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Picture of How to turn a Junkyard bike into Collector's bike

HI everyone,

In this instructable I'll show you how I turned a junkyard bike that was left in a backyard for about 30 years into a new, beautiful bike that'll be entered in a motorcycle contest and of course, giving you tips and how to's along the way ;)

Many people may think that it is kinda crazy to get a bike that is not running, and did not for at least 30 years, has no brakes and that is covered with dirt and corrosion, but sometimes, it can be saved without too much effort!

Ideally, it is better to have some mechanical knowledge for this kind of restoration, but you can actually lot a lear along the way, that's how I learned everything :)

The idea behind this instructable is that by telling you what I did to restore that bike, it'll give you a checklist of about everything you need to do, or check, if you want to restore a bike and make it rideable again! I may not go into all the details of every steps, but I will tell you what you need to do, and you can also find more details in my other instructables ;)

Step 1: The Project Video (timelapse)

One says an image is worth a thousand words right? so I guess a video is worth billions of words :)

I like to record me working on my motorcycle projects and for this one, I recorded every single step to make a huge timelapse of the rebuild and transformation of the bike, so there you go, you'll be able to see in this video every step I'll describe in this Instructable ;)

PS: if anyone is wondering, the white smoke coming out of the exhaust at the end is normal. It is because it is the first start of the motorcycle after rebuild and it still has to evacuate some humidity from the cylinder and the fogging oil I used into the cylinder ;)

CraftAndu5 months ago
Well, this is simpy awesome! I absolutely love your bike projects and it is wonderful to also see you on this site. I love your bikes so much that infact I am going to check out an old Honda cb400 from 1983 tomorrow and hopefully buy it! And of course, turn it into a Cafe racer! Can you imagine it - a dude on YouTube is the reason behind all of this!
Anyway, I hope you do in well in the contests you have entered. You definitely have my vote in Trash to treasure!
tahitianrider (author)  CraftAndu5 months ago
Haha thanks a lot Andu! I'm glad I inspired you into buying an old bike and starting a cafe racer project, that's what its all about, thanks for the support :)
nedchurch5 months ago
Nice work. I'm a great advocate of "if you can't make it original then make it better"
I've restored/done up numerous old bikes, mostly british, none of them older than me though and many have been repurposed as cafe racers. That's partly because I love the style but also mudguards and body parts can be fabricated out of fibreglass etc and cost far less. In New Zealand we can get vehicles re-registered to go on the road but that involves a full inspection and engineering certificates for mechanical or structural changes like wheels, brakes or suspension. Parts are hard to get and expensive here especially if you add shipping hence lots of minor modifications. I've never made money on bikes but love doing it. That said, a Honda CBX400F that I'd owned for years ended up being shipped back to Japan where a collector paid NZ$5000 for it even though it rattled and wasn't completely original. I'm currently "tarting up" my old Yamaha FJ1200 that I can no longer ride due to balance issues. Keep up the good work keeping those great old bikes on the road.
tahitianrider (author)  nedchurch5 months ago
Thanks man! I didn't know about the full inspection on old bikes in NZ. I actually know NZ well since I use to go there, also went to an old classic motorbike show in Pukekohe. I always wonder why there are so few motorcycle on the roads in NZ, where the roads are so nice and weather pretty good for riding haha. Yeah I know the pain it must be to find parts in NZ. But it does seems that the local market has been "saved" yet from the trend of selling old wrecked bike for lots of $$$. Just to give you an idea, a seized, wrecked CB750 four that was store for 30 years here in France will sell for about 5000nzd without title!!
Wood projects5 months ago
Now I have seen true love in action; well done Tom :)
tahitianrider (author)  Wood projects5 months ago
Thanks :)
attosa5 months ago
Lovely. I wish I could handle doing this on my own. One of my bikes (kawasaki kz200) could do with this makeover :)
tahitianrider (author)  attosa5 months ago
It really ain't that hard ;) check out my other instructable where I teach the basics ;)
Jhonbaker5 months ago
Well done! Very nice. I've repaired and "rust"ored old straight fours before - a certified pita. but so rewarding that first time you get pulled over for riding without a license plate and well over the posted speed limit - lol - anyway, I found the hardest part of repairing them was getting the damn carburetor boot back on and sealed.
Anyway, loved it. Thank you for sharing.
tahitianrider (author)  Jhonbaker5 months ago
Haha thanks! Yeah the carbs boots are very stiff on those SOHC fours, I replaced them but even with the new ones, carbs are difficult to fit in there.
tercero5 months ago
Nice rebuild.

My only comment (s) would be to make sure the title is clear, and that it hasn't been declared "salvage" as getting it back on the road can be a complete and utter waste of time (depending where you live), and if as you say. It was "crashed". Check the frame very very carefully for true (the frame is warped or bent) and for cracks. Both will make this project a waste of time.
You'll also have to have it safetied to be on the road again and that can be a hassle as you usually have to take the bike to the office or ministry (in your country) where they'll check everything. With that said, the bike has to be EXACTLY as declared on the title. Or they won't give you a certificate. Any changes to the original (motor, transmission, gearing, chain, brakes...etc) and they usually say no.
Same with insurance. Insurance is based on statistics so getting an insurance company to give you insurance on any modifications is difficult as they can't predict results so they're reluctant to give you insurance.

