A Motorcycle Reunion: Reviving a '75 Honda CB750F

A Motorcycle Reunion: Reviving a '75 Honda CB750F | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring

When I was in college, say around 2006, my brother called me up and asked, “Do you want to buy a running motorcycle for $400?” Though I never had the chance to ride dirt bikes growing up, and I’d never ridden a motorcycle before, there was no hesitation as I said, “Absolutely.” Soon I was the proud owner of a 1975 Honda CB750F Super Sport. All things considered, the bike wasn’t in bad shape. It ran decently well and functioned mostly as it should. Looking back, now I think it probably could’ve used new tires, but I was too young to know better.

To make a long story short, I learned to ride on that old Honda, and for the next four years we had many adventures together. But along the way life got busier and I began to have less and less time to ride. I started a career and got married. My trusty Honda began to gather dust, the carbs gummed up, and I didn’t have time to deal with it. With a baby on the way, I gave my old bike to a younger guy who planned to rebuild it.

The CB750F arrives at home after spending many years under a tarp.

Fast-forward eight years or so and once again I got a call from my brother. “Hey, whatever happened to that old Honda you had?” he asked. It didn’t take long to track down the bike’s owner, only to find out that life had happened to him, too. While starting his own career, getting married, and becoming a father, he had never rebuilt the Honda. In fact, the bike had been sitting under a tarp outside for eight years. We loaded it on the back of my pickup truck and drove it home.

At long last, the old motorcycle would get the attention it deserved. But it wouldn’t be a top to bottom rebuild, at least not yet. The goal was to get the CB back on the road as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Getting it running, safe, and improving performance were the main priorities. So, without further adieu, here’s the parts list:

• battery
• chain
• clutch and throttle cables
• oil and filter
• spark plugs and wires
• coils
• air filters
• brake lines and pads
• front and rear master cylinders
• Progressive rear shocks
• Progressive fork springs
• Dunlop D404 tires
• miscellaneous fluids and small parts

For a bike that had been sitting under a tarp outside for years, that’s a short list. The truth is, these old Hondas are very hard to kill and it doesn’t take much to bring one back from the brink. While most of the parts on order were of the mundane sort, I was especially excited to install the Progressive suspension parts and the Dunlop tires. Years ago, when I was first riding the bike, I was never impressed with its ride or handling. Now, with tens of thousands of miles’ worth of experience on modern bikes with modern suspensions, I knew the CB was going to need some help. Progressive sent me replacement springs for the front forks and two new shocks for the rear. Installation was as easy as it gets—the deathly smell of 40-year-old fork oil notwithstanding—and the blacked-out rear shocks look fantastic.

A new chain and Progressive rear shocks help transform the look and feel of this bike's rear end.

I’ve had great experience with Dunlop tires before, so it was a no-brainer to throw a set of D404s onto the old Honda’s spoke wheels. Even when I first got the bike in 2006, the tires were shot and, in my youthful ignorance, I continued to ride on them far longer than anyone with a shred of common sense would have deemed reasonable. The tires were completely bald, dry rotted, and with steel belts showing; today I wouldn’t let my worst enemy ride on them.

Over the course of six months or so, the CB began to transform from a dusty old relic into a roadworthy motorcycle. The motor, idle for so long, turned over freely and had great compression. After I thoroughly cleaned the carbs and sorted out a few electrical issues, the motor fired right up. Next came the brakes, which took some tinkering to get working again, and there were a few other small hiccups along the way. But I’m proud to say that my old bike is now roadworthy again, though it certainly isn’t a looker. In fact, thanks to the Progressive suspension, and quality, modern tires from Dunlop, I daresay the CB now performs better than it ever has!

As with any project like this, the more work you do, the more work you realize the bike needs.

Of course, down the road I plan on stripping the bike back down, powder-coating the frame, cleaning up the motor, and giving it all a new coat of paint, but for now I’m just going to enjoy the ride.