Re: CM400C Cafe Garage Build - Seat complete - New Photos


I shoud probably be working right now
Not long after I proposed to my sweetheart in December I realized that as guys we really get the short end of the stick with the whole engagement thing. And I got to thinking, I want an engagement ring too! I want a little piece of bling that I can show off to my friends, and make them wish they had one. Although I would like my ring to have two wheels and quite a few horses.

So when I accidentally came across a CM400 Classic in pretty good shape for $350 I proposed to myself a little project! And, for about one "zero" less than a diamond ring there were no real complaints from the soon to be boss.

So for this build (my first), the code name is "My Precious!"

Here she is:


when I picked her up


As she sits now in my back yard

I'm not planning a huge build project, just some tinkering, and a bit of stylizing for a fun around town daily ride that turns the occasional head.

I am planning to build in three phases

Phase I - Get her running smooth

When I picked it up, she wouldn't start, but a bit of battery maintenance, and some new gas and she sparked up without much trouble on a cold February afternoon. She blows a bit of smoke, and there are some noises, so some work is in order.

A top-end rebuild is the first step. Waiting for me at the Shipping Depot in Blaine, WA is piston rings, gaskets, valve seals, new plugs and filters, and tires, and a few needed tools I don't own. I will zip across the border and pick them up in a couple of days. Parts are definitely cheaper, and more readily available in the USA. My US post box and NEXUS trusted traveler card make shipping and collecting parts a breeze.

Phase II - Style it up

I am planning to give it a custom Cafe look with some simple changes:
- New Bars
- Custom Seat
- Chop the rear fender and frame a bit
- Smaller turn signals
- Lower the front end a bit
- New Paint

Phase III - Touch it up

- remove the airbox and re-jet carbs
- move electronics to open up the frame
- replace Bulky lead-acid battery with a teeny weeny A123 LiIon pack
- shorten and tidy wires
- move ignition switch and starter button to under the seat
- maybe rear sets
- pipe wrap (hate if you want to, I like the look)

All along I would like to keep it in reasonably rideable shape throughout the process. This is more of a fun living project than a hardcore custom build, so I want to be able to go get groceries, or go to the post office throughout the build.

Wish me luck, and harass me if I forget to update the thread!


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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

beautiful bike. congratulations. i love the original paint on the tank, seems to be in good nick also. imagine a fully flared badass cafe with a sweet original tank. i would think about it long and hard before re-painting that tank.
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

mrwolf said:
beautiful bike. congratulations. i love the original paint on the tank, seems to be in good nick also. imagine a fully flared badass cafe with a sweet original tank. i would think about it long and hard before re-painting that tank.

It is in pretty good shape, high km though, 78,000! Apparently it was from Germany originally, got imported into the US, and them moved to Canada, so it has seen a good chunk of the world, which I think is pretty neat.

The tank is not quite as good as it looks, a couple of good "to the metal" dings in it that don't really show in the photos. If it was pristine I would have a hard time even thinking about painting it. Paint in not first on the agenda anyway, so I'll think about it.

ALSO, I'm open to suggestions and sample Photoshop chops (PhotoChops 8) ). Especially regarding the seat and tail.

If you want to offer and idea, you can download the high res photo here:

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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

One huge way to loose weight is to remove the cast iron crossover pipe under the motor, only thing is it is your muffler, the pipes are hollow. I weighed mine and it was 25lbs of rusty metal well worht the loss, but I now need to get better mufflers as it is a bit too loud. Clymers can be had free online for these and help you out. Most of the parts from the 78-86 CM/CB 400-450's will interchange except a few like CM - CB shocks are different, and some of the rebel engine parts are unique. be careful with the right carb running lean from crud build up as it can toast a piston....ask me how I know and a few others on here have found out. Pretty easy to work on. CDI handles ignition timing and keeping the timing chain tension proper will keep it running a long time. Valve adjustments are a snap, screw driver, wrench and a proper set of feelers and you can do them in about an hour. As for the seat, there are some really good ones done on here and some (Like Mine) that are just ok and others that miss the boat completely. Not an easy frame for cafe and if you go more of a brat or tracker it can be easier and look alright. I paid 650 for mine in half as good of condition, I have ridden it 20,000 KM since and 2-up on some 400-500 km trips with my wife and fully saddlebaged and tnak bag so they can take a beating.


Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build


It's like Christmas! Parts arrived from all over the USA today!


look at all them packages!


