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‘004’ Honda CB450 – KickMoto


Posted on May 16, 2016 by Andrew in Brat. 24 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

When it comes time to give credit to which Japanese bikes began the rise and reign of the machines from the Land of the Rising Sun the countries first superbikes, the Honda CB750 and the Kawasaki Z1, often receive the praise. But before they arrived on the scene the first strike in the four-stroke wars was delivered by a motorcycle known simply as the Black Bomber. Released in 1965 the Honda CB450 came packed with technology that defied its very classic chrome and black aesthetic. The first full production bike to feature dual overhead cams, it produced more than 100hp/litre, enjoyed reliable electrics and was described at the time as “engineered with passion and styled with restraint, an embodiment of all the qualities a motorcycle should posses”. It’s with exactly that in mind that KickMoto pay homage to the original with their own take on a classic icon, a 1972 CB450 done just right.

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From Halifax, Nova Scotia, KickMoto have fast become one of the best builders of clean customs in Canada making them the perfect team to tackle a customers request to take their CB450 and “Make it look new but retain the vintage look”. When build 004 arrived at the KickMoto workshop it had already received an engine overhaul “so we were just in charge of the cosmetics really” explains Jeff Shaw, but they’ve also re-energised the old Honda’s soul and it started with some clever delving into the parts bin. The standard stubby swingarm was taken out and replaced with a CB360 item that is 1½ inches longer. The change pulls the rear tyre out from under the cloak of the frame and gives the machine a longer, sleeker look. To lower the bike closer to the ground the bike gets a corresponding fork drop of 1½ inches which retains the classic appearance of the Black Bomber while adding a more sinister touch.

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By the time 1972 had rolled around Honda’s designers had made a number of changes to the fuel tank to bring it more inline with the rest of the CB family, but KickMoto have given their build a nod to the original with a little something extra. The classic black and chrome design shows no mercy in highlighting any imperfections and the Canadians have made sure their metal work is arrow straight including the gorgeous factory badges. The tank is sprayed black with a metallic flake base coat that picks up the light of the sun to truly show off the quality of the chrome. The same treatment is given to the side covers with the metallic flake shining a light on the hand-made mesh inserts with a single KickMoto 004 badge on the right hand side. To make the most of the fancy flake it is limited to these two items only, just the right amount, with the rest of the black work including the now bobbed fender finished in a satin black powder coat.

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But that doesn’t mean the build has no colour to accentuate its curves, it’s just been done in an unconventional way with a very traditional material. Tan leather has been used to cover the custom-made KickMoto knee pads that gives the tank the kind of detail you’d expect had Honda released a prestige range of the original CB450. The same leather hide is used on the seat for uniformity, but it is here that some very modern machines and materials were utilised to keep things clean. To create the foundation the rear was lopped off with a new shortened hoop welded in its place. From here the design of the seat with a fully integrated light system could take place and a base and seat foam was shaped. Then with the 3D printer fired up a holster was moulded and printed that is inserted inside the seat where a section of foam has been removed. With the light in the holster and the wiring in place the entire seat was covered in leather and stitched shut, then a scalpel taken and a cut made where the light should come through.

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Success, the hole in the leather hit dead on and the small light assembly was exposed, with the right cuts made the leather was then hand sewn closed to stop any further stretching. To cover the light a trim piece was again produced on the 3D printer, filled with ultra fine mesh and then attach to the light via prefabricated mounting points, it’s genius, a lot of work for a simple part, but more than worth the effort. With such high skill and detailed work going into the rear end the front is kept just as clean and simple to maintain the balance and a set of low-rise bars sets the scene. Drilled levers and classic grips give all the functionality you need, while a single instrument keeps the boys in blue happy and a small diameter headlight shines the way. Further restraint in the design process is evident in the footpegs and controls, no rearsets here, just beautifully knurled round bar for function and style that’s custom while still period correct.

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The original wheels have stayed too, with the rims and hubs refreshed and finished in black powder coat before being re-laced with new chrome spokes. A little touch of brat attitude is added with the fitment of Avon SM MKII rubber, another display of doing just enough without ever going too far. Of course you can’t talk about any Black Bomber and ignore the brilliant engine that the Brits refused to let race due to its DOHC setup.

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But it wasn’t just the twin cams, the 180° 444cc engine would rev hard to 9000rpm with barely a vibration along the way, it’d do the ton and never leak a drop of oil. With the engine having already been rebuilt KickMoto simply cleaned it up and added a custom touch by shortening the entire exhaust system as much as was physically possible and topping the mufflers off with a set of machined aluminium tips.

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KickMoto’s 004 “Black Bomber” could have been built entirely with parts available in the ’60s with the only exception the LED tail light and yet it draws on both a wealth of knowledge and influence of decades of custom builds to create a neo-classic that will truly stand the test of time. It’s simple and understated in a world where far too many can be tempted by the machines, parts and crazy colours that are at their instant disposal.

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In maintaining their commitment to the classic the team has built a bike that stands out from the crowd for all the same reasons as the original, it possess all the qualities a motorcycle should embody, engineered with passion, styled with restraint.

