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’78 Honda Goldwing Cafe Racer – ‘Vyper’


Posted on January 21, 2012 by Andrew in Bobber, Café Racer, Classic. 26 comments

It’s funny how some types of bikes just get under your skin. And I know I speak for both Scott and myself when I say that Honda Goldwings are definitely one of them. Along with the CX500s, Goldwings seem to be dripping with that inexplicable coolness that gives any custom build a killer cool factor even before the first spanner has even touched the WD-40 drenched rusty bolt. But what exactly is it? I’m not really sure – but Jah knows the flat four, solid silhouette and chunky build don’t hurt. And the in-tank beer storage compartment? Japanese genius. I can see Honda-san sinking a few tinnies with the designers after hours and giving them a well earnt slap on the back in between burn-outs and practical jokes involving no-pants-sushi-balancing races. Richard “Sunnbobb” Matrass is similarly down with this whole Goldwing thing. Despite a bad first date, it was still love at first sight. And the marriage? Well just look at these shots and take a read of what Richard has to say…

After the event, the farmer realised that racing for pink slips wasn’t such a good idea

“I live and work on Bradshaw Road near LaConner, WA; my builds are badged under the name Bradshaw Bikes.  While working on builds, Bradshaw also produces custom Vyper clutch and brake levers, and provides polishing services to the older Goldwing community.

My buddy Hamster and I took the ferry across the Sound to take a look at a 78 Honda Goldwing advertised for sale. “Yeah, it fires up and has a nice fairing on it, been sitting outside for a couple months” said the owner over the phone. When we got there, we didn’t know what to think. It was the Ugly Duckling. The Bates fairing was so ugly it gave the bike some kinda charm, even covered with pine needles and moss. Hamster commented it looked like a Viper fighter from Star Wars. There was something about it that had me digging in my wallet and forking over some coin. I rolled it into my shop, stripped it down to the frame, and cleaned everything up. I brought it back up and rode it around as a rat for a spell, while checking out some interesting builds over on the NGW CLUB site.  I came to really like the profile of the GL1100 “tanks” and some of the slammed café ideas they were playing with.”

 

“The wheels in my head engaged in a burnout,
thinking about the GL1100 customs I had seen”

 

“I live in a valley with wide expanses of open paved rural roads.  Winding roads radiate in all directions out of the Valley. My machine had to tear up those rural straight-aways and be capable on the twistys. This was not going to be a long distance cruising machine, rather, a get to business rural fighter. At the time, my fabrication skills far outweighed my fabrication equipment, so this was going to be built with as many existing parts as possible. A guy drove nonstop from Nevada to buy that fairing from me. While he was in the shop he mentioned the idea of using some rims from an 83 GL. The wheels in my head engaged in a burnout, thinking about the GL1100 customs I had seen. I started playing with different rims, brake systems, even turning out some custom levers. Things began to fall together as an 81 shelter (tank) was fit, rear shocks explored, handlebars swapped around, and numerous other equipment options tried.”

“Building replica handlebars with broomsticks and duct tape made the Clubmans an obvious choice. Not too low, not too high, the right angle to allow wind to lift some pressure off my arms at speed. Progressive springs and an old-school fork brace were added up front. I added gaiters just ‘cause they looked cool with the fork brace. The front fender is from an 83 magna, and the rear is a trimmed off trailer fender purchased from a trailer supply company. I tracked down some old GM bronze block paint, shot the body, laid in the checker board and graphics, and hit it with about four coats of clear. The number is a tribute to my father, who used to race stock cars in the early fifties under the “18” plate.

A seat pan was cut from the old seat. It was sculpted with new foam, and a carbon fiber style cover was upholstered. Lighting for the rear end was converted to LED. A small LED was mounted on the tail end of the frame to light the tag. The dual piston calipers were modified off of an 82 GL. The vented rotors were taken off an 84, drilled and mounted.  Stainless lines replaced old spongy OEM brake lines. Braking became two fingered. A cast Lester rear rim was polished and added to complement the front 83GL cast rim.

