Here at BikeBound, we’re suckers for father/son builds. That’s because this blog is largely a father/son endeavor, and there’s nothing like a motorcycle to bring generations together. This time, it’s a 1982 CB450T Hawk, decked out as a street tracker by Tyler Thompson and his father, Brent. Tyler, who as 16 at the time, came up with the idea for the build and followed through with it, helped along here and there by dad.
The go-to platform for street tracker builds is the Yamaha XS650, but the Thompson men are Honda die-hards, so Tyler decided on the parallel twin CB450T, an evolution from the earlier CB400 and CB360 air-cooled twins. What a great choice. Dubbed the “Hawk,” the CB450T was known to be much smoother than competitors like the XS400, given its twin counterbalancers, and the 447cc motor offered a respectable 45 horsepower at 9000 rpm.
We’ll let Brent describe the rest of the build from here.
“Triple 3” CB450T Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
As young boy I can remember heading to Welland County Speedway (our local flat track) in the summer to watch the Flat Track races on Saturday nights. My sister’s boyfriend at the time (and now husband) was James Sehl. He hailed from one of the most legendary Flat Track racing families in Canada. His Uncles were Dave and Doug Sehl. They were both American Harley Davidson factory riders in the early 70’s. His Father Jim Sehl was the builder and tuner of these bikes, and all these years later he is still considered the “Godfather” of Flat Track. He currently sponsors and builds the bikes for our national #1 plate holder Donny Taylor.
I rode dirt bikes as a kid until my 20’s, but never raced them. Water skiing and wakeboarding took over the next 10 years for me. At 29 I found myself gravitating back to the dirt bikes again. My son Tyler was just a couple years old and his interest in motorcycles was already ridiculous. In fact his first word was “dogma,” which a couple months later we found out meant “dirt bike.”
I was now racing the Steel City Riders full MX season and doing some CMRC races as well. By the time Tyler was 3 he had his first PW50 all decked out in training wheels. He joined in on the racing at 4 years old and has been racing ever since.
In 2005 I was competing for “Rider of the Year” at SCR. (The highest total amount of points in three different disciplines of racing). I was doing MX and CMA Hare scrambles and decided to try my hand at Flat Track to get the third discipline. I was hooked instantly (and won the overall rider of the year).
Shortly thereafter Tyler said he wanted to race flat track as well, so we tricked out his current Honda XR50 with an extended swingarm and an oversize jug and went racing. I guess that was our first build together.
As the years passed, we pulled back out of flat track racing because we both enjoyed MX just a little more, but we still go to Welland every Saturday night and watch the racing. The third generation of Sehl’s, Matt Sehl (my sister and James Sehl’s son) has made it up into the expert class we are there supporting him every race night.
It was in the parking lot of a Welland County flat track race that my son Tyler saw his first “street tracker.” It was a beautiful Yamaha XS 650 all tricked out with an aftermarket flat track fibreglass body, seat and even number plates. Tyler instantly fell in love. He said “Dad…I want to build one.” And that’s how this build all started.
Tyler and I are both Die Hard Honda riders so naturally he wanted to build a street tracker out of a Honda. Problem is all the kits you can buy online are for the most common build the Yamaha XS650. So we decided to build one that’s unique. Off to Kijiji he went and decided the Honda CB450 was a great engine and frame to work with on this project. He wanted to keep the theme of the “Twin” as all flat trackers are either singles or twins.
Tyler found a good donor ’82 CB450T and organized the meet. It was fair, ran rough, had loose forks and made a crazy cam chain noise. But he bought it (with his own money). He rode it for the remainder of the summer while we came up with ideas and mocks for the planned winter build. My sister Kary Sehl and husband James heard of the build and donated a cracked up fibreglass racing tail and seat that was once on one of their race bikes. The stock subframe had to be completely cut off and rebuilt to make this work. We then headed out to Zdeno Cycle to find a tank that would complement the racing tail and come close to fitting the seat. We decided on an old Honda CB650 Nighthawk tank. Of course the tank was all dented and beat up but we took it home anyways. Tyler stripped the paint and did all the bodywork himself to fix the dents and get the lines to match with the tail and seat. He also added 5 layers of fibreglass to the tail section to stiffen it up and make it roadworthy.
Once we had the tail and tank starting to look like one, it was time to cut the frame. Modify the backbone to accept the new tank and Weld on a fabricated entire new subframe. The subframe was also built to accept the new rear shocks, taillight, led blinkers and licence plate.
The front forks were excessively loose so we tore them apart to find a missing slider bushing. A complete rebuild and all new bushings had them up and running like new.
We dropped the engine and completely tore it down. We discovered a cam chain tensioner bolt lying in the transmission and a completely plugged oil sump pick up. We replaced the cam chain and put in some fresh piston rings to tighten things up a little. We removed the stock muffler and modified the head pipes to accept new Emgo reverse megaphone mufflers. True duals really finished off the look. Tyler also wrapped the headers in black fibreglass heat wrap to keep that old school racing feel.
We installed pod filters and changed the jetting accordingly. While the carbs were apart we also discovered the reason why they bike ran poorly, the right carb had the primary and secondary Jets reversed.
While the engine was being torn apart we sent the body work and tank to another friend of the racing circle David Drowns. He has two boys who also race at SCR and asked if he could be the one to paint the bike. He wanted to keep the build in the family. We came up with a beautiful old school colour scheme with some fun current colours. He refused to use decals under the clear so all the emblems and striping is all just paint.
We rewired the entire bike. Relocated the keyswitch to the lower frame and installed and “Acewell” all in one speedo console for a super clean look. Updated the levers the match the bike theme and a café style single mirror.
To complete the look we were going for here we ordered actual flat track side number plates. Tyler has raced all his life with #333. So we thought it would be fun to call this bike the “Triple 3”, of course done in the same old school black and gold trim.
When the day finally came to fire it back up again we knew we had a winner. She came to life sounding like we were at the races. A true tracker sound and feel. The bike is very agile, and the engine responds with a crack of the throttle and a roar out the tailpipes like its going into corner 3 at Welland.
Seeing Tyler head out on his maiden voyage will be one of the most cherished memories of all for me. We spent the whole winter in the garage. Building, teaching, learning and bonding.Building something that is truly unique and most of all, making his dream a reality.
The only problem now is everywhere he goes, he comes back late. The bike gains so much interest people are constantly stopping him to talk about it. And of course he is willing to tell the whole story all over again.