ONCE UPON A TIME in South-Central Virginia there was a boy who was dreaming of one day building his own café racer. It was not until his 26th birthday that he managed to materialize his ambition.
It was a long process in the making as Jake Wingate describes it: “I have always been fascinated by those beautiful machines I read about in magazines and saw online. It wasn’t until more recently that I decided I could build one myself and make it my very own. Once I had that idea in my head, I was hooked. There was no turning back.”
Although Jake has a degree in mechanical engineering he is for a large part self-taught when it comes to building and working on bikes. “Trial and error (lots of the latter) was the name of the game” he laughs out loud.
“The 1981 Honda CB 750K is not exactly the most attractive bike ever designed (scroll down to see picture). Why did you pick this base bike and where does it come from?” we ask the Pennsylvanian. “ I chose this bike for practical reasons, such as price and abundance of technical information, but most importantly, I chose this because I was inspired. There is just something special about the CB’s and I owe much of my inspiration to German-based design company Hookie Co. I still spend countless hours drooling over their bikes, especially their CB750 builds.” Jake replies.
The builder’s vision was simple or rather, simplicity. That is, after all, the cafe racer style. He wanted a bare-boned classy street bike. No chrome, no plastic fenders, no unnecessarily large seat. “These bikes are an expression of who we are. They aren’t made for comfort and practicality. That’s boring, and anyone building custom bikes is by no means boring” Jake explains.
Challenge & budget
The idea was to build the bike just as he had imagined, but on a limited budget. It was not just the technical challenge that attracted him, but also keeping the total cost under $ 3.000 (including the cost of acquiring the base bake) was part of the attraction, as far as Jake was concerned.
Focusing on the technical side of things, reshaping the CB into a head turner caused an affluence of head-scratching moments. There were “many good and learn the hard way experiences” the builder continues. “I would say the most frustrating challenge was swapping the front end from the super sport parts bike.
Sounds like a simple task, but just one minor detail was enough to kick my ass. The lower outer bearing race on the steer tube. I’ve pressed out bearing races before with no issues, but this one had absolutely no lip to grab on to in order to push it out. I tried a dozen different tools, bent screwdrivers and homemade contraptions.
I just couldn’t get a grip on the race, so I decided to make my own grip. I rummaged through my hardware bin and welded a dock washer to the inside rim of the bearing race to give me something to get a hold of. I dropped a PVC pipe down the steer tube and popped that sucker out with one blow of the mallet.
That night concluded with a few celebratory beers!”
To create his (and his alone) dream our friend decided to sail as much solo as he could on this project. He took it upon him to be both the designer and builder of this own bike. The only helping hand he got was from a colleague who machined a set of custom bushings on his lathe so Jake could mount the rear sets back farther on the foot peg brackets. That and the upholstering of the seat by a local shop and the powder coating of frame and wheels.
Other than that, he fabricated and painted everything in his garage on nights and weekends.
• Rear hoop with integrated LED tail light
• Battery box under the swing-arm
• Chopped off the old foot peg brackets on the frame and bolted on the set of SS brackets from the CB750F
• Chopped the front fender down for a smaller profile look
• New wheel bearings all around
• fully rebuilt front forks and brake calipers all around
• new cables
• re-wired harness for new lighting,
• bar-end mirrors
• new grips,
• new sprockets
• x-ring chain
• copper electrics tray under the seat
• license plate bracket
• tubeless tire setup with Shinko rubber
• Carbs cleaned and rebuilt
• Painted gas tank with automotive paint and a 2K clear coat
• Fiberglass seat pan and foam seat
• YSS rear shocks
• Progressive front fork springs
• Cognito rear sets
• Revival LED lights
• clip-on bars
• Venhill brake lines
• Nissin front MC
• Delkevic exhaust
• Antigravity battery
“So Jake, with this big challenge behind you, what do you like the most?”
Smiling broadly: “The gas tank! I like the shape of this style CB tank, and I think the paint colour really makes it stand out, along with the over sized Honda decals (which I have to give credit to my fiance for making).
Anything in particular you want to share about the project?
I absolutely love the way this bike feels and rides. Not too rough, not too smooth.
It’s fast and loud, keeping the classic untamed spirit alive!!
Donor bike in its original state