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‘72 Honda CB750 – Thirteen and Company


Posted on January 12, 2016 by Andrew in Rat. 24 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

Maybe if JFK hadn’t kept his cool in those crucial thirteen days at the height of the Cold War and a nuclear holocaust had eventuated, this is the sort of post apocalyptic motorcycle the Russian police just might be riding today. Thankfully that scenario never did eventuate, but when a new client approached Los Angeles-based builders Thirteen and Company he had just such a bike in mind. The brief was for an end of the world Mad Max style and the team were happy to deliver. It’s not the type of bike the guys normally build but this 1972 Honda CB750 known as “The Russian” is proof their talent is not limited to just one style.

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Thirteen and Company is the brainchild of 23-year-old accomplished racer Kyle Vara who has been tinkering with bikes since he was old enough to crawl. But it was when tragedy struck, breaking his leg and shoulder, just a week out from his first professional race at the Anaheim Stadium in the AMA Supercross Lites Class that his life as a professional bike builder really began. With 8 months to sit around and heal and the boredom kicking in to overdrive the idea to turn his skills of prepping his bikes to go racing into a business of customising old motorcycles was born.

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The first bike to get the Thirteen and Company treatment was an old SL125 Honda he had lying around, but it was this build that confirmed to Kyle he was on the right path. With a growing portfolio of builds circling the internet a Police Officer from San Jose came to him with the idea for this machine and the start of “The Russian” project was born.

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The CB750 platform is a great base for any custom build with the internet flooded with parts from all over the world and a hugely diverse range of design ideas. But for this project much of it would have to be done off the cuff and one of the great challenges was getting the front end just right. The front fairing is loosely styled on more modern designs but rather than fibreglass it is hand formed from metal for a battle ready tough look. With two HID projector headlights you can easily imagine it lighting the way through a destroyed urban environment in the grips of a nuclear winter and the clever use of rivets emulate the screen bolts from a design of a very different time. But as Kyle explains, adding something so different wasn’t all smooth sailing “It was a challenge to fit all the electronics inside and still have enough room for the bike to steer properly.”

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The stock tank was de-badged and the little imperfections left behind to truly embrace the overall look they were trying to achieve. It was hand painted before being treated to a chemical patina, also used on the front fairing, that instantly gives the look of a 100 year hard life. With the client wanting the bike to have a tip of the cap to his profession as a law enforcement officer they couldn’t exactly place a “Police” logo down the side, it’s illegal. So the idea came to write it in a foreign language and with the cool stylings of Russian typography and it matching the theme of the bike so well it was the perfect choice. Finishing out the tins is the hand formed seat made from 16 gauge sheet that was tirelessly rolled through the English wheel until just the right shape was achieved. The metal work was finished in the same chemical patina with the cushioning coming from genuine American Buffalo leather stitched in Thirteen and Company’s signature 1 inch diamond pattern.

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Powering the Honda is of course the legendary CB750 engine which in 1972 was 736cc in capacity and of SOHC design. The air-cooled lump was good for 67bhp from the factory but was one of the earliest engines that allowed for breathing modifications without needing to crack the block or head open. Taking advantage of that Kyle has fitted a neat 4-into-1 heat wrapped exhaust that replaces the bulky factory design. The four heavy chrome mufflers have also been shown the door with a single rorty tip finishing out the system with a very industrial drilled metal shield. The airbox is gone and the bank of four 28 mm Keihin carbs now breathe through individual pod filters. The mix of heavily polished covers and blacked out barrels and oil tank show off the classic Honda engine without being over the top and conflicting with the overall look.

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With so much work having gone into creating this tough and aggressive post-apocalyptic design the stance had to be changed to suit. The gator’d front forks have been relieved of three inches of travel to get the Honda low to the ground and new rear shocks in matte black bring the rear down the same amount. Helping to give that low to the ground look is the addition of clip-on bars that have been installed halfway between the triple clamps.

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Affixed with new grips, minimalist black levers, a new master cylinder and switch-blocks it’s an ultra clean look for a very functional machine. With a strong relationship with Dime City Cycles, Kyle sourced all the extra parts through them including the LED taillight strip that keeps this Russian street legal. The standard Honda brakes call a halt to forward momentum but the front line has been cleverly re-routed before bringing the stopping power to the now drilled rotor.

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Rolling stock can be a make or break design decision on any build but Thirteen and Company have got it exactly right; laced up black rims wear Shinko dual sport rubber for the ultimate urban warrior look, 3.75-19 front and 4.00-18 in the rear. One very clever touch to the build is the hand stitched leather bag that hangs from the seat rail. Not only is it a brilliant counter balance to the oil tank on the other side it helps hide some of the electronics and adds some rider storage.

