I contracted this cb750 chopper disease when I was about 5 years old during the days when my dad showed his cb750 chopper at the Tri-state Auto and Adams County shows with people like Arlen Ness & Arlen Fatland. My old man moved out of state and the disease lay dormant until I turned 18 and he gave me his old chopper as a graduation gift.
I looked up some of his old buddies here in Colorado and finally managed to beg one of them to help me get ‘er running. I was amazed at how everyone refused to work on an old custom bike. That is when I decided to learn as much as I could about these bikes. My buddy Keith Ellis and I built a few bikes together learning as we went. We were having the time of our lives. When I bought my first house, I started filling the garage and sheds with cb750 parts. I hate getting overcharged by the junkyards or dealing with the hassle of mail order catalogues.
My friend Andrew Stone invited me to go to Sturgis with him. I only had about 5 days to build a bike to take with me so that is when the idea of “Uriah’s Sturgis Bike” began. I started out using a Santee swing arm frame that I had stored in the rafters of the garage. I got it from a basket case that I bought and stripped down earlier. I went through all my swing arms to see which one was the longest so I could get the ride height as low as possible. I used the 1978 SS swing arm. I had to make a brake stay mount on the bottom so I could mount my 16” drum brake rear wheel. I had to use a wider cush drive from a 1977-1978 so the rear sprocket would line up with the 1978 cb750K motor.
I pulled the motor from a low mileage, good compression, stock parts bike that I bought from Derrick Smith of B&D Hotrods in Ft. Lupton, CO. I set the frame up on layers of plywood with the rear wheel, 10” over front end, and a gutted dummy motor installed. Using a level on the lower frame rail and sliding the fork tubes into the triple trees, I determined that I needed to use forks that were 3-4” over stock length. I searched the garage and found the perfect set. I polished the fork lowers and replaced the fork seals and boots then added new fork oil (ATF). I went through some of my stash of parts and found the custom triple trees and fork brace that I removed from a neglected chopper project that I picked up from Pastor Gary of Church in the Wind. (This was before I started making my own triple trees) I went through my wheel shed and picked out the nicest stock front wheel and put new bearings in both the front and rear wheels. Now I had a rolling chassis.
I keep quite a stock of new parts on hand. Of course I buy parts from Tommy of Lowriders by Summers. He is very fair on his pricing and ships things out quickly. I buy my gasket kits from Ken at Cycle Exchange. They are the most complete and priced right. I get most of my parts from Jim Dallarosa of Vintage Motorcycle in Erie, CO. (rectifier/regulator, Dyna coils, Dyna Electronic Ignition, headlights, lowering shocks, ¼” pet cocks, grips, handlebars, brake line & fittings, gas cap, cool gas cap cover, solo spring seat …). He always gives me a good bulk purchase price, free shipping, and he is a wealth of information. I always try to buy in bulk so I don’t have to order very often and wait for shipping. Whenever possible I try to support my local mom-n-pop shops. No Wal-Mart type shops for me.
I spent about 4 hours rebuilding my carburetors. This entailed completely stripping them down and soaking them in a couple gallons of Gunk brand carburetor cleaner. Once everything was shiny clean, I brushed them off and rinsed them in gasoline to remove the residue that is left from the cleaner. During the reassembly I moved the c-clip on the main jet needles down one notch and installed larger 120 main jets. I set all the floats at a hair over 1”, and lubricated the slides, chokes, & rubbers.
I then selected a swing arm fat bob style rear fender that I had laying around and an after market front fender that I bought from Cliff at Legends Motorcycles during his going out of business sale. I designed a way to mount the rear fender and the rear short shocks and bought the hardware from ACE. I made brackets for my solo spring seat, rear brake light switch, and oil tank. While I was mounting these components my best friend Levi made the bracket for the headlight and mounted it. He, Andrew Stone and Derrick were right there with me ready to help where they could. We all had the goal of getting this bike done so I could go to Sturgis in only 5 days. I mounted the gas tank, ran the fuel and oil lines. Now for the electrical.
I have studied the wire diagrams on Hondachopper.com, the ones in the back of the Clymer manual, and the schematics that come with the rectifier/regulator replacement units. With this information I have made my own schematic and I used it to wire up the Dyna electronic ignition, Dyna coils, rectifier/regulator, lights, rear brake light switch, and car style key switch. (Do not even waste your time on the car style key switches that you buy at your local auto parts stores – they are junk and will break in a couple weeks. I found a guy online that had a bunch of made in USA switches and I spent $500 on them. They are awesome!)
At this point I was almost ready to fire it up and set the timing. I went ahead and adjusted the cam chain tensioner and adjusted the valve clearance. I installed the new MAC TT drag pipes, foot pegs, oil filter w/ a cooler from a 1977-78 SS & the longer bolt, and added the oil. Then I lubricated the cylinders by spraying some oil in the spark plug holes. I installed the spark plugs using anti-seize to prevent stripping out the spark plug holes because the head is aluminum, the spark plugs are steel and they expand and contract at different rates with heat. Time to fire it up!
