Why Having a Garage is Awesome.

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Since my Thanksgiving trip to Santa Fe, I haven’t been riding a whole lot. Instead, I’ve been searching for a new job (getting laid off at the end of the month) and trying to get my photo business off the ground. I have ridden a few times, and each time has been stellar. Winter riding is a ton of fun around here, since the snow doesn’t stick around long and the trails get super tacky. It’ll be even better when I get a new rear tire. I’ve basically been riding around on a slick for about two months now, and even with tacky sandstone, my nuts have ended up batwinged on the top tube far too many times.

I’ve also started volunteering at a local youth shelter…they’re starting a bike program to give to homeless kids, and they are in need of bikes. They don’t have to be good bikes, but they don’t want wal-mart creatures (though they’d take em if they were offered up). If you or anyone you know has a few old clunkers sitting in the garage that can be fixed up for homeless kids who have no other means of transportation in this town, please let me know. I’d love to take the bikes and fix them up for the kids. I would imagine it’s tax deductible and what not, but I’m not exactly sure.

Anyway, if you’ve got a lead on something, let me know. I can get you a drunkcyclist sticker or two your way for the effort.

To kill some time now that the sun goes down pretty early, I went and bought myself a 1980 Honda CB750 that I intend to turn into a cafe racer. The bike was, when I bought it, a bona fide snotter full of spider webs and rat shit.

If rat piss could ride, this would be its bike. 750cc of baaaaddd...

For $300, I got this bike, plus a second frame, second wheelset, and all the parts off the second bike (which is a ’79 rather than an ’80 like this one). Should keep me busy for the winter…and summer…and fall…and next winter.

The reason I’m so excited about it kind of goes back to an earlier DC post I did right after I moved to Colorado. I have a garage. In all of my adult life, this is the first time I’ve had a garage, and I’m beyond stoked to be able to do all the projects I’ve always talked about. Rollers with the stereo blasting? Garage! Buy my own welder and start practicing? Garage! Tear down a motorcycle with no real knowledge of how to put it back together? Garage, motherfuckers!

Best part is, I’ve finally got my bicycle workspace…and room left over to do stupid shit like build a cafe racer.

The Beast...look closely and you'll see my Gunnar CockPound in the background.


The Beast's balls... DOHC 750


The Gunnar CockPound oversees the project. Look carefully and you'll see a carburetor on the bench...and April Lawyer on the wall.
The hottie and the nottie.

If anyone has ever done this kind of project before and can give me some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it. I can build a bicycle from the ground up with one nut tied  behind my back, but motorcycles, well, that there’s got an engine in it, and it needs weldin’ and powdercoatin’ and gas tank modifyin’. Help a brotha out!

To sum it all up, my bike garage is awesome. Bike tools on the walls, motorized and non-motorized bikes in various states of disrepair, a photo of a doper and a half naked woman on the walls…I’ve even got a nifty Corona bottle opener (complements of Jeff M.) screwed into the bench. Who wants to come over and wrench on some stuff?

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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

71 Replies to “Why Having a Garage is Awesome.”

  1. Café Racer?

    Dude, the 1950’s called & they want their Brylcreem back!

    Take it from me, nothing but heartache & endless days spent dealing with soulless Trolls in bike wreckers yards await with an 80’s bike. I know, I got rid of my 1980 Yamaha XV1000 last year when it all became too much, 37 years worth of always having one or several motorcycles in the Growlery finally came to an end.

    A 4 cylinder is crap for a café racer anyway, (unless it’s the CB400), they are too fucking bulky, go for a vertical twin, (Yamaha XS 650 but see my previous statement about heartache, new Triumphs or Kawasaki WR650 or 800) or a V twin.

    But at the end of the day, you’re taking something that wasn’t & tarting it up into something that it isn’t.

    But have fun.

  2. Well I tell you what: I dropped that engine today, and it was a heavy bastard. My cafe racer ain’t exactly gonna be for racing from cafe to cafe. It’s just the look I want. The four banger will give me the power I want.