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It’s these little touches that Kyle does with his own hands that make all his bikes both unique in their styling and precision perfect in their finish. For a young builder it’s a big challenge to take on a build in a style they’ve never attempted before, but Kyle has hit it out of the park and The Russian helps set his company up for a big future we can all toast to. Na Zdorovie!








  • Michael Murrie

    Absolutely love it!….except for the pipe wraps….

  • GarbanzoBean

    Here is a bike you can ride hard & park it on it’s side beside the shed to add to the road warrior appeal. Cultivate some weeds & grass around her and nobody would ever steal it. Reverse psych theft deterrent.

  • FQ2

    Brown paint doesn’t make it a rat..

    • Mgmue mgmu

      Few hundred years ago this guy would paint his sword red and call himself a warrior.

  • brownroundtown

    Not the rat bike discussion again! Who cares what it is, it’s cool. Loving the road warrior vibe. And those lamps are just inspired!

    • Jim Stuart

      What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub? Would that make it a “Rat Bike?”

      • brownroundtown

        We should ask Fantome as he’s the resident expert on pigeonholing things. I believe a Piper Cub can only qualify as a rat bike if it’s brown and has cargo netting on the side. Not sure what his view would be on propellers.

      • guvnor67

        I would’ve thought Spartacus would be more likely to have a big Matt black Chevy Chevelle with window nets and a blown 383 stroker, no hood and mahoooosive tyres!! Maybe …

        • Jim Stuart

          Back in the day I owned a 1969 Chevelle Super Sport with a normally aspirated Corvette 350 “Mouse Motor.” That beast would burn rubber to the point of exploding the tires, a feat I never pushed since it was my daily driver, get to work car. Back then I also had a full head of hair, perfect 20/20 vision, not a care in the world. Oh how things have changed. Bowie said it best when he sang the song, Golden Years…

          • guvnor67

            Yes, he did. And much as we can talk of the good ol’ days and golden years, its definately times sadly gone, a point I’m tryin to educate on the Kidz who’s mindset says unless It’s on Facebook it can’t be true, and think a tool is only that guy on the street corner with his cap on backwards and pants halfway down his femur!

    • guvnor67

      Perfect for heading out into the wastelands, take on some road trash, and home again in time for tea!! Yup, It’s got that Mad Max or Darryl Dixon kool!

    • Rubens Florentino

      Agreed…

  • Mgmue mgmu

    Ouch, thats fugly.

  • Oil stain

    look at him sit on it though, man, he stare, he stare at fuel tank. man, he ain’t shy, he wear them converse and t-shirt, what? helmet? who helmet? man, he drink petrol for afternoon tea with biscuits.

    • Manesh Karunakaran

      Bravo my man! Hands down the most hilarious comment seen on this site for along time. A truly wonderful motorcycle with dollops of Icon-like charm. But like you said, I cant get my head around why that man looks so tormented siting on his creation.

      • guvnor67

        I’ve got it!! He’s lookin at the rivets along the top of the fairing and thinkin “man, wot if I brake hard and smack me face on that?!”, or “Kool, test ride time, hey, hang on, no one’s really mentioned the pipe wrap, wot if I get it outside and people spot the pipewrap? Damn, now wot do I do?!”. Or maybeeeee,”Shouldn’t have had that last can of Red Bull and beef Jerky, ooh, me guts, will I go to the toilet first?!”.

        • Manesh Karunakaran

          I suppose it has to be the third one. God save our man!

      • Rubens Florentino

        Maybe he isn’t tormented…. Maybe he is trying to establish some emotional contact with the machine before the ride.,. I know sounds stupid but sometimes I do it.

        • Mgmue mgmu

          Sounds and is beyond stupid.

  • The dude sure has a tight grip on those handlebars, for whatever reason. Maybe he’s gettin ready to spin the earth underneath him with an injudicious twist of the wrist.

    Just wondering how the shiny plastic looking headlights and perfectly smooth paint on the bars and top triple-tree fold into the “post-apocalyptic” theme? Okay I’m being judgy.

    The bike looks like it wants to get up on it’s hind leg and charge forward while the poor sad-looking guy in his last ever picture gets the surprise of his life!

  • must join a gym

  • Beautiful bike, love the raw edge about it..Great work.
    -Droog Moto

  • Paul Jones

    Oh, man… what an absolute pile of shit. No suspension, trials tires… yeah, I bet that works REALLY well. Why not slide the bars all the way down so they’re resting on the lower tree, while you’re at it? Cosmetics are subjective, so no need to comment.

    We’ll look back on this fad in ten years and laugh about it like we do now about the blinged-out choppers from the ’00s.

  • econobiker

    Nice for the style. The former handlebar clamps on the upper triple clamp need some bolts in the now vestigle clamp holes, at the very least. It looks like they had something mounted in the lower hole of each clamp but then binned it….