Leonid Skakunov of Russia’s Drive-In Workshop cut his teeth as a mechanic at various workshops before renting a small space of his own in 2016 to build custom bikes. In the last four years, his builds have garnered awards in several major competitions, including the Russian Handbuilt Cup and IMIS International Motorcycle Show. Most of his bikes push the envelope in terms of style and technology, such as the “Elisium” Honda Hornet cafe fighter, which featured wood fairings and a “transformer” tail capable of transitioning from a solo to two-up seat, or his Ducati S2R “Sherwood” recently featured on Pipeburn — combining 3D-printed parts and hand-crafted timber.
This ’92 Honda CB750, however, was a bit of a departure, completed with a limited budget and a different aesthetic in mind:
“The concept was simple: to make a very classic cafe racer! And it’s not particularly easy to do — it’s difficult to bring something new to the motorcycle with a small budget, I mean new engineering or design ideas.”
That said, such constraints often breed creativity, and that was the case here. Leonid created a pair of bespoke air ducts to hide the headlight mounts, concealed the large dashboard behind a small handmade fairing, and formed a pair of carbon fiber ducts to cool the back of the engine. He found a rear wheel from a CBR900 that had the exact same arrangement of spokes as the original but with two inches more width, enlisting the help of fellow Russian builder Vitaliy Selyukov of Balamutti to manufacture the spacers and sprocket flange to make the wheel fit, and worked with his friend Anton from @octopus_art_aerografia for the custom paintwork.
Below, we get more details on the build from Leonid himself, as well as some striking shots from photographer @atwophoto.
Honda CB750 Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
I have been working as a mechanic for 10 years, and for the last four years I have been building and modernizing motorcycles in St. Petersburg, Russia. In my opinion, a cafe racer is something that everyone should do for themselves, in their spare time — saw off everything unnecessary and add everything you need.
I heard a rumor that one of our mutual friends had a motorcycle in the city and the owner decided to make himself a cafe racer 🙂 Well, after a couple of attempts, he abandoned this idea! I found this person and before long his Honda CB750 stood in my workshop 🙂
The concept was simple: to make a very classic cafe racer! And it’s not particularly easy to walk around — it’s difficult to bring something new to the motorcycle with a small budget, I mean some engineering or design ideas.
I started with a gas tank, adjusted the back of it, made a tail where I removed all the electrics and the battery, removed everything unnecessary in the lower part of the motorcycle.
I drew a 3D model of the upper yoke and sent it to the CNC for processing. Set the clip-ons. I really wanted to hide the headlamp mount, so I made them in the form of an air intake…
…and added a fairing on top to hide a fairly large dashboard.
As the front of the motorcycle became more visually striking, I decided to load it further, making overlays for the cylinder head…
Somehow I got a wheel from a Honda CBR900 (893) with the same arrangement of spokes but wider by 2 inches. I picked up the bearings for this wheel and mounted it on the original axle, measured all the distances and went to Balamutti (the St. Petersburg workshop that deals with Ducati).
Vitaliy took the dimensions and using the lathe, made spacers for the axle and flange of the sprocket to align the chain line. In one day I replaced the rear wheel — it’s good that Honda has very lazy engineers 🙂 And then there were little things… I wanted to show this project that all this can be done in the garage on weekends with a little imagination and perseverance 🙂
Since I made a new exhaust using parts from a Honda CB600, I had to set up the carburetor and install new jets — the engine spins up very vigorously 🙂
I used carbon for several years to decorate motorbikes — this is a simple solution if you need to dilute the dull black color. I took all the elements to my friend Anton, who paints all my bikes. Since I was making a classic cafe racer, I decided to make it black, or almost black, with some graphics on the tank and tail… Anton embodied my ideas 🙂
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