Cool interview with Kevin Drost who turned a wrecked Honda CB450 he found in a barn into a classic cafe racer. He built this bike in the communal motorcycle workshop called MotoGuild in Chicago.
Please introduce yourself, Kevin
Hi, I’m Kevin Drost, model year 1981 and I live in Chicago. I Went to college on a jazz guitar scholarship in Denver. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 16, but before building this bike had never really done anything besides an oil change. My day job is Director of Strategy at Reverb.com; an online marketplace for music gear.
Why did you build this bike?
I love vintage bikes and dreamed of restoring one, but was intimidated because I don’t have any background. There is a new communal garage in Chicago called MotoGuild, and I took a class there. That gave me the confidence to pull the trigger.
Why did you pick this base bike and where does it come from?
I found it on craigslist, it was sitting in a barn in rural Michigan for the last 25 years. It was a total barn find. Nothing worked on the bike, although it did turn over. Rats/birds had clearly been living behind the sprocket covers. I rented a Uhaul trailer, drove up, talked the guy down to like $600 and trucked it back to the city.
What was your idea or vision?
I wanted to keep a fairly stock look. I love the lines of a CB450, even the stock side covers. I just wanted it to look sexier. I removed some stuff, cut down some other stuff. It was my first full frame-off restoration so I didn’t want to go too crazy with cutting the frame or custom wiring. I tried to keep it close to stock but really make it a head turner.
Where did you find inspiration for the project?
I’m a musician and have always loved a custom color that Gibson Guitars uses called Pelham Blue. They put out a signature model for Jeff Tweedy from Wilco (another local Chicago boy) that is a beautiful Pelham Blue with a cream pickguard. That was the inspiration for the color scheme. I knew from the start I wanted a brown leather seat. The blue and brown really go together.
What was the total budget?
$600 for the bike and probably $2,000 in parts. I pretty much rebuilt or replaced every inch.
Any interesting challenges?
Everything is a challenge, particularly when you don’t really know what you’re doing. The dual overhead cams on the CB450 are an absolute pain in the ass because you need to break the cam chain do anything to the engine. Getting those put back together is not for the faint of heart. Beating the stock bushings out of the swing arm so I could put in new brass bushings was probably the most frustrating experiences of my life. After I got the whole thing put back together it was having the most bizarre electrical problems, it was literally like gremlins were living in it trying to ruin my life. I eventually figured out I hadn’t removed enough of the powder-coating on the frame to get a good ground….rookie mistake.
Did you got help from others or did you outsource any work?
I did everything myself except for the paint and the powder coating. I got a lot of advice from the guys that hang around MotoGuild in Chicago along with their help with stuff like lifting the engine back into the frame.
What modifications are made and what parts are used?
There’s nothing too crazy. I modified the front/rear fenders, custom wired in turn signals, did a little minor fabrication on some brackets. I rebuilt or replaced pretty much everything – rebuilt the top end, rebuilt the carbs, master cylinder, respoked the wheels, repaired the harness, rebuilt the hubs, changed all the seals, etc.
What do you like the most?
I love the lines and the way the blue and cream stripes compliment the distressed leather seat. I’m also a big fan of the Tarozzi clip ons.
Anything, in particular, you want to share about the project?
I’ve named it Tenbrooks, after the Bill Monroe song “Molly and the Tenbrooks” about a famous mythical horse race. Tenbrooks was the fastest horse in the South and beat the Memphis Train.
And last but not least: how does it ride? I got it running in December, just in time for the ice and snow to hit Chicago, so I haven’t had a chance to break it in that much. It’s running good but needs the carbs tuned a bit…