Kickstarter later, so stay tuned!
But yeah, if you pick and choose from actual components from real-world bikes, you could make some really cool bikes just from still-life sketch.
Here - I'll cut & paste (just so you know it ain't a crazy RANT ha-ha) a bit of a description of these two current bikes, plus some ideas for my next couple of bikes, there's nothing like 'em ever been built, and yet they're very much in the vintage café racer vibe while technologically rooted in the early '80s!
Honestly, if you're into the visual technical stuff about bikes, in particular "period-correct" performance enhancements, some of these mods I'm talking about could make for some very rich visual fare. At least, that's one big reason why I'M trying to pull 'em off!
And where I'm talking here about conversions from shaft-drive to chain or belt-drive, stuff which was DONE on bikes like the MV Agusta Magni racers, or the Yamaha XS11 - at great difficulty & expense - well YOU could simply DRAW that stuff onto a given engine, plenty of pictures of these engines with shafts removed available on eBay etc. These are actual high performance mods that SFAIK nobody has pulled 'em off yet, but they ARE possible and with very good reasons to do 'em besides. Sorry it's so text-heavy, I plan to throw some pics together into a thread on one of the bike forums at some point, the Café Racer forums or my home 'F-orum at www.cb1100f.net - if I myself don't live long enough to build all of these bikes, on a fixed income such as I am, maybe SOMEBODY will pull it off down the line.
"Hey you should check out some wheels I'M building - two bikes, a "CB900K0 Bol Bomber" ('82 CB900F Bol D'Or -based tribute to the '65 CB450K0 Black Bomber) for me, and for my teenaged Ex-Daughter, the "KZ440LOL" (as in "laugh out loud", being that it's been so dependent on the 'Net to build, & what with the demographic of the bike's new owner, plus taking away the limitations ['LTD] of the original 1980 KZ440LTD!) Which has a 4LS drum hub up front (albeit only a 200mm one off Suzuki GT750J, but hey it's a 440cc twin!) wrapped into a 3.00x16" Borrani rim with Maxi-Scooter low-profile radial tires - the load bearing and speed ratings are correct with 110/70-16 & 140/70-16 RADIALS!
These particular tires are a recent development, but there were tires of this same size & shape in the early '80s they were made for much bigger faster bikes, whereas these scooter tires are matched to the KZ in both load bearing AND speed, such that the rubber will warm up to operating temp and deform into a proper contact patch for ideal grip. I suppose I could use early-'80s era 16" sport-bike tires, and call it "period-correct", but they're inappropriate & harder to find - this way I can sneak 'em under the radar as a period tire yet they'll work far better!
To make the rear wheel look even MORE strange, I've also got both versions of the original belt-drive in all NOS parts, but this isn't just for looks 'cause this is a great performance mod - the belt transfers more power to the wheel than a chain does and yet it's still 1980 period-correct 'cause the KZ440LTD was one of the first 2-3 bikes to use this technology -
Which is cool but the TIRES are what make this bike truly goofy. Or more to the point, the contrast of '80s rubber in terms of low-profile radial style tires & the belt-drive, up against the Aluminum from the '60s in the '72 vintage (last one built really) 4LS drum hub and '60s era rim which is normally only used as a REAR wheel on a chopper. But yeah these tires are something very cool in their present 2010+ guise. A couple years back, Michelin made a dual-compound radial rear in this size (now only up to 15") picture a scaled-down pilot-power crotch-rocket tire!
The Kid sez she wants a side-car on it, so I grabbed another 4LS hub for tire changes, and the planned 2LS version of front wheel for tire changes is now slated for the 3rd wheel. It's the same rim all 'round front & rear & side, though I've also got a 40-hole 3.50x16" Akront off a '90s Triumph Thunderbird to work with I wanted 'em to match visually speaking. I've got five or six of these 3.00x16" Borrani rims for the bike, 36-hole and 40-hole, and will have at least two sets of wheels for this bike to run both versions of KZ400 rear hubs, plus a T500 Titan 2LS side-car hub which has proven useful for upgrading the GT750J 4LS drum to 115% the power of a stock drum - plus I've ventilated the 4LS sides AND center, it's gonna flow air very well and stay cool & effective.
Meanwhile for the Honda, I've got "a couple" of rims to work with:
2X 2.50x18" unmarked Borrani from Harley XLH Sporty rear wheels (for Honda front hub!)
