Honda CB450 Cafe Racer: “Tenbrooks”

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

Named after the fastest horse in the South, inspired by a custom Gibson guitar…

Kevin Drost has been playing the guitar since the age of 10 and spent his entire adult life in the music industry — recording, touring, scouting, starting his own record label and working at the world’s largest music gear website. However, the itch to build a bike had stayed with him:

“I’d never done anything more than an oil change but I always dreamed of rebuilding a vintage bike.”

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

Kevin chased his dream with gusto, buying a $600 ’72 Honda CB450 that hadn’t run in more than two decades. He did everything himself, from rebuilding the engine to respoking the wheels to replacing every last cable and piece of rubber. His inspiration for the bike’s color scheme came straight from his music background — the Gibson Guitars factory custom color Pelham Blue — as did the nickname of the bike, “Tenbrooks” — a mythical racehorse from the Bill Monroe ballad “Molly and the Tenbrooks.”

Below, we get the full story on this beautiful CB.

“Tenbrooks” CB450 Cafe Racer:  In the Builder’s Words

 Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

I’ve been a guitar player since I was 10. I went to college on a jazz guitar scholarship then spent time recording and touring. I then became a talent scout for Sony Music before starting my own record company when I was 25. Now I’m a director at Reverb.com, which is the world’s largest website for musicians to buy and sell gear (it’s like eBay but just for musicians). We just passed 10 million visitors a month.

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

A while ago Gibson put out a signature guitar for Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, who’s a local Chicago guy, and someone we’ve worked with before at Reverb. I always loved the Pelham Blue mixed with a cream pickguard, so that’s what I wanted to replicate in the color scheme for the bike.

Jeff Tweedy Gibson

I found it on Craigslist, in a barn in rural Michigan. A 1972 Honda CB450 that hadn’t run in 20 years. I rented a U-haul trailer, drove from Chicago to Michigan, negotiated the price down to $600 and trailered it back to the city.

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

I’d never done anything more than an oil change but I always dreamed of rebuilding a vintage bike. I’m in my early thirties and figured no was the time. Over a year, and probably 100 hours worth of youtube videos later I have a screaming cafe racer.

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

I did everything myself including stripped the whole bike, rebuilt the engine, changed out every cable and piece of rubber, respoked the wheels, rebuilt the hubs and steering stem, rebuilt the master cylinder, bobbed the fenders, rebuilt the carbs, swapped electrical parts, etc.

Honda CB450 Cafe Racer

The only things I didn’t do myself was powdercoat the frame and paint. I’ve named it Tenbrooks, after the Bill Monroe song “Molly and the Tenbrooks” about a famous mythical horse race. Tenbrooks was the fastest horse in the South and beat the Memphis Train.

Run O Molly run, run O Molly run
Tenbrooks gonna beat you to the bright shinin’ sun.
To the bright shinin’ sun O Lord to the bright shinin’ sun
Tenbrooks was a big bay horse he wore that shaggy mane
He run all around Memphis he beat the Memphis train
Beat the Memphis train O Lord beat the Memphis train

5 Comments

  1. I really like everything about your bike. I would like very much to know where you got that perfect seat.

    Bill Rider

  2. Eric S Nelson

    I usually don’t care for cafe racers but yours looks very tastefully done. I had been thinking about getting a Honda cb450 just to have something to restore and tinker with. Where did you get that seat? It looks cool but it still looks very functional. You did a wonderful job for a first attempt.

  3. I am starting this exact same project with my son. I just bought a ’72 CB 450 as a barn find and this is more or less exactly what my son and I have in mind. Would love to talk with you more about it if you’re willing. Feel free to contact me directly at todd.swain@gmail.com.

  4. I happen to have a 1971 450cb that my father bought new and I am the second owner. I parked it in the barn almost 30 years ago. Nice to see what you did with an old classic.

  5. Samuel Sheppard

    Hey that’s a beautiful seat would you please tell me where you got it from?

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