We started the bike and it fired right up… high fives filled the air! I jumped down and set the timing. I love setting the timing on a bike with electronic ignition. It is so much easier than points. You don’t need to get out the tach/dwell meter and fiddle with all that. Just set each side once at high rpm and your done. I synchronized the carburetors using the Hondaline vacuum gauge kit that I picked up from a guy in a parts buyout. Now I threw on a sissy bar to hold my gear and I was done.
After staying up till the wee hours in the morning it was time for some rest with the feeling of accomplishment. We loaded up the gear on the bikes and headed out to Sturgis late the next morning and had a blast! The bike ran awesome and we had no problems. It looked dirty since it was all mismatched colors mixed with rusty parts… but it was awesome! I had more people stop and check out this bike than ever before. People love to see a bike that was built in a garage by some guys that are just regular dudes.
The next year my wife said that she wanted to go with me so I had to swap out the seat. I had a few weeks till Sturgis so I decided to go ahead and finish the build in style. I made a custom two up seat pan that fit the frame and fender perfectly. I sent it and the sissy bar pad off to Tom Simmons in Arkansas. He did an awesome job with the silver flamed stitching. He has been making seats for a lot of years. He is a good ol’ boy that knows what he is doing. And he was cool enough to trade me out for 2 sets of HM300 exhaust. I removed the small GME deep tunnel coffin tank and bought a new pro image one gas tank that fit the backbone perfectly. I had to fabricate and weld on a new front mounting tab to accommodate the bracket that I made for the coils. I like mounting the coils in the tunnel of the gas tank to hide them and keep them close to the spark plugs to minimize the length of the spark plug wires. I decided to go with forward controls. I went down to K & K surplus in Commerce City, CO and bought some steel and went to town. I cut out a few trial sets of levers and mounts and finally came up with an idea that worked. These are my prototype set of forward controls. I have went through two more revisions since then, but they looked very clean and worked great – especially for being built using a cutting torch, grinder, welder, and some ingenuity – no mill or lathe.
I then stripped down the rest of the bike and got it ready for paint and powder coating. I highly suggest building your bike and riding first, before you paint the frame and tins. This way you can make all the changes you want and don’t have to repaint. I had frame, swing arm, oil tank, forward controls, side stand, and brackets sandblasted by Cletus Zerr at Zarco Equipment in Commerce City, CO. I dropped it off at 6:00 a.m. that morning and it was done the next morning at 6:00 a.m. for only $85. I then called to meet up with this guy I met at a party that works for a powder coating company to set up a time to give him everything to powder coat. At the last minute he decided he wanted over two and a half times what he quoted me originally to do the job.
I was now less than a week away and I was in a spot. I jumped online and called Mark at Colorado Powder Coating in Commerce City, CO. I gave him my sob story. He said that he couldn’t help me out on such notice, and then he asked, “What color do you want it? And Do you already have everything sandblasted?” I told him that I wanted it to be silver vein. He said that he was spraying that color first thing in the morning and that if I had it there by 7:00 he would do it. Awesome!!! I dropped everything off to him and picked it up that night. He did a great job and was very fair on his price – much less that the jerk earlier. I took my tank and fenders over to Chris Stevenson at Pappy’s Auto and Cycle Works in Northglenn, CO. I asked him to spray them gloss black with silver tribal flames. He went to town and got creative. He threw in a splash of red with pin striping and it looked great.
While I had the motor out I replaced all the gaskets using Ken’s gasket kit. While I had the head off, I noticed that the cam chain pulley was worn, so I replace it as well. I reassembled the motor, torqued it all down and adjusted everything again. I made some brackets so I could mount the motor to an engine stand. That made it easier to clean and paint the motor.
Now it was a mad rush to reassemble it all with our Sturgis trip just three days away. Again Levi, Andrew, and Derrick came over to chip in and help. During the reassembly I put a huge scratch in my freshly painted rear fender! Chris was cool enough to drop everything and repaint it for free. Luckily there were no flames on the rear fender so it wasn’t that hard. Flames on the rear would have made it too busy with the seat, sissy bar, and fender struts. I spent about $250 on chrome bolts at ACE to match my new sissy bar, controls, triple trees,… We got it all reassembled and running great, but there was still one key component missing – the seat! Tom was slammed with customers because of the Sturgis rush and hadn’t finished my seat. Our Sturgis trip was just a couple days away! He stayed up late, finished my seat & sissy bar pad and sent them to me on a Greyhound bus. I picked them up at the Denver bus station, installed them and left the next morning. Again with the help of God and some good buddies I was able to make it to the Sturgis Rally. My wife was able to go on her first motorcycle rally and we were riding a custom built bike.