FIVE HUNDRED HOURS were spent building this dream machine.
Life started off as a relatively modest Honda CB900 FF back in 1981.
When its current owner, Minneapolis resident James Berrau, purchased the machine he was planning to execute just a few changes to transform the bike into a caféracer.
Bit by bit he took the Honda apart. Unfortunately he was unable to stop and sixty two and a half working days later (over a two-year period and not including breaks) the result was ‘a full blown, tear down creation’ as James puts it.
It may have cost him blood, sweat and tears but we can all just be happy he put the extra effort in so we can feast our eyes on it. Where the inspiration for the name’Tokyo Nights’ came from, is not really clear to us, probably honouring the bike’s Japanese roots and the fact James spent nights in his workshop hammering the beast back together again.
All joking aside, the bike did already win first prize at a local build off contest and according to the builder, this was just the beginning.
Best of all worlds
Not satisfied with a ‘mono brand’ machine, the Minnesotan added parts from a.o. the US, Great Britain, Italy and Sweden, turning the Honda into a true ‘world citizen’. Full details on parts in the list of modifications below. Little poll in before you read on: What is the origin of the swing arm?
He was inspired by a super clean CB900F he came across online and charted his course from there. He was lucky enough to find a suitable donor vehicle only 30 miles away and with just 23K miles on the clock.
The Bikebrewers team love those clean builds coming from the pro builders. They often go searching for the edge and come back with innovative ideas.
However, when a garage builder shows op with a bike like this, working it like a maniac constantly stepping out of comfort zone to take it up an notch, we stand still and take notice.
James turned swapping and modifying things into Japanese art. In the course of the building process every nut and bolt was removed, cleaned and put back, or in a lot of cases, replaced.
The fact that he had grandpa’s lathe and a new TIG welder in his shed just added to the continuous joy of changing and improving stuff. The front forks came off, as did the swing arm. The frame was modified and made to measure. Even a tank could not stop James.
After mulling over the changes he wanted to make to this particular part for a few weeks, he decided on cutting the bottom out and made one that was ‘period correct’ as he puts it. For James this was a major step away from what you would describe as the ‘usual stuff’. Having never worked sheet metal before, he was steadily challenging himself to take it a step further.
The result of all this according to the aircraft electrician: “I am fairly pleased on the ride. Very stable and it pulls like a locomotive”.
His comment make one thing clear, he is not easily satisfied and aims for the highest standard. We like that.
For a change, let’s just spend some time on all the stuff Mr. Berreau thought it useful to play around with. We warn you it is an extensive list:
o Modified and reinforced frame
o Cut tail off
o Reinforced rear loop
o Added upper and lower shock mounts
o Ducati Monster sub frame with custom made seat cover
o Tank: Cut bottom out and produced new tank from sheet metal
o All nuts and bolts replaced by new ones, mostly using stainless steel replacements
o Crank lightened and balanced by APE
o Cylinders bored out 1 millimetre
o Street port head
o Hand lapped valves
o Alternator converted to a CBR perm magnet set up
o Full DYNA 2000 ignition coils
o Moto Gadget ‘M unit’
o Sealed converters wherever possible
o Lithium battery
o Mikuni RS34 carburetors
o 6AN fuel line with dry break connector
o Swapped forks for set of Showa USD ones
Billet lower triple and modified upper clamp
o Aprilia wheel
o EBC rotors
o Brembo front master
o Matching Brembo clutch perch
o Custom head light bracket & front fender brackets hand bent and welded
o Triumph 675 swing arm
o Öhlins shocks
o Aprilia wheel