Twelve Years of Shifting Gears

June 2, 2020 | By Mike Seate

Blake Kelly’s inspired Honda CB450 build in Cafe Racer’s J
Cafe Racer’s latest, June/July issue hits the newsstands this week and we’ve cooked up a real treat of a feature for custom motorcycle fans. We’re generally so busy spinning wrenches in the CRM garage that we seldom have time for reflection, but just recently, contributor Nick Coumos asked just how many custom rides have emerged from the workbench since this publication was formed back in 20018. We dove headlong into our back issue archive and realized that we’ve torn down, re-conceived and ridden out on nearly 20 motorcycles over the years, with several repair jobs, partial builds and soup-up jobs added along the way. That’s a shed-load of work for a small magazine’s equally small crew and an accomplishment we don’t believe any other magazines have been crazy enough or ambitious enough to try. In the new issue, we take a detailed look back at all of the builds, chronicling the challenges, mechanical mishaps and exhilarating road tests where the bikes became faster, sleeker and more fun to ride. Most of the project builds were shepherded along by our own technical genius Blake Kelly whose unique ability to understand motorcycle engineering on a very complex level made all of this possible. Looking back, his decision to take a very ordinary, previously abandoned Honda CB450 twin from the early 1980s and adapt the linked brakes, triangulated swingarm and high-tech monoshock suspension from a late-model CBR600RR sportbike was not only crazed, it actually worked in the end. Grab a copy an read along as we enter a second phase of builds with a new project machine’s re-birth featured in Issue #69.