While on a recent visit to Melbourne’s TT Motorcycles, I got my first look at the bike. It looks good in pictures but so much better in real life. This café racer has been built around a black, 750 Honda Four powerplant and has a commanding presence with its low and sleek lines. The black wheel hubs and rims make the red chassis and polished tank/tailpiece stand out – this is definitely going to turn heads on the road.
Brian suggested that as the bike had only done a handful of road miles, it would be a good idea to use the Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza as a racetrack ‘shakedown’.
Taking the bike for a spin around sunny Broadford was ideal to see how the new bike handled and iron out any bugs before it goes to its next home, in the winner’s garage!
I’m not the tallest throttle jockey in the world so the low seat height suits me perfectly. A café racer is built to blast around town so being able to reach the ground helps for the stopping and starting that traffic requires. The ride position is 100 per cent boy racer with the Clubman Ace ’bars stretching your weight forward over the Manx-style tank. Custom rearsets allow easy reach to the back brake and gear lever.
Even with oversized pistons taking engine capacity out to 836cc and a racier Yoshimura camshaft, the Honda is still smooth revving. At idle, the exhaust note from the handmade system does hint you are not on a standard 750cc. Once underway the engine growls through the revs. You can hear the induction noise as the 29mm Keihin smoothbore carburettors run no filters and breath straight from beneath your wedding tackle.
Running cleanly through the gears, the boys have got the ignition and carburetion balance close to the mark already so there were no complaints there. Braking from the rear caliper was strong. Up front, I found the stoppers required a fair amount of lever pressure to haul the big girl up in a hurry. In fairness, I had just stepped off the lightweight Irving Vincent with its excellent, oversized race brakes.
Once in the groove I got used to the brake and allowed myself a more realistic corner approach (I have to remind myself I’m not always racing) and it was fine.
My only negative report for the boys back in the workshop concerned the fork. The initial fork travel is too firm, restricting the bike from riding the road the way it needs to. This doesn’t feel like a case of the fork springs being too hard or internal valving problems, but more a ‘stiction’ issue. For those of you that have never heard of this suspension term I will briefly explain. It’s basically the two words ‘stick’ and ‘friction’ put together to describe a suspension problem that can occur when the suspension movement is restricted from its normal, smooth motion. The most common cause is the fork not being perfectly straight due to the axle pinch bolts being tensioned in the wrong position or because of an over-tightened fork brace.
Whatever the issue was it should only be a minor one to resolve and then the bike will be ready to roll. I was happy to be the track test pilot and pleasantly surprised at how well this ground-up build worked considering it had only just been completed for the weekend.
It’s a solid build that rides well, while you could spend hours trying to inspect all the attention to detail spent on this café racer. I was riding around Broadford in a race suit but wishing I was in jeans and an open face. Thoughts of taking this bike for a run through the hills before parking up in front of a pub on a Sunday afternoon were on my mind. That beautifully polished fuel tank would shine in the sunlight as I sipped a cold beer.