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JMR Customs Honda CB450

Posted on January 10, 2013 by Andrew in Bobber, Café Racer. 63 comments

Decisions, decisions. What colour should I make the tank? Or should the tank be bare metal? How do you coat bare metal so it doesn’t rust? What tires should I choose? Should I choose the same front and back tires or should they be different? How low should it be? If I lower it, will it change the handling? What rims should I use? Should I keep the standard headlight? Do I use pipewrap or not? Do I need fenders? Will the bike attract the cops? Should it be clean or ratty? Will it look weird or will it look cool? Customising a bike involves so many questions. All of them seem insurmountable, yet you somehow know that what makes a great bike is just the final sum of all these tiny little decisions. Hold back on them and you’ll get a bike that blends into the background like a turd at a chocolate festival. Go overboard and you’ll spend your weekends ignoring the chuckles and the rolled eyeballs as you arrive at your local hang. But get it right

Soon the water pipe became jealous of the exhaust pipe’s fancy fiberglass outfit

“Hello, my name is Josh Mott. I’m 22 years old and owner of JMR Customs in Boise, Idaho. I’m a 3rd generation mechanic, racer, and bike builder. I’ve been racing for 10 years in many disciplines such as: flat track, arenacross, endurocross, and desert racing. Currently I’m in the National Hare & Hound series.

From a very early age I’ve helped my dad (Randy Mott) repair, service, and build custom motorcycles. Notable achievements include building a 1200 Sportster that ran an 11 second quarter mile and restoring a 1964 Greeves Challenger. I find a great deal of influence from custom styles: café, street trackers, bobbers, and basically any one-off custom motorcycle.”

“This 1982 CB 450 Honda Nighthawk was originally picked up to part out and sell on eBay. It was roached beyond belief. It had bent forks, a wiring harness that was stripped, and a missing fuel tank. Out of curiosity I thought I’d check the compression and spark to see if it had some sort of working order. It had 175 psi in both cylinders and had spark. I decided to clean the carbs and it fired right up.

I had an idea that I wanted to put a motocross front end, lowered down, on a café style build. I had a 2006 YZ250 Yamaha front end sitting at the shop waiting for a project at the time, it was perfect. I ended up lowering the forks 7 inches to get the right height. As I finished this portion of the build, I then had the idea to mount a mono shock. I used a 2005 TT-R 250 Yamaha shock because it fit really well in the small space I had to work with.”

“The fabrication work included many modifications. I cut the whole back half of the frame clean off to begin the custom portion. I had the older Champion flat track frames in mind where the frame was exposed right below the rear fender. I wanted the seat portion to sit within the frame.

The overall bike length looked shorter than I preferred so I cut the frame by the headset and raked it from the stock 28 degrees to a custom 34 degrees. I center mounted the fuel tank which involved cutting the top of the tank out. While I had the top of the tank out, I mounted a sleek, flush mount gas cap. Custom exhaust pipes were made to fit some after market Ducati mufflers I had, making the bike sound like an older Triumph. The wiring harness was custom made before I installed the motor. I have a key switch flush mounted on the right side of the frame and a start button on the left. There’s a little switch dashboard mounted under the coil and tank. There’s a high/low beam and a switch that turns on all the lights. I made a box that’s mounted underneath the motor – it holds the battery, starter solenoid, fuse box, and regulator rectifier.”

Down on their luck, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles considered stealing the bike for drug money

“I pulled the motor all the way down to replace the cam chain, rings and gaskets. While I was in there I cleaned up the intake and exhaust ports in the head. A Magura hydraulic clutch for a KX 450 was installed to replace the stock component. For a speedometer, I used a Trail Tech Vapor and made a mount that was clean to hide all the wires.

I’m very stoked on how this bike came together. It’s very unique in the sense that there’s really no name for what type of build it is. It has elements of café, motocross, and street tracker all in rolled into one. Anyway, thanks for looking.”

  • baz

    A real original. The phrase ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ springs to mind. The balance is just right to my eye, even if a lot of the parts were ‘lying around’. I especially like that seat.

    Loads of respect for your work, from this armchair enthusiast.

    • Moshjott

      Thank you that means a lot

  • Edshreds

    Wow. Love those tyres!

  • Ralph

    Both F+R wheels spoked or comstars would be a good start… thus making it less “unique” but more desirable.

    • Moshjott

      A lot of people don’t like the choice in wheels but just as many of them like them. I went with the stock rear cb wheel and the yz 250 front wheel that fit the front end. I wanted it to be on a whole other level of being different.

  • Lewn

    I bet this is really great to ride and you can really see the MX influences and the work done is really good and the mix of styles really does work well kinda like a tracker-motard.

