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‘75 Honda CB250G Brat

Posted on September 22, 2014 by Andrew in Brat. 55 comments


True style, as the saying goes, never goes out of fashion. And if there’s anyone who knows about style and fashion, it’s the French. In fact, they seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that allows your average personne Française to be the centre of attraction at any social gathering, seemingly without doing very much at all. Which leads us to today’s build – a nouveau project from Lyon that manages to be both understated and timeless. Rest assured, when all this custom bike malarkey has passed, it’ll be bikes like this that we’ll be calling classics.


“I love customising bikes; both the powered and unpowered variety,” notes Jo, the bike’s owner and builder. “I also play guitar in metal band and I’m a big vintage guitar and amplifier enthusiast. As for my bike, it’s a 1975 Honda CB250G from the French army. When I bought it, it was essentially junk. The rear end was entirely missing; it had no swing arm and no rear wheel. The frame was bright blue and the front brake was stuck fast. Add a non-running engine to the list and I think you’ll understand just how bad it was.”


Undaunted, Jo rolled up his sleeves and got stuck it. He started with a total disassembly and a nice, warm caustic bath to remove all the old paint. The frame had a new rear loop added, and then it and the engine were primed and painted in gloss black. The tank is from an old Honda CB360, and Jo got the wheels powder coated and shod with some plump Firestone Deluxes. 3.50 x 18s on the front wheel and 4.00 x 18s on the rear, to be specific.


“Next I lowered the forks, fixed the rear shocks and change the front brake caliper. Essentially, the engine is stock but before painting I rebuilt it with a new cylinder and some rings amongst other things. It’s a 6 speed ‘box, and I took off the starter, so it’s kick only.”


Jo checked the spark and decided that the electricity wasn’t as bad as he suspected. He then installed a Bates-style headlight, some BMW turn signals and an Antigravity battery. “My girlfriend was kind enough to do the upholstery on the seat for me,” he notes. Ain’t love grand?

“The design idea that I had in mind was to keep it looking like a vintage bike, but with a few more aggressive, minimal touches. Everything I kept on the bike is only there because I need it. Everything else I took it off because I wanted absolutely no bullshit or clutter on it. It’s my first build, so I thought I’d keep it simple, too.”


“If I had to say, I think my favourite part of the build is the rear end; that sweet little fender, the LED stop light and the 2 megaphone exhausts. It looks really amazing from behind. And overall, the biggest problem was the bike’s clutch; it was more than a little reluctant to disengage. We had to clean the plates and change the springs as it just wouldn’t let go.

“Honestly, it’s not a daily driver as the brakes are a little weak. It’s also quite heavy. But it is still a total joy to ride it and it makes the heads turn and the faces smile.”


  • TJ Martin

    The whole ‘ Brat ‘ thing does absolutely nothing for me and is a complete waste of time , materials and energy . In my never so humble opinion . Nuff said about this one !

  • Paul

    I love this… I am a huge fan of the brat / raw bike look. Don’t get me wrong, the shiny show bikes are sweet too… but there is just something rad about this.

  • Sonny

    This bike is a great step-by-step instruction of what not to do.

    Useless and oversized tires, lowering the front suspension, no front fork brace, etc…

    This bike won’t be a classic because it and its rider will be lucky to survive more than a few years on the road.

    • swiers

      Not to mention rear wheel travel limited by “that sweet little fender”. I hope when he “fixed the rear shocks”, what he did was make sure they only had 2 inches of travel.

    • HP

      After your initial criticism is all you can come up with is no fork brace etc?! What a knob! I think you missed the point

      • TJ Martin

        Actually … no insult intended … but I do believe its you good sir thats missed the entire point .. of this bike and customs in general . Sonny nailed it right on the head . HOW NOT TO DO IT . Unless of course its your goal to become the epitome of a ‘ knob ‘

        • Mk

          Why don’t you have a whinge to Andrew for posting it? Obviously he must know fuck all about bikes too if he put this up here..

