VR Customs Dubai is a well-known custom motorcycle builder in Dubai. It has completed many projects in the past, like the world’s fastest pizza bike that was built in the summer of 2017. Now, VR Customs is back with its latest build – the Project Bob.
Alan Boyter from VR Customs Dubai is on a constant hunt for old motorcycles so that he can get his hands on these and use his brilliant ideas and godlike skills to convert them into unique custom motorcycles. This time he came across a 1980 Honda CB750 DOHC. This lovely motorcycle had been imported from the USA by another owner, but for some unknown reasons his plans with the motorcycle changed, and VR Customs came into the picture and acquired the bike in 2016. Alan tells us, “At some point, the bike had been hacked up to have a cafe look, but the work had been poorly executed – by a blind welder I suspect. But somebody had clearly put a lot of effort into the bike, so the base was pretty good.”
After analyzing the bike, Alan decided that he is going to build his first hardtail. But this won’t be an easy task. He says, “There really aren’t that many hardtail options for the DOHC CB. Most options either bolt or weld to the rear part of the frame but Voodoo Vintage make a kit which is welded from the front end of the frame, giving the look of a custom hardtail but retaining the original chassis number.”
He continues, “The hardtail kit consisted of various pre-bent tubing, but actually lining it all up, determining how much of the original frame to cut away, and making it all true, meant going back to basics; measure ten times, mull it over and sleep on it overnight, cut once, weld everything down to the bench, measure again, get the wife to measure it again, weld once.”
Alan had to arrange for the parts and components which weren’t included in the hardtail kit. The complete front end and rear wheel come from a new Triumph Bonneville. The front end was built using the original Honda stem, which was cut out of the Honda bottom yoke, spaced correctly then welded into the Triumph yoke. In order to retain the 530 chain and keep it in trim with a 530 chain tensioner, Alan used a Triumph America’s sprocket carrier with wider spacing mated to a Suzuki Hayabusa 530 sprocket (fitted in reverse).
Speaking about the installation of the other components of the bike, Alan says, “Once the frame layout was finalized, all the ancillary items began to fall into place, though there were lots of ‘do-overs’ and re-works during the build, as always. The original plan was to have a fake oil tank to house the rectifier, coil packs, battery, and wiring. This was fitted in three different positions and orientations, until I settled on housing the battery and ignition key in a shorter version, with the remaining wiring sitting in a cut-down ammunition box, which also doubles as the rear master cylinder mount. That’s actually a go-kart master cylinder, installed using a custom-made linkage. The dummy tank and box were positioned such that the wiring would run within the frame, so everything was hidden.”
While designing the Project Bob, a cool and weird idea came across Alan’s mind. He thought of using a suicide shift because that will perfectly suit the radical design of this hardtail. But he wasn’t sure whether that was legal or not, so he also installed the conventional foot lever. He says, “It means any future owner has the option to choose and was also done with road registration in mind. I wasn’t sure if the suicide shift would be permitted, so had to maintain the possibility of removing it. In the end, though, it wasn’t an issue.”
Building a custom motorcycle requires a lot of patience, time, and running around town to arrange necessary parts. Alan had to do a lot of cross-breeding of parts from different motorcycles to make them fit in the Project Bob. Alan decided it was easier to build a new wiring loom himself from scratch since the length of the new bike and electrical layout meant the old one was far from ideal. The clutch cable is borrowed from a Honda CRF450, the throttles are for a later model CB and the choke, mounted on an old school timing lever, is from a Honda Unicorn.
Bar indicators cut down the amount of visible wiring and the need for rear mounted indicators, whilst a custom designed clock mounted in a fabricated stainless steel mount and featuring the VR logo, has a GPS speedo, doing away with the mechanical drive and cam from the front wheel. To retain the old school look on the bars, Alan stayed away from modern electrical controls. He simply installed (new) 1980 CB750’s controls with 90’s model brake and clutch perch/levers.
Alan was very specific with the exhaust of the Project Bob. They are a result of a great deal of blood, sweat, and toil. Alan says, “I hunted high and low for off the shelf items but again was thwarted because of the DOHC engine – there was plenty for other CBs – plus of course, the length of the frame didn’t help. So finally I opted to make my own”. These four-into-four pipes are fitted with silencer inserts and mounted so that the outside pipe appears to be floating, maintaining a clean look. Alan continues, “They were an absolute bastard to make since the inner and outer exhaust outlets exit at different angles and then come together at different down angles”.
Prior to final assembly the engine and carbs were fully stripped and rebuilt, with every visible nut and bolt being cadmium plated, even the screws on the underside of the carbs, because of course ‘detail is everything’. And naturally, all parts were either powder coated (including even new parts like the foot controls, so as to maintain continuity of appearance) painted, plated or polished.
It took Alan 520 hours of hard work to fully complete the Project Bob. Building a custom motorcycle with utmost care is just like raising a baby. You get really attached to it. But like so many of his other builds, Alan has barely had time to enjoy this one and now Project Bob is up for sale. Alan says, “You know how it is. I’ve bought a handful of other old bikes in the meantime and have plans for those, so need to sell Bob to finance the next build.”