Hole in the Head/Santa Claus is Awesome: 2014

We took our annual Christmas road trip to Texas this year and of course, brought couple of projects home.  Again, the Missus was super patient and awesome when we drove hours off course to look at some guys yard art.  Even more so when I ended up loading it into the back of the truck after making a deal.  As usual, I was fortunate enough to meet some of the nicest guys for these bikes.  We just talk about cars or motorcycle projects and gripe about our wives, and spend as little time negotiating over price as possible.  Usually, both of us are happy (or at least comfortable) with the deal and shake on it before the heavy lifting.


This time I found a Kawasaki KZ750G (twin) in Texas, outside Dallas.  The KZ is a great bike, though not the most attractive at the moment.  I had a 78 twin last year, and it’s one of the only motorcycles I really regret selling (though I’ve been told I say that every time).  They’re a little harder to find than their 4-cylinder counterparts, and torquey and loud.  It’s a runner, and only needs some tuning, tires and cosmetics.  I also have a set of clip-ons and some new shocks that I’m itching to get on it.  More to come…

The BMW, however, may have cast a spell on me.


By some windfall, I found a guy on the way South from SF who agreed to hold a 1973 BMW R75/5 until I passed through on the way back.  The engine is seized – I think at the pistons – and the exhaust system is completely roached.  For some reason, though, I’m so happy about getting my hands on it.  As gnarly as it looks, it’s complete.  It even has the original air pump and a killer luggage set that has the same hand-pinstriping as the tank and fenders.  I have a ’91 R100 as a daily rider, but I’ve worked on it very little, other than some electrics and aesthetics, and it’s got some really dated styling.  I’m anxious to tear into my own vintage BMW.

Sitting on a vintage R is a unique experience, it’s very upright and forward on the engine.  The headlight is bigger than it seems, and the handlebars and seat are super comfy and no-nonsense.  Very German.  I’m sure some Airhead guys out there aren’t as impressed, but it’s kind of an honor to be able to start on it as a project.  In the Bay Area anyway, these go pretty fast and at some ridiculous prices, making it pretty difficult to experience them firsthand.

To cut through the romance BS, it is going to be pretty labor-intensive and probably pretty expensive.  I’ve flooded the piston chambers with some PB Blaster and will try some automatic transmission fluid  over the next few days to help persuade the pistons to free up.  I think this one is a long-term project, if only due to the parts being more expensive and space is at a premium.  Because I have too many motorcycles…

For now, back to work.  Parts don’t buy themselves, you know.




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January 7, 2015 · 8:54 am

Close Enough: 1978 CB750F Supersport


Here’s the CB750 from a previous post after a lot of work and swearing.  All new (just about) everything.

– I had to source and rebuild all the brakes, including calipers, pistons and hoses.
– Welded up a stainless SuperTrapp exhaust
– Found a seat from a 76 CB – a little higher-stance
– New lighting, including flush mount turn signals
– Rebuilt and jetted carburetors
– New cables, wiring connectors, etc..
– Used a Perlux fog light from a school bus as a bottom-mount headlight (tho it bounces too much, may replace it)
– Mini gauges and new controls, drag bars.

cb750f fancy


Sounds great, fun to ride.

Someone before me had done their best to destroy the fuel system in this guy.  The carbs were 5 sizes too small (lean) and I literally found a drill bit in one of the carbs.  A. DRILL. BIT.

I considered painting the tank, but I think it’s pretty cohesive and handsome as it sits.

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Filed under 2 Wheels, Custom, motorcycles, Uncategorized, vintage vehicles, wolf and bear workshop

Close Enough: 1967 Honda CT90


To follow up on the last update on the CT90, I got everything back together in a concerted push to get this damn bike on the road.  It’s been nearly 2 years of procrastination and back-burnering for other projects, but it’s finished.  The seat and the exhaust were the only things that were really lacking.  The rest was a matter of relocating the petcock on the gas tank, restoring the charging system and solid session of tune up.


We did the NorCal Swap Meet in Sacramento, and I found an old exhaust can from some Brit bike for $2.  My buddy brought a pan seat to sell, and I knew instantly that it was the one for this little guy.  It’s like the CT was just waiting on those last little bits before agreeing to be ridden.


BMW handlebars on the CT.

I’ve waffled a bit on the handlebars.  First the clubmans seemed legit, then the high-risers from the R100 made it a little more comfy and spry.  I finally just pulled some shorty drag bars off a Sachs moped, of all things.

