True style, as the saying goes, never goes out of fashion. And if there’s anyone who knows about style and fashion, it’s the French. In fact, they seem to have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that allows your average personne Française to be the centre of attraction at any social gathering, seemingly without doing very much at all. Which leads us to today’s build – a nouveau project from Lyon that manages to be both understated and timeless. Rest assured, when all this custom bike malarkey has passed, it’ll be bikes like this that we’ll be calling classics.
“I love customising bikes; both the powered and unpowered variety,” notes Jo, the bike’s owner and builder. “I also play guitar in metal band and I’m a big vintage guitar and amplifier enthusiast. As for my bike, it’s a 1975 Honda CB250G from the French army. When I bought it, it was essentially junk. The rear end was entirely missing; it had no swing arm and no rear wheel. The frame was bright blue and the front brake was stuck fast. Add a non-running engine to the list and I think you’ll understand just how bad it was.”
Undaunted, Jo rolled up his sleeves and got stuck it. He started with a total disassembly and a nice, warm caustic bath to remove all the old paint. The frame had a new rear loop added, and then it and the engine were primed and painted in gloss black. The tank is from an old Honda CB360, and Jo got the wheels powder coated and shod with some plump Firestone Deluxes. 3.50 x 18s on the front wheel and 4.00 x 18s on the rear, to be specific.
“Next I lowered the forks, fixed the rear shocks and change the front brake caliper. Essentially, the engine is stock but before painting I rebuilt it with a new cylinder and some rings amongst other things. It’s a 6 speed ‘box, and I took off the starter, so it’s kick only.”
Jo checked the spark and decided that the electricity wasn’t as bad as he suspected. He then installed a Bates-style headlight, some BMW turn signals and an Antigravity battery. “My girlfriend was kind enough to do the upholstery on the seat for me,” he notes. Ain’t love grand?
“The design idea that I had in mind was to keep it looking like a vintage bike, but with a few more aggressive, minimal touches. Everything I kept on the bike is only there because I need it. Everything else I took it off because I wanted absolutely no bullshit or clutter on it. It’s my first build, so I thought I’d keep it simple, too.”
“If I had to say, I think my favourite part of the build is the rear end; that sweet little fender, the LED stop light and the 2 megaphone exhausts. It looks really amazing from behind. And overall, the biggest problem was the bike’s clutch; it was more than a little reluctant to disengage. We had to clean the plates and change the springs as it just wouldn’t let go.
“Honestly, it’s not a daily driver as the brakes are a little weak. It’s also quite heavy. But it is still a total joy to ride it and it makes the heads turn and the faces smile.”