Tony talked to Rob Blackbourn about the process required to restore his 1978 Honda CBX1000 to its former glory…
It seems that when we reach the point in our lives where we can attach the ‘discretionary income’ label to some of our hard-earned, we classic bike buyers follow one of two courses. Some of us finally get our hands on an example of the bike we lusted after but never owned when we were young. Others follow the nostalgia trail leading back to past pleasure by tracking down an example of a bike they once owned and have regretted selling ever since.
Sydney’s Tony Herd is one of the latter. Having owned a big CBX back in the day, he decided to fill the gap in his life by once again sticking a Honda Six back in the shed.
There was little chance that motorcycling wouldn’t be part of Tony’s life. His late father, back in their native New Zealand, was a road racer who had a particular fondness for Velocettes.
By the time Tony made the move across the ditch in 1979, he had followed his father’s lead and taken up road racing. He competed in the first Castrol Six Hour at Manfeild, NZ, on a Yamaha RD350. He was also active in drag racing, bagging a national record on an 812 Yoshimura-kitted Honda CB750KO, pulling 121mph (193.6km/h) in 11.164sec.
These days, though, he seems to be totally immersed in fettling examples of the big CBX. Apparently eight of them have been caressed by his spanners in recent months.
TONY HITS THE TOOLS
“My 1978 Honda CBX six, ‘Cybil’, first came into my life in March 1993, having spent five years parked against a shed in all weathers. The brakes were locked on, the engine would not turn over and the general appearance could only be described as ‘well used’.
“For the huge task that obviously lay ahead of me, for motivation I had to rely on the powerful memories of my own first silky six I owned back in the ’80s. My determination to hear that glorious sound once more made the idea seem rational – to me, at least.
“Now with the job successfully completed here’s what I need to say to anyone contemplating such a project: don’t count the hours you put in; have the patience of a saint; come equipped with very deep pockets; research the job thoroughly; first work on one part at a time and then work on one section at a time. And be prepared to learn at least as much about yourself as you do about the bike.
DOING THE JOB
“Luckily, the engine was fairly sound, especially given the five years of exposure. Moisture had only got into the number two bore through an open inlet valve. With new chains, mains and bigend bearings, a surgical clean of everything and a balancing of the crank and rods, the bottom end went back together. Re-cut valve seats, honed bores, new rings, a new piston for number two, new valve stem seals and gaskets allowed the top end to go back together – a major milestone.
“Next the rolling chassis was completely stripped. The frame and stands went to the powdercoaters and all nuts, bolts and brackets went to the platers. Once these came back I realised I had now turned the corner on this project; the “putting it back together” part had started – woo-hoo!
“For the next 12-18 months, I steadily toiled away, allocating time to Cybil while keeping a full time job and spending time with my family. Rebuilding the six carbs was the scariest part of the project, but I muddled through and they worked.
“I found it is important when working on such a project that when it got the better of me, I just put it down for a while and came back to it when I was ready to continue.
“Finally Cybil burbled happily back into life late in 1995 and immediately ran like a charm. I was really chuffed with the result and have since clocked up about 7000km.
SOME DÉJÀ VU
“Then work took me to Hong Kong for two years. Sadly, on my return Cybil was running like a dog with gummed up carbs and dragging brakes. So another carb and top-end rebuild commenced. However, by building on what I learnt during the first rebuild, I am now even happier with the result. I also made some minor upgrades that were sympathetic to the era: the brakes were upgraded with CB900F twinpiston calipers and new front brake rotors and braided lines front and rear. There’s also a larger CB1100F oil cooler.
“Riding this classic machine on a gorgeous sunny day is truly one of the greatest pleasures of my motorcycling life; one I hope to keep enjoying for many years to come.”
Congratulations Tony on a topshelf result. And thanks for sharing the story with MT’s readers and for providing photos of the process.
A Big ‘Thanks’ to …
Many have shared this journey with me and given so willingly of their knowledge and experience. Thank you one and all. Special thanks to:
• The Australian Honda CBX6 Owners Club (www.cbx6.com.au)
• Steve at Crow’s Custom Motorcycle Paint, Beverly Hills, NSW, tel (02) 9502 5343
• The ever-helpful forum members on the wonderful CBX6 site at www.cbxworld.com
• Californian Mike Nixon, the ‘Carb Rebuild God’, for his excellent website at www.motorcycleproject.com
• Randall Washington of Randakks Cycle Shack (www.randakks.com) for the best CBX reproduction parts and carb kits in the business and amazing gear for early Goldwings and ’80s Hondas
• Bill Brint at Tim’s CBX site (www.timscbx.com) – so many CBX goodies, so little money…
• Louis Mintrone at www.usedcbxparts.com, the largest stock of used CBX parts in the world For more about the history and details of the Honda CBX1000 six, there is an absolutely fabulous 404- page book available from author Ian Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a preview of the book go to www.camhk.com/cbx