    Visually, even though it has a good stance I’m not that keen on the purple tank browny orange seat, mismatching wheels, old style tires and pipe wrap. I think it would look way sweeter with other colors stainless headers, modern tires and spoke wheels front and back.

    Idea 10/10

  • nathas909

    My god I absolutely love it.
    That sub frame and seat are just awesome. When we were or dying to see something new done with that, there you come along and show something that just looks great!!!
    I love it….. Very inspiring…..

  • arnold

    New and better frames for old reliable motors. I like the concept. Still looking for a Rickman for my beezers and the coin to purchase when I find it.ald

    • Moshjott

      stock frame motified

      • arnold

        and raked the head, fitted new suspension front and rear. A lot of good work. Seems to me that the only thing you left alone were the motor mounts.

  • Glad to see another Boise builder getting us on the map. I’m hoping to have my next two builds on here as this spring.

  • MotoTrooper

    Josh, good on you for following your passion. You’ve got a great foundation of skills and ability. Having said that and also being one who uses what’s at hand around me to build bikes, the quote, “Discretion is the better part of valor” has a profound relevance in creating something bold. I appreciate the form you created and I think you should let it stand on its own and it will do so by getting rid of distracting elements.

    THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY but if it needs pipe wrap -change it to black, grips -black, Renthal pad -gone, tank -neutral color, front spokes -black, seat -I love it don’t freakin’ touch it. I look forward to what you show us next.

  • BoxerFanatic

    The Purple and tan color is what caught my eye today, while most custom bikes around here and other similar websites lately have been running together a bit. Not that these bikes are bad… it is just sort of ‘another verse of the same song’ syndrome, and I fully admit it may be my mood about it, rather than the bikes themselves. The purple and tan certainly grabbed my eye, today, though.

    Not sure about the large front wheel… but to each their own.

  • Peter Ayers

    It all works for me! Flat track looking wheel and tire set with tires that will slide, excellent! An old twin in a better frame so you can have some fun with all that slidey-ness and sound mean to boot, the hits just keep on comin’ White pipe wrap and grips on a purple tank with a butterscotch colored seat, well, it’s your bike and forget the nay-sayers!

    Ride the bejeebus out of it and enjoy every minute!

  • Now&Zen

    I really don’t want to like this ( pipe wrap – Firestones – purple tank etc ) …. but the problem is …… I really do . Hmmn . I guess its a case of the sum being greater than the individual parts … or something ……. ” Stella ! …….. I’m so confused !!! “

  • blackbird

    yeah baby!

  • Nice work on the rear subframe and mono-shock – that was a lot of work! It should be a blast to ride.

  • DJump

    This build turned out awesome. I think you have accomplished what so many others try and fail to obtain. Clean but flashy at the same time. Well done

  • Park

    So much character. Bravo

  • Mike Cambareri

    I would say it was absurd, if it didn’t look so damn cool. The mismatched wheels don’t really jive with me, but the shape of the tail section, the stance, and that color… Friggin’ brilliant, man. Keep it up.

  • Oldnbroken

    Well that rings my bell Sir. From the use of opposites in colour on the seat/tank combination to the dirt bike style wheel size difference. All it needs for me is a few bits to get it on the road where I am and I would be happily blatting on down the track for days on end.


    • Oldnbroken

      P.S. “Track” refers to the Stuart Highway and its unsealed tributaries.

      • arnold

        Hey , the nightly news shows pretty bad drought and fire conditions down there.

        Any thing we can do to help?

        ( photo blatently borrowed from Panhead Jim’s site.)

        • Oldnbroken

          Yep the southern states are getting a bit of a singe at the moment and Tasmania looks like it has just about burnt to the ground. Lots of property damage but I have not heard of any lives lost yet (touch wood, not the American kind).
          I am sure there will be some sort of donation lines set up but the Govt usually does a fair job of helping in disasters like this( I think they have a specific fund set up as it happens often).
          Where i live burns every year usually without much damage so we are used to beautiful sunsets through a filter of smoke in the “Dry Season” but those southern states burn big time when they go, good luck to all of them and thanks for the thoughts Arnold.


  • kevin__fullerton

    Yes! Unique bike, great craftsmanship.

  • Wilde Child

    It’s strange how many people comment on this website with such authority. “No firestones, you’re not allowed to”, “No mismatching colours”, “No stubble on that man’s face, he is a hipster” … Why?

    It’s a ‘custom’ bike yes?

    Customised: To make or alter to individual or personal specifications.

    Now I’m not one for definition or applying rules, but since a lot of people here are, why not pay attention to why you’re here in the first place?

    Art is not for you to interject and tell the artist what YOU want to see from it, art is meant to evoke emotion or thought. YOU as an audience are to try and understand just what it is all about. No pre-conceived ideas. No authority.

