After the stylistic excesses of the 1970s, the 1980s saw a kind of direction change in custom bike building – one which resulted in no small part from the abundance of fast, reliable four-cylinder motorcycles from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Much like the much maligned crashed-sports-bike-with-the-fairing-taken-off-and-twin-spotlights genre of streetfighter a decade or so later, a lot of them were created from unintentional tarmac interfaces when folk discovered it was a lot cheaper to replace a battered stock tank n’ seat with aftermarket (single and twin-cap Mustangs, etc.) tanks and/or aftermarket/homemade seats, and things went from there – the Eighties sprung custom evolved.
Neil from NCC West Mids, the father of Luke whose bike you saw a few pages back, didn’t build his bike from a crashed ’un. No, he bought the 1980 DOHC 750 ’Onda already customised, and smoked it about for a bit… well, when I say ‘a bit’, I mean literally just a few miles before it started persisting (that’s the polite way of saying ‘pissi…’) oil from the cam cover.
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On close inspection, someone’d stripped a cam cap, and bodged it, so to save looking around for what could these days be quite a difficult part to source, he decided instead to transplant in the Bandit 600 engine he had in the garage – a much newer, smoother, and only fractionally less powerful (there’s only 1bhp difference between the two engines, despite the fact that the Suzuki’s 150cc less, technomological progress eh?) power-plant that’d easily be up for the sort of mileages National Chopper Club bikes do.
He also wanted to change the look of the bike, and so bought a set of ten-inch apes; made a new seat; re-did the side panels; found a tank off a previous build in the garage and re-worked the frame and tank to get it to fit; narrowed an aftermarket rear ’guard to go between the rear rails of the frame; and took his good friend Jud, also from NCC West Mids, up on his offer of making him a set of forward-controls (one of the ’pegs on the ones that’d come with the bike snapped on the way to a Club run, which made life a little difficult…).
The Suzonda (Honduki?) started off just a basic black colour, but Neil, while poking about in his obviously TARDIS-like garage, found some paint from a previous project, and what was left over from Luke’s build too, so mixed his own colour, and repainted it the subtle silver-grey it now bears, and Luke, who’s a bit handy with a computer, made up the discreet Chopper Club decals.
By the time you read this he’ll probably’ve reworked the bike again, as he was planning to give the hard-working ol’ girl a complete overhaul and freshen up over the winter, ready for us to be allowed out into the wider world again in June. Bet he can’t wait – I know I can’t!
THANKS TO: Luke (NCC West Midlands) for all his help, and Jud (also NCC West Midlands) for the forwards.