Jamie McNeill's CB750F1
By Anthony van Someren - 03 Nov 13
Jamie McNeill is a 37 year old Scotsman who has always loved anything that runs on fuel, combined with a love of using his hands and being creative. It's the perfect recipe for producing bikes like this Shed-built Honda CB750 F1 - which, coincidentally is also a 37 year old. Jamie's history with bikes began with watching Barry Sheen race when he was just ten years old, and as a young rider he liked to push the limits, losing the tip of his left index finger on the sprocket of his GSXR. Oops.These days Jamie works as a business manager in the fastener and fixings industry, which can be useful. He also likes to do things the old fashioned way, working out of his home garage which is fully kitted out with everything he needs - and is carpeted. His girlfriend Pam has mastered the art of pretending to listen while he bangs on about bikes. She also knows when to leave him to just get on with things. Sounds like the perfect set-up to us, Jamie. "As a previous sports bike rider looking to return to biking I wanted to build a bike that was different, something that would stand out amongst other bikes. My plan was set from the start, simple lines, a clean motor, neat wiring, polished parts and some detailed touches, I wanted only 2 colours throughout the bike these being black and silver." "I started researching models, parts availability and builds completed by others mainly American builders as the café racer scene is big over the pond. I followed Carpy and Kott Motorcycles in California as they have built some pretty cool Hondas (Later I would have the pleasure to meet and hang out with Carpy at his shop in California where I gained as much info on pro builds as I could.) With this part done I decided upon a Honda CB 750 so the search was on. I found a few bikes and went through my options until I decided to buy the best base bike I could to which I found one belonging to a collector in Brighton. After some telephone calls e- mails and pictures I was pretty certain this was the right bike then when I realised not only was it 1976 my year of birth but July 76 my birth month. Almost immediately after that it was on its way to me in sunny Scotland on the back of a truck. I was now the owner of a stunning standard Honda CB 750 F1 with 24k on the clock. The reason for the fantastic condition was down to the bike being a Californian bike." "I had a well-researched plan which covered most of the proposed build so it was to start by measuring the seat length, width and height. Von Zeti created this custom seat unit for me with the stop/tail light inserted into the seat hump. ( I had the hump height and shape done to reflect the lines of the fuel tank). At this time I cut the standard fuel tank to create the knee recess sections and sent this off for welding. Next up I stripped the frame removing the rear foot rest hangers, removed all unwanted metal and de-tabbed leaving only one at the front which would later have a Scotland flag on it before cutting the rear end where I had a rear frame loop made to my spec to compliment the Von Zeti seat unit that was being built. The frame was then ground back with flap discs and ready to be powder coated with a handful of other parts. The frame had no rust anywhere and funnily enough the powder coater thought it was 2006 not 1976." "Whilst this was being done I collected all the parts I required so that I could have an as new old bike consisting of all bearings, engine gasket set, fork springs, rear shocks, ace bars cables and so the list goes on. Next job was to strip and clean the engine. This was good fun as I started with a flap wheel then scotch bright pads to create a perfect smooth motor to apply 3 coats of zinc based primer and many coats of bright silver high temperature engine paint. I then started on the brightwork compound polishing this. The forks and various engine parts were sent to Street Evol polishing where the finished result is simply stunning and makes the bike. The remaining parts on the bike I polished in my garage which I found very therapeutic or was that the beer kicking in!" "The headlamp bowl, side panels, seat unit and tank were sent to a local painter James Blair in Falkirk, whom I have always used for various concourse standard cars I have owned, to be done in solid black before I applied the early 750 four decals and early Honda wings decals on the tank. That was the easy part, applying the silver pin stripes I had made in vinyl by a friend was tricky to say the least and if honest I went through a few sets, however once these were on it all went back to the paint shop where they were lacquered over." "I rode the bike prior to the teardown so knew it was good, however as is my OCD nature I wanted to get everything perfect. I started with the standard wheels which were more than good however I decided I wanted to see if I could remove my fingerprints by means of refurbishing the chrome with tin foil and water – yes it works but it takes time. Once these were spic and span I did the spokes. I then had a new set of Bridgestone BT 45 tyres fitted