    As for endless heartache: story of my life. Just something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I went into it knowing it might end badly…probably would end badly. It’s all about the adventure, right???

  3. Yessiree,
    I love me some garage. Sad for me i’am currently garageless but have some bike shop space in the basement nonetheless. Enough room there too to work on my 1964 Johnson seahorse 6hp outboard. Last winter i went through that old thing, and now it’ll start on the first or second pull. Problem is, when you take things like that apart you become aware just how Rube Goldberg all them moving parts really are! Fun stuff. Enjoy your project!

  4. …i can certainly see both points of view (yours n’ hurben’s) regarding a winter (or 2) of ‘the bike building project in the garage’

    …that ‘cafe racer’ site has some great builds done up with 4’s, despite the bulk & a honda is a honda & that spells ‘dependable’ but then again, a lighter, narrower engine offers different possibilities, ya ???…

    ..if you don’t invest to much emotional energy on this ‘rat shit racer’, (great link, btw – bwahahaha) it might be the project you need to grease up the fingernails & bang your knuckles on, for the experience whilst knowing your second one will benefit from the lessons learned on this one…

    …i was pretty attached to the project that was my previous integra & while that ended up ignominiously (whole ‘nother story), my new black gsr is much more in the direction i ultimately wanted to go…lessons learned, all that sorta thing…

    …anyway…nice garage, (tinge of envy) you lucky stiff…

  5. Junk the carbs! Since you have the time start hunting down some simple round slide Mikuni’s or square slides just start there. The stocks that old and probably unused are just misery times infinity. Electrics…. ohhh jesus titty christ are they for shit. Good god all you need need is the damn thing to charge it’s battery on it’s own… while riding… under it’s own power….. Maybe just go total loss system from the get go, besides bump starting in the middle of traffic after you kill it is priceless stuff. OH lord now I have hives.

    You know once you are out riding in the hills maybe a road bike will slither across the doubles at you with a car filming you from behind. That would be cool to watch.

  6. I had a 1980 Honda cb750F that looked like this.


    The “F” was the sportier version of that year’s cbr750. I think it was the same frame and engine,just flatter bars and higher pegs.

    Like you I wanted the cafe racer look so I had “almost” clip ons and rear set pegs installed. It was a fat cafe racer. I think Hurben is right, twins are best since the idea of a cafe racer is a light fast racer that you can lean way the fuck over and throw back and forth in the turns.

    Good luck in your project. That bike looks pretty clean. And when you’re through, wanna work on my 2000 Honda 929?


    Fucker won’t start and I have no garage.

  7. I’ve got the garage. Not sure I have the talent, though…bring it over and let’s see how much we can fuck it up!

  8. Daisy: the carbs actually seem like they’re in okay shape, but hell, you never know until you pop those bastards on. The electronics…jesus what a mess. I threw it all out. I’m starting from scratch.

  9. Can’t remember exactly what version of suck of a carb was used but looks like vacuum Keihn’s and the bad word is vacuum. The next bad word is abrasive gas, it auges out the orifices with time and makes balancing the carbs and jetting a waste of time. You can put all new stuff in’em but you can’t make up for what the naked eye can’t see. Now you probably will go with some kind of a non-stock pipe/can combo so jetting will come into play plus you will want to change to a pod type filter again changing jetting. I’m starting to tremble a bit.

    Enter this pain cave and prepare to be pissed off and crying at the same time. In the end you might enjoy the learning expierence and wind up a better person for it.

    Glad to sit on the outside watching and not living it anymore.

  10. Daisy, good advice. Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll look into new carbs, then!

    And yes, I was figuring on pod filters…

    I think you need to sit down. Have a drink. This seems to be making you nervous…

  11. Frothing a little but not nervous. The drink happens at 3:01pm PST. I think I’ll call up Dik and instead the words Newt Gingrich I’ll open with the phrase “balancing a bank of 4 carbs” that will wind him up but good.

    How about that tank? Rust on the inside?

    You know singles are totally kick ass, just one of everything.