Even the dog can't wait to open them


Doesn't look like so much without the packaging

What I got...
-Full Gasket kit with valve seals and exhaust bushings
-new oil filters - 3 was a better price than one, and they 'll need changing eventually
-new plugs, & a spare set cause they are so cheap
-Oil filter cover o-ring
-carb bowl gaskets came in a pack of 4
-air filter
-new piston rings
-lapping compound
-valve lapping tool
-compression tester
-valve spring compressor
-new feeler gauges (a quick valve adjustment tomorrow to try and eliminate some knocking noises)
-torque wrench (long overdue!)
-some bits for my xlr250 which is unfortunately on the auction block: plug, filter, fork boots
-New Rubber

Total for everything, just under $325, including all shipping costs.

I figured some people might have questions about the tires, there are not many options out there for the sizes of the cm400c stock rims. I decided to go for the Vee Rubber for my first set.
I really love the tread on the front tire, unfortunately, they don't have a really similar one for the back. I got the closest one they had.


New Vee Rubber - Rear (L) and Front (R)

I ended up with the VRM-191 100/90-18 for the front and the VRM-192 120/90-16 for the rear. It's really the Vee's or the Kenda Challengers if you want a matching set for this bike with the stock rims, and I didn't really like the look of the Kenda's. I really dig the flat knobby look of the VRM-191, and for this around town rider project inexpensive tires will do the trick. The total was $125 for both tires including shipping from, Cedar Rapids Tire (.com) They even called to make sure I wasn't being defrauded because my billing and shipping addresses were different. Great Guys, and the best price I found by a long shot!

Now all I have to find is time to put all of this stuff on the bike!
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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

don't try to eliminate the valve noise, not comletely. These are valve noisey engines. If you make them too quiet you will toast your valves. Just get the specs from the manual and expect there to be some clicky clack at idle. Nice parts load. Those tires will be ok, but you can get Avons in the right sizes and they are better, keep in mind for next time. Make sure you follow the directional arrow on the front tire, I had the same one on my bike and it was mounted backwards and was a pain to change around. The direction is for rain, have it on wrong and the rain goes right at the back tire. Have fun tearing into her!


Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

oh yeah, that valve spring compressor doesn't work on this style head. You need the one that looks like a c-clamp to get the springs back on. To get them off, just use a socket and a rubber mallet.
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

I wasn't planning to replace the battery so soon, but the old lead acid would not hold a charge. It was almost dry when I received it, so the PO did not do any battery maintenance. I filled it up with distilled water, and let it trickle charge for 4 days. It started the bike in a strong fashion, but a couple of days later would not turn over.

Perhaps some fresh acid might do the trick, but I slapped in a small 4-cell A123 battery pack I threw together from some old RC helicopter packs I had kicking around my office.

Worked a treat, but this pack is just temporary. I will likely reconfigure it for hiding out of the way after the Airbox is removed.

Check it out.

PS Bonus points if you can tell me what the loud engine ticking noise is! I am planning a top-end rebuild very soon and of course a tune-up.
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How many hours is it possible to look at motorcycles on the internet? :eek: my brain hurts!

Here is an idea I am refining, let me know what you think. I never would have come up with this colour on my own, but I saw it on another bike, and it is growing on me.

It would be in a semi-flat finish I think.

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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

sounds like a valve adjustment is needed to me. Were can i get those batteries?! man i really want to get rid of my huge battery but my seat pan really doesnt have much room to hide one in. You think it would be something reliable enough to use daily? And try not to look at the clock when your looking at bike stuff on the web... its better if you dont know how much time has been wasted!
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

The batteries are available in pre-made packs online. search A123 motorcycle battery. or if you are handy with a soldering iron, you can buy individual cells and build a pack your self. there are some tutorials on youtube. individual cells cost about $16 each. you can make a 4 cell like mine, or you can make an 8 or 12 cell that will crank for longer if your bike is hard to start.

They don't require any maintenance, and don't lose a charge sitting for a long time. They can also be charged quickly (as fast as 10min from empty to full) so although it might not crank forever, if you ride for 10 min you will have a full charge again.

Mine seems to work just fine, i have started it a bunch of times since, and also did a compression test, so at least 30-40 seconds of cranking without any charging. I will do a test sometime to see how long it will crank for before it dies. before I decide to use a 4 cell or an 8 cell for my final bike.

you can also harvest cells from dewalt 36v LiIon drill battery packs which contain 10 cells (that's where I got mine)
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

A little bit of Progress...

I pulled the carbs off over the weekend, and they were pretty clean, the jets were clear. No need for an overhaul immediately. They can get cleaned and polished later. I also confirmed that I DO NOT have the non-adjustable USA version. so tuning after pod filters and new exhaust won't be impossible!

I removed the clutch cover and reset the balancer chain adjustment, as it had reached the end of adjustment through the access hole in the clutch cover. The good news here is that (as suspected) the very noisy clatter the engine had has gone away after the adjustment. I think it is possible that no one has ever adjusted it before. Everything under the cover looked pretty good and clean.

