Race to Rebuild: Honda CB1100F, Part 2

The Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle resto-mod Honda CB1100F continues with suspension upgrades.

| November/December 2013

Call it the calm before the storm. At first blush, it might not look like we’ve gotten very far on our Honda CB1100F build. We’ve stripped the bike and we’ve sussed out the front end, but yeah, it doesn’t look like much yet. But just wait, because a storm of change is right on the horizon.

We’ll be the first to admit we’re a little frustrated at just how far we haven’t gotten. Yet we know that’s mostly because we want to “see” more change, because experience tells us we’re actually making OK time. We know from previous builds that it’s the little stuff, the planning and the preparing, that really sucks up time. 
That’s not to suggest that getting from what you see now to our finished bike is a simple matter of just bolting on parts. It’s not. There’s still plenty of fabricating and knuckle bashing to come between now and when our CB1100F takes final form, but now that we’ve settled some basic questions, it’s a lot easier to start making time.

For the record, I should be careful saying “we,” because the only people actually getting grease under their fingernails on this build right now are Herm Narciso and Jason Paul Michaels. They’re the two amigos who run Dime City Cycles in Largo, Fla., who we somehow talked into doing our dirty work. And recently, it’s been mostly Herm tackling the hard work, most notably sorting out what to do with the CB’s suspension before stripping it to the frame for media blasting and powder coating.

The bits and pieces

Looking at our Honda’s suspension, we’d already settled on installing a set of Gazi Sport X shocks at the rear. We put a set on our BMW build, and they looked perfect and worked great. 

Simple enough, but what about the front suspension? Herm has pushed for a front end upgrade from the start, and while the rest of us stumbled on details he decided to just get it done, skillfully grafting a set of upside-down forks from a Suzuki GSXR600 (thanks Sun Coast Cycle Sports) onto our Honda. 
Stripping down the Honda’s headset showed the Gixxer’s steering stem was too short for the Honda’s neck. However, most steering stems are a press fit in the lower yoke. Further, through what’s probably just a quirk of manufacturing evolution, Japanese bikes tend to use the same steering stem bearings, whether roller ball or tapered roller. Knowing this, Herm swapped the Gixxer’s steering stem for the Honda’s and hey presto, the Suzuki front end fit.

There’s a bit more to it than that, of course, as it takes care and skill to remove and refit the steering stem, followed by confirming bearing fit and final assembly. The short story, however, is that it works — and better yet, it looks great. 

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