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‘72 CB350 Honda – Chappell Customs

Posted on January 2, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer. 14 comments


Copper is a deceptively difficult colour to pull off on a custom bike. For all the wins we’ve spotted over the years, we also see a hell  of a lot of gaudy, steam punk train wrecks that succeed in being beautiful the same way an unwashed, Victorian-era guttersnipe succeeds in being British royalty. But prepare yourself for a masterclass in metal patina. Using the transparent powder coating, Chappell Customs have managed to make a finished product that takes the look to another level. Queen Vic herself would be proud.


It’s been a busy past few years for Chappell to say the least. Between moving shops and launching their own brand of hand-made seats, it must be hard for them to find the time to build bikes these days. But when inspiration strikes and a great bike just happens to fall into your lap, then there always seems to be time. “One of the guys that works for me had this little 1972 CB350 kicking around the shop,” says Chris. “We were literally tripping over it, so I offered to buy it from him.”


“The frame had already been de-tabbed and powder coated matte black before I got it, so I decided to leave it alone. The wheels and all the other parts were also in black, but I didn’t dig the color scheme. Instead, I wanted something antique and expensive-looking.” Chris had some transparent copper powder left over from a previous job, so he decided to try it out on the hubs and wheels first. “It looked amazing, so that’s what prompted me to do the fuel tank as well.”


As anyone who has tried it will know, transparent powder coating shows all the metal finishing marks and imperfections, so Chris spent a bunch of hours sanding, scuffing and polishing the metal to give it the unique, weathered finish you see here.


“The engine was already rebuilt and ready to go, so we soda blasted all the old paint and dirt away, polished all the covers and re-painted it black.” Chris then built the nifty little battery box you can see located under the seat and went about rewiring the bike from scratch.

“We had previously traded the stock pipes for these scrambler units so again, we just used what we had on hand. Some shorty glass-packed mufflers and a dusting of high temperature powder coat on the headers made them fit nicely.” Not needing the old ‘bar mounts, Chris milled the top triple down, added a copper block-off plate and bracket-mounted the speedo on the side of the bike.


The pause that refreshes; old-school bottle opener attached to frame

Wanting something industrial for the forks, Chris called on Pierre from Works Performance. He came by the shop with some killer, Manx-style external front fork springs and after a little measuring, the forks were ripped apart and the stock internal springs were removed. The new external fork springs got more copper on the top and matte black down below.


“The rear suspension is a custom set of billet ‘Works Performance’ dual-rate shocks; we also talked them into giving us some more raw metal springs that we were then able to match up to the rears.”


Next up was the seat. “We took one of our own ‘Tuffside’ seat pans off the shelf, form fitted the foam to fill the hole in the tank, added our mounting system and then upholstered it with genuine leather that we had left over from our Enfield project. At the same time we made up some leather grip covers and added a little leather bling to the otherwise boring gas cap.”


The final step was the side-mounted license plate and brake light holder. “We knocked it out in no time flat and took the bike out for a rip or two to enjoy the fruits of our labour.”

For those interested, Chris also mentioned that the bike will ultimately be for sale. “But for now, it’s just fun as hell to ride around on.” Don’t hold your breath, then.

  • Bagmup

    That bottle opener is possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen on a bike for ages. Beautiful.

  • Pud

    love the bike looks great. only wish that top copper plate was done differently. otherwise Amazing

  • Scott Keane

    Not a fan of the springs on the forks, the clutch cable routed in front of the headlight, the bottle opener (beer and bikes don’t mix), the humped seat, and the overuse of copper. If it’d been kept to just the tank and maybe the rims it would’ve looked okay, but as it stands it’s just way too much and has come out looking kinda tacky.

    • disqus_DBQb35Bb59

      Yeah, beer and bikes don’t mix. I prefer gas for the bike, and beer for me.

    • john117117

      It’s for soda =o

  • Isaac

    Love that clean little battery box!

  • Wong Carter

    Hey my Girlfriend is getting me Bohn Gear fromAnazib! I
    heard they have great reviews, and can be worn under my own jeans too..

  • Tyler R. Gregorka

    so sick!
    I love the springs on the fork and how well you guys distributed the copper on the bike.

  • TwoSmoke

    Every time I look at this bike it has a different appearance to me. At first I couldn’t grasp what they were doing with the copper then I realized the more stressed this bike looks the better it gets. well done.

  • TwoSmoke

    oh ya and the speedo on the side, dig that too.

  • revdub

    The fit and finish is beautiful again. The tank in particular looks so good. A well done and completely classy machine.

  • Ben Horn

    Change that tank to bare metal with copper accents. Too much brown on the bike, not enough contrast, in my opinion. Otherwise everything else looks super solid and super cool.

    • mike

      A lot of wasted effort just to have something to mount a bottle opener on. Most bottles have twist off caps now anyway. I`d have screwed onto a work bench & built a less artsy fartsy bike.

      • arnold

        The time spent on the rich details will never be recovered very well on an eventual sale. This is a price we pay as small builders, working to our own drumbeat and schedule. The intangible rewards of pride in workmanship, group adulation and for some, being posted on a goto world wide site make it a pretty good accomplishment.