1X 3.00x18" new, drop-center shouldered re-pop eBay rim - again planned for front hubs
1X 3.50x16" NOS "Super-Akront" un-drilled Chopper rear rim - for the FRONT heh-heh
1X 3.50x18" Super-Akront drilled for Honda rear hub, for a "skinny" set paired with 2.5 front
1X 4.25x18" Akront drilled for Honda rear disc hub, for 160/60R18 Sport-Touring rubber
1X 4.25x18" Akront drilled for Harley rear hub, to do the "Front Hub Trick" with Honda hub
1x 4.25x17" Super-Moto 40-hole drilled for Harley rear hub, $39.99 on eBay so WTF
1X 5.00x17" Super-Moto 40-hole drilled for Harley - will do the "Front Hub Trick"
So the way I see it, that's SEVERAL sets of rims that would be a lot of fun to run on a DOHC Honda. For instance, the CB750KZ has 2.50x18" & 2.50x17" rims as stock, I figure a wider rear rim at 4.25" with a 140-150-spec rear tire would kick ass. So too, a spare 3.00x16" or 3.50x16" Akront could pair with the 5.00x17" for a Nighthawk-S type of vibe, a sort of bobber-ish '80s Sport-bike type of vibe, as 16" rims were very popular in that era, the Interceptors etc. But that's just the JUNK pairs that I thought of as an afterthought ha-ha.
The MAIN set planned is 3.00x18" front and 4.25x18" for sport-touring radials. However I'd also like to make a 2nd rear wheel with the front hub and bolt-up cush-drive, smaller rotor etc - 240mm front rotor from GL500 Silverwing would suit a DOHC era 5-bolt front hub! Or perhaps a CB350F disc for that '70s vibe with the riveted composite rotor. I also plan to adapt one of those on my CB750F1 rear hub.
And then, for that fat rear wheel I'd like to run the Super-Akront 3.50x16" "Chopper" "rear" rim up FRONT - for something of a Freddie Spencer Replica vibe, as his '82 Championship bike ran 3.00x16" front and 4.00x18" DYMAG three-spokes.
That 2nd (1st!) 2.50x18" Harley rear rim (un-marked Borrani from Harley's AMF era, when they benefitted from all of that awesome Italian kit and rims like these even trickled down to the Sportster!) which I scored for $40, $50ea including shipping to Canada - Can be paired with the Super-Akront 3.50x18" which I scored for another $50 - not only will this be the cheapest set of rims EVER (well, with the exception of the $39.99ea Super-Moto rim in the rear for that CB750KZ!) Which will also be entirely PERIOD-CORRECT - as well as correct sizes for the factory team CB1100R Endurance Racers' Boomerang Comstars - might even be cool to paint 'em the same colour of gold? Tires for this set would be 110/80-18 & 140/80-18 but sadly the rims can't be sealed up as tubeless with the silicone seal trick, due to the lack of bead retention ridges to keep the tire from popping off. (This was the REAL reason why inner-tube type tires had such drastic explosive "blow-out" issues.) Nevertheless the rims themselves are VERY light-weight, very much the best rims from the era.
One thing I like about using the lighter Super-Akront rim in the rear but the drop-center shouldered rims up FRONT [where traditionally they were in the back] is the front wheel is the most likely to hit a curb or pot-hole really hard, and these rims are naturally stiffer and less prone to deflection on a bump!
The bike itself has a total "Retro-Fried" treatment, hence the 'K0 'Bomber" moniker. CB1100R alloy tank with it's sides polished like a "toaster tank" on a CB450K0, or CB72/CB77 Hawk/SuperHawk - "Duck-Tail" seat cover from the CB750K0 Sand-Cast, a bubble fairing from the Ducati 900SS - plus a whole bunch of trick bits such as the original aftermarket Cal-Fab swing-arm, Wolf exhaust, & the Tarozzi fork-brace (which I've stripped the chrome off of and polished to match the alloy everywhere else).
For BRAKES yeah there's the CB750F1 rear hub for a 3rd disc, GL1000 as well as '78 CB750K front hubs for dual discs. On the original Comstar wheel I have already added the CBX caliper hangers and 296mm discs from CB1100R - with the double-thick vented rotor on the spiral carrier - I wanna swap the center carriers for the six-bolt hubs. Maybe run the VF1000R rear disc for a third vented disc, although that's a 286mm rotor which is smaller than the stock 296mm disc it's probably still gonna be heavier. Of course I'll also make a set of cross-drilled early CB750K discs which were also 296mm - options abound however, such as the slotted rear discs from the DOHC or the surface-grooved fronts from GL1200, with a carrier swap all sorts of cool stuff could mix-& match. But yeah I wanna keep the thick vented discs for use up in the mountains, coasting on the brakes down the entire leeward side of the Coquihalla highway from Calgary to Vancouver from the great divide down to sea level! Plus a lighter set of cross-drilled rotors for everyday use, with 260mm rear paired with a single-pot rear caliper.
