I was lucky enough to meet Bob Ranew of Redeemed Cycles in front of the new Devolve Moto space in Raleigh, North Carolina, a couple of weeks go. Walking up, I instantly recognized his Classified Moto CB836 parked out front–what a treat to see in person! The bike was followed quickly by the man himself.
Bob, who has the enviable history of being the first paying customer of Classified Moto, is the Creative/Art Director at a creative agency in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he’s also the founder of Redeemed Cycles. Today we’re thrilled to feature the very first build that came out of his shop: a 1974 Honda CL450 scrambler.
The first builds to come out of most garages or basements show a sign or two of talent, but it’s rare for a bike to emerge as fully realized as this scrambler. Obviously, the bike was a sign of good things to come, as evidenced by the string of incredible Redeemed Cycles builds that followed it.
CL450 Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
After I purchased a custom bike from John Ryland at Classified Moto (BTW I was his first paying customer), I fell in love with the process of transforming a forgotten bike into something special. So a co-worker, Jerry Bodrie, approached me about helping him build a Honda Scrambler. After searching Craigslist we discovered what looked like a great candidate in Tennessee about 300 miles from Raleigh. So we borrowed a truck and made the trip. Man, do things always look better in photos. The 1974 CL450 was in pretty bad shape; there was a title and it would crank but that was about it. Almost no brakes (that was a shocker) and a heavy layer of black gunk on most of the mechanicals meant we had our hands full.
After we got it home we carried it down some steps into Jerry’s basement. Each Tuesday night after work we were at it. We took it down to the frame. That was the quick and fun part. Then starting with the fork seals it was one challenge after another. Cutting wires that should have never been touched. Burning the skin off our hands with aircraft stripper. Losing parts, and just making a general mess of things. But looking back on it, we learned from our mistakes and we never gave up.
We replaced the original tank with one from a 1974 CB450 (not a Scrambler) which started to change the look of the bike. As we cut the tail section, painted the wheels and added some vintage Firestone ANS tires, and removed, cut and ground off everything non-essential, the statement this bike was going to make began to emerge. We bolted on all the usual cafe bits and bobs, added some moto bars, fabricated and padded the world’s most uncomfortable seat (which has since been redone), re-built the brakes, cleaned and lightly polished the aluminum parts, fabbed-up a new Scrambler exhaust and also had fun painting the raised letters on the Firestone tires.
We didn’t do it all on our own, we did get help from folks more knowledgeable and experienced than us on the trickier items like re-wiring the electrical and re-jetting carbs.
This bike will always remain special to me and it kickstarted my next four builds at Redeemed Cycles. The experience demonstrated what I believed to be true: With an eye for design and some basic mechanical aptitude, a regular Joe can actually build a pretty sweet bike. Jerry loves his Scrambler, so everyone is happy.