The oil pump chain seemed to have quite a bit of play, and I couldn't find any specs on the tolerance. can anyone tell me how much there should be?

New oil and filter, new gasket and closed her up.

I tried in vain to remove a broken exhaust header bolt. It was long enough to hold on to with the channel locks, but it did not want to come out, even with penetrating oil, and heat. Eventually, when I thought it was starting to turn, it snapped off about 4mm inside the hole. So it looks like I get to drill it out, hurray :mad:

I also learned how Tachometer works, as it looks like someone has installed a cable that is too short, and it has been pulling on the gauge, causing some trouble, bouncing, and binding, so I had to take it apart and fix it which was a pain in the ass.


I did a compression test too. Just 75psi per cylinder :eek: Boooo, but I had a top-end rebuild planned anyway. Maybe next week while the boss is out of town. Although I can't help but think that the tester I bought on eBay is a piece of crap, and might be mis-reading. I will try it on my brothers' bike to test it out. Still, she is blowing a bit of smoke (the bike, not the boss!) so new rings and valve seals are going in anyway.

I went to a giant bike swap south of Vancouver on Sunday and picked up a set of Clubman Bars, and some natural gum grips that I have been looking for for a while $27 for everything - Score. I could have picked up a bunch more stuff if I was a bit further along in the process, and knew what I wanted.

I did come away from the swap with a ton of inspiration though, there must have been a thousand bikes there.

Finally, I spent a bit more time in the virtual garage, working on design ideas. Here is where I am now...


with a two-up seat for me and the boss, and


and an extra rear cowl that can be added for a cool 1 up Cafe look.

Please tell me what you think!
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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

The designs look great! If you can pull it off you will have one awesome looking cm400!

Sent from my LS670 using Tapatalk
Colours? !!

Not that I am anywhere near ready yet, but I'm having a tough time trying to narrow down a colour for my bike.

You input is much appreciated!




Candy Red


Powder Blue


Candy Green (metallic, not Kawi green)


Butter Cream



Or something else? What do you think?
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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

Im partial to the green and blue colors myself. Im doing a flat powder blue on my project. Those colors definitely turn my head. That's my $.02
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

I'm liking the charcoal, candy red, and powder blue colors. Not too crazy about the others. But any of them would look pretty good. Its up to you man! Your bike haha.

Sent from my LS670 using Tapatalk
Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

Lots of parts arriving this week.

A change of Pace/ Plans...

The bike seems to be running pretty well. Not perfect, but not bad. I'm getting nearly 50 MPG (about 4L /100km) and the weather is getting better.

I'm going to put off the top end rebuild for a bit, and get to shaping/styling the bike. My brother (rebuilding a CX500) who is a helicopter pilot, and the guys from his work all keep their bikes in an empty hanger at the airport about 2 km away from my house. Looks like I will be able to keep my bike there over the winter too. So the new plan is to get the styling looking pretty good, and ride it this summer. Then in the hangar over the winter, strip it down, and do all of the mechanic upgrades and paint and details. Leaving a S#it hot little cafe ready for the road next spring.

Arriving this week are:

- Chrome bullet LED turn signals (might end up black)
- A John Deere Tractor fender light for my tail/brake light ( )
- sockets and bulbs to convert above from single incandescent filament to double LED for running/brake lights
- Vintage worn (trashed really) leather jacket that will be made into the new seat cover
- new tapered torpedo style mufflers
- Bar end mirrors
- pod filters
- header wrap to cover ugly rusty pipes
- new valve cover bolts/seals

Oh yeah, and a new Roof Boxer helmet all the way from Greece 8) !

Also installed clubman bars I picked up from a vintage bike show for $20, way more fun to ride now!

Once all this stuff is here I will have pretty much everything I need to get the styling well under way, and a have a fun ride for the summer.
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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

An update,

Liking the clubman bars, added bar end mirrors, and gum grips
Ditched the Luggage rack
Swapped out the turn signals
Swapped out the tail light
Removed the airbox and added pod filters
Put the new pipes on (a bit louder, but sounds like a motorcycle instead of a sewing machine now.)

Riding it daily!

Next is rejetting the carbs, it's running pretty lean with the Pods and new mufflers. Anyone have suggestions of jet sizes to start with?



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Re: My Precious - CM400C Cafe(ish) - first build

I was wondering when there was gonna be an update on here, all I do at work is bounce back and forth between every active CM400 build. Nice job on the bike so far. I love the look of clubmans but how comfortable is it without rear sets? I tried a set on my 79 CM400T and it was a real pain even on short commutes,I ended up settling with daytona bars.
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