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Project Café! –We’ve Got a Winner!

by Richard Backus

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CB500 Project Cafe, right side
Almost done: Our CB500 is just waiting for the rain to end so we can give it a final sorting. Nice, eh? 

Our 1973 Honda CB500 Four Classics Project Café has a new owner! We set up a sweepstakes for the bike, and drew the winning name on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the 5th Annual Barber Vintage Festival. And the winner is … drum roll please … Dennis Picken of Omaha, Nebraska! “I suppose everybody says this, but I’ve never won anything in my life,” Dennis told us when we called him. “I’m just shocked. I’m really excited, the pictures I’ve seen are really exciting.” 

Pretty cool deal, and better yet, it turns out Dennis is one of us and a regular reader, not some disinterested guy who found us on “I have a 1975 Yamaha RD350. It’s in running order, but I don’t have it licensed. I tend to buy really old, cheap 1970s and 1980s Japanese motorcycles, and unfortunately I have them sitting around and don’t do much with them. I have a KZ Kawasaki and various dirt bikes. I love that era of motorcycles and some of them are too good a bargain to pass up. I’m afraid I have the disease,” Dennis says. His daily rider is a 1987 Honda CBR600 Hurricane. 

Notice, however, that we didn’t say the CB500 is done ... yet. Don’t forget, we’re just a couple of regular guys trying to build a bike in our spare time, which, of course, we don’t really have any of. Between getting out Motorcycle Classics and its two sister publications, Gas Engine Magazine and Farm Collector, we’re never exactly sitting around bored. Throw in a family and an-ever growing list of chores that need to be done around the house, and bike project time tends to get squeezed into the few hours left at the end of the day. Sound familiar? 

CB500 Project Cafe, left side
Left side of our 1973 CB500: At this point it just needs some final detailing and a good running in before we hand it off to new owner Dennis Picken. 

We’re damn close, however. Thanks to some huge help from Ken Tripkos, a former factory-certified Jaguar Master Technician and sometime Norton owner (he’s debating whether to build another right now – abstinence makes the heart grow fonder, don’t you know), we got everything buttoned up on our little CB, right before we loaded it into our trailer for the trip out to the Barber festival. But the lack of a battery and just plain running out of time kept us from the final piece; starting it up. 

We’ll be getting around to that part of the project this coming weekend, and we’ll report back once the bike’s up and running and we’ve had a chance to take it around the block a few times. Once that’s done, we’ll do a photo shoot of the finished project, followed by a full article in the January/February 2010 issue of Motorcycle Classics. 

Thanks to everyone for the huge interest in our little project. Frankly, we’re overwhelmed at the response from readers, following us as we’ve worked on our CB and slowly taken it from a beat and battered little bike ready for the junk yard and transformed it into the lovely machine it is now. Cool stuff, more coming. – Richard Backus