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Honda CB750 – Charlie James Customs


Posted on September 28, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer. 23 comments

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Written by Marlon Slack.

Though primarily a bike wrecker, Jason Reihing has built his fair share of customs out of his small one man workshop, Charlie James Customs, in Williston, Ohio. ‘Every old car, ATV and motorcycle I’ve restored, rebuilt or modified, I’ve felt them wanting to come back to life,’ Jason explains. ‘But this bike was the opposite. I’ve named it ‘Micky’ after the boxing great Micky Ward as, like him, this bike is a fighter. Throughout the build I had a feeling it would have been happier sitting out the back of someone’s barn and rotting away.’ Thankfully Jason has the tenacity and skill to roll out something as pretty as this CB after just about everything went wrong during the build process.

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As the CB came to Jason as a non-runner in boxes, one of the first things he did was remove the engine and place it on a stand for inspection. ‘The motor was strapped to this stand I made years back,’ Jason says. ‘I use it to power wash engines, pull apart top ends, side covers and that kind of thing. I get to the shop one morning, slide open the door and see the engine laying on the concrete floor.’ Jason was grateful for the lack of damage. ‘Everything was fine and it only left a chip in the floor but it was like the bike was telling me – Don’t Waste Your Time.’

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And he might have been right. When the engine was strapped back in the stand Jason pulled the top end and inspected it for damage. One of the previous owners sheared a bolt that holds the camshaft retaining caps in place. ‘Now at first I thought I’d drill and use an Easyout to remove it, but it wouldn’t even drill. I grabbed a light, looked down the recessed hole and found a broken extractor in the core of the broken bolt.’ Jason worried it would have to be burnt out and re-tapped, or he’d have to scour the second-hand market for a used head. ‘But then I had an idea! Extractors are made of very hard steel. They’re almost impossible to drill but they’re fragile with impact. I sharpened a punch and struck the backside of the extractor which fractured it. I then removed the splinters one by one and then started the process again. Bam! Crisis overcome.

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But more trials awaited. He had a CB650 tank hanging on the wall of his shop that he planned on mounting to the 750, and he’d lavished no small amount of attention on it, with knee dents in the side and a recessed pattern across the top. It hung, primed and was ready for paint when out of nowhere it fell hard on the shop floor. The damage to the front of the tank was extensive, so instead he mounted a ’78 GS550 gas tank. New frame mounts had to be fabbed up and the tunnel ‘massaged’ into place but it now sits perfectly on the frame.

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And the frame? Well, that seems to have gone smoothly, but with Jason lacking a tube bender he cut and welded individual lengths of steel together to form the back-end, a time-consuming task. The rear wheel, swing arm and monoshock are all from a CBR F3 and helps push the bike into the beautifully blurred line between a café racer and a street fighter. It all works perfectly but I shudder to think of the amount of time spent getting the frame just right like that using nothing but hand tools.

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Despite the frame going well, even the parts that you think would be simple managed to put up a fight. KTM bar mounts on the triple tree required reinforcement, a torx bit became stuck in the throttle linkage which required disassembly of the carburettors after the bike had already been assembled as well as a myriad of other little problems.

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Hell, even the front suspension conspired against him. The forks were taken from another Honda, an early 90’s CBR F2. Jason put new seals and fluid in them, mounted them up to the bike but when he tested them they let go a metallic ‘clunk’ on the upstroke. ‘After they were drained, torn apart and inspected I finally had the nerve to disassemble the dampening rod inside. I couldn’t find any schematics on how to pull them apart or put them back together but I finally found the cause. A 40c wave washer.’

But with all that hard work, problem solving and trouble-shooting Jason has a bike he can be really proud of. Damn thing didn’t want to rot out the back of someone’s barn after all.

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[Photos by Tim Whitaker]








  • Awesome job! Love the rear suspension… But did they forget to remove the front fender? :p

    • Bultaco Metralla

      No they forgot the rear. Sorry mate couldn’t resist!

    • Jason Reihing

      Yea it actually has a r6 front fender going on it here shortly, during the build every person who stopped by looked at the f2 fender in disgust so it had to make a appearance if only briefly lol, I started on a stainless fender but in the end a newer plastic one just seems to fit the bike better. Only it will have a much smaller profile using the r6 one.