IMG_5319Looking back at when I got it, it’s pretty unrecognizable. Just about everything from the pistons out has been replaced, repaired, powder-coated, rewired or fabricated.



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Filed under 2 Wheels, bobbers, Custom, motorcycles, wolf and bear workshop

I Hardly Knew Ye: 1971 CB350


I needed to unload some projects recently and decided to get rid of one of the longer, nagging ones first.  My little CB350 twin from the hills, has been a PITA for more than a year.  I’ve rebuilt the top end, new valves, exhaust leak, clutch, charging, intermittent spark….blegh.  It just didn’t want to go.


I decided to spend a weekend to concentrate on it, and corrected everything – from re-lapping the valves to buttoning up electrics – but the charging and ignition systems weren’t consistent.  I couldn’t figure out wtf was wrong: I had replaced just about everything. So I posted it on CL as a project and immediately had a bunch of bites.  THE DAY someone came to look at it, I was in a parking lot and it occurred to me that the battery might be the culprit for intermittent firing.  I hooked it up to the van’s battery and it fired up and ran so, so good. Dammit.


The bike was running on the stator, but it doesn’t produce enough juice to run the bike and charge the battery.  There’s a much more appropriate and educated way to explain that, I’m sure, but all that means to me is that $40 has kept this little guy off the road.  As the guy was on his way over, (and I needed the cash and space) I sold it after all.  Though I didn’t budge on the price.


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Filed under 2 Wheels, Custom, motorcycles, Sold, vintage vehicles

Close Enough: 1964 GMC Handi-Van

I realized I haven’t showed pix of the van since it got back on the road.  It’s kind of the perfect motorcycle-getter and we’ve been brave/dumb enough to drive it all over California for motorcycle endeavors.  Most recently, I took it from San Francisco to Orange County for Born Free 2014.  The show was as expected, but the ride was fun.


I can fit 2 bikes in the back pretty easily, but can do 3 in a pinch.  And it only smells a little like gas and oil with the sunroof up.



I’ve insulated the back and cabin, and installed strips of E-track for strapping and stowage. The stereo is loud enough, and I installed quick-clips for a hammock – which came in handy on the trip to So-Cal – so it’s kind of a perfect getaway vehicle.


On the way down to Orange County, we spent more time troubleshooting and fixing bikes than actually riding.  That didn’t make it any less of a trip, though.  It was fun.  You can see the van below in camp/fix-a-bike mode.  This was right after I was under it changing the starter solenoid.  On the way down, the starter finally gave out and I was having to lean down with a screwdriver to short the solenoid while turning the key to start it.  That got old and I pulled into O’Reilly with fingers crossed that they had the right part.  The next morning I replaced it over some cowboy coffee and drove on the rest of the way.  It’s a nice feeling to be able to do light surgery at a campsite and actually drive away.


Talking Cody through some KZ jetting, while John continues to wake up.

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Filed under motorcycles, vanimals, vintage vehicles

Update: CT90 Thumper

I finished powder-coating the tank for the CT90 last week and fabricated a mount for it and the seat.  It’s such a tiny bike, but with the dropped bars and relocated seat, it has a pretty aggressive stance.



To wire the rear end, I jacked up the center stand and dropped the rear wheel to get under the frame.  As ridiculous as it looks, I kinda like it super tall.


I found a massive pipe for the exhaust – it probably weighs 4lbs – a little strap of leather is helping take some weight.  It makes it sound ridiculously mean.

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Filed under 2 Wheels, Custom, motorcycles, vintage vehicles, wolf and bear workshop

Hole in the Head: 1978 CB750F SuperSport

Here’s the latest – I found a 78 CB that I couldn’t walk away from, so I loaded it into the van and got to work.  The pix don’t do it much justice; it was gnarly.  The seat’s a rat’s nest, all the brake calipers are gone and the tires are toasted.


So why buy it?

– the frame and tank are straight
– the wiring’s not horrible
– dual disc brakes on the front, disc on the rear
– still has the airbox (which means at least it hasn’t been sitting out with open carbs)
-the gears shift through
– there’s a few affordable SOHC 750’s out there, but the SuperSport is kinda hard to find

The biggest expense is going to be the brake system – I’m going to need all new calipers and hydraulic hoses.  More updates to come.





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Filed under 2 Wheels, Bought, motorcycles, vintage vehicles