        • James duke

          LMAO that coming from the biggest knob on this site . nom nom chomp more drivel from knob boy .

    • Spyker May

      Or a step by step guide on how to flog a dead horse…

  • How is this bike worthy of being featured on one of the best sites on the internet? It looks like nothing more than a salvage bike resurrected.

    • MotoTrooper

      But it’s got dimly lit photos, unnecessary macro shots, and leather gloves -LEATHER GLOVES!


      Apologies for the sarcasm, but I agree with you. This is not something that I would gaze appreciatively at every time I entered the garage.

    • TJ Martin

      ” .. looks like nothing more than a salvage bike resurrected ”

      Actually .. if it even looked that good perhaps I wouldn’t mind it being here as much as I do . But then again … perhaps like my first post … you’re simply trying to be kind and not overly blunt

      ‘ Brat ‘ Style . Like the current wave of over sized wheeled ‘ Donk ‘ style customs/choppers/baggers rising out of the primordial ooze … a fashion trend who’s day needs to be well good and done and should of never come about to begin with

    • Maybe you are talking about other sites, the site for all the bikes that everything is perfect and of course has a very expensive price. I think, Andrew is very appropriate here. Not everyone has a lot of money and not all countries have the potential to buy an expensive motorcycle “a decent bike”. Here, we’re talking about art, culture, and appreciate the people who are trying to realize a dream “has a custom motorcycle” instead of talking things that could be offensive.

  • Pure, classic Brat style à la française.

  • Dave Coetzee

    Brat-styled bikes are also my least-liked genre, I.e. not as sporty as cafe racers and not as dual-purpose as scramblers, but this one does have some endearing qualities – like some good frame/rear shock/exhaust header angles & low-ish, good looking headlight that isn’t angled towards the sky.

  • arnold

    Film Noir?

    • TJ Martin

      Film Merde !

      • Apparently you completely missed the pitted handlebar switch! That’s something you rarely see.

        • TeamObsolete

          Ah, the French, fashion never goes out of style.
          This one is perfect for the distiguished gentlemen’s ride wearing a three piece suit and a Ruby helmet .costing more than the bike itself.

          • arnold

            The stuff that you guys do is outer worldly. The duke MH is outer worldly. Backyard stuff we used to build is not attractive to utes that spend much of their time making ‘friends’ (even that has gone passe, so they tell me). Heck on some elemental level it may even inspire someone, much like Cycle, Carcraft and CARtoons magazines did to me in the sixties.

          • arnold
          • Thanks Arnold! That’s really good stuff!!! I guess you are either driven or you’re not. Some people just don’t get it. Jack Ma wanted to excel, not just remain in the warmth of the herd. Thank you.

          • arnold

            yeh, twenty odd numbers of peers said it was a a crummy idea….
            Geesh, it would be a whole new set of problems to solve to be worth billions of dollars.
            Many wish they had problems like that.

          • I don’t know… I feel like the only problems a billionaire has are the ones brought about by themselves… and thieves.

            I would take those problems any day. I’m not going to sell my soul to do it, but hell yeah I would take any problems that came along with the wealth. I told that to someone once and they looked at me like I was a selfish asshole… How foolish they looked in the end.
            I already got problems without cash right now, I can’t imagine how having a whole lot more $$ will hurt the situation…

            I’d venture to guess that anyone disagreeing with me is either: Not a billionaire or anywhere remotely close to being one; (I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to knock it until I try it…) , or is claiming that they don’t want to be rich because money “isn’t everything” and they don’t need this or that. I’d say that I agree with those people. They shouldn’t have the wealth. It’s obvious that they are their own priority and do not see the wealth as a resource to help others…
            I think many consumers and builders in this community (custom moto etc.), more than others, fail to see that.

            just jumping on the thing arnold started… peace

  • me

    how is a cb250 stripped down to its barest form “quite heavy”?

    im not hating like the rest of you, just curious….