The OEM mechanical systems were replaced with an electronic ignition and fuel pump. The stock coolant tank was removed and a custom tanked strapped to the front frame down tube. I strived to keep the build clean, shunning typical Goldwing adornment. Everything had to have a purpose, a necessity, to be on the bike. For the cockpit, I removed all the large OEM gauges. A mini speedo for a CB750 was fitted, and the instrument lights were swapped to a 74 Honda 450 handlebar clamp cluster. The stock gauges were moved and recessed into the shelter lid. Wanting big light, I added a Marchel headlight from an old Alpha Romeo. The thing sets roadside vegetation on fire. A Stebel air horn fit perfectly under the frame near the engine. Napoleon Mirrors were hung on the bars. The exhaust headers were wrapped and joined to an exhaust system from a VF1000.

The build took about 6 weeks after I finally got the design in my head. I often wonder if it wasn’t just a puzzle, lying on the shop floor, ready to be made into a picture of something I had never seen before. Oh, and Hamster still sulks about not having grabbed his wallet first… ”

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft…

Richard tells us that he’s currently building a supercharged cafe/sportsbike and an “evil” bobber in his shop for some very lucky customers. If they manage to come up to scratch in the same way this little Goldie has, no doubt he’ll be sitting pretty on a backlog of build requests for a good few years. As always, the moment he finishes them, you’ll see ’em here.

PS. Tired of being nude? Check out our range of bespoke tees in the Pipeburn store.








  • Awesome.

  • I gotta do one of these Goldwings. They just look too cool.

  • Philip B

    I agree Andrew, theres something about Goldies that makes such an intriguing cafe/rat rod.

    Well done on the build!

  • Kyle

    Tsk… Vipers are from Battlestar Galactica, not Star Wars.

    That it a very tasteful restoration/mod.

  • Jack

    i never thought id see the words “goldwing” and “inexplicable coolness” in one sentence. it still looks like its missing two wheels.

  • revdub

    The before shot is classic. Amazing transformation.

  • Paddy

    Get a load of the fairing on the original! I love these GoldWing transformations. 

  • Paddy

    Check out Naked GoldWings for some more amazing cafe Wings.

  • Very, very nice! Nothing to add or removed.. maybe wire wheels??

  • Sunnbobb

    Thanks guys, your Kudos are much appreciated.

    – Sunny

  • guest17

    caFAT racer…

  • S1LvER

    Cool bike… but why does it packing passenger footpegs?

    • Codysorells

      i think there rear sets right ? 

  • Codysorells

    I always looked at the Honda gold wing as a huge beached whale =) but all chopped down looks like a huge mean engine and tons of fun to ride nice job i didnt know it could be done

    http://cafe-racerhub.com/ 

  • swordy

    i love these “goldies” they look great caffed

  • Rwjohns

    Way cool custom, I ahve a couple of oldwings in my posession, have been wanting to do a project like this one. Bought a Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic to quell my desire,temporarily.
    Great Build!

  • Robert Carattini

    I want you guys to know that Pipeburn and this particular bike really inspired me to do my own build. I went out and purchased a Goldwing and my son and I are just about done with the teardown. He’s 17 and it’s been a real bonding experience, when we finish this one we are planning on doing one for him. I would like to be able to pick Richards brain a little about his bike if he’s open to that.

    Thank you Gentleman for the inspiration!

  • dtbaker

    Somehow, that engine just looks right on a low, fat bike. Ural-like but with reliability -hope that’s not an insult, it’s really a great lookin’ bike. Nice one.

  • William Wallace

    That’s a lot of work to make a cafe racer…

  • Jason Caron

    I’m having an issue with my bars. I have a some clubman handle bars, but there are no holes in them so I can run my wires clean. I keep looking at pictures, but I can’t see any good examples, is it even possible and is anyone else doing this or are they buying new controls too.

  • Joe

    I just bought a goldwing 82 now i need to initiate this wondeful project !! I had paid it 350$ 🙂

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