There is something inherently fun about small-displacement builds, especially when they are done with the detail, performance, and historical livery of this Honda SL70 street tracker by OtC Custom Motorcycles.
The Honda SL70 was a 72cc, four-stroke street/trail bike that preceded the XR75 — especially cool because it looked like a real motorcycle. Toby Jones built the bike to benefit the K9s for Warriors Charity, and it will be auctioned off at this year’s Riding into History Vintage Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in St. Augustine Florida — one of our favorite shows. The bike was stripped down to the bare frame, detabbed, and now sports a 125cc Piranha motor.
Below, we get the full details from on the build.
SL70 Mini Street Tracker: Builder Interview
(Answers by Toby Jones of OtC Custom Motorcycles. Highlights by us.)
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Toby Jones and my shop OtC Custom Motorcycles is in Vero Beach Florida. I have been fooling around with things mechanical for so long that my sister says she will always remember me as being a “greasy little child.” While vintage custom motorcycles is actually just a hobby for me (a guy who is retired and doesn’t play golf or fish), we manage to do a couple of builds a year and sell one from time to time. Our CB400F café bike that was featured on BikeBound.com last year recently found a new home with an architect in Ft. Lauderdale. He keeps it in his office (how cool is that?).
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This little bike is a 1973 Honda SL70. One of the first Honda minis that actually looked like a real motorcycle. The donor bike was in sad shape and missing most of its original parts. I knew the little guy was too far gone for a factory restoration, but I was sure we could do something cool with it.
• Why was this bike built?
I’m so glad you asked. For the past couple of years my wife Mary and I have attended the Riding into History Vintage Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in St. Augustine Florida. It is a fantastic show with hundreds of vintage bikes of all makes and styles on display. The World Golf Village where it is held is a beautiful venue with the vintage bikes parked around a lake on its Walk of Champions. The show holds a silent auction at its Grand Marshal’s dinner each year benefitting the K9s for Warriors charity. A group that does some great work providing and training companion dogs for returning Veterans suffering from PTSD.
My wife had a chance to meet and chat with the people from K9s for Warriors last year and was very impressed with their work. To make a long story short, I have always wanted to build one of these cool little bikes so after talking it over with our good friend and the founder of the show, Billy Aldrich (who agreed it was a capital idea) we decided to build this little bike specifically for the auction. We understand how fortunate we are to be free to do what we do and this is just our way of giving a little bit back to the veterans that make our freedom possible.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
From the first time I laid eyes on it I knew this bike was going to be a tracker. I just dig the simplicity and down to business look of a tracker that says “toss me sideways and let me sling some dirt.” As for the color scheme, well I think everyone knows where that came from. The Gulf Oil racing livery is so iconic in motorsports that it really doesn’t need an introduction. Even the young people recognize it, though they think it was first used on a Porsche and probably don’t remember the GT40 Fords at Lemans.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The bike was disassembled to the bare frame and we removed the tabs and brackets that were not going to be used. The frame was then stripped, primed and painted in Competition Orange urethane.
We custom built a seat base and our friend Jake at Jake Martin Upholstery stitched up a sweet cover for it. Two inches was cut from each end of a set of standard tracker bars to better fit the bike’s smaller profile. The front and rear hubs were polished and a new set of chrome rims were laced up. The lower fork sliders were also polished before being fitted with new seals and upper tubes.
I fabricated a new brake stay with lightening holes from 6061 aluminum and also whipped up a small chain guard and toggle switch mount. A spare (badly rusted) CB400F Honda front fender was cut down, sand blasted and returned to service as a rear fender for the little tracker. The original Honda tank and the donor rear fender were primed, painted and striped in Gulf Oil racing colors.
As the original Honda engine was long gone and the replacement engine that came with the bike had its kick start lever welded to the shaft, we decided to go with a new Piranha 125cc killer motor. After all, we want the new owner to have a happy ride but, when the throttle is screwed on, also a bit of a scary ride.
• Please include a list of the changes made/parts used.
- Tracker handle bars from Dime City Cycles.
- Front and rear rims from David Silver Spares
- Front and rear tires from Motorcycle Super Store
- Piranha 125cc motor, cables, controls and exhaust from Motorcycle Warehouse
- Brake shoes and fork seals from 2fast Moto
- Of course a few misc. parts from good old Ebay
• How would you classify this bike?
Tracker, yep it’s a baby tracker.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
You know, I’m proud that, with the exception of the upholstery, we were able to do everything on this bike right here in the shop, but I’m actually more grateful than proud about this build. Grateful that we are able to give something back to a great cause. Grateful that this little bike may be some young man or young ladies introduction to motorcycling. Grateful that I’m married to a woman that loves to ride, puts up with my hobby and thinks the way I do when it comes to giving back.