”A solid, reliable bike, good for transportation of the impecunious.”
This is how the Honda CB200T has been described. The bike was the largest of the Honda CB Twin series that included the CB125, CB160, and CB175. The bike was reliable, affordable, and became ubiquitous during its four year model run in the mid-1970s.
Enter James Fawcett of Slipstream Creations, who offers up some of the cleanest, most well-sorted Honda CB builds in the land. James’s philosophy is less about wild, one-off fabrication than thoughtful execution of a design that accentuates the original lines, style, and unique character of each bike. The result are builds that are not mere showpieces, but rider experiences. Machines built to be ridden and enjoyed.
We were especially taken with this build, as it was largely a father/son affair — much like BikeBound itself. James and his son did all of the work on this bike in-house, including paint, powder-coating, and fabrication. James’s mom even helped with the seat upholstery! Below, we get the full story on the build!
Honda CB200 Brat Cafe: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by James Fawcett. Highlights by us.)
Over the winter I came across a nice 1975 CB200t for sale in town. I’ve always been a fan of the uniquely shaped tank and overall aesthetics of the bike. I’m a big fan of smaller Honda twins in general, so I had to get my hands on it. Honda’s CB200T was never a high performance machine. It was a simple, reliable, unassuming bike that could get you from point A to point B without much fuss. Nowadays it’s a 40+ year old, grin-inducing piece of nostalgia that reminds you what fun it can be to hop on two wheels, twist the throttle, and ride. Our goal was to keep this build simple and clean, accentuate the fun, and add heaps of style to this already iconic Honda twin.
Even with a simple bike like this, you could take the custom work pretty far if you wanted. For us, the key was (and always is) to make wise choices about what’s worth customizing, and how to execute that plan – maintaining some connection to the original style of the bike, but improving the lines where we can, cleaning up the clutter, and highlighting unique characteristics to give the finished bike a well thought-out and buttoned-up feel.
This bike was torn down completely, and everything but the engine internals were restored, replaced, or customized. Messy is an understatement for the original CB200t frame, so we updated things a quite a bit with a custom subframe and added a rear seat hoop that coordinates nicely with the slightly squared geometry of the tank. And speaking of the tank, the unique vinyl tank pad that really sets these CB200t’s apart was nice, but we opted to remove the pad and the stainless trim, smoothing out the lines of the tank instead. The custom multi-tone paint scheme was laid out to accentuate the unique shape of the tank as well.
Everything on the build was done in-house by myself and my son, with some help from my mom for the seat upholstery. The custom work included all of the paint and powder coating, the custom fabrication of the subframe, fenders, seat pan, battery box, headlight brackets, re-lacing wheels, and more.
In the end, this bike is pure fun to ride. It fires right up and sounds great, and is a blast to just hop on and go. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Here’s a short list of some of the things were done to this bike. The last item on this list is probably the most important one.
- Modified original tank with custom paint and graphics
- Custom fabricated battery/electronics tray mounted under seat
- Custom fabricated seat pan and custom diamond-stitched seat cover
- Custom fabricated headlight mounts
- Custom subframe and rear hoop to match the lines of the tank
- Customized exhaust and Biltwell mini mufflers
- Custom front and rear fenders
- All new seals, wheel bearings, ignition, and other wearable parts
- LED headlight to provide bright light while drawing minimal power
- Custom mounted LED brake light that perfectly fits the rear seat hoop
- Rebuilt Keihin carburetors
- Lengthened center and side stands to accommodate slightly larger tires
- All of the little, big details