    I’m glad Josh and other’s who truly express themselves through their own art are still pushing whatever it is they wish to be doing, because if it weren’t for people like them – we would all be producing the same old materialistic rubbish.

    • It’s a dialogue of opinions, not a critique. Many posts are people referring to their own tastes, not necessarily trying (or even wanting to try) to understand the builders aesthetic.

      The Firestone/pipe wrap thing is an ongoing conversation that has taken on a life of it’s own. I doubt any bikes on here are made or broken by the builders use of these “fashion statements.”

      And as for art, it is a two way street. It isn’t the viewer sitting back and simply absorbing the builder’s creativity. Most art is meant for the viewer to bring something of himself, otherwise, there is no point.

      • Moshjott

        I really appreciate all feedback i get whether its negative or positive. In the the end I built the bike in my own image and creativity. FYI i didn’t use a Firestone its a Shinko which is a company that bought out Yokohoma motorcycle tires. Thanks for all the comments!

        • I know. My post was in response to the other comment, not literally what you used or didn’t use. It is a Firestone looking tire, but it really doesn’t matter to me either way. I generally make Firestone/pipe wrap comments to get a rise out of people who are worried about those things. I agree with Mule, though. Your work on the back end is outstanding. FYI: I’m using Shinkos on my bike too; mine are more of a Dunlop style but way cheaper. Cheaper than actual Firestones for sure.

        • I use Shinko trials tires on my vintage desert sled style bike because I couldn’t find the right sizes in any other brand without mixing brands front and rear. For my purpose they work fine, wear well and were available.

    • Lewn

      Wilde Child, I can’t agree. It’s a bike, not art. Art has no function other than to be mused, bikes are functional objects to be ridden. If a bike is purely art and functionality would become irrelevant, for example you’d go with heavy wheels because they look better, you’d have the bikes hung on walls in restaurants and corporate headquarters that were made on a documentary TV channel, surely that’s just a sculpture.

      I view these comments as a useful tool for myself and other potential bike builders or custom bike customers and even possibly some bike builders to ask themselves questions. What’s actually good? Why do we choose those tires? This part? That part? Do we need parts to look 1950s/60s/70s/futuristic etc? Do we need a hump in the back of the seat? Can a seat that is actually 2mm thick actually comfortable? Should we use rearsets? Should you take off the front fender completely, cut it or leave it? Is retro fitting a monoshock a good idea? How much is a restoration or a custom? Should we have stainless headers, ceramic painted powder coated or wrapped? Why? Etc etc etc………..

      After this mix we come to either a consensus on what most people like, based not on fashion, but for actual reasons or at worst think about what others have said and maybe be influenced in a new direction or we just ignore everyone anyway. Also people can ask questions, even slammed by the builder for being completely wrong eat humble pie (like me) and learn something that way.

      In some ways this is the wrong time for the comments section, it would really be better to comment during the bike build than after.

      • Sproggy

        What makes you think that bikes and art are mutually exclusive? “Art has
        no function other than to be mused” – what a sad world you live in when
        you can’t see art in bridges, buildings, vehicles etc. Their respective
        architects/designers would be very disappointed to hear a statement
        like that. OK, some are purely functional with little aesthetic appeal
        but certainly not all of them. Open your eyes and you’ll see art
        everywhere. Yes, even in bikes!

        • Lewn

          Maybe you call it ‘art’, I call it ‘beauty from functional design’, maybe you call it ‘God’ maybe I call it ‘the Cosmos’. Like a butterfly wing or bird’s song there is functionality first and that design makes the beauty. The point of building a motorcycle is not to ‘evoke emotion’ or thought when it is mused upon from the pretty colors and the way the shiny bits shine. The point is: To go fast and go around corners and scratch thine knee or taketh the machine to a low lean angle, aka: ride, live be free! That’s the emotional appeal for me.

          • That’s a good reason for liking bikes. I tend to agree that form follows function for bikes, but some of those forms can get pretty wacky…and cool.

          • art vs. function shouldn’t be decided by you or anyone else viewing this site. It should be decided by the builder and the builder only. Its his prerogative. And if u think vintage bikes are worthy of knee dragging, in the hands of the average MC rider you’re delusional. Therefore choose form over function I say. What’s the point in making a CB look like a CBR?

            On to the builder. I kind of thought I was over CBs but I dig the mix of styles and parts. Well done!

        • Marcel Duchamp would use everyday common industrial objects and but them on display for their sheer aesthetic features. The beauty of function.

