1971 CL450 build. (not fancy, but complete...)


"everyone has a plan…"
this all started because a friend of mine was watching cafe racer tv a while back and kept talking about how cool it was. i've got a little experience with that sort of thing, but didnt think too much more of it. i guess had other things eating up my time. (so this is ALL YOUR FAULT DEREK!)

but when i woke up one morning and realized my kid was going to be getting his DRIVERS LICENSE within the year- the little ember of a thought popped into a flame... an idea... and a project.

the idea was me and the kid would spend the summer building his FIRST MOTORCYCLE. I didnt want to just buy him something, as he'd probably throw it down the road -none the wiser. But if we BUILT something- he might learn a thing or two about engines, clutches, electrical gremlins and carburetion and maybe... JUST MAYBE... have a little respect for the time and effort that goes into something like this, treat it accordingly, and perhaps be a little safer with it.

we shall see.

so started doing some research. Craigslist, ebay, etc etc... and settled on a "bike". It wasnt a BIKE, but more a "bike". But it was relatively close, the price was right, and it was just a step above "basket case."

here are some BEFORE pics:

well, you get the idea... (besides, I guess almost every build starts this way, so nothing special about a 43yr old bike, neglected behind a shed)

tires squished water out the rim holes when you rolled it, wiring butchered, carbs locked open and exhaust missing- so heaven only knows the state of the motor. but as we were going to completely rebuild it, all we really needed was a good frame, cases, and hubs. so this was perfect.

well, i wouldnt say "perfect". this is what was hiding behind the carbs when we popped them off...

oof. never seen that before.

from help from the DTT forum, turns out is was a mix of shellacked fuel and rust -and nothing to call the CDC about.


"everyone has a plan…"
so we got the air hose, blew off what we could...

...evicted a family of lizards that had taken up residence down in the valve cover, squished her onto the table and started the tear down.

first bit of good news was the stator/rotor looked damn-near brand new:

and behind the points cover, things looked equally hopeful...

motor out, front end off...

and finally, with the frame and swingarm off, its looking kinda empty on the table:

went with a kit from BCR and he (Benjie) was really helpful by sending the frame parts out immediately so we could continue work while while we waited for tank/seat stuff.

you all know what comes next-

lots of cleaning:

then some cutting...

a little more cutting...

then some welding...

almost finished, you can see the rear hoop/box and one rearset plate tacked on:



"everyone has a plan…"
forks, from the BEFORE pics above, needed new tubes. thought that would be easy. due to part/year idiosyncrasies- '71 CL tubes do not cross reference with '72+ CB forks. lowers are different, tubes, etc...

so after shotgunning the problem by just randomly picking some stuff off ebay (42" chopper CB front end!), I got lucky and solved my front end puzzle.

why the pic? well, because the forks were the very FIRST system to be fully rebuilt. after all the dirty teardown, you get a small sense of "this project might actually go somewhere someday" when you have a systematic part of the bike finished. anyway...

billet upper from Dime City, new boots, roller bearings, some rattle can on the lower and the forks are clean enough to come inside the house!



"everyone has a plan…"
frame welded and back from painter... (one job ive resigned myself to that i truly suck at) front end done... and she looks pretty good, if i do say so myself:

now, we turn toward the engine....


"everyone has a plan…"
engine teardown...

and there is something complete about holding a bike's crank in your hand. like you've reached the "atomic" level. lowest common denominator. like a spelunker reaching the lowest point in a cave system. from here, you cant get any lower.

crank was actually in pretty good shape- but if youre down this far- you might as well start with as good a core as you can. so, crank off to Falicon, heads off for a skim and a valve job, cases off to the machinist as three of the steel case bolts sheered off when removing them. and bores off getting a clean up hone for the new pistons.

whats left?

POLISHING. wow, what a fun job!!!

and brakes!!!



"everyone has a plan…"
cases got soda blasted:

not a terribly professional rig- but i included this to show that we're just two guys with half a head of knowledge and a whole bunch of elbow grease.

then ran thru the dishwasher...

and finally sprayed and baked.

btw- you might want to do this some afternoon when the WIFE is OUT.

trust me.


"everyone has a plan…"
big box from Falicon just showed up...

mmmm.... shiny and blue printed! dont even want to remove it from the bag yet...

so now motor can start its build back up.

wheels show up tomorrow from Buchanan.... so more posts shortly.

hope you enjoyed things thus far.


Get low and GO
Nice. Any guy that can get the cases in the DW and oven and is still posting must be doing something right. Can't wait to see more.


"everyone has a plan…"
Gqxphil said:
I have a 450 myself, cant wait to see how yours turn out

perhaps you dont show the "goal" at the start of the build, but here is ultimately what we're heading for...

again, most of the big parts are straight out of BCR -and I have to say... the level of attention Benjie gives is quite amazing. I know I'm probably driving him crazy- but almost daily he sends me pics of the taping process for the tank and seat paint.

most guys would tape it, paint it, throw it at you -and you get what you got.

he's really hands on and I look forward to getting the rest of the parts.


"everyone has a plan…"
some wheel p0rn...

in terms of photography, not a very good picture. no "movement", "engagement", "perspective" or whatever..

but in terms of emotion-- quite a lot here. first, new wheels are always cool. second, tires and tubes mounted (when you only have ONE tube of each size) is a huge relief when they both seat and hold air. third- another "system" of the bike done. we shall officially have a ROLLING CHASSIS by the end of the weekend.

woo hoo.


"everyone has a plan…"
BTW- anyone following this thread… i ditched the idea of the traditional/original 19" front tire and went with an 18".

thinking was- better selection of rubber, a slightly more modern look, and a slightly more aggressive front end geometry.


Over 1,000 Posts
beatufill stuff !! the bike looks great,only one major issue is you did not leave nearly enough clearance to the rear tire


"everyone has a plan…"
i thought i had done all my math, but your comment still freaked me out. bolted her up and have a minimum of 3/8" (shortest chain position) to a hair over 1/2" (longest chain position) on each side of tire to swing arm clearance.

not a clear pic…

so tire fits quite nicely.


"everyone has a plan…"
xb33bsa said:
sorry no i was talking about clearance for up wheel travel to the plate welded under the frame

ahh…. gotcha!

you're right. didn't even really think about that. i kept rim size and tire profile of original, and trusted that "the kit" would have figured all this out.

looks like i have 2 inches from tire crest to plate. not enough. thanks for alerting me to this early.

good news is- the plate is only bolted on. so it can be removed entirely, have a hump rolled into it, or be replaced with something else. (or possibly longer shocks? - i ordered them stock length, trying to play it safe when dealing with the unknown)

first time thru a build- there are always unexpected issues. if this is as bad as it gets, i think I'm lucky.


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