The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Mike Common’s custom Honda CBX. Photos courtesy Mike Common.
My long-serving Yamaha SR500 tossed me into a ditch a few years back. Part of my laundry list of injuries was a severe concussion. The neurologist I was seeing recommended that I start doing mechanics again (I work for a Toyota dealer) as soon as possible to develop my motor skills.
I had secretly been scouring adverts online for CBXs and managed to track one to an owner 1-1/2 hours from my place. My buddy, Gordie, drove us out for a look. Owing to my injuries, I couldn’t try the bike, but the accommodating owner did a few passes on it in front of us for our gratification. A deal was duly struck, and a month after leaving the hospital the “X” sat in front of my tiny garage.
I savaged my Visa card with online purchases and in short order, boxes were hurriedly whisked into the tiny garage away from the ever-vigilant(ish) gaze of my wife.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 suspension was grafted on, as was a Ducati Monster saddle. The rear subframe? Don't tell my wife, but SOMEHOW her lawn chair went missing! Headlights? $10 backup lights (modded for HIDs) for tractor-trailers. Save your cash where you can, right? To wit, the upper mount for the rear shock is a modded foot from a car jack. Fit up quite well, actually. The rear suspension/chain alignment/wiring/carb and motor work kept me up more than a few nights. I had to constantly remind myself that I was doing this for fun.
It got punched out to 1150cc as well. There was nothing for it, cylinder #1 was too corroded to save. I HAD to do it! That's my story, and I’m sticking to it :-) For a while there it seemed most times I looked at it, it cost me money.
I tacked everything into place and trusted the final welding to a good, certified friend. I painted it beside my house. The kid’s old swing set made an excellent place to hang the frame and mags while spraying.
Was it worth it? More than I can say! Funny, when they were first on the market, I had nothing but loathing for CBXs. Too expensive, too complicated, too heavy, too much! Now I can’t stop singing their praises. I've been lucky enough to have owned a bunch of bikes, but none ever drew the attention of folks or were as much pure fun to ride as this one. I kick myself for having waited so long to, finally, get one.
It’s not that I wanted to build the bike, the doctor ordered me to do it.
Good news, the prescription worked. The only side effect is a BIG dumb smile I can’t get off my face.
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