  12. Haven’t looked inside the tank yet. Afraid to. I suspect there’s rust. I was trying to decide if I should try to alter the existing tank or just buy a new one.

  13. I could never have that poster of April in my shop.

    I would never get any work done, & all my tool would be sticky.

  14. Radness. After years of being garage-less in SF I finally got a place with not one but two side-by-side car spaces plus room for a shop. Can’t wait to get it built out and commence random projects with no end. I was a shop wrench for years and plan to mess up a bunch of stuff real good. My moto (DRZ400 SM) is worried.

  15. I rebuilt a 79 about 10 years ago. What a monster!. I agree with daisey on the carbs: even if they work, the originals are crap. Mine also leaked oil when I got it. I went to replace main gaskets and discovered that the rods holding the engine together were stripped (worse actually, the threads in the block were stripped). Much heartache, helicoiling and two tries later it hardly leaked at all, much.

    I love old bikes and have restored a couple of mid-70s GL1000s, a CB1000, a CB 750, and a Suzuki GS650. I have also just bought working motorcycles and ridden them. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much I recommend the latter over the former.

    Good luck muchacho.

  16. Congrats on the garage and good luck w/ the Cafe racer!

    If you’re ever up near Golden, let me know. I have a few spare Maxxis 26ers that you could choose from (I’d give one to you). They all have a decent amount of tread left too.

  17. So should I pull the engine apart? The guy I bought it from told me it ran before he started pulling stuff off it (the exhaust pipes were already off when I bought it, and the battery gone). Probably a good idea, just to see what’s inside anyway. If it’s in good shape–and it seems to be; looks like the bike was fairly well cared for. not much rust on it anyway–I was thinking about buying some engine paint and trying to make it look all purdy-like.

    The other option is to just not fuck with it, put it back in once the frame is back from powdercoating, and see if it all works. I don’t want to get it back in just to realize it’s seized up or something, so maybe pulling it apart ain’t a bad idea.

  18. Thanks, 1DBLJ. Our plan is to eventually move to Golden, but I think that’s a few years off. I make it to Denver fairly often…perhaps a beverage is in order.

  19. Just be careful on filling your garage too full. I filled mine with a full workshop and 16 vintage steel bikes including 2 tandems, but then I got layed off and had to move out of my house.

    Luckily my friend had room to spare. A 1 bedroom apt + me + girlfriend + 16 bikes would have equaled the end of a relationship with either the bikes or the girl. Now that’s a tough one.

  20. Hmmm with the motor out a leak down test would go a long way as to what basic shape ring/bore and valves are in. The next is gearbox, usually 2nd gets muffed what with wheelys and missed shifts off the line. Cogs or just the shifting fork gets bent. Can’t really bench test for that outside of just shifting through the gears. Does the motor have oil? black with metal swarth?

    A good program would be to work on the rolling chassis. Lot’s to play with there and then assess where the motor is at on the mock up side before you go to powdercoat. A good rolling chassis is worth more than a motor if you have to bail midway.

    Ohh and please please don’t go with aces down bars and stock foot peg location. If you are going cafe go cafe, rearsets and clip-ons, infact that should be the first fabrication or purchase. With those two things you can always hop on and make vroom vroom noises then lean over with your knee hanging out. You know practice.

  21. With the rearsets you can also set it up so you push down to go faster. I really never got used to shifting up to go faster, lot’s of flubbed shifts. Heck I even shift my push bikes backwards sometimes because of that damn upshifting to go faster thing.

    Now let’s talk brakes. Are you lefthand front brake or right hand front brake?

  22. Go For it, I have a 78 CB550 that was going the Cafe Racer style and has become it’s own little beast. It’s more of a Streetfight/Ratrod.
    Nothing but fun. Post up some pics along the way to keep us updated.
    If you have a vision make it come true.

