Brat 750 Honda
It is said, if you hold on to an item of out of fashion clothing long enough it will eventually become fashionable again. Fashions and fads do seem to be cyclical, returning in a new improved reincarnation to be enjoyed by a new generation of people. Those of us who had the pleasure of enjoying the motorcycles of the 1980s when new, would never have thought that there would ever again be a demand for these motorcycles which were so basic compared to the new radically better superbikes which the Japanese gave us in the 1990s. Yet, after almost thirty years of being uncool, Japanese four cylinder motorcycles of the early ’80s are back on the collector, restorer and customisers’ A-list.
The Honda four cylinder models seem to be the most popular choice for customising with the CB750 being the model most in demand. The reason for the CB750’s popularity is largely due to its availability. Between 1969 and 1978 Honda had already sold 400 000 of the single overhead cam engine models before launching the double overhead cam models in 1979. By the mid ’80s, Honda had decided the future lay with the watercooled V4 engine and although the original inline four cylinder was used again in the ’90s, the market had already moved far away from this old technology.
Our featured motorcycle started life as a 1981 Honda CB750C. The “C” is for Custom and this double overhead cam powered model was available from 1979 until 1982. At this time, it was standard practice for the Japanese manufacturers to create a custom model from their existing model simply by installing a 16″ rear wheel in place of the standard 18″ inch wheel, fitting shorter rear shocks, installing a more Harley shaped tank and buckhorn handlebars. This look was created mainly to attract the American market before the manufacturers started building specifically designed cruiser models.
This custom Honda is its owner Richard’s personal creation. He was looking to achieve the very popular, Japanese “brat” look. Richard says, as this was his first attempt to customise a motorcycle, every step of the build was part of a learning process. He gives a load of credit to friends who assisted him as well as Tiago from OneOne Customs. Tiago sprayed the tank the off white colour which is a striking contrast to the mainly blacked-out motorcycle. The tan saddle adds to the motorcycle’s overall individuality.The low, wide handlebars and dual purpose tyres add a touch of flat-tracker to the styling. The original 16″ rear wheel has been replaced with a “18” wheel off a standard CB750. This also meant installing the longer rear shocks to accommodate the larger diameter wheel and tyre. The tiny indicators and taillight together with the small custom headlight and guages accentuate the minimalist nature of this motorcycle.
The current trend in customising which involves stripping a motorcycle down to its barest essentials, appears easier than it actually is. The complete rewiring of the notoriously complicated Japanese wiring harness is required to conceal the electrics. The frame has to be detagged of any bits no longer required to ensure that the uncluttered lines are established. The careful choice of components and colour is the difference between “less is more” and “less is nothing”. Richard and friends have made less much more!