Hate to be a downer, but I built 4 electric motorcycles from project bikes over the years. What a nightmare getting them back on the road in Ontario, Canada. The hoops I had to jump through finally made me give up.

Not dumping on you or on the project, but there's a bit more to it than just finding a bike and getting it rebuilt.
tytower tercero5 months ago
Most sensible governments have an age exemption for collectors . So a bike thats 30 years old will be a collectors classic and registerable as an antique . You did not mention that .

tercero tytower5 months ago
You said sensible government.......what's that?

JK. Here in Ontario, everything is wrapped in layers and layers of red tape that makes getting small things done very difficult.

The weird part. The provincial government allows those junky 300w electric scooters everywhere, no license or insurance necessary. So, of course everyone who has lost their drivers permit (usually to drinking and driving) of course buys one. And. Continues to drive like a complete and total idiot.

That said. It really is dependent on the country or state, or province on how much wiggle room you're allowed when rebuilding.

And all good replies btw. Thanks for sharing.
Here in Italy you have to be registered in advance association and the bike must be restored like new, so you can't change exhaust, filters, suspensions and seat if you want to be considered antique
jrial Maledetto.5 months ago
Depends on the country, of course. I don't know about bikes, but here in Belgium we have a one-time inspection when you register a classic car. You can change some stuff, but only with other parts that were available for that model.

Of course, what happens is, people register their old Renault R6, pass the inspection, and then drive it straight home to drop a modern Golf engine in there. Since that car will never have to pass inspection again as long as you own it, you can get away with that. Just don't get involved in any accidents. ;)

There was also talk a while back about having an annual inspection, like for every other car that's older than 4 years. But I'm not sure if they passed that law yet or not.
Maledetto. jrial5 months ago
Basically you're telling me to break the law, so in any case that a cop do a control he can seize the bike and check me, the insurance won't pay me and in case of an accident I'm always guilty because the bike should be in the road? That's how most of the people does here but it's not the best advice
jrial Maledetto.5 months ago
Maledetto: nobody is telling you to do anything. What made you conclude that?
solarborg jrial5 months ago
In the uk we have an annual mot ubt I don't know for really old vehicles.
You'd think they'd let you upgrade the brakes etc. The bits you haven't used are probably worth more than the bike. Restorers of older bikes could tell you the price of the bits you took off as some will no longer be able to buy them and some will go for quite a bit of money to the right collector.
jrial solarborg5 months ago
About those brakes: no clue about the UK, but in Belgium you're not even allowed to upgrade the brakes. I had to have paperwork with me every time I went to the MOT, to prove my sports brakes and larger rims were authorized for the old Mondeo I used to drive. Yup, despite it coming off the assembly line with them installed. You're not even allowed to upgrade your brake hoses from standard rubber to metal if the car didn't come with metal hoses.

I can understand there have to be certain rules to prevent people from doing potentially dangerous mods to their cars, but upgrading parts to increase safety should not be illegal IMHO.
tahitianrider (author)  tercero5 months ago
Yeah the title sure is an important part, and indeed, as some have stated, it all depend on the country. Here in France, title for antique vehicules (more than 30 y/o) is not really that important because you can apply for a new title as a collector's bike, as long as you have proof of purchase and ownership of the vehicule. There is also no inspection for motorcycle in France, only for cars. So inspection is not a problem either. It all depends on the country where you live.
For the US, I believe it depends on the state.
Hazara_nz5 months ago
Love it, really makes me want to drag the 550F out of the back shed and do something with it...
The 550F big cousin of the 400F. Great bike well worth doing. You could even make money if you find the right buyer.
A pro in action. You got my vote.
samayaraj5 months ago
Excellent work
thom.tremblay5 months ago
I deeply regret selling my CB350f. Thank you for sharing this. So many great, inexpensive bikes that with a little work and patience can bring joy for years.
billbillt5 months ago
Great Job!!...
Cool project! Did you get raped on the purchase of the bike? Around my area it seems that anything with 2 wheels and a motor bigger than 50CC is automatically worth at least $1200.
"!974 Honda 750, engine seized, fished it out of a lake, no title, $2100 FIRM" is how it goes.
Yes unfortunately there is a huge trend for vintage motorcycle nowadays, especially Honda's CB750 four and BMW R series. And here in France near Paris some prices are crazy, I've seen people selling a CB750 frame only (no engine in it) for $5000. As for my CB350F, its price wasn't cheap indeed for a junkyard/wrecked bike that sat for 30 years. Sometime you do see people selling those at a fair price, like $800. But from experience, they are sold within the next minute the ads is published, and by minute, I mean it, most of the time, it takes only about 20 seconds. The huge problem is that there are tons of professionnal, with professionnal tools to scan the websites, to buy all those bike and sell their parts 10 times more.
Haozhe5 months ago
Hi I voted for you I hope you will win I will also try the build.
tahitianrider (author)  Haozhe5 months ago
Thanks :)
CntDestoyer5 months ago
Step one, find a collectable at a junk yard
Step two, profit!
jrial CntDestoyer5 months ago
I don't think you're using that meme correctly. ;)
AnandM545 months ago
Wow detailed instructable.. great... Did lots of work ... Also typing an large instructable..!!