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Honda Rebel Chopper Build


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It's been awhile since I posted any updates on this site, mostly been sharing my projects on Instagram lately, but I figured I'd post this project thread to keep y'all entertained! 

I've been wanting to build a full-size, road-legal, licensed and titled motorcycle for awhile, and finally stumbled onto the deal that lit the fire. Earlier this summer, a local Harley enthusiast listed a 1985 Honda Rebel 250 that he had taken on trade and didn't need. The price was a bargain, and the bike ran and drove, so it came home. 

 

Fast forward to Monday of this week, and I pulled it into the shop for the transformation. 

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The bike has about 7k miles showing, and seems mechanically sound, but I'll be tearing into the motor later. For now, it was disassembly time!

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Frame was mounted into my Chop Source Frame Jig, and prepped for slicing.

 

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I'll be using a Voodoo Vintage Weld-On Hardtail for this build. This is custom fabricated in their shop and each one is built to order. This will be a 3" stretch and a 2.5" drop hardtail. 

 

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Tack-welded in place. 

 

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Engine test fitted and the new rear engine mounts welded in. 

 

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Fully welded and gussetted, and down on the floor for the next stage in mock-up. 

 

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Here's one of many inspirations for the direction on this build.

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End game plan is a fully custom bike, with wild paint, lots of chrome, attention to detail, and fully street legal. It'll be my side project for the winter, so I'll post batch updates when I have progress to show. Otherwise, you can follow me on Instagram, my username is: CaprockFabShop

 

 

~Peter

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25 minutes ago, datsunfreak said:

 

Followed.  ?

 

Also excited to see where this goes. Still want to do a Rebel bobber...


There are advantages and disadvantages to the Rebel as a platform. My initial thoughts are that this will be an excellent size bike for anyone under the height of 5'7"; because, despite the stretch on this frame, it still results in a very short bike. That's great for storage, maneuverability, and  compactness, but any big frame person will still look silly riding it. However, you could always do a super-stretch hardtail and get more leg room. 

 

Didn't you have a CB you were working on? They make Hardtail kits for those too!

~Peter

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On ‎11‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 9:07 PM, petercscherer said:


There are advantages and disadvantages to the Rebel as a platform. My initial thoughts are that this will be an excellent size bike for anyone under the height of 5'7"; because, despite the stretch on this frame, it still results in a very short bike. That's great for storage, maneuverability, and  compactness, but any big frame person will still look silly riding it. However, you could always do a super-stretch hardtail and get more leg room. 

 

Problem is, at 6'3", you are right. But I don't really like big heavy bikes. Small light bikes are more fun.

 

A long time ago I had to ask myself a question. Is it better to look silly on a bike you like, or look normal on a bike you don't? I can't see it while I'm riding it, so...  

 

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Didn't you have a CB you were working on?

 

20 hours ago, Lockleaf said:

He sold it. ?

 

Yeah, that. It was actually a GL1000. I sold it to look for a CB750 but just haven't found one yet.

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Also, I can't imagine bobbing a bike that is begging to be cafe'd (like a GL or CB). Cruisers make much better bobbers...

 

Now if I really wanted a bigger bike, there are plenty of bigger Honda cruisers that could benefit from a bobber treatment, but Rebels are cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and fairly reliable.

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This is what I made back in 1980/81, a photo of my photos as I have no idea where the negatives are.

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The engine is a Honda 750 punched out to a 836, it's a Santee industries frame with a shitload of aftermarket parts.

A little back story on the frame, every time I left that motorcycle dealership I bought the frame from I got pulled over by the police, the 3rd and last time I went there and was stopped I complained very loudly, I then said, "what are you guys doing, watching that place", the guy was in the middle of writing me a ticket and he slammed the ticket book shut, looked at me with hate, and said, "you just remember today", and then he drove off, a couple weeks later I read that the place was busted for growing and selling drugs, I had to call Santee industries to get my "papers of Origin" for the frame to licence the motorcycle as a 1981 home built as them guys I bought the frame from/thru were in jail.

Edited by wayno
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I would love to build a cb750 on a vintage Amen Savior frame.

 

I also want to build a hardtail with a kz 750 twin.

 

And one day finish my cb350 cafe brat thing.

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6 hours ago, datsunfreak said:

Also, I can't imagine bobbing a bike that is begging to be cafe'd (like a GL or CB). Cruisers make much better bobbers...

 

Now if I really wanted a bigger bike, there are plenty of bigger Honda cruisers that could benefit from a bobber treatment, but Rebels are cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and fairly reliable.

 

Only other smaller bike you could chop would be a Shadow. V-Twin engine, relatively cheap to pick-up, only real downside is that no-one makes a hardtail kit for them, so it would be up to you to build a hardtail using one of the universal kits out there. Of course, now that I have a frame jig, making my own frames seems far easier. ?

~Peter

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17 minutes ago, petercscherer said:

 

Only other smaller bike you could chop would be a Shadow. V-Twin engine, relatively cheap to pick-up, only real downside is that no-one makes a hardtail kit for them, so it would be up to you to build a hardtail using one of the universal kits out there. 

