High-Mileage Classics: 81,000-mile 1981 Honda CB900F

| 3/2/2011 10:52:11 AM

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honda cb900f 
Karl Baumann's 1981 Honda CB900F has logged almost 81,000 miles. 

In the summer of 2004, I decided I wanted to get back into motorcycling after 18 years out of the saddle. I had owned a few dirt bikes as a teen, and in 1982 I bought a 1981 Honda CB900F with money earned from my after-school job. It was a black beauty that I loved to ride to school, to my part-time job and on weekends into the countryside around my home. I loved that bike, and would have kept it longer but needed cash to fund a six-month volunteer work trip to Brazil in 1985.

When I returned, I finished university, met my wife, got a job, had kids … you know the story. I didn’t ride again until the summer of 2004, when a friend bought a 1985 Yamaha FJ1100. One ride and I was hooked again.

I set out to find a good, cheap, older bike, and by pure coincidence bought a 1981 Honda CB900F. It wasn’t a black beauty (the previous owner had painted it orange), but it ran as smooth as I remembered and it made me feel 18 again. It had about 46,000 miles on it, and I thought I’d ride it for a year or two and then move on to something newer.

It ran flawlessly, and I didn’t do much to it other than replace what it needed to make it road worthy; tires, sprockets, chain and steering head bearings. It had a Hondaline fairing like on a Prolink CBX, which made it a pleasure to explore the roads on two wheels again.

I probably would have left it that way, but I happened upon a 900F with a burned out engine and only 10,000 miles on it that had been sitting since 1983 in a garage in Toronto. The bodywork was faded but completely straight, and the exhaust was almost mint, so this became the donor bike for my bike.