Changes are needed on my rear brake anyhow, as the Marzocchi Strada-II shocks are pointed forward to avoid hitting the right caliper. And under-slung brake will be a trick, when I can't just swap out to another Cal-Fab swing-arm made for the CB750K with the torque-arm mounted to the underside! So hopefully the smaller disc & single-pot caliper will work. But I want this to be all period-correct stuff all the same.
Another possibility I'm looking at, well I'm looking at a fork swap anyhow being that the KZ440LOL also has the same 39mm fork as my Honda, I plan to use the GL1500 as the basis of a replica of Freddie Spencer's Superbike racer's works-team fork. With it's TRAC anti-dive, 41mm tubes, 20mm axle, built-in fork brace, And that only draws my eye to the OEM shrouded brake on the GL1500!
That shrouded brake seems an echo of the CBX550F internal-disc hub, especially with the aftermarket light-up shrouds fitted. I figure both of em were originally intended to be wire-spoked. Folks have figured out how to do a conversion on the CBX550F hub, but I'm thinking I could do the same with the GL1500 brake, make some different shrouds to enhance the effect, with the fork legs less buried deep inside of those covers. It won't need any fake levers on the outside - look at the Guzzi V8's front drum hub, just a simple line run into each side like a speedometer cable very plain looking but awesome all the same!
The TRICK to making this work, is that the PC800 Pacific Coast has the same brake system on a very different wheel design. Which seems as though it could be cut out & drilled for spokes a lot easier than the GL1500 version of that wheel. Which, incidentally is a 3.00x18" rim! The only question is whether the spokes can be bent-head and pop out of the sides, or must be drilled through the outer circumference for a straight-pull "nail" spoke. AND of course the whole question of whether the wheel would explode ha-ha.
The OEM brake on the GL1500 & PC800 is only 286mm, 10mm smaller than my CB1100R/CB750K0 discs. However it's still 10m bigger than the OEM rotors on the CB900F!
Maybe it's possible to get some bigger rotors fitted. Of course, if I were gonna order some bespoke water-jet cut Cast-Iron rotors, I'd be tempted to go even bigger and have a set of PERIMETER DISCS made to screw directly to the shouldered rims, as the 16" front rim would be a small enough diameter that a pair of such discs would be about on par with some 330mm Brembo discs off of some modern Ducati. And that 3.00x16" rim could lace up to a SPOOL front hub like an old chopper wheel.
I'd wanna run THAT on a pair of 16" front and 18" rear wheels on a Honda V4 INTERCEPTOR - well with a Magna/Sabre frame specifically, 'cause I want that tubular steel backbone frame when the V4 I wanna build would be a Tribute/Homage/"Replica" of the '60s Grand Prix racer from Czechoslovakia, the CZ Type 860 - the one greatest challenger to Hailwood on the RC181 or Agostini on the MV Agusta 500 triple and/or four-cylinder -
Yet ANOTHER '80s Honda I wanna work with, is I'd like to swap some wire wheels and do a paint job on the MXV250F for a replica of the Jawa V4 that Bill Ivy died on. Another VERY fast bike, and it was "only" a 350cc V4 air-cooled too-smoke whereas the Honda MXV250F was a 250cc V-THREE and is liquid-cooled - however the chassis seems well matched. In stock trim the MXV250F comes with a single-disc (2LS?) version of that same internal disc Comstar off the CBX550F, (itself an excellent basis for one awesome cafe
racer - why take just the HUB?) and 16" front 18" rear rims -
The VF400F & V30 Magna are also some very good donors for the CZ Type 860 "replica" as they too have the steel-tube frames and chain-drive, whereas the VF750F Interceptor has chain but a boxy square-tube perimeter-style frame and the VF750S, VF1100, VF750C aka V45 Magna & VF1100C aka V65 Magna ALL have the lovely steel-tube chassis but it coms with a SHAFT DRIVE - not the end of the world, but the rear hub swap gets complicated enough I'd be looking into a conversion to chain or better yet BELT-DRIVE. All of the extra power made by that VF1100C and it's wasted through the shaft, the VF1000R winds up being the faster bike. Convert it to chain or belt and that bike will blow away the rest of the '80s bikes maybe even the V-Max itself.
Yet ANOTHER idea for a retro-fried V-four engined Honda would be to take the later VF750C "Super-Magna" and turn it into a replica of the '30s-'40s era British AJS Supercharged V-four. The angle of the jugs, the header pipes, much as the Super-Magna is a fugly late-era Cruiser, if you stripped it down to the frame & engine, give it some wire wheels & an authentic '40s vintage "Diesel-Punk treatment, I think it would look pretty close to the original! "
Have you more information online about the apprenticeship yet?
Awesome work as always!