    • Tron

      I noticed that as well..uh.. what? Heavy?

    • The CB250 was the European version of the CB360 sold in the US – same everything but smaller displacement in the same motor. The CB360/250 weighed in at around 390 pounds which would be a lot of weight to push around with 250cc. In comparison a 72 T120 Triumph Bonneville weighs a little over 420 pounds.

  • Man I don’t know what you guys are on about. Here is a classic bike that was sitting in pieces, not going, and has been brought back to life. That’s a great thing! As for all the customisation…the rider has built a bike for himself, the way he wants it, to suit his riding needs. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t appeal to everyone’s taste buds!

    Nice work Jo, love the minimal & raw ‘brat’ look!

    • russelllowe

      Very true, it’s as if these haters would prefer that the bike rot away under a tree if it wasn’t going to be customised to their taste … So narrow minded. I’d cross the street to look at this bike, and I’d definitely take it for a ride cos it looks like it would be fun. It’s also got good proportions.

  • The French are a very resilient people and have a tradition of taking stuff that has been discarded and resurrecting it. They lived through two world wars and an economic depression in the middle and had to make do. I lived in France for 3 years as a kid (long time ago) and hung out with some older kids who would take beat up mopeds and make them run and have a blast riding the heck out of them. So, I give props to anybody who can take a bike off a junk pile and make it run. Whether it’s good enough for Pipeburn I’ll leave up to Andrew.

  • JamesM

    It may look differently in the sun, but from here, I say the patina is the accomplishment. In fact I think the success of the bike is that it looks like it has all been together for some time and the erosion was gradual; so much so that if you saw a seasoned rider throwing his leg over it you would instantly have the impression rider and motorbike had been friends for a long time.

    • Jo ( the owner/builder )

      Sounds like poetry to me 😉

  • Disappointed Viewer

    The utter epitome of horrendous hipster garbage. Terrible handling outdated tires, header wrap, cheep emgo mufflers, clip-ons with stock foot controls to break your back, no front fender or brace, +/- 2″ of rear travel, all on a bike with notorious cam chain tensioner and top end oiling issues. Colossal atrocity.

  • gr333nyboy

    This to me is a motorbike reduced to the level of a hipster accessory. It seems all these bikes are just about getting a certain ‘retro urban’look to accessorise the owner’s cool, just as those gloves try to, and doubtless just as his ‘fixie’ bike and beard do too.

  • Michael Kork.

    Wow, a lot of haters here. I know you guys modify bikes better than the Japanese did with the RnineT, but give this guy a break. Some bikes are for show/prop/fun/10-minute-drive-to-the-cafe/something. Go buy a TDM/Transalp or something for maximum everything. My only question is if it has brown grips then why does the 2nd photo from the end have black ones? I don’t think it’s a B&W photo..

    • Jo ( the owner/builder )

      Hey, you re right, its not the right picture. Its from my honda CB200 which doesnt have an hydraulic brake but mechanical brake.The grips are black on this one.Pipeburn put the wrong picture

      • Michael Kork.

        Oh OK. Jo, great job buddy. Far better than everything I’ve ever seen from El Solitario. And it takes a lot of patience to do stuff like this. Looking forward to the second build 😉

        • Jo ( the owner/builder )

          The 2nd build is almost ready, you can follow me on instagram
          Thanks again 😉

  • AG

    As always beauty lays in the eye of the beholder and nothing else matters. Jo made a bike to his likes – I think its cool – and he got a point in making people smile if they see it. What more can you achieve? We should act with more kindness and don’t make this blog a site of personal disagreements that sound sometimes like private battles.
    Go in your garage and create something worthwhile – that suits your needs, that makes you happy and let you smile and love from the depth of your heart.

    • Jo ( the owner/builder )

      Thanks man !

      i love HATERS 🙂

      • AG

        Don’t hate them – accept them as a part of life – but keep your attention on your self and the people that love and support you – they have to face their own demons as we all do.
        The saying is:
        “What is it? That I see in you, that I haven’t resolved in me.”