 

Yeah, Shadows have been on my radar for awhile now. And I'm not married to the hardtail.  ?

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Alright, you guys get an update! This will be in chronological order over the past week.

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Got the Mini Frisco-Style Tank mocked up, and started playing around with seat placement as well. 

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Upgrading from the stock single carb to dual carbs!
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This dual carb set up is an aftermarket piece but seems to be equal to or better than the OEM carburetor. It uses the same style throttle cables and choke cable as stock, and still retains a single fuel inlet, so it should be straightforward to get running when the time comes. 

 

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The rear fender was a chore to get right, started out with a LowBrow Customs Manta Ray 4 3/4" rear fender, but the arc was for 16" and larger rear tires, so I first made equidistant pie cuts, and re-arced it to match the tire. 

 

Taped to the tire in these pics is 5/8" heater hose, this creates a nice gap for tire clearance all the way around the fender. 

 

Tack welded the pie cuts, and then carefully seam welded them avoiding warping of course. Then ground smooth (ish) this will all get body-worked down the road. 

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Grabbed some of LowBrow Customs fender mounting tabs, and after playing around with getting the fender square and centered, got them fully welded in. 

 

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Great thing about this particular aftermarket rear fender is that it's made from 14 gauge steel! Meaning that two mounts in the front are more than enough to hold it steady and means that no rear mount is necessary! I really hate sissy-bars so this is good news!

 

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TC Bros Choppers sells this sweet fake oil tank with removable end caps for hiding wiring connections and other unsightly hardware. Grabbed some quick tabs from the bin and welded it in tight under the seat base. pae5u13h.jpgLEL681Jh.jpg

 

Next I got the Frisco Tank mounts welded into the neck of the bike. Results in a super low profile fitment to the tank. It's a little wobbly, but that's the way these bikes are meant to be I guess! Also got the front seat mount fully welded as seen in the pic above. 

 

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I then threw everything together to get a better idea of the rolling bike. Rider comfort is actually really good, I'm 5'4", so for me this is a perfect size chopper. As you can see, I also got a battery mount figured out, it adjustable and the battery can be removed without taking the "oil tank" off. 

 

Next step is probably going to be re-designing the wiring harness, figuring out a rear brake pedal arrangement, brake light and license plate mounts and EXHAUST! Boy, I can't wait to make a custom set of pipes for this; my plans for that will probably blow your minds! ?

~Peter

 

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14 hours ago, petercscherer said:

EXHAUST! Boy, I can't wait to make a custom set of pipes for this; my plans for that will probably blow your minds! ?

 

The thing Honda did with the "pipe within a pipe" thing you posted on instagram already blew my mind...  ?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mid-month update:
 

 

Started on the exhaust pipes. Considered using portions of the original piping, but I soon discovered a sneaky little secret Honda employed on these exhaust pipes:
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Inside these 1 3/8" pipes, is the actual 7/8" exhaust tube! This was more than likely done for both noise and heat insulation. However, it means that every single Honda Rebel you see out there, even with custom mufflers or dumps, are still ONLY running the 7/8" pipes! 

 

So on this bike, I decided to build true 1 3/8" exhaust pipes.

 

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Started off by mocking up the downpipes. I wanted them to angle in towards each other to add to this bike's narrow silhouette. 

 

All welding here is Tig Welding with 1/16" Silicone Bronze filler rod. Welding Mandrel Bent 1 3/8" Mild Steel tubing.  

 

 

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At first I was going to try and loop the exhaust up and have the exhaust exit out the upper rear of the bike, but the bends started looking to awkward and made the right side of the bike look lopsided compared to the left side. So this ^ got abandoned.

 

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Instead, I'm doing this ^ 

 

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Then it was time to pull both header pipes off and seam weld and grind smooth all the welds. 

 

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Exhaust is getting shipped out this week to Jet Hot Coatings for their Polished Heat Coating. As durable as chrome, more heat insulating, and far cheaper than sending these to the chromer! 

Let's see, what else happened...

 

Oh yeah, the dual carbs are a no go. The clutch cable has to fit in the same area where the throttle cables needed to be, this problem was never mentioned in any Rebel dual carb build I've seen. rMMj340h.jpg

 

In this photo ^ the clutch bracket isn't even bolted down, simply no room for it. Yeah, I could make or modify this clutch bracket, but after taking a closer look at the build quality on these carbs, and looking at some cfm ratings and fuel estimates, I think I stick with a single carb on this one. 


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I'll find a way to make it look cool and vintage. This means as well that start-up and tuning should be far easier once this bike is done.

 

I got the tail lights mounted as well:
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In other news, I decided to remove the front fender, since almost all Frisco-Style choppers only run a rear fender, I'll follow that trend. This means I'll be ready to start bodywork and testing out paint methods and layouts on the Tank and the rear Fender starting next month. 

 

In the meantime, I have 3 business trips planned over the next 30 days, so not a lot of progress will be made on this. But starting late January, I'll be back working on this bike as well as on getting the S10 Blazer build wrapped up so I can daily-drive that while I'm doing a full suspension swap/upgrade on the Hardbody! 

