A $1250 (!) brat / cafe racer from North Carolina…
While we love to drool over high-dollar bike builds as much as anyone, we’ve always been drawn to bikes built within a reasonable budget, and even more importantly, built to be ridden hard and enjoyed. More of that old-school hot rod ethic, you know?
So when Bob Ranew of Garner, NC — founder of Redeemed Cycles and Classified Moto’s first-ever paying customer (see his “CB836” here) — reached out with this budget-build CB650, we told him he’d come to the right place. Bob is a creative director by day and bike-builder by night, transforming his 2D sketches into 3D art. He says:
“I’m amazed at the money some people invest in custom bikes. It’s all good, but there’s also a world where you can create something cool on a limited budget. So I built a bike just to show folks anyone can do it and you don’t have to have deep pockets.”
When he first bought a beat-up $300 Honda CB650 from a friend, however, he wasn’t at all sure what he wanted to do with it. His first thought was to change the exhaust, but an old-timer he knows told him the 82 carbs were a bitch to re-jet and tune. Bob has bought and used the Keihin CR29 carburetors on other builds, but they’re expensive and he wasn’t sure he wanted to drop the dough at the moment.
“So then I thought to myself, can I take the bike as-is, with the existing exhaust, and still make something cool out of it?”
That’s when the proverbial light bulb went off, and Bob knew just what he wanted to accomplish with this project:
“I decided to try and build a bike spending as little money as possible to prove you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a custom bike that gets noticed.”
Below, we get a full run-down of Bob’s modifications to the bike, along with costs involved — all of which together, including the cost of the bike itself, total less than $1250!
Budget-Built CB Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
For the color scheme I decided to go as raw as possible, again to save money and I dig the look.
The tank on the bike was garbage. The inside was full of old gas and sludge. I had purchased a CB750 tank off Ebay a few years back for $80 that had just been sitting around gathering dust. It fit the bike nice and drastically changed the profile of the bike. I stripped off the paint and had it clear powder coated: $150.
The front forks on the bike were super tall, so I found a set off an ’81 CB750 on craigslist that had been sitting in some guys back yard for $10. I rebuilt them and lowered them an inch. I also had a taller set of rear shocks that I had removed from a prior build sitting around bolted them on and that helped raise the rear a bit.
With the wheels, I sandblasted the black paint off and scuffed up with Scotch Brite pad to give the outer rim a brushed effect. For all the chrome work, I also used Scotch Brite to give it a brushed aluminum feel.
The side covers have a weird upward angle that makes it feel very bobber-ish. I decided to paint the top black to hide that crazy angle and drill a few speed/vent holes for a more custom look. A few cans of rattle-can paint — silver & black — and a simple vinyl sticker, done.
Chopped the front fender and rear frame, welded a hoop and added a LED light strip for the tail light.
With all the bare metal I felt like it was begging for a pop of color somewhere, like the seat. That’s when I decided to look on ebay for some scrap leather and ran across this reddish/orange distressed leather and knew that was it. Cost like $18.
It also needed some new shoes and I decided again for cost sake that the Shinko 705 was hard to beat and love the aggressive look on the tread. I did spring for a new set of Renthal bars to match the color of all the bare metal and some 2.5 mini gauges and grips.
So, all-in I’m somewhere close to $1250.00 for the entire bike and build.
Not bad if I say so myself.
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