The finicky canine with his back to this little CB450 is my life partner Willis. Among all creatures great and small, no one has watched me suck at motorcycle maintenance more than he has. Willis's zen approach to ambivalence is highly motivational, and his casual demeanor is the polar opposite of my own manic obsession with getting shit done. Taoist dogs and tempests in a teapot make strange bedfellows, but we mange to find balance. Sometimes, unfortunately, that balance might take a house pet's lifetime to materialize.
An old friend whose day job, like mine, always seems to get in the way of the stuff he'd rather be doing gifted me this basket case in 2007. Not wanting to insult Maximum Bob's generosity, I enlisted the help of Duane Ballard and our friend Alex Cardone to bang out the machine you see here: a stripped-down, spruced up custom street tracker of eclectic pedigree. Both gentlemen have badass CB750s in their personal quivers, so I knew their collective skills would be helpful.
The frame on my fun-sized custom is a '72 CB450. Kutty Noteboom helped me shoehorn a '77 CB750 swingarm into the chassis by sectioning and narrowing the stock construction perpendicular to the pivot shaft. The forks and trees are from a Sportster, onto which I grafted a custom lathe-turned and TIG-welded steer tube extension. This was required in order to install the H-D trees on the longer loose ball neck on the stock frame. After sussing the basic chassis I cut off various bits to clean things up and to accommodate the installation of bodywork and tank from GP Glassworks.
I'm fussy about wheels, and this bike features some doozies. The 18-inch rear is a 32-spoke Excel alloy hoop laced to a '75 CR250 Elsinore drum hub with Buchanan spokes. The 19-inch front is a 40-spoke number on a matching powder coated alloy rim grafted to an H-D Midglide hub from which I shaved 4mm off the rotor mounting surface to squeeze it and an XL caliper between the shaved sliders. I could have simply groped around for a Sportster hub, but I was too stupid at the time to know there was a difference. Bottom line: she stops like a champ, with millimeters to spare between friction bits.
Uncle Bitchin' did a stellar job spraying the '70s Elsinore MX livery I envisioned for my CB's paint. Gold leaf in the Honda wings on each side of the tank is a nice touch. During the initial build I skipped lining the fiberglass gas tank on the promise from its maker that no such fuss would be required. Bullshit. A couple months after her maiden shakedown, residual gas broke down the resin inside the glasswork, turning both 26mm Mikuni carbs into a gummed-up mess. All this happened in 2008.
It took me 42 dog years to finally exorcise my street tracker's demons, but today she is a high-revving screamer. Not the fastest bike in the Biltwell stable, but certainly one of the most fun to ride. To determine the best jetting and ignition settings for my rice rocket, I enlisted the talents of a wily old Japanese motorcycle vet from Orange County. After he returned the CB to my stable I installed a Biltwell Mako taillight, a set of 7/8-inch Tracker bars, two Biltwell mufflers and a pair of Thruster grips.
I'm particularly happy with the look and sound of my CB450's exhaust. I used a section of 1" x 1/4" 6061 alloy to cobble a pair of simple muffler hangers, then employed one Biltwell Muffler clamp on each side to create a mounting point for both pipe/mini muffler assemblies. The look is super clean, and no welding or cutting was required.
It took me six years to finish it, but my new-and-improved street tracker makes me smile. Willis doesn't seem to give a shit, but that's because this little CB450 is the only thing in my life that gets more love than he does. – McGoo