If there’s one thing we learned from the 1974 BMW R90/6 we transformed from a mild-mannered, worn out tourer into a slick café-styled road bike, it’s the sad fact that we’re too busy making a magazine to build a bike. It’s a problem made worse by the fact that we really enjoy the process: Getting grease under your fingernails has rewards beyond making the hand cleaner industry wealthy. Depending on your bent, it’s just plain fun learning more about what makes old iron tick.
Up to now, we didn’t think we really had a choice, but then we got to talking to Herm Narciso and Jason Paul Michaels at Largo, Fla.-based Dime City Cycles, where the unofficial battle cry appears to be “bring it on.”
Knowing how many custom projects Herm and Jason juggle while simultaneously working their derrières off to build up one of the most successful café/custom bike supply shops in the country, we were somewhat amazed when they said “sure, we could do that,” after we asked if they were interested in helping us with our next build. And “help” is a bit of a misnomer here, because outside of supplying some basic parameters we’ll mostly stand back, watching the build as it unfolds and reporting its progress here. (Check out their portfolio of builds at the Dime City Cycles website.)
To date, we’ve done a mild resto on a 1971 Triumph TR6C, we’ve café’d a 1973 Honda CB500, we’ve bobbed a 2010 Triumph Bonneville, and this year we went café again with our 1974 BMW R90/6, but the next Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle Race to Rebuild will track an entirely new path.
Cafés are cool, no question, and nobody does them better than Herm and Jason. We considered that route again, yet we all agreed we wanted to do something different. To get some feedback, we queried followers on Motorcycle Classics’ and Dairyland Cycle’s Facebook pages about four options we were considering: another café, a street tracker, a resto mod and a modified scrambler. When the discussions were over, our direction was clear; a resto mod it is.
Major attributes of a resto mod include upgraded electrics, carburetion, exhaust and suspension, but with stock styling cues retained. A resto mod is usually significantly altered from stock, but on first blush looks true to its original form: When you look at it, you know what you’re seeing.
That’s easier said than done, because it requires finesse and an artful interpretation of what makes stock look better. That makes this a perfect project for the boys at Dime City Cycles. With Herm’s engineering prowess and Jason’s fabrication talents, they’ve proven themselves capable of producing some of the most beautiful classic café racers to ever roll down the road.
Which brings us to the fun part: the bike, a 1983 Honda CB1100F. A one-year only model, the CB1100F represents the end of the line for Honda’s venerable big-bore air-cooled inline four, an engine with roots in the 1979 CB750, Honda’s first twin cam four. That engine was followed by 900cc and 1,000cc variants, culminating in the 1,062cc CB1100F, after which Honda dropped the big four in favor of quicker revving V4s.
Herm’s already picked up our bike, a three-owner survivor with 24,000 miles in mostly original condition, save for a set of 4-into-1 headers, a Corbin saddle and pod filters in place of the stock airbox. The original paint is feeling its age, but that’s OK because it’ll all get stripped off as Herm and Jason transform our bike from a mildly modified stocker into . . . well, you’ll just have to wait to see. Right now it’s sitting in the middle of the Dime City Cycle warehouse so Herm and Jason walk past it every day, looking for inspiration and pondering options.
Follow the latest updates on Facebook and on our website. Like all our builds, when this one’s done some lucky guy or gal will take it home in the next Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle Race to Rebuild Sweepstakes — it's gonna be sweet. MC