whilst contemplating rear tyre width and size and talking to classic racers I retained the standard sizes all round. Brake discs were taken to a specialist to have both front and rear drilled to my spec, this was pretty cool as the guy was serious old school we plotted out the drill pattern on brown paper and overlaid the pattern on the discs. I painted and polished everything that would be going back onto the bike and laid everything out in order. This was the low point on the project as the motorcycle mechanic that was helping failed me here, however I had the forks rebuilt and all bearings fitted and brakes refurbished before this, so it was a matter of getting these on. Again another episode with help from someone else led to more delay but got the push I needed even if I ended up re doing all this again myself – OCD again. The bike does retain some history and charm for its years as the front wheel has 2 little marks and the speedo and rev counter show homage to the blazing California sun." "The carbs were stripped entirely and ultrasonic cleaned around 3 times, then rebuilt, polished and fitted with pod filters. Next I moved onto the 4 into 1 standard downpipe with the tin foil water treatment, then compound polished it to an immaculate shine before I had a rear of the exhaust section fabricated by Stainless Creations in Falkirk to my custom spec and design. I wanted an open pipe showing the full bore and also flick up design. They did a fantastic job. I created a baffle and located this between the downpipe and rear section to take edge off the exhaust note although it sounds amazing popping and banging with the occasional flame on overrun." "With the music blasting through the garage most nights this was the best part putting all my design and plans together to create both the bike and the look I was after. The motor was checked for compression, the timing set, valve clearance set, engine gaskets replaced, before I fitted the mirror polished parts. All nuts and bolts were replaced throughout. I added custom made braided brake lines as off the shelf items don’t work with ace bars. Honda CB 1300 Showa 3 way adjustable rear shocks were fitted these have the advantage of being 20mm longer than the standard shocks which gave me the slightly raised stance and sharpened the handling up at the front end. I powder coated the springs firstly silver then black as the silver made the rear too busy. Next I fabricated a rear number plate bracket incorporating an LED light. The tank and seat were then fitted along with bespoke mounting brackets and the bike was suddenly starting to take shape. I could not decide on a front mud guard style as I had polished and fitted a Micron fork brace however the idea to cut the immaculate standard one and fabricate a bracket kept coming back however this did present me a problem as to how to get the perfect curve line so I took a break had some lunch then flew back out to the garage with my bowl now empty of lunch and drew around this onto the mudguard to create the curve I was after. At the rear the standard plastic inner mud guard was modified to fit." "Electrics next, this was farmed out to a local specialist as I wanted all wiring into the headlamp bowl for neatness which has worked a treat. I dumped the old bulky front indicator mount and fitted these to the headlamp bowl with a matching set placed onto brackets welded into the rear custom loop. The switch gear wiring was fed through the ace bars to create that minimal look. I refurbished the switchgear and painted these too, and then I got busy wrapping the wiring in self amalgamating tape for neatness." "Everything fitted to the bike was either new, refurbished, painted or mirror polished so it had the show, so now it was onto the go. Well first to go was the pod filters as these were difficult and caused me many a headache to set up, due to this I now have a collection of carb jets to rival a specialist. The pod filters were replaced with custom velocity stacks with mesh filters and the standard 105 main jets replaced with massive 150 mains. This was set up by the talented guys at Dynotech Eccose where the full bike was checked over, set up properly on the dyno and road tested where it was confirmed to me that it was a strong engine with the set up perfect and the mods it runs 69bhp at the rear wheel which aint half bad for a bike of this vintage."
"I researched the project massively and wanted a bespoke Café Racer CB750. I have had custom parts made to my spec and wanted to create a classic looking bike with the black paintwork, matchless style silver stripes, detailed motor and mirror polished parts as much as possible. This was made easier buying the best bike I could in the first place, however I am more than happy with my first ever build. I now have a bike that has everything as new as you can on a classic bike that rides handles and sounds awesome. The self build project took longer than expected but in the end was done in 7 months. Many thanks to all that have helped me along the way." - and thanks to you, Jamie, for sharing with all of us in The Bike Shed.