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Honda CB900 – Bullitt Garage


Posted on November 9, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer. 20 comments

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In 1979, as the first Honda CB900 Bol d’Ors were rolling off the production line in Japan, the legendary American director Martin Scorsese was on set making his masterpiece “Raging Bull”. Staring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, it’s a black and white tale of Boxing and the Mafia in 1940’s America. It had all the subtly of a sledgehammer. So for Bullitt Garage’s heavy hitting, rebellious big block Honda it made for the perfect name and with Gonçalo strapping on the gloves and Luis in his corner, the CB900 Raging Bull was born. Hailing from the beautiful city of Braga, Portugal, the Bullitt Garage team aim to build an exclusive line of custom machines with underground styling and a level of exclusivity for each and every customer.

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For the CB900, the look Goncalo and Luis came up with was a “return to the racers of the 80s but with a bolder and more rebellious look” and with any CB900 build that huge 20 litre tank dominates the landscape. The horizontal lines that are created with the paint scheme are both a throw-back to the blocky graphics of the Freddie Spencer era while the colour palette hints at that rebellious desire. Black on the bottom reduces the visual size of the tank and hides some of the squared off lines while the white with deep caramel gives the Bol d’Or a distinctive ‘80s industrial feel.

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With weight saving a big priority the rear subframe has been removed, along with the rear fairing and sofa like seat with its hefty steel pan. In its place is a new tubular hooped frame with a Bullitt Garage two up seat made from a lightweight aluminium pan with a black leather finish. The side covers, battery box and airbox have all been ditched for more weight saving and the negative space allows the engine to take centre stage.

As one of the last air-cooled superbikes the engine may be considered by some to be old tech, a big bore CB750, but nothing could be further from the truth. Under the watchful eye of Shoichiro Irimajiri who had overseen the development of Honda’s CBX program and earlier their F1 engine program the CB900 featured centrally positioned spark plugs for equidistant burn across the chamber, two-stage cam chain and all new cylinder heads, it was high on horsepower and torque.

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Raging Bull maintains all the good factory fruit but those heads now draw their mixture from rebuilt and tuned 32mm Keihin carbs with improved air flow by way of individual pod filters. On the exhaust side the heavy twin mufflers have been ditched for a set of 4 into 1 pipes that are bad ass in black and release the true sound of the big Honda. The factory machine was good for 11 second quarter miles, so with a lot less weight and some more power this Raging Bull is running Lamborghini numbers.

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The chassis and suspension were not overlooked by the Honda team who weren’t willing to simply throw their new big block motor into an old frame. It’s this racing pedigree that Gonçalo was keen to retain “The main idea with this “Raging Bull” was to take the most possible weight while maintaining the most original elements possible”. With that in mind the factory telescopic air assisted forks with anti-dive remain in place as one of the truly iconic parts fitted to the CB Honda.

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Lowered through the triple trees they bring the centre of gravity closer to terra firma and give Raging Bull a mean stance. While out back the revolutionary rear shocks for the time, with adjustment for dampening, compression and rebound control the factory tubular swingarm. Braking the Bull are cross drilled twin rotors up front clamped by rebuilt Honda calipers with the mammoth 297mm single disc rear kicking the tail out with even a small stab of the pedal.

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With the major components finished Goncalo turned his attention to the detail items that separate the good builds from the great. The huge instrument cluster of the standard CB is gone, there is just no way to make it look good and a Raging Bull can’t be restricted by “Speed Limits”. The raised bars have been swapped for clip-ons that are set at near on zero degrees to still give plenty of leverage.

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They wear a quick throttle, cleaned up standard switchblocks, standard master cylinder and colour matching brown grips. Lighting the way to the rodeo is a simplified single headlight and fork gators take care of any mud that gets tossed up by this wild beast.

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The rear taillight shines over the licence plate that lets you know this is an angry bull that gets ridden and with it’s blacked out wheels and quality rubber it’s ready to stampede its way down the tightest of back alleys or open up those pipes and let the big beast roar, it’ll sit on 120km/h without ever raising a sweat. Once again Gonçalo Sousa Cardoso has crafted a machine that more than meets its brief, the perfect beast for the Jake LaMotta in us all.

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  • dom nick

    wats that seat name guys

    • guvnor67

      It’s custom made I believe

      • dom nick

        ok

  • John Wanninger

    I absolutely love it.

    • blackbird

      Needs pipe wrap….

      • John Wanninger

        Like a hole in the head

  • Love the bike. The photography, not so much.

    • I struggled with adjusting it for hours…

      • Don’t mean to dump on ya. I think it’s because the background pipes and mufflers just make it all too busy. I end up squinting for the details.

