Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

1981 Honda CM400 – Retro Moto


Posted on July 9, 2013 by Andrew in Café Racer, Racer. 27 comments

We’ve been at this whole posting-beautiful-custom-bikes-on-a-blog thing for a while now, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there’s not much we haven’t seen. Sex. Drugs. Rock ‘n’ (throttle) roll. It’s all old news as far as we’re concerned. But then, just when you think nothing could surprise you, a bike comes straight out of left field and knocks you for six. You see, this is the only bike we can remember that has appeared more than once on Pipeburn. And with some simple additions, it’s builder has managed to create something that’s changed so completely from where it was only four months ago, he had to correct us when we mistakenly called it his ‘new’ bike. Meet Retro Moto’s CM400, version two point woah.

We began by asking Junior what he’d changed since we last spoke. “I the last four months I’ve built a new swing arm from scratch with a 3 inch extension, added some XR1200 shocks and changed the geometry to account for the heftier springs. I’ve also built an on-fork headlight that was rig welded with copper. And of course, there’s the fairing.”

Junior was invited to The One Show in Austin and wanted to do something to really stand out. “With only 6 days to go, I worked like a madman and somehow got it finished the night before. It was inspired by 60’s racers and WWII fighter planes. It’s extremely light and totally functional; it was a real fight to ride at highway speeds before, but since this is my daily rider I wanted something to smooth it out and it worked perfectly. I also get a lot better mileage.”

“I wanted a really round front, since most other fairings are more flat. I guess that was inspired by the nose cones of old aircraft. I set out to get the nose made from one piece of metal but I realized that the whole piece wouldn’t fit through the English wheel. There is at least 30 hours just in the nose itself.”

The process started with the hammer and a sandbag, and then shrinking or stretching the metal out to remove any marks. Then repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Apparently it took a lot of pressure and strength to get the compound curve of the nose just right. Junior also wanted it to be an all alloy affair, so he decided to go without a windscreen. “In my humble opinion, it flows better with the lines of the bike.”

“We wanted it to look like it was doing the ton standing still. Originally, I planned an offset headlight but I couldn’t bring myself to cut a whole in the fairing.” Junior also pointed out that the number five on the fairing is for his wife, who (obviously) allows him to spend so too much time in the shop. He’s also applied the stickers, sourced from friends and local shops, as a hat tip to thank them. “The biggest lesson I learned was that even though I finished it on time, it kicked my ass. More time is always your friend.”

To wrap things up, we thought we’d mention that Junior and Retro Moto will soon be the real, full-time deal. “I’ve recently been a part-time shop, but I am currently ramping up to be 100% by the end of the year. So there will be a lot more bikes coming out of Retro Moto.” I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing him the best of luck. Let’s just hope our eyeballs can stand all those extra doses of coolness.

(Photos by the silly talented Dale Martin)








  • AndrewC

    Thank the f*ck that someone finally gets what custom is really about. This is many ideas, uniquely combined. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea; but that’s the point. Bravo!

  • cafematty

    All who know Junior, know he’s an absolute madman, and generally awesome dude. Congrats bro. *fistbump*

  • Brandon LaJoie

    Photo credit actually goes to the even sillier talented Dale Martin of http://dalemartinphoto.com/

    • Fixed. And can I just say, they are some of the nicest photos we’ve had the pleasure of featuring. Amazing work.

      • Brandon LaJoie

        Much appreciated!

  • Pepper Yandell

    Dale Martin took these pictures.

  • itsmefool

    Coolness indeed! I loves it! One question: that headlight is street legal here in Texas? Dumb question, I know, but he did say it’s his daily driver, so it’s fair. I’d also like to know where he put the license tag, yet that would be more than one question. Awesome job, Junior!

    • It wouldn’t even be close to legal here in Sydney…

    • The last time I got my safety inspection sticker at the lcoal quick lube it was pretty much:
      low beam – check
      hi beam – check
      tail light – check
      brake light – check
      left turn, right turn – check, check. Pay your money, here’s your sticker.
      Oh yeah, this is after the accelerate and put on the brakes when you get to the yellow line test.

      • itsmefool

        Yeah, but you didn’t move your headlight down a foot or so from the stock location either, didja Manx? I’m thinking unless Junior “knows a guy,” he would’ve gotten dinged for having a headlight with a blind spot….but maybe not.

      • Chris Gagnon

        Here in Virginia, you just have to have DOT approved Headlight, tail/brake light and a mirror on the LH side. No restrictions on where they are, as long as everything points the right way. Thanks to the squids, the tag has to be equal with the centerline of the rear axle or to the rear of it.

        • El_D

          Here in Canukistan, you have to have working signal lights on registration inspection, but nothing says you have to have them after that. If they`re there they have to work tho`.
          Most cop`s here don`t know that & will harass you anyway.

        • itsmefool

          Oh, yeah, Virginia is a bastion of vehicle freedom…dang, dude, you can’t even tint your car windows there! With that in mind, it’s surprising how easy-going they are with motorcycles.

    • taka-tz

      In Texas the headlight must be between 24″ to 54″ from the middle of the light to ground level on all motor vehicles.

    • coldsunshine

      In California, I have no freaking idea where the lights can go. But being California, I’m sure it’s for my own protection.

  • Kawzombie

    righteous !!!

  • Jorgan

    As good a CM as you’ll ever see. Very nice!!

  • Lars Gustavsson

    A fantastic bike. A sand bag, hammer and some metal can be transformed into wonders by a good craftsman. The tool marks and the “good enough to race” feel to the bike makes this bike my no1 on Pipeburn ever:)
    Keep up the good work Retro moto

  • Mark Hawwa

    This makes me horny.

  • Grendel Medlord

    Normally, I’m not a fan of fairings. But this is like staring at Scarlet Johansson’s cleavage!

    • coldsunshine

      No it isn’t.

      • Speak for yourself.

        • coldsunshine

          Between Scarlett and that fairing, I’m afraid the bike would be sitting cold and lonely. Actually, she’d probably take off on the bike and I’D be left sitting cold and lonely…

  • Tron

    wow. the metal work blows my mind.

  • So sick. Really like it!!

  • Ke3s

    One of the best looking bikes on this blog ever