  23. d2! i fucking love that you are gathering bikes for homeless kids. LOVE IT! i wish we were nearby to lend a hand. my biggest dream is to have a kids on bikes program 501c3 deal. one day, if i ever grow up, i will do this. there are so many grants available.

    i got nothin’ for ya on the gearhead part of this post tho. dominic had a motorcycle like that when we met. a bike to work on, pretty much. he sold it for 500 bucks (it had no title) to buy some dura ace components, which BTW, are now, on my road bike. :)

  24. Judi, if you have any leads for bikes that can be sent to this non-profit, let me know. They are in desperate need.

  25. Mo-To-Cycles ??

    I thought this site was all about bicycles, beers, boobs, turtles and, apparently, cats.

    Can I barf now ??

  26. dude, you can get a SHIT TON of help; info, parts and etc from chopcult.com. its a website all about people doing just what your doing…mostly harleys but there is a fair amount of jap bike info and parts..good luck and enjoy the garage

  27. “So should I pull the engine apart? ” – not if you don’t have to. Daisey’s suggestion for a leak-down test is good if you have the equipment or can just throw it in a truck and run it to a pro garage. If it has maybe 40,000miles or more on it, rings are probably in order (or maybe already done?). If you don’t have the right tools to set the pistons back in the cylinders with the new rings, you will find yourself wondering if a 2 cylinder CB375 or maybe a one cylinder CB187 couldn’t be made to work – or fuck it- maybe just sitting on the damned thing making brrr brrr noises will be enough after all.

    “The other option is to just not fuck with it, ” YES, THAT! Sorry, did I get a little shouty? Again, as a veteran of the kind of insanity you are embarking on, I can only tell you -with love in my heart- minimize the fuckage. Even when it all works out perfectly and the thing runs like new and shines and glistens like some sort of sexual metaphor I don’t feel like chasing down, it’s just shy of almost worth it. On the other hand, with minimal labor, if the brakes work and the rubber is good and the motor is at least a bit predictable, you can thrash it through the hills with a shit-eating grin or your face for a few miles before it dies. I’d advise doing that.

    If you can’t be dissuaded, I’d like to put in my two cents that I’ve always liked either a dead-stock restoration or something totally not right at all. I think the second option begins with a non-black powder coat of the frame. Red lets the world know you are dreaming of ducatis.

    One last thing- regarding the crap carbs. If you stay with the stock carbs and get them to work, a little marvel mystery oil in the tank really does seem to help, especially if you’re too cheap to even buy new needles.

  28. Garage, motherfuckers! I love it man. Great link on “rat shit”. How appropriate. Glad to see Peace with Judi too! It’s a win/win man. Keep that garage fire burnin’.

  29. Scott, that was downright poetic. Thank you.

    It was also useful. I think a leak-down test is probably the best starting point anyway, and I can easily throw it in the truck to get to the local garage. I guess I’ll make any other determinations from there.

  30. At this stage I’d like to say that I agree with Daisy, go single cylinder, my Yamaha SR 500 single was one of the most fun bikes that I owned.

    In fact go one further, go two stroke, fuck all this valve & cam shit.

    Nothing pisses off the neighbours more that a Kawasaki 500 triple with expansion chambers or a Yamaha RD350 or 400.

  31. Or my previously mentioned Suzuki GT550, sadly they would seize up on a whim. Still the old GT750 Water Buffalo was a stunning bike.

  32. Practically lived on a motorcycle 35 years ago. 1974 Yamaha DT 360, all duded up with purty yeller plastic. I’d be scared to death to try some motorcycle shit today.

  33. I work on my bikes in the living room!

    Any and all of them, including the one with oil.

    Have fun with the project!

  34. @Sparky,

    I’ll see your DT360 & raise you 40cc.

    One of my favorite bikes for several years was my Yamaha DT 400B, did everything on that bike.

    Those Yamaha scramblers were awesome.

  35. They were pretty much the same bike, 1974/1975. Both had the same crappy shocks, plus a rear brake that would lock up the wheel at the most inopportune time. Still alot of fun though. And trust me, 360cc was plenty big enough.

    Mine was my sole transportation for a couple years, including Western Maryland winters. Couldn’t do that now; I’d freeze my old-assed self solid.