  • guvnor67

    Great work, and obviously the man has the patience of a saint. The GS tank is perfect for this bike, and the whole thing reminds me of when Streetfighters 1st started appearing , really kool!

  • Wai Tsang

    Where has the battery been placed?

    • Jason Reihing

      I built a batt box out of 14 gauge steel and used a agm battery on its side, the box is located under the engine near the rear of frame. If you look close you will spot it but it almost looks like part of the frame.

  • Jim Stuart

    Micky? How’s about Murphy named after the laws that govern most builds that fight you tooth and nail? I would love to hear that beast screaming at redline…well done

  • pat

    Bike looks great. I always liked F series honda engines even if they didn’t have the newer water cooled bike performance. I guess I like that F2 front fender and the cover the wheel style rear fender. Not sure the F2 rear fender would work with the rest of the bike though. The swing arm looks like it’s extended, but it’s stock isn’t it? Maybe in the future you could fab up a swingarm made from tubing with bracing (triangulated)? A set of upside forks seem like a cool idea, but your choice of the F2 forks keeps the front end from looking too heavy (and may actually be lighter).

    • Jason Reihing

      Yea performance wise the bike has probably lost a 100 lbs from stock
      configuration have not weighed it yet but that really helps with the
      overall output plus I love the sound oil cooled inline fours make . The
      f2 front fender is a love hate it helps to offer stability in the forks
      with its rigid shape but it’s oversize and oblong angles make it less
      appealing to the eye but it grows on ya lol. I played around with
      different sport bike rear fenders/huggers and even my own but I like the
      clean look out back and it doesn’t seem to shoot to much if any road
      grime up your back not having one on there. Swing arm is stock just
      cleaned up some of the tabs and painted it, a lot of people have asked
      if it’s extended I think its partly due to the short sub-frame I
      created, kind of gives the illusion but the wheelbase is only about a
      inch longer than a stock 82 cb750. Usd forks were a big contemplation on
      this but, I picked the bike up through a mutual friend who had tore
      down the bike a few years back and started doing some of the early
      mocking up before it sat idle in pieces with no real solid design for
      its aesthetics. I liked his direction with the f2 forks and from a
      performance stand point they are still a huge advantage over the stock
      forks and considerably cheaper to be had than inverted, plus I was
      trying to create something that had just the right amount of modern
      features to bring it forward a couple decades but still look and feel
      vintage or however you want to put it, I love inverted forks on old
      bikes heck my xv will have them, but I think these suit the cb and work
      pretty good as well.

  • nice bike and good to hear about the build problems, nice to know it is not just me who has loads of unforeseen problems

  • blackbird

    Yeah boy! The rims look like extensions of the frame tubing and that cold black gloss sets off nice with the deep reds on the tank. Woot! I’d ride that!

  • Timeless looks. You know that when you look back in 20 year’s time, it’ll still be a killer build…

    • guvnor67

      Just what I was thinking, not too many bikes you can say that about …

  • Darrick B

    Great example of a nice bike that can be built without access to all the latest and greatest tools. All you really need is a vision and some creativity.

    • Hardley T Whipsnade III

      Actually all you need is vision , a whole lot of creativity along with an equal or greater amount of skill , talent and abilities not to mention the willingness to make mistakes – admit when you have – and rectify them rather than justifying/hiding them under the guise of hipster irony as so many of the so called ‘custom’ builders do today .

      Which is to say ; This guy’s got it all and knows how to use it regardless of the tools/equipment he may or may not have

      • Jason Reihing

        Thank you! It’s really appreciated.

        • guvnor67

          And I’ll 2nd what Mr Whipsnade said, brilliant work sir!

  • Morten Elstad

    Way to go! Love it. Even the front fender 😉

  • Hussain Jamshidi

    This…. this looks amazing.

  • Alan Gouker

    This is one of the slickest bikes I have seen on here

  • zefrenchy

    Nice example of resto mod. May be a tank emblem?We can say : “JE SUIS CHARLIE”

  • Jason Reihing

  • SoyBoySigh

    Well I’m diggin’ the red SOHC style tank with the silver engine, plus the fork’s not an USD like everybody and his DAWG is sticking on these bikes these days. So that’s at least a plus or not a minus anyhow. But the monoshock and 17″ mag wheels are a buttfugly mod IMHO, absolutely turn me off and a travesty that it’s all being done to such a classic Superbike with such huge potential for classic good looks!