Motorcycle Classics Blogs > MC Dispatch

MC Dispatch

Reader-submitted rides, reviews and stories


The Orphan

by Alison Green


Tags: honda, cb450, custom, orphan,

hondacb450 

I’ve been following the “Found on E-bay” blogs on this site lately, but haven’t yet been tempted. Good thing too, as my shop is now over-full of motorcycles – the latest addition to the flock having appeared out of the blue last week (almost literally). It's a long story – which started innocently over a cup of coffee with long-time friends; the usual topics of family, acquaintances, weather, travel and such lead to the question “Are you still into bikes?” I responded with positive noises. Then the conversation stopper of “Do you want a bike?” 

A bit open-ended for my liking but questioning only resulted in the details that it was a 450 (maybe) and it was blue! 

Well, OK – we’ll go and have a look… especially since the shed in question was less than 2 miles from my home. So arrangements were made to meet at 0900 the following morning at said brother-in-law’s garden shed. 

Cobwebs and mouse nest aside, there sat a very dirty but intact 1982 Honda CM450 Custom – and it had been languishing there since 1993. Unloved and untended. Did I want it? Ownership and manual were included in the deal! Apparently space in said garden shed was becoming of paramount importance (due to a new riding lawnmower in the family). The simple answer would have been NO, but like an abandoned puppy, it just couldn’t be left there to suffer. So home it came (without the mouse-nest – we have our own, thank you). 

An afternoon with a water bucket, WD-40, rags and fine steel wool and it has become a very clean looking little bike with good chrome, acceptable paint, and a seized engine. (I knew that the engine was seized before I brought it home). One week later with the help of some tranny fluid on top of the pistons, and some vigorous bumping in 5th gear, the engine is now un-stuck. The clutch plates are also now functioning as they were designed to do. The battery was removed and sent to disposal. The oil and filter have been changed, the oil pan cleaned, the  plugs changed, and a  minor bend in signal arm straightened. It looks good and it needs a home, but I have neither the inclination nor the space to work on two projects this winter, as I already have a 1969 R60/5 BMW on the work bench. But finding a home for an almost-ready-to-start bike might be tricky.   

It will make someone a very nice ride – but it also needs a home that can deal with a 25 year old bike that will need some attention and on-going maintenance. And November in northern Ontario is not the time of year to be thinking motorcycling as snowflakes are immanent. I can’t bear to put it back out in the cold for the winter, and it is far too snug in the shop with its stable mates. (I like to be able to actually work in my shop – not just squeeze around parked machinery.) What to do? And why did I get into this in the first place? 

I once owned a 1973 Honda 350 – my first bike, and I loved it dearly for the one season that it was my ride. Since then, I have been riding BMW Airheads. I sort-of know how they work and can usually keep them running  – solid, clunky, faithful and quirky – So why introduce a Japanese twin into the mix? Truth be told, I just don’t like to see good machinery left to rot. And these are good little bikes if they are treated well and ridden within their limits. If it does indeed spend the winter with us, I will be obliged to take the project to the next stage and try to get it running. Damn! How did I get myself into this sort of corner in the first place? -- Alison Green