      • Now&Zen

        Wilde Child – To put it simply and succinctly …. if you’re going to put your work .. be it art / craft/music .. what ever out into the general public : At the point you’ve made the decision to do so … by implication you’ve given the general public both permission and the right to either compliment or criticize your work as is their want . You don’t like that basic rule ? Keep your work to yourself . Otherwise those are the rules of the game . Play by them or stay out . Art , Music and Craft ( therefore by implication custom bike building is included ) are no place for the weak to participate publicly . From one who knows ( and everyone else here knows why )

      • You make some excellent points. I would, however, have to disagree about motorcycles not being art. As sproggy says, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In the art world, we have fine art and we have commercial art. Both use similar techniques, but with different goals in mind. For it to be a motorcycle, it must have the function (good, bad, or ugly) of a motorcycle. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit as far as what may be designed to function as a motorcycle. And motorcycles have been showing as both fine art (literally hung on walls,) and as functional art.

      • Oldnbroken

        Utilitarian art.


        • I have one bike that as we speak is just pure art. Once I pull the carbs and clean them and put them back on I hope my bike will again be functional or ultilitarian art. Poor Marcel Duchamp didn’t know what he was missing. Gosh I love the smell of carb cleaner in the morning! How we suffer for our art. ;^}

    • arnold

      I’ll tell you right now, if an artist tells me what to think of his work, he’s off our gallery list.
      What a world centered, insecure, narcissistic attitude.
      Don’t make me mention Poker Playing Dogs on velvet again.

      • I prefer fat Elvis on black velvet myself. ;^} or matadors.

  • Purple, my favorite color. Nice seat design. Digital gauges work, but I like the look of analog gauges. Looks good, but the wheels throw me a little.

  • Shaun

    Does she have a drive chain sir? I’d like to see the other side as well. I think as far as wretched nighthawk 450s go, this is perhaps one of the better to look at. Its a model that not many love then or now. I would dig something like that with loads of suspension travel for the series of potholes and cracks they call pavement here in Richmond Va.

  • I like the USD forks and 21″ road tire. Overall looks really good. I think I’d lose the barpad though. Doesn’t fit with the rest of the package.

  • Brilliant. Just brilliant. Throw some pics of it in an oval dirt track pronto.

  • Tron

    Fuck yeah. This is what customizing bikes is all about. Using a collection of things that were not originally meant for the bike, and getting them to work, sometimes better then before.

    You did a great job on this man, and your being humble about it.

    If it had a rear 21and dual sport tires it would be perfect in my opinion. For function, as well as looks.

    How does it ride?

    • I could see the 21 rear. It would need a low stance, though.

  • This made my heart race! Loving the shape of the frame and seat, wonderful how well-fitted the componentry is.

  • revdub

    Awesome custom work. The rear frame and mono shock are so cool. I’m surprised the purple debate hasn’t been reopened with this one. If you’re this talented at 22, I can only imagine what you’ll be building in the future.

  • New Haven Neil

    I pretty much like this, but those tyres would have you on your arse in five minutes over here. (Isle of Man – TT land). A touch of practicality is needed occasionally, but I don’t suppose it rains much in Idaho in comparison. Making a 2-2 exhaust is good, I like the balance that gives, plus those motors run lousy in the mid range on a 2-1. Lurve the tank colour, not sure why, but I do!

  • James

    Lots of great craftsmanship and fabrication to be applauded here. My only nitpick is about swingarm bracing. Maybe it’s not an issue, given that it’s a relatively light bike, but I imagine there would be rather strong bending force against the swingarm, coming up from the wheel with the shock pushing down, and I expect the twin-shock swingarm wasn’t designed to take force like that. That being said, it looks like Josh is clearly a handy enough fabricator to take on that project, if needed.

    Nice work!

    • moshjott

      Ha i never thought anyone would even bring that up. I did take a strong look at that when i was fabing the rear end. If you look really close you can see I added a braces from where the stock shock mount is to where the weak point of the swing arm is. I don’t think its going to be an issue to much.

      • James

        I shouldn’t have doubted. I only noticed because I’ve contemplated monoshock conversions on these old Hondas a few times. Again, nice work!


    Match the grips and Renthal pad to the seat and you have a bitchin bike! Purple Rain…

  • New Haven Neil

    Yeah, OK, I wasn’t looking too close, the tank took my gaze to the front….I missed the monoshock! Love the resultant tidied up rear frame, where the top shock mounts used to be looks like a 50’s BSA frame almost. Neat, neat bike, breaks the mould a bit for sure.

  • Craig Lang

    Would love to see a video of this rolling,or with a person on it. Are there any?

    • Moshjott

  • $30724656

    Think about using less pipe wrap next time.

  • Mikael Lewis

    Very cool! Is it a bobber, a tracker, a brat?? I don’t know what it is but it is cool!

  • Lari Kemiläinen

    That’s one sweet ride! I’m starting a CJ250 build to make it a fun dirt bike, updated with modern suspension, and this confirms to me that one can work that combination out.