    Eventually I was able to afford car insurance. When I had four wheels and a roof, I modded the bike for dirt. Ditched the oil injection and ran premix. Much better throttle response. Oil tank gone, got rid of the battery and half the instruments and turn signals. Plastic tank and Preston Petty fenders. That took a buttload of weight off, and lowered the center of gravity substantially. Serious knobbies replaced the trials tires. Made a wrld of difference.

    I had thousands of acres of forest in my backyard and miles of dirt twotrack. I could ride a couple towns over and never see a car. Life was good. This would have been around 1975-1977. Couple years ago I took the old HooKoo by for a sentimental journey. What wasn’t grown over had been plastered with no trespassing signs. I guess you really can’t go home again.

  36. Hey Daisy (or anyone else out there with expertise, for that matter): do you have an e-mail addy you can send me so I can ask you questions during the bike build? I can send you some DC stickers in return for your advice…(I know, not the sweetest deal in the world, but hey, stickers are pretty cool).

    Send it to the DC contact form with “For D2” written in the subject line.

  37. D2- Thanks for this post. This time of the year always uncovers memories of my deceased parents, but this in particular reminds me of my father. He was an avid motorcyclist and owned a CB750; he used to have me sit between him and gas tank and take me around the block.

    Thanks for a great post and good luck with the build.

  38. was at a party last night and a tired guy said a garage was a waste of money, just a home for the car. he would rather put the money into an investment property outside of the city. i have always thought of the garage as the home of a man’s dreams, his projects, his passions. you can live without a living room but a life without a garage is just not fulfilling. glad you are making the most of your space.

  39. I’ve had a gay-rage exactly once in my life. I used it to keep my dog during the day so he wouldn’t tear up my shoes.

    That damn dog loved gnawing on shoes. Great dog otherwise. Loved his name too. Creole. Lost him 8 years ago to old age. Still miss the little guy.

  40. In my car hole I gots…

    Mrs. Joe’s gardening arsenal
    lawn furniture

    plus overflow from my bike workshop including

    steel Fisher HooKoo
    Crosscheck, fixed
    Mrs. Joe’s ancient and unridden tenspeed
    Fuji League frame, steel
    Specialized Allez frame, lugged
    Schwinn Traveler frame, ditto
    Fuji Regis SUAB, mostly complete if I sort through the parts pile
    Overflow from said parts pile

    But no cars. They sleep outside.

  41. fff, I don’t think you ever completely get over losing a pet. I don’t think you’re supposed to.

  42. Hey D2,

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
    If it was running before it was parked, leave the motor intact for now. Once you start pulling those things apart you’ll find more work than you need. As Daisy suggested, a leak-down test is a good idea, but I’d be adjusting the valve clearances before I did that; just in case of one of them being closed right up. Later on you should probably do rings, big end shells and crank bearings if you plan on unleashing more ponies with carbs and a pipe. I’d go looking for a suitable set of Keihin flat slides, a set of tuned length headers and pay someone talented to port your head if you want to spend money to go faster.
    With the chassis, service the forks yourself (they are simpler than MTB forks) and consider buying some new shocks. If the bike is too soft in the suspension you might consider new springs for the forks and spec springs that match for your new shocks. otherwise, crank the spring pre-load on the rear shock all the way up and cut some spacers (from plastic conduit) for the forks that give you the same pre-load (experiment with length).
    When you start modifying things MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE.
    Relax, have fun and don’t rush.
    I’m off to the shed to continue my GSX1100 motor into GSXR750 chassis Streetfighter conversion.

  43. Bjorn, thanks for the advice. All good advice at that. I’m copying all the advice I get in this thread so I can refer back to it later. I might have questions.

  44. Always happy to help.

    At this stage my advice is to get on the IntardWebs & get a workshop manual for that bike, (if you haven’t yet).

    Haynes manuals were good, I wasn’t fond of Clymer manuals.

  45. Get a second hand manual, filled with greasy finger prints & hand written notes in the margins.

    The good Karma will flow to you & help you with your project.

  46. Check your spelling, bud. You called it Fagstaff, not me.

    Went to the actual blog…cool stuff. Good to see familiar places and faces.