It's going to be a busy Spring!

~Peter

 

Edited by petercscherer
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13 hours ago, wayno said:

I am curious why you didn't put a pipe out each side?

Good point, the main reason is clearance for dropping the oil. The plug is on the left bottom of the engine casing, so it I had exhaust running there, you'd need to drop the exhaust before changing oil to avoid spills. Also, almost all Frisco-Style choppers used Triumph or Harley drivetrains which almost always run pipes out one side or the other (usually the right side).

It's part style, part function. ?

~Peter

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Peter, man you nailed the proportions and geometry. So damn pleasing to the eye when it's done right. Are you going early retro with white walls or modern? Although you likely know them already, Coker makes a great looking modern radial Whitewall with retro style tread pattern. https://www.throttleaddiction.com/coker-beck-motorcycle-tire-2-whitewall-5-00-x-16/

 

   BTW, Your welds on that Voodoo Vintage are intimidating. I've never seen a stack of dimes that small.  ??

 

Godspeed on your trip, looking forward to the next update.

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3 minutes ago, paradime said:

Peter, man you nailed the proportions and geometry. So damn pleasing to the eye when it's done right. Are you going early retro with white walls or modern? Although you likely know them already, Coker makes a great looking modern radial Whitewall with retro style tread pattern. https://www.throttleaddiction.com/coker-beck-motorcycle-tire-2-whitewall-5-00-x-16/

 

   BTW, Your welds on that Voodoo Vintage are intimidating. I've never seen a stack of dimes that small.  ??

 

Godspeed on your trip, looking forward to the next update.

 

 

1st, I cannot take credit for the Tig Welds around the rear axle plate, those were done by Voodoo Vintage. I am merely a self-taught welder so maybe one day I can achieve that skill, but for now I'll settle for strength first, and aesthetics to follow. 

 

Regarding wheels, the front is like a 3.00x18 (90/90x18) and the rear is a super narrow 130/90-15... makes it nearly impossible to find vintage looking rubber, but I'm gathering some intel towards that end. 

~Peter

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We used Cheng Shin tires on our choppers. They had that old style tread pattern. Not the sport bike look. We had one that had a Dunlop that was no longer made. Bought from a bike builder in California that had a N.O.S. tire from the 70's. 

 

Chopper Jim

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  • 1 month later...

You nailed the proportions, which is difficult to do on such a small engine. A lot of people get things very wrong. 

 

If you need a spare engine, I have one under my bench collecting dust that would be super cheap to a good home. 

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Thanks for the kind words. Haven't had a chance since December 20th to get back on this project. Too many trips and other obligations. I'm hoping to jump back in here this coming week and get some parts finished and shipped off for coating, powder coating, chrome, and machining. Frame and wiring still are two big items on the to-do list. 

 

In other news, got a new truck! 
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Another 1995 Nissan Hardbody, but this time a King Cab!! It's a 102k mile, 2 owner, rust free and unmolested time capsule of a truck! I considered dropping it on airbags for a day or so. Then realized that it just rides so comfortably, and is such a reliable and lovely truck, that I can't cut it apart... 

So, it'll be my new daily as my white Hardbody continues on it's spiral into craziness... ?

 

I'll probably start a new thread on the Red truck once I get some parts in the mail and start cleaning it up and getting it legally on the road. ?

~Peter

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alrighty, here's a smallish update. 

 

My first attempt at choosing a color for this bike was kind of lame. My brain pulled me back to a similar shade of blue as the Honda XL70 Bobber. Pretty shade, but I can't stand repetition... So, back to the swatches. 

I tend to like House Of Kolor paint, and that's where I stumbled across this custom blend:
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House of Kolor Bourbon! It's a blend of Kosamene Copper Pearl and Galaxy Grey. I've NEVER seen it on a bike or car, and it just POPS in the sunlight. 

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This paint changes from Copper, to Root Reer, to Black, and almost to a Bronze, depending on the angle. And that spray out is with only a single coat of clear, imagine this paint buried under 7+ coats! ?

 

 

In other news, today I sorted out one of the glaring issues on the bike: Where to mount the ignition switch. 

I didn't want to have it exposed on the frame rail, with wires poking out for people to see, and didn't want to have the keys hanging off the side of the Oil Tank or in the way of the rider's body... So in the shower last night it hit me! 

Doesn't a Faux Oil Tank need a Faux Oil Filler?
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A little bit of 2" exhaust tubing, some 1/8 plate cut into a circle with a hole in the middle, and some tig time:
 

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I'm really happy with this little detail. It's going to be one of those minuscule things I can point to at the end and show off what a little ingenuity and patience can achieve!

I think tomorrow I'll be messing around with the drive-chain alignment, the rear brake system and maybe the wire pass throughs on the frame. 

 

Still relatively on schedule, I'm tentatively setting a deadline of April 30th on this bike, and after that:
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This sucker gets brought back into the shop! WOOHOO!

~Peter

 

 

Edited by petercscherer
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