Tom Laveuf grew up in France, where he and his family rode Honda CR125 and CR250 dirt bikes, and his uncle rebuilt 70s Hondas. After moving to the States, his two-wheeled obsession went dormant until Seaweed & Gravel moved in down the street, and he met the shop’s bike builders.
Incredibly enough, he built the 1981 DOHC Honda CB750 monoshock you see here with zero prior experience welding, bending, or grinding metal. As Tom says:
“I firmly rely on the pride and joy one gets from doing all things on their own.”
What did have was Brady Young–veteran builder of Seaweed & Gravel–to serve as his coach. Brady guided Tom through the process from a distance, allowing him to make his own mistakes and learn from them. The result is the incredible bike you see here, one of the finest CB750s we have ever featured.
Monoshock CB750 Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
(Answers by Tom Laveuf. Questions and highlights by us.)
• Please tell about yourself and your history with motorcycles.
Name’s Tom Laveuf, I’m a 32 yr old touring sound guy, and I’ve been around motorcycles (mostly off-road) for as long as I can remember. I grew up in France, and I rode with my dad, and my cousins who had a couple mid-80’s CR125’s and CR250’s. My uncle at the time also rebuilt 70’s Hondas; that was his hobby. So I was around bikes then, but when my parents and I moved to the US from France, my exposure faded. It didn’t help that my uncle perished in a terrible motorcycle accident.
When the Seaweed and Gravel retail shop moved in approximately 100 yards from my front door, I must say I was rather intrigued and very excited. After meeting Dave (owner of Seaweed), Brady (Bike Builder) and Jarred (Bike Builder), and hanging out with them, we all realized that we had a lot in common and that we were all weirder than the next. It was the start of my return to the obsession of motorcycles.
So I bought my first motorcycle as an adult, a fairly clean and running 1974 Honda CB360. I rode the shit out of it, and because I firmly rely on the pride and joy one gets from doing all things on their own, I fixed, modified, and did everything myself (except timing adjustment…Randy, the industry guru at Seaweed, helped me with that). I also bought a 1978 Suzuki TS125 with knobby tires for a very good price just to have something to fill my craving for dirt.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
It is a 1981 CB750 DOHC.
• Why was this bike built?
Brady built an 81 CB750 he dubbed Mean Mr. Mustard, and it instantly became my favorite build of all. I couldn’t stop thinking about the way it looked, the way it sounded, and the way it moved. It immediately stole my heart and I vowed that one day I’d build something like that.
Every once in a while, I’d go on ebay and search for one of these as a barn find or someone selling one super cheap that I could snag and chop up, but I didn’t have much of a budget. Until I found this one, which was for sale as a bike in pieces. Its previous owner had a plan to build it as a cafe racer, but as I found out much later was then sadly diagnosed with prostate cancer and could not proceed with the build. It was a rolling frame, a tank, and three engines…with hopefully one of them working. I made an offer, and within 15 minutes, I was the new owner.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The concept was to build a bike similar to Mean Mr. Mustard, but with my personality infused in it. I was determined to do it, and I was going to, any way I had to.
Having never welded, cut, bent, or ground metal before, and never having designed anything other than large sound systems….I needed some guidance if I wanted this motorcycle I had dreamed up to eventually be a reality. My good friend Brady immediately said yes and enlisted himself in being my coach, and what better person, than the man himself that built Mean Mr Mustard. He taught me all the skills i needed, and put me in the right frame of mind, to envision and create the motorcycle of my dreams.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Brady showed me once, how to do everything, then let me go. He let me make my own mistakes, and he let me do things the long way so that I could then appreciate the shortcuts and smarter techniques that one learns with years of experience. He didn’t want to rob me of the trials and tribulations. He also made sure I was doing things the safe way, so that the bike actually would be safe to ride.
We converted the bike to a monoshock in the rear, we cut the subframe and redesigned the seat and seat pan, found some beautiful deerskin leather on ebay and chose it for the seat, dropped the front end 1.5 inches and added Racetech Cartridge Emulators.
Made the bike a 4-into-2. I also tore the whole top end down…cleaned every inch, re-lapped the valves and valve seats, swapped shims, new rings, new seals, took apart the carb rack, rejetted it, new O-rings and seals there as well.
• Please include a list of the changes made/parts used.
A bit too long to list. The only original things on the bike are the wheels, the tank, half the frame, the engine and forks. Everything else is custom made or custom ordered.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Welding the subframe, and the entire monoshock conversion was a big one for me….and never having had my hands in an engine before, tearing down, re-storing and upgrading the whole top end of the engine.
The bike will be for sale after some pretty serious testing and tuning.
Photography by Ryan Krause.
Follow the Builders
- Tom Laveuf: @tomlaveuf
- Brady Young: @imfreakinugly
- Jarred DeArmas: @jarreddearmas
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