I don’t know too many riders from last century that didn’t own a CB (insert number here) Four at some stage of their riding career.
I wasn’t any different.
I owned an old Hoon*-da CB750 Four (K2) for a couple of years. I bought it as a basket case, and rebuilt it over twelve months.
You can read about it here.
The bike had its quirks; like those stupid little rubber grommet seal things that sat under the cam cradles.
The things would move under load and there would be a trail of oil coming out from under the head soon after.
It turned out that this was a common problem, and the fix was to replace the grommet thingies with press fit aluminium plugs.
The other problem I had, which was more due to metal fatigue than anything else. Was that one of the cam cradles had lifted on a ride over Mt. Glorious.
The top end was destroyed as a result. The cradles disintegrated, the cam had some good-sized gouges in it, and looked a bit like a boomerang as well.
Despite all that, I still managed to put 35,000 km (22,000 miles) on it in the twelve months I rode it.
The bike was due for a service and valve clearance check since having the top end rebuilt by Phil at ProFlow. So I dropped round there one Saturday morning to get the job done.
When I arrived, Phil started telling me about a new project he had going. A coffin tank Z1R MKII Kawasaki. He was going to build it as an advert for his shop.
The frame had already been checked and braced and was away at the powder-coaters. The rest of the bike was strewn all over the workshop; wheels were over in a corner, the wiring harness was hanging on a hook on a pin-board, the engine was being rebuilt on the bench and the panel work was in a box ready to go to the painters.
Phil was a one time mechanic for a Kawasaki race team, so it was no surprise that he was excited about his new project.
Pleading ignorance, I asked “Whats a Z1R?”
I was after all a newish rider.
Phil patiently explained the bikes history to me, and what he was planning. When he finished, I asked him how much he wanted for it when it was finished.
Phil thought for a minute, then came back with “$4000.”
He continued. “We’d better get started on the Honda, eh?”
On a spur of the moment decision, I handed him the cash I was going to give him for the service, and said “Consider the Z1R sold.”
What? You want to buy the Z1R, what about the Honda? he asked.
“Yep, I’m going to buy the Z1R. Unless someone else has dibs* on it?” I said.
Adding “I’ll consign the Honda and have the rest of the money ready for you when the Z1R is finished.
Within a month I had the Z1R in my garage. It had a braced frame with all the bearings and bushes replaced. Progressives springs on the front with Koni adjustables on the rear. The engine had a mild cam with a Wiseco 1080 kit. New chain and sprockets, new tyres — the bike was like brand new.
I wasn’t allowed to run the bike to anything more than 4000 rpm for the first 1500 km (1000 miles). It needed to be run in.
Once the run in period had passed, the carburetors were kitted and adjusted to allow the bike to breath. The only thing that let the bike down visually was the grungy old Tranzac exhaust that was hanging off it.
Over the next 12 months Phil taught me how to look after, and service the bike. I’d buy what was needed for the job; oil, filters, that sort of thing, and Phil would explain what needed to be done.
There’s not too many mechanics around that will do that these days.
Despite its wooden front brake and an exhaust collector that would bottom out on left handers, the bike always left me grinning.
On one occassion I clocked 220km/h (135 mp/h) on that thing. Yeah, Yeah I know, young and dumb
I rode the bike for 3 years before I sold it to a bloke in Burpengary, north of Brisbane.
I remember putting some new hoops on it not long before it went up for sale. The tyre guy asked why I was getting rid of it.
“Young Family”. I said.
He looked at me with that been there look and said “You’ll regret it”
He was right.
I saw the Z1R a few years later at a track day out at Lakeside. I can only guess that the new owner was having as much fun on it as I’d had a few years earlier.
About 18 months after Phil finished the bike he moved to Sydney. I caught up with him a few times after that, once in Brisbane when he was visiting family, and once when I was in Sydney.
I lost track of Phil after that. Pity, he was a gun spanner man and a nice bloke too.
I know that technology has moved on, and there have been huge advances in engine management and frame design. Hell the brakes on my Bandit are light years ahead of that old Z1R.
I still can’t forget that bike and those days though.
Regrets? Well, maybe one.
- Hoon: Australian/ New Zealand term for a lout or hooligan, especially a young man who drives recklessly.
- Dibs: The right to something, an option to buy.