Written by Martin Hodgson
In the 2017 world of custom bikes there is an enormous number of styles of motorcycles being built with new names like Neo Racer and Cafe Fighter emerging over time. But for all of the custom builders around the world there are a handful who simply create, the style takes care of itself and one look at the motorcycle in question and you know exactly who built it. From the state of Florida, Michael Mundy and his Steel Bent Customs crew is one such example, there is no trickery here just ultra clean classic customs, ready to be ridden hard. Their latest creation is a stunning 1978 Honda CB750 that ticks all the boxes and packs plenty of punch with the owner crowning her ‘Goldenrod’.
The Florida based shop has been around longer than most and given their prolific nature have put together a catalogue of custom bikes totalling between 80-100 machines. But with long-term success comes the ability to be more selective as head honcho Mundy describes “Over the past couple years, Steel Bent Customs has transformed into a boutique-style customs shop. I’m able to pick and choose the builds I’d like to produce and be a bit more selective with the clients I work with. The quality is at a higher standard and thus production is a bit longer to stretch the creativity a bit.”
But despite this change there are certain things that Steel Bent Customs maintain, clever use of negative space, minimalist and clean looks, the signature reverse cone muffler and the creators of some of the best street based CB750’s ever built. So it’s no surprise that knowing this was what he was after the owner of this particular steed picked SB for the job! The donor bike was located about 30 miles from the shop in the Tampa Bay Area, with only 5800 miles on her and completely stock it was perfect for the task. “My build process has always been the same over the past 80+ builds in the past 7 years. I get the bike on the lift, strip her down a bit and let her “guide” me through the process,” explains Mundy.
With the major components removed the racer’s tail section was to be handled by a big name from the West Coast and the engine sent out for a major overhaul. The client wanted clean lines and to ditch the under seat oil bag and knowing how well Dustin Kott of Kott Motorcycles can pull this off he was tasked with the job. The decision had already been made to use a different tank than stock on the bike but this meant Steel Bent had to wait for the new seat cowl/oil tank combo to return from Kott before that job could begin. Once it did the stunning tailpiece was laid on the frame and a Benelli-style tank offered up for a unique look on the classic Honda.
The frame was customised and cleaned up to receive both items and allow them to be neatly bolted down. But before final assembly it was totally smoothed out and sent to ProFab Powder Coating for a deep grey finish that allows the custom paint job to really pop. Before the tins were sent out the Steel Bent crew added an aircraft style filler cap for some high-end appeal. “Craig Paints Bikes here in Tampa was able to shoot the pearl white and do a hammered copper look with a great accent line. Craig has a great eye for finish work and he’s been painting for Steel Bent Customs for the last 6 years,” proclaims a thrilled Mundy who couldn’t be happier with the stunning look.
But as parts were coming and going there was always work to be done on the bike and one addition that took some time to get just right was the brake upgrade. You can slap on parts and hope for the best or do it right and deliver the perfect product. Steel Bent Customs only accepts the later and the dual brake conversion was no different with the team ensuring perfect operation from the wave drilled rotor, twin caliper combo. The front suspensions lower legs are polished to a mirror shine and clamped with a custom upper triple. While out back the ride quality is further improved with a set of remote reservoir rear shocks.
The cafe’s engine meanwhile had been crated up and sent to Wisconsin where it would receive the hot rod treatment from the kings of Honda horsepower for the last four decades, Cycle X. The motor gets the lot, an increase in capacity to 850cc with a bored block, full bottom end rebuild and cut back gears. Up top the engine is able to breathe easy with the cylinder head ported and all the covers have been polished for good measure. On the outside the big block CB now is fed thanks to a bank of Keihin CR carbs that provide plenty of fuel flow. While dumping the left over gases is a Steel Bent signature 4-1 heat proofed exhaust exiting via a stainless reverse cone muffler.
To click through the gears the team also had Kott send out a set of his stunning custom rearsets, with the linkages now modified to clear the case and chain guard. The right side operating the Honda factory drum brake that is now laced to a 17″ wheel from Sun Rims with an 18″ item selected for the front. As with any Steel Bent Custom minimalism remains high on the priority list and the controls are no different with the clip on bars wearing only the bare essentials. Bar end mirrors, modern switch gear and a more powerful master cylinder get the job done; no mess, no fuss.
To keep things clean the Honda has undergone a complete re-wiring job that is based around the standard loom as a template. With Michael showing off his years of experience and hiding the lithium ion battery completely out of site under the rear section of the fuel tank. To finish off the build a beautifully stitched classic leather seat fits neatly into the Kott tale and once again another custom classic was ready to roll off the Steel Bent Custom line. It’s another killer build, unmistakably from the hand of Michael Mundy whose intuition for perfection continues to roll on, “It sounds a little hokey, but every bike has its own lines, its own style, its own path. I try to listen to all this and help it evolve.” It’s a flawless process that shows no sign of slowing down!