“What can you build with just the spare parts you have on hand during this quarantine?”
That was the question Brian Cox (@classicbikebuilding) asked himself after bringing home a 1978 Honda CB750K just before the C-19 lockdown started in his home state of California. You may remember Brian from his stunning Kawasaki S2 “V2.0” we featured earlier this year — one of our favorite builds from the 2020 One Moto Show. Brian, who runs Cox Aluminum Worx, is a man who likes to reverse time with his builds, employing techniques and technologies such as hand-formed aluminum, gas welding, English wheels, leather bags full of sand, and his 1956 Southbend lathe:
“These old methods are my goals. No CAD, no computer printing, just hand-hammered and hand-built, utilizing old techniques and technology.”
He’d originally intended to do a completely custom build on the CB750, but quarantine quickly put the kibosh on his best-laid plans.
“Here I sat this blue monstrosity and nowhere to go. I thought to myself, What can you build with just the spare parts you have on hand during this quarantine?“
He decided to give himself 30 days to complete the project — the early estimates for the length of the quarantine. Within three days, he had the old CB on the lift three days after the lockdown went into effect. Not only did he want to customize the bike, he had to resurrect it from a rundown state, including lots of repair, salvage, and tuning.
The rearsets, linkages, tail lamp, and more were built on the lathe. The distressed leather seat harks back to the WWII era, recalling the seat of a well-used Spitfire or Mustang, and Brian chose not to polish the hand-formed aluminum bodywork to a blinding state — instead, he wanted the bike to reflect the “rough patch” in which we find ourselves.
“I loved my ‘quarantine’ time with Virus. It was just a time of personal satisfaction to have so much uncertainty going on around me every day; and yet, I used that time to create something good, something fun, a way to challenge my mind and keep my hands busy.”
Below, we get more details on the build straight from Brian himself!
Corona-Built CB750K: In the Builder’s Words
Virus is the result of a challenge I made to myself. If you’ve seen my other build featured here, V 2.0, you already know that I like to attempt reversing time in my build techniques by utilizing hand-formed aluminum, gas welding, my old 1956 Southbend lathe and a few other tools I have acquired like English wheels and leather bags filled with sand. These old methods are my goals. No CAD, no computer printing, just hand-hammered and hand-built, utilizing old techniques and technology.
I purchased Virus (seemed a fitting name for this build) the day before the quarantine began in my state, and brought her home with the plan to make her into a completely custom SOHC CB750. Then, the quarantine hit, and here I sat this blue monstrosity and nowhere to go. I thought to myself, “What can you build with just the spare parts you have on hand during this quarantine?” I actually thought this before several of the COVID-19 build offs began, and I figured from the early estimates I’d potentially have 30 days to complete whatever I decided to build, and I planned to finish it in that time frame. I was finishing up another project at the time, so I lost three days to that, and actually placed “Virus” on the bike lift three days after the quarantine was put in place.
From the day Virus hit the lift until she rolled off finished was 24 days, and I took two days completely off for R and R with my wife (an essential worker at our local hospital). During that time period, I tried to utilize the items I had laying around or make most of what I needed to complete “Virus.” The exception to this rule was safety items, seat upholstery, and engine items to assure Virus runs correctly. The following is a partial list of the modifications made in those 22 days:
1.) Stripping the original 1978 cruiser hardware and stock tin.
2.) Lathe-built rearsets and linkage made on my 1956 Southbend.
3.) Stock peg removal and modified brake and shifters for rearsets.
4.) Frame cut and a rear frame hoop hand-bent and fitted.
5.) Front fender removal and new hand-formed aluminum fender made with “proper” length and spacing.
6.) Headlamp salvaged from a box of old parts, blasted, repaired, painted, and new aluminum headlamp brackets made.
7.) Rear inner fender modified and remounted and tail/brakelamp/liscense plate mount made.
8.) New hand-formed aluminum seat pan made and fitted all mounts and brackets hidden, but still functional.
9.) New hand-formed aluminum tank (2″ extended and narrowed) fuel catch can made.
10.) Handlebars changed and controls modified to fit and function properly.
11.) Rear shocks changed.
12.) Complete engine tune (oil, filter, cams chain adj, valves adj, spark plugs, points, condensers, timed, carbs completely rebuilt (new internals) and properly jetted, airbox removed and velocity stacks with screens fitted).
13.) Exhaust reverse cone megaphone made and fitted to existing header pipe.
14.) Front and rear brake system rebuilt, new pads installed for both.
15.) New drive chain (precautionary as sprockets were in great shape).
16.) New horn, new LED turn lights, new LED brake and taillamp made on Lathe and all installed, wired and tested.
17.) Seat leather selected from and eBay scrap and then delivered to Intermountain Upholstery, Burney CA (Cory and I went to school together, and he does great work).
18.) Hand-formed aluminum side panels made.
Twenty-four days later “Virus” and I rolled out for our first ride together. As of now, I’ve put over 200 miles on the Virus odometer since that first ride and she’s absolutely perfect. Although every piece of aluminum on “Virus” could be polished because they are made to that standard, I felt that “Virus” needed to reflect the time during which she was created. We’re in a little bit of a “rough patch,” with some uncertainty about how this will all look in the end. Not only did I design and build Virus in 22 days, I actually resurrected her from being in a pretty run-down state, and I did it as quickly as I possibly could utilizing ingenuity, pieces I mostly already had on hand, old technology and techniques, and some “elbow grease.”
I think I hit my target goal with this “Virus” build perfectly. I went backwards in time like I always try to with my methods and my fabrication and built something so fun to ride it makes me smile every time I throw my leg over that old (tribute to the WWII era) distressed leather seat and crack that reverse cone megaphone open. Virus has a very sweet song she sings as she opens up, and she might be a little rough around the edges, but she’s about as solid and dependable of a CB750 as you’ll find.
I loved my “quarantine” time with Virus. It was just a time of personal satisfaction to have so much uncertainty going on around me every day; and yet, I used that time to create something good, something fun, a way to challenge my mind and keep my hands busy.
V 2.0 has now missed two show dates, and I had to make this a positive experience. Virus is that! She’s POSITIVELY fun to ride.