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  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    OK , I give up . I see a pretty decent ‘ modified ‘ bike but where’s the ‘ custom ‘ ?

    • John Wanninger

      French Bread seats = the new “custom”

      • bjax

        “French bread seats”–I love it. At least this one actually looks like a seat you could spend a little time on.

    • JB

      As stated in the second paragraph it’s supposed to be subtle… Custom bits would be foot pegs they made on their lathe and mill, modified side covers, custom badging, tail light, seat and tank pads, fork covers/headlight mount, exhaust tips (also made on the lathe), license plate mount, frame de-tabbed, rear frame hoop, swing-arm swap, etc.

      • Jazz Honky.

        JB, dont even bite. This dude only talks about things he personally doesnt like, his conversations have never evolved past that, unlike so many other contribuitors here. Haters thrive on attention, its why they hate in the first place, ignore it and it will dwindle away into good conversation. This build is classy as fuck, we all know it. Look at the quality of his questions in his posts, no insight, low hanging fruit type of attack, same criticisms as previous posts. He is are crticisms getting tired and he cant tread water forever, he’ll fade. Ignore him, and he’ll fade faster.

        • foiled again

          Kind of surprised Horley and his l’il sidekick showed up- 16 May is Puppy Kicking Day and they usually pack a lunch.

    • Honky lips.

      Yeah, you already used that line in a previous post. Your running out of steam. Try again.

    • Jester the Clown

      Quite.
      As I’ve said before; “custom”, these days, seems to mean rebuilding a bike but throwing away half the bits that you started with.
      Like the rear mudguard. If ever a so-called “custom” was crying out for one, this is it.

    • Will.I.Am

      Custom
      Adjective: made specially for individual customers.

      It is custom and also will score you 10 in scrabble

  • Bultaco Metralla

    My first brand new big bike was a Honda CB450, still have a soft spot for them. Nice touches on this one.

    • jlgace

      I wish I could say the same. My first bike ever was a CB500T and it was a raging p.o.s. Undoubtedly attributed to its previous owner(s) as it was not new, but regardless I was stranded so many times by it that I haven’t ridden Honda since. If I recall, it did not make 100hp/L though as I think it was rated for around 36 or 37. And the electrics may have been great in 1965, but a failed rectifier, weak coils and temperamental points were all the source of much frustration, wasted hours and missed rides among other issues like the CV carbs. I’m probably going to have a nightmare about it tonight now… Anyway, as much as I would run away screaming if someone tried to give me one of these bikes it is a nice build.

      • Bultaco Metralla

        I bought mine new in the sixties and, compared to the Triumphs, Nortons and Beesas of the day, it was a revelation. Solid electrics, electric start, oil tight cases and dohc! it was the ducks guts until they released the Bridgestone 350GTR.

      • E Brown

        As a Honda motorcycle fan (I’ve never owned another brand) this has long been one of life’s mysteries: the CB450 is loved, the CB00T loathed, yet they’re essentially the same bike. Did the intervening years make that much difference? Is the CB500T held to a higher standard because it’s a Honda? Was it less impressive because, years later, there were fewer awful British bikes to compare it to?
        I’m still a big fan of the CB450, to the point I called someone not two days ago about buying a ’68; unfortunately it was already sold (though the ad is still up on Craigslist! Grr. And hey, the Honda badges are backwards on that one too!).

        • jlgace

          Interesting, I did not realize they were so different until I looked it up just now and you’re right. The 450 is commonly referred to as a better machine, makes more hp/L and I can attest to the 500T being a ‘cam chain eater’ as I recall replacing it [shudder].

      • skyx39

        That sucks. I have a ’73 CL450 with pod filters, and a shorty exhaust which I converted to run on capacitors (a combo that theoretically should be a nightmare) that I have got to run reliably. I need to put an electronic ignition in it, as the stock points and ignition advance have just about had it. Wonky at part throttle, but she scream when opened up.

  • bill barker

    Dang – this is such a sweet remodel. Nothing heavy handed – one of those bike you can picture yourself on a nice Sunday morning.

  • Robert N Kelly

    All that hard work and beauty and the Honda Badges are installed backwards…

    • Dave Coetzee

      Well spotted – hopefully left one swopped with the right and vice versa will solve it.

    • thumpthump

      They’re that way in the sketch too, eagle-eye ) Maybe intentional.

      • The dude

        Intentionally wrong.

    • CC

      The badges are actually modified Honda emblems, to integrate the garage’s initals. The wing is showing a “KM” at its base.

      • BrightonBelle

        They’re not modified. That’s an ‘H’ not a ‘K’ – got similar on my bike. I think they’re the wrong way round, but probably intentionally!

        • CC

          @disqus_v0DHT1IMfI:disqus I stand corrected. Thank you for the info, I never knew CBs had that kind of badges.
          “Backward” badges it is, then.

  • the watcher

    This is just a really nice little bike and I bet it’s bringing someone some great times. A near perfect example of its type.