        • guvnor67

          Which is a shame ’cause It’s a pretty kool bike

  • Luke

    any shots from the saddle to get a better look at the instrumentation?

  • FQ2

    Great bike from what I can tell, but I can’t see where the bike ends and the backdrop begins.

    • Agreed.

    • duh

      So the focal plan needs to be set to about 1-2 feet in the camera..that gives you the depth needed to keep the bike sharp and give the background a nice blurry bokeh….in other words…bush league photography….nice bike though…wish the one I had in the 80’s looked like this!

      • SoyBoySigh

        Not everybody gives a damn about ‘bokeh’ there are indeed other styles of photography, and a motorcycle in a garage has many points of interest – Between that & wanting to give something of a retro-fried feel to the pics? ‘Probably why they kept their technique out in the bushes. And hey – your ’80s model at least functioned as well or better than this specimen, so don’t disparage the original for the mere haircut & a make-over PAINT JOB which we’re addressing here! Plenty has been ‘done to’ this bike, but nothing is functionally BETTER so how does it wind up in such a mainstream bike-pron feed? Ridiculous!

  • GarbanzoBean

    Always interesting how builders work that funky tank into the lines of a cafe bike. This is one of the better “blending” jobs yet. They hid that awkward corner nicely. Or was that the photographer that did that? Sneaky devils.

  • Fast2Furious

    It’s a beautiful machine with incredible build quality but I can’t decide which is more annoying all the muffler parts in the background or the low angle/overhead shots.

  • Andrew Ramming

    great bike. the worst MOST distracting background ever!!!!

  • One of the best CB900 tanks – the paint scheme takes you eyes away from the rear bottom edge of the tank where it should join a side panel. Nice.

  • SoyBoySigh

    Yet another overpriced repaint with zero upgrades, when there are a dozen or so fantastic upgrades lying around in junk-yards in the form of contemporary Honda models such as the GL1100A & GL1200 Aspencade models, the CBX Pro-Link, etc etc – 296mm front brakes, 2.5×18″ front rim, 39mm & 41mm TRAC anti-dive forks, a caliper to work with a cut-down rear rotor, and last but not least the Akront “NERVI” rims weigh 50% less but keep the original aesthetic of COMSTAR wheels while helping ’em to live up to their fantastic original design potential. “Sport-Kit” throttle & Hirth-spine adjustable clip-on bars, a wider 2.75×18″ rear rim, or the “Boomerang” Comstar wheels from numerous other Honda models give you 2.5×18″ & 3.0×18″ yet remain perfectly period-correct to the model depicted here. Of course there are also wire-spoke hubs from the SOHC era (avoid the single-disc front hub of DOHC CB750K, seek out the Canadian/Filipino CB750P7 POLICE model for the DUAL-disc 5-bolt front hub, or settle for 6-bolt from other SOHC-4 & GL1000 etc) There were plenty of period-correct alloy rims for the wire-spoke hubs which yield VERY nice dimensions & tire selection etc, equivalent to a CB1100R works team “production” racer, or the better known AMA Superbike racers for that matter. The wire-spoke option is a bit more expensive, while the COMSTAR version actually represents far better weight & mass-distribution for a truly top-shelf race-spec wheel-set. It’s just that the “NERVI” rims are hard to find in the ideal sizes, or the most ideal sizes I should say. That’d be the one mod I’d suggest which is ‘expensive’, practically everything else is coming from a ‘budget-build’ perspective. My own “CB900K0 Bol Bomber” & ‘featherweight’ projects are as low-rent budget-build as you’re gonna get – but it’s all $$$’s spent WISELY, imho. Yanno another thing I feel the need to say, is these two-tone tank paint schemes are so popular on these ‘F-bikes due to the lower rear corner – Well the scheme they SHOULD be copying, rather than whichever art-school drop-out did this two-tone thing ‘first’ – would be to copy the ’68 CB350K & similar contemporary HONDA two-tone paint-schemes. ‘Cause THEY got it RIGHT – the FIRST time! Ha-ha. No, really though – there’s some real potential for a classy two-tone job, especially if one were to use some raised tin wing badges, possibly even CB750C/CB900C type of stuff. Modified of course. Meanwhile the rounded rear sub-frame is just pointless Anglicization which undermines the bike’s sense of it’s own noble roots! Let’s all just stop trying to ape some crappy 80-90mph Brit-bike and take a good long look at what we’ve GOT IN HAND, perhaps even gain a better understanding of ’70s-’80s Honda racing history, ’cause there’s SOOOO much fantastic inspiration and such fantastic parts to use all within Honda’s own “Box-O’-Tricks”!