From Mr. T’s haircut to the DeLorean, shoulder pads and the Rubik’s Cube, everything that was popular in the ’80s seemed to have square edges. Add the fashion, some of that god awful synthesiser music and boy is it a decade that leaves a lot to be desired. The motorcycles were much the same, the British had collapsed, the two-strokes were all but gone and the superbike was yet to fully ripen. But now emerging from left field as the prices drop to temptingly low amounts, are good candidates for a custom makeover. Germany’s AMP Motorcycles has taken once such example, the Honda CBX750 and hit it out of the park with this remarkable retro remake.
The original Honda CB750 is an icon of the motorcycle industry and for its sheer impact is one of the most important machines of the last century. For more than a decade it was the pride of the Honda fleet, with its smaller siblings doing very well too. So when Honda released plans of not one, but two new sportsbikes there was understandably high expectations. Then they arrived, the VF750 with its ‘chocolate cams’ that crumbled like aged cheese and the CBX deemed too square for the square generation and sat on showroom floors unloved.
But when a client rolled a 1986 model into the AMP workshop, father and son duo Michael and Allen Posenauer, could see the potential! The engine loves to rev and self-adjusting tappets make servicing a breeze. The suspension and brakes were far superior to the older CB and the narrow engine design lets you lean it over on the edge of the tyre with the weight never trying to fold the bike under you. So with just a few instructions from the bikes owner the CBX was pulled apart and given a makeover that would bring out its best, without trying to look like a totally different machine.
The first work was to get the rolling chassis up to scratch, “there are some custom CBX builds out there with expensive fork conversations, but our buddy wanted to keep the vintage front end like it came in the eighties,” Allen explains. So a rebuild and modern oil bring it into the 21st century but its the rear end that gets the big dollar treatment. The factory pro-link monoshock was a major step forward over the old twin pogo sticks, but to ensure the back tyre is always planted a custom Wilbers rear shock allows things to be dialled into perfection.
Speaking of tyres, the CBX was one of many sportbikes in the period to use mismatched wheel sizes front to rear (16/18), with a 16in upfront like the CBR range-topper that didn’t change to equal diameters until the year 2000. But to keep the old charm the boys decided to keep the original wheels, which does make tyre choice limited and found the Lasertec rubber from Metzeler to be the perfect match for the bike. While an overhaul of the brake package and tidy up of the swingarm ensure everything functions and looks like new.
Transforming the overall appearance of the bike would take on an equally subtle approach, attempts by others to reshape the tank and front fairing have largely failed. So AMP has focussed on the true weakness of the bike, the ugly rear and done a beautiful job transforming the lines. The huge subframe is cut off, the dorky rear footpegs and their oversized mounts thrown aside and minimalism is the word of the day. The cutting edge cowl and side covers are hand-formed from aluminium and perfectly integrate with the tank.
Up top a custom single seat was firstly shaped and then covered in Alcantara that is stitched together with a bodywork matching red thread. The remainder of the bodywork remains largely unchanged, with a cut down front fender and blacked out screen giving the Honda a much more sleek appearance than the factory offering could ever hope for. “With the paint job we picked up the gloss black stripes of the fuel tank,” Allen says. Maintaining the colour combo even with the electricals, including all black mini indicators and red LED tail.
The wiring is redone to keep the lines clean, with a tiny battery hidden in the tail and the factory airbox tossed aside. This allows the four cylinder engine to take its air through a set of individual pod filters. While the Father and Son modified the factory header pipes to convert the exhaust into a neat 4-1 system with small GP muffler spitting flames out the side. While not taking any drastic measures the pair have re-imagined the poor ’80s seller into a slick looking custom, focusing their attention on all the right areas to produce a brilliant result. Now the only question is how many will follow in their path and could the blueprints have been laid on how to reinvent that disastrous decade without spending the sort of money that saw the share market crash at the same time.