Budget-Built: $1250 Honda CB650 by Redeemed Cycles

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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.”

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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?”

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer
The before shot…

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

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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.

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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.

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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.

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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.

Honda CB650 Brat Cafe Racer

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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Web: www.redeemedcycles.com
Facebook: @RedeemedCycles
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  1. ….so $18 worth of leather and how much to stitch up the seat cover?

  2. Michael Ritzker

    Nice thrift and style, but of course the old question, of how much time and skill actually went into building it, makes for the final answer.

    • If you have to pay for the kabour, there is no such thing as a cheap build. If you can do the work yourself then the labour goes away and used parts aren’t that expensive. Patience and forethought can save a lot of money.

  3. Bravo ! Well done and tastefully executed ! Of course his skills are evident, not everyone could pull this off, but a great show of talent over cubic dollars

  4. What a shame hardly any, if not ,none of the custom bikes on here could ever pass a roadworthy of compliance in Australia. So we just can’t easily build a bike to look as you want without lots of dramas. No indicators, no rear guard, no chain guard and no plate mounting point. totally impractical to build for registration.

    • bikebound

      In the USA, these regulations vary state to state. In North Carolina, where this bike was built, bikes are required to pass an annual inspection that’s actually quite comprehensive. BUT…if the machine is more than 35 years old, like this one, then it’s exempt from inspection!

  5. Yeah nice story but, it is just that, a story.
    The bike look great though.

  6. Why does everyone seem to have such a hard time with the “budget ” aspect of this build? I build custom cars and trucks for a living and this is exactly what I love about customizing motorcycles. I myself built a very nice bobber out of a $100 Honda Shadow. I did all the work myself over the course of three weeks, mostly during my 1 hour lunch breaks. Im into the bike for juat under $500 cdn and if I added my labour would still be under $1200. In skilled hands a motorcycle takes very little time to customize. My paint job took maybe two hours and Im about 4 hours into body work. Another 12 hours maybe in upholstery, mechanical and such. I love what this gentleman has done and even more so because he didnt just throw money at it. Anyone can bolt on expensive custom parts but a true craftsman can build a custom out of scraps from their yard

  7. Love this bike!! Where did the actual seat come from? I would love to get one for my cb650 as well. The one I have doesn’t fit that well.

  8. Nice build! I bought an 80 650 for $700, only paid a mechanic to rebuild the carbs and the rest I have done myself so yes, you can do a lot under $1500 if you do the work yourself. My question is the tank. What Honda is it from? Side covers are excellent too!

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