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76′ Honda CB750 by Raccia Motorcycles


Posted on July 21st, by Scott in Café Racer, Classic. 25 comments

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It’s not every day you get stalked by a Hollywood actor to build you a bike. But that’s exactly what happened to Mike LaFountain from Raccia Motorcycles. One day he receives a phone call from motorcycle nut and actor Ryan Reynolds asking to build him his dream bike. Ryan has a nice collection of motorcycles, but the bike that started it all when he was a teenager was a 1976 CB750. We were lucky enough to ask Ryan a few questions about this project and his passion for old CB’s…

How did you discover Mike from Raccia Motorcycles? Did you see a certain bike he built?

I found Mike through countless hours of Internet stalking. I’ve always been a little obsessed with 70’s Honda CB’s. Admittedly, even more so as they rose in popularity yet again these past 10 years. Mike had done a couple of builds which stopped me in my tracks. It never occurred to me I could probably just email him through his website and inquire about a project. But I did just that and we jumped into this thing together.

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What was the brief to Mike?

Not to get overly romantic about it, (although I suppose I’m preaching to the converted here at Pipeburn) but Wabi-Sabi was the inspiration. It’s a Japanese term which basically embraces a kind of beauty which is imperfect. Basically finding perfection in imperfection. I wanted the bike to be mechanically sound, but the aesthetic raw, strong and timeless. I didn’t want anything glossy, or flashy. I wanted it to feel like a bike you’d go to war on. Mike made the vision a reality. In spades.

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Did you have a specific donor bike in mind? Or were you open to options?

The only aspect I was rigid on, was the donor machine had to be a 76 CB. When I was a kid in Vancouver, I learned to ride on a woefully neglected 1976 CB750. I bought the thing for $600 worth of hard earned paper-route money. The bike was battered, abused and rough. It wore its scars in the manner of an aging prizefighter.

Riding it was not unlike ferrying myself to and fro on a pipe-bomb made out of duct tape and future hospital bills. But god, I loved that thing. It was an extension of myself. I’d have dragged it to bed with me at night if my landlord (my father) hadn’t surgically installed eyeballs to the back of his head.

Part of the romance I had with the bike was the two years of friction it left in its wake. When my Dad found out I’d bought the thing, he started using his “inside voice” to accentuate the three new veins growing out of his forehead. My older brother had crashed an interceptor 750 a few years earlier and nearly ate it for good. Understandably, bikes were not a welcome item at our household.

Rightly or wrongly, I fought for that old CB. I went to war for it. Despite the fact filling it with a tank of gas would likely double its value, it represented independence and freedom. Having a bike was as if I’d invited in a clear and direct path to a different life. Being young and dumb and frivolous, things changed soon enough.

Before moving to Los Angeles at 18 years old, I sold it to a local no gooder named Nick, who’d turned it into a fucking chopper. Not a fitting end to a bike that changed my life. At the time, I felt a fitting end to Nick might be a mandatory sterilization program, or at minimum, some sort of messy stabbing death – but there’s an ass for every seat as they say. And nobody forced me to sell it to him.

I think Nick works on Wall Street now. Selling a slightly fancier kind of drug. A fitting occupation for his mercenary sensibility and lead-pipe cruelty.

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How do you like the finished product? How’s she ride?

I’m lucky to be in the position to have someone build me a bike. Especially one like this. I really believe money’s better spent on an experience than a particular “thing”. Be it a night out for dinner or a trip somewhere you’ve never been. This bike is certainly a “thing” but moreover, it’s an experience. And of course, it can take me to dinner – or some place I’ve never been. And above all, I’m really grateful to Mike and the countless hours of sweat he spilled to build this ride.

It’s runs better than I could ever imagine. More than anything, it feels exactly like my old bike went to heaven and came back, somehow better – yet the same – if that makes any sense.

There’s no narcotic more powerful than nostalgia, and every second I’m on the bike, I feel like I just snatched a piece of misspent youth back and washed it clean. The only strange part, is the fact there’s literally nothing wrong with the motorcycle. And nobody to fight me for owning it.

It runs like it just came off the assembly line, but looks as though it were ridden to my home in New York from Japan. Including the large chunk of road which goes underwater. I’ve already put 700 miles on it and it refuses to frustrate me. That said, I won’t be dragging it to bed anytime soon.

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What other bikes have you got in your garage? 

