One day I was drooling over some nice cafe racers I found on the ‘net and started to have this thought:
A concept of three bikes, three cafe racers or racer-type fast machines, all of which carried a certain relation to each other.
I was going to call them “Ghosts” and what they would look like, was still a mystery, even to myself.
This was the start of ‘Exit Ghost’, the first in my “Ghost” series. These bikes were going to represent the purest essence of motorcycles: the raw machines, the lines and aesthetics which capture you with their sheer primitiveness, the noise and the speed.
I wanted some race-track appeal to them. They might not look like the most finished bike you will ever see, or the cleanest, but they had to make you keep staring at them and feel like “damn i’d like to ride that f**ker up to 100mph”.
For a donor bike I was going to use a beat up old 1977 Honda Cb500 Four K3 I had acquired. I rode it one summer as stock, to get some feel to it and after that dismantled the whole thing, including the engine. I had a plan in my head, but as I don’t want to sketch or draw anything when doing a personal project, i kept it there and started to go through what had to be done to the bike. At this point a certain gentleman called Otto appeared and asked if I knew where he could get a sweet cafe racer. I told him I could point him to some which are for sale at the moment, or if you like, I have this project coming up. Otto was instantly smitten and we made a deal that Exit Ghost was going to be Otto’s new bike.
Otto had of course ideas for the bike, and because he was now my customer I went through those with him carefully. But I also had really strong vision of what I wanted to do at the same time. I couldn’t believe my luck when it turned out that Otto is really laid-back guy and let me do pretty much 100% what I envisioned at the beginning.
I ,of course, always presented him the next phase with few options if possible, and if he was suspicious of it I said “look, let me do this and I’ll do it in a way that can be easily reversed if you don’t like it”. And like I said, I was lucky that Otto never thought we should re-do something again.
I also wanted this bike to be a first lesson for me in metalwork, so I handmade pretty much all the tins on it. The tank’s lower section is original CB500 K3 tank but I pounded seven pieces of sheet metal to shape and welded the whole upper together from them. I kept the original tank cap flip door though. I made everything using just a hammer and an anvil, from thick sheet metal so lot of sweat went into the tank, rear section and the front fairing. It’s rugged, it’s tough and I left plenty of welding marks there, no matter how dirty they were. Then all tins were coated with matte clearcoat. The wheel rims, the frame and swingarm were sandblasted and powdercoated gloss black.
Mechanically and electrically I took everything to pieces and renewed everything which looked like they needed it, then cleaned them and put them back together.
The engine was rebuilt with new valves, racing valve springs, new cam chain, new starter clutch, a few bearings and new piston rings and then polished + painted. For exhaust, I chose MAC 4-1 exhaust with black headers and chrome silencer.
For the seat I wanted to practice seat-making basics, and as this bike didn’t need a super clean seat I didn’t have any fear that I won’t be able to make it as neat as the other cool seats on those cafe racers i’d seen. So, I made the seat pan, cut up an old WW2 British leather vest and sewed it to the form of seat. It’s a rough looking seat for sure, but I just love it like that.
I made the front pretty low, although the stance is basically the original I lowered the riding position with clip-ons.
After everything was in it’s place, I took a few shoulder straps from French ammo magazine bags, oiled them and secured the tank to the frame with them.
I also added a small leather pouch to the side of the seat, so there’s a place for tools or small personal items. The tank straps can also be used to attach another bag.
The bike fired up like a dream and gone were the noises and rough runnin’ of it’s former life. It ran like new & it looked just as I had envisioned it in my head. Otto was smiling from ear to ear when he came to pick it up and I was really sad to part with it.
But then again, there will be two more Ghosts….Maybe I’ll just keep them.