Jax Garage’s “Soul Red” 750…for sale!
In 1979, Honda released the twin-cam CB750F, a 77-hp DOHC evolution of the “Original Superbike” released a decade before. Moto-journalists had previously claimed that a 750/4, while fast in a straight line, could never rival the handling of the low-slung Ducati Desmo V-twins. Honda engineers, however, have a long history of redefining what’s possible:
“Ducati’s high-flying legend began losing altitude the minute Honda released the 1979 CB750F. For not only did the CBX-styled, DOHC 750 accelerate with the fury of a one-liter hyperbike, it wowed everyone with magical cornering qualities never before found on a four-cylinder street bike.” –Cycle Guide, 1980
Enter our friend Jas Babalija, the mechanical engineer and AVE (Automotive Vehicle Examiner) behind Australia’s Jax Garage. He and his father-in-law, Dom Scarpari — a motor mechanic with 30+ years of experience — picked up this ’81 CB750F in a half-finished state, intending it as a passion project.
While the project had to take a back seat to customer builds and parts prototyping, it slowly evolved into the café racer you see here, dripping with hand-built parts, the best in aftermarket components, and a seven-layer “Soul Red” paint scheme.
“Whilst it’s been a long journey, the most amazing part was actually working on it in drips and drabs, stepping away from other pressures.”
Highlights include the custom subframe and tail hoop with integrated taillight, tail section shaped on the English wheel, motogadget electronics, Mikuni flat-slide carbs, and an arsenal of custom-machined parts: aluminum hand grips, five-part billet crankcase filter, pegs, fuel cap cover, and more — Jas says not to ask how much time they spent at the lathe and mill! Meanwhile, Dom knocked out the paint, with four coats of “Soul Red” and three coats of clear.
The longer you look at the build, the more you see how much time and effort were invested — what would’ve required a giant budget for a customer build. Sometimes, the best builds truly are worth the wait, and Jas says the ride is just as special:
“Nostalgic and exhilarating at the same time…it breathes, burns, and rumbles better than it ever did.”
While this bike was something of a passion project for Jas and Dom, it’s now up for sale. You can contact Jax Garage for details. Below, we talk to Jas for the full details on this Soul Red café racer.
Honda CB750F Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m a mechanical engineer, and an AVE (Automotive Vehicle Examiner) in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, who certifies vehicle modifications (heavy, light, and motorcycles). After several years of working in the highly technical industry I decided to create JAX Garage in 2019 as a personal project so that I could scratch a personal creative itch that was lacking in my engineering profession.
JAX Garage has grown a lot since then despite the pandemic, and we’ve released a number of ground-up builds during the time, as well as added to our list of in-house parts and dealer options. We specialise in Fork Conversion Kits for BMWs and Hondas, but this list is always expanding. We’re also dealers of motogadget, Rick’s Electrics, Highsider Germany, and Custom YSS Suspension.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1981 Honda CB750F.
• Why was this bike built?
We purchased the bike in December 2019. It was picked up from the eastern shores of Victoria — about a 4.5 hour drive away from our workshop. It was a half-finished project that came up at the right price and base for us to do our work to it. It was always intended to be a personal project, hence the very long timeline. As JAX Garage grew more traction in the custom scene, we got busy working hard on client builds and prototyping parts.
This meant the build just kept getting pushed to the background.
Slowly, it developed into more of something we loved, and with a spare minute or two here and there we isolated little sections to work on. I’d spend a few days here machining up the billet aluminium grips on the lathe and mill, whilst Dom, my father-in-law, would spend a few days there (a couple months later) painting the tank.
Over a long period of time, a custom café racer was slowly born. That’s the best way we can describe it.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
There was no particular concept followed. The bike evolved into what it is over several years of work. One thing was always on the cards though. We wanted something that was going to be true to Honda. Hence the red, black, and silver colour scheme, and the old-school feel of the bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The rear subframe was modified to take away the step up and down that came standard in these bikes. It allowed for a more continuous horizontal line from front to back. A hoop was added at the rear with an integrated taillight.
The entire rear electrical tray, seat pan, and rear cowl were either folded, bent, or shaped on the English wheel to create a cohesive rear section to seat the rider, and the bulk of the electrics. Going through this process also allowed us to remove everything under the seating area to allow for the sought-after airy and open café racer feel.
Removing the original airbox also meant we needed to deal with the crank case exhaust. An easy option would have been to buy a small crank case filter but we decided to create a 5-part billet aluminium filter that was machined on the lathe and mill.
The bike received an all new wiring loom. This included components such as the mo.unit blue allowing Bluetooth connectivity and keyless go, an mo.lock with an RFID key (in case your phone dies), a lithium battery and charging system, all LED lighting at the front and rear, and motogadget motoscope pro as the dash that is integrated with the floating LED headlamp.
Note that we’ve shared a wiring diagram of the setup for other builders on the blog section of our website.
The overall look of the bike is simplistic, including the colour scheme, but the more you look the more attention to detail you see. My father-in-law and resident painter at JAX Garage, Dom, spent hours and hours preparing and painting the tank and bodywork. It was coats of silver base, with a translucent red candy (Soul Red to be specific). The more coats of the red, the more depth you get. This received four coats of red, and another three coats of clear.
If you look at the cockpit you find even more subtleties with our very own replacement top triple, fork tube caps, and a whole lot more. The more time we spent looking at the bike, the more we found wanting to modify or replacing with the highest quality components.
How much time did we spend machining items like the grips, the pegs, fuel cap cover, crank case breather – don’t ask!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not really, although something like “The Rising Sun” is synonymous with Japan, as well as the fact that we worked on this at times in the early morning hours before other works.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Nostalgic and exhilarating at the same time. We ditched the old original carbs and went with aftermarket Mikuni RS34 flat slide carbs. We weren’t necessarily chasing power, but wanted something a little punchier and more reliable — it’s exactly what we got. This was then coupled with an aftermarket Delkavic exhaust. So now it breathes, burns, and rumbles better than it ever did.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Whilst it’s been a long journey, the most amazing part was actually working on it in drips and drabs, stepping away from other pressures.
Something we’re proud of…I guess the idea of making parts for this build instead of buying them. We ended up machining the grips, the footpegs, ornamental bolt covers at the shocks, and even a cover for the original fuel cap. We stopped counting the hours spent on the tooling for this thing.
It was always a bit of a passion project, but not one to keep, so this bike is up for sale for the lucky individual that wants it.
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