I own about 8 bikes, including A couple of old Triumphs, a 1962 BMW R60/Sidecar and a very special Egli-Vincent Godet. I say, “about” because I bought an old beat-to-shit and brake-less BMW I rode in the movie Safe House. We shot the film in South Africa and I’m still waiting for the thing to clear customs, nearly 2 years later. So I should have it in my garage around September of two-thousand-never.

And if Nick is reading this, feel free to send my bike back. As Mike LaFountain demonstrates admirably, time is the mother of reinvention. Anything can be undone.

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Check out the next issue of Iron and Air Magazine for more on this stunning CB750.

[Photography by Gustavo Penna]





  • Samuel

    Interesting read!

  • Junior Burrell

    I dig the fairing.

  • riot

    This bike is so cool, and Ryan’s CB story is so compelling, that it almost makes up for ‘The Green Lantern’. Almost ;)

  • Fantome_NR

    I hate to be the picker of nits, because I really love this bike and I’m a huge fan of Raccia’s in general, but the welding on the tank is atrocious, and takes away from the otherwise meticulous metal work and other details.

    • L_Mariachi

      I believe that’s entirely intentional. See the explanation of wabi-sabi.

      • Davidabl2

        To make a very lame joke, Wabi-Sabi is a lot like Wasabi. Some like more of it, some like less, some don’t appreciate it at all. And i think both things are acquired tastes for most of us:-)

    • Junior Burrell

      I agree about the welds. As a fabricator bad welds=poor craftsmanship. But to each is his own.

  • Foiled Again

    I know diddley-squat about Ryan Reynolds but applaud his taste.

    Kinda like the rough welds to tell you the truth.

  • Davidabl2

    Mr.Reynolds, I guess you’d agree that commissioning a fine work of art is a very fine thing? Second only to creating it yourself? No irony or disrespect intended,it’s a serious question for someone who does his own art in another field

    • Rachel Hoshito

      What exactly does that mean?

      • Davidabl2

        Please see my reply to Mr. Appel, above.

    • nathan appel

      ???? what the hell, so you have to dive in face first retiring a bike to accepted? You’ve been hang in around Boyd Coddington sentimental memorials for too long. I’d rather have an expert optometrist that knows his shit versus a gear head with a drill and tweezers. So David, I’m guessing in this world your shit don’t stink.

      • Davidabl2

        I really don’t understand why you’re upset if you read what i wrote and thought about it. I’m not even sure WTF you’re actually saying,either.
        While there’s plenty of forums where folks are criticized for not building their own bikes, I thought I’d made it clear that I WASN’T doing that.
        Since Mr. Reynold’s bike’s so different from the rest shown on Raccia’s site I assumed that the actor had had plenty of imput on the build, even though the interview doesn’t get into that. And since movie acting must be a collaborative effort, I had wondered how commissioning a bike compared with it.

        • nathan appel

          I apologize that I did come off as rude, my thought is he could have easily purchased a stock bike, but instead he had one custom built in the vein of a pipe burn bike, which to me is way cooler.
          Again, apologies,
          Nate

          • Davidabl2

            Ok no harm no foul.

          • arnold

            Really, art nudes? Think motorcycle porn.
            Too much to absorb in a lifetime, never mind master it and fabricate it.

          • arnold

            But, I try anyway.

        • deb

          Great comeback the guy has ADD, can’t understand what he read.

    • arnold

      I get you. RR spends some coin on a custom. Was it his vision, a collaboration (most likely), or a builder special.

      OT. I helped build a house for Farrah Faucette and Lee Majors.
      We called it the Dumbell House because that was the shape, Geo domes and all. It was much better built than the ‘Joe Bag of Doughnuts’ house we built after that.ald

  • http://cld.co.za deon morris architect

    i am so impressed by RR very funny interview! the bike is clearly bought by a connoisseur who is making a smart investment. and he just must look SO damn cool riding this thing. seriously. Ryan Reynolds riding THIS bike….

  • arnold

    I’m seeing a lot of air (except in one fuzzy photo) in the steam gauge location. Love the build, hate telling the cops how fast I think I was going.

  • Andrew

    Amazing build! Love that fairing.. Is there any information on the bike and its specifics rather than Ryan Reynolds’ story?

  • Drsuzuki

    Ride it like you stole it and from one Canuck to another ” if the bs gets to loud turn up the volume and leave”

  • rackers

    the tank is design to be unfinished?

  • Deb

    My ex had this bike we had many rides near the beach on it. Brings back fond memories. Loved that bike, we share that fondness Ryan. Great read.