        • Jo ( the owner/builder )

          True !

  • Lurker

    The Pipeburn comment section is a close second to Youtube on the “makes you want to blow your brains out” scale. You should all be locked in a room somewhere. Relax, it’s art, it’s not YOUR site, and those of you who are actual builders and feel the need to comment here are absolutely pathetic.

    This bike is awesome, I loved looking at it, this site rules. Rough n ratty wins every time, deal w it.

  • Liftlifelyo

    Really don’t understand why there’s so many negative comments about this ride! The point of customizing isn’t to take an old beauty and bring it back to life while making something YOU find beautiful with it? If so, what’ the point of all the haters? I’ve seen à lot of bike that I found ugly even if I notices the respectable amount of work, it didn’t change my opinion about it. I’ve seen beautiful bikes, simple and probably mess demanding, and still, found them beautiful! I love the line and the homade garage general aspect, great job from you guys! And if you did it in lazy mode, good for you but I’m sûre U didn’t!!! I’m also a french junior builder and I know that every tiny detail represent countless hours of work, and patience. Keep going!!!
    Petite conclusion dans la langue de Molière, le diable se cache dans les détails, et moi, j’en vois pleins sur les photos de la belle… C’est du classic, mais du beau, c’est simple, mais classe!!! Félicitation!!!

  • Tb

    This thing is sweet, simple and clean. Gloves in the photo? Who cares?!? I understand it may not be the best engineered bike in town but that’s not the point of all bikes. Looks great for a commute w style, a fun afternoon ride, or a trip to the cafe. I love it.

  • Noel

    Hi Jo, I saw on your instagram you’re doing a GP125. I’ve almost finished one and I think it’s exactly the same colour. I’ve cut the frame and rear guard almost exactly the same as well. It’s a cool little bike.

    • Paul

      Same deal with mine. Same dirty style. Drive it to the pub. ’79 XL185.
      Jo – keep doing what your doing. F#$k those guys.
      “Hipster”?? That is pretty much what all these bikes are about isn’t it? Making something more hip than stock, riding in our old school outfits and scoffing at guys who paid 15k for their stock bike. We are all hipsters on here. I am fine with that.

      • Jo ( the owner/builder )

        sweet ! thats gonna be my next build ! a trackdirtbrat bike 🙂

    • Jo ( the owner/builder )

      Very nice bro !

  • james boyd

    I’m pretty new here, but really like it so far. It’s like a dose of awesome to keep my brain regular… Anyhow, keep up the good work Pipeburn!
    Obviously, this post is somewhat controversial. In the end though, I think we can agree that what we come here (Pipeburn) for is, fundamentally, a review of art. (put “art” implications here:___)
    After reading the 40+ (at the time of this writing) comments, I feel that we should be encouraging both positive and critical commentary, instead of only filtering in positive as some people suggest. I think If people who were critical could keep their critiques to civil commentary that you’d be proud of saying if this weren’t anonymous, then maybe we could get along in the sandbox without pissing each other off…
    One last thing I noticed is that some are expecting more out of Pipeburn’s selection process. Maybe they just don’t see why this bike is special. Maybe this bike’s not that special…
    It’s up to this section to sort that out. (of course, it’s art, it’ll never sort out to everyone) Let’s hear why it has merit, or not, without being dicks…

  • Iggy

    It is a beauty, after all… la beauté – so tu comprends ce que j’te dit 😉

  • Jonathan Wos

    Pas de garde-boue avant, des pneus de hipster firestone deluxe, de la bande thermique, la recette est là ! Vue et revue on espère mieux sur pipeburn. Une copie d’une copie, d’une copie.

    • KK

      C’est vrai que ta bécane est super originale , monter des K81 et un bates waow … frustration ?

  • greg


  • Kathos

    I really like the headlight swtich. Anyone know where I can get one?