Brothers Rob and Chris Chappell have a slightly unusual approach to running their company Chappell Customs: Rob lives near Toronto in Canada, and Chris lives over 2,000 miles away in Los Angeles. It hasn’t stopped them building some sweet customs though, like the Yamaha XS650 we covered a couple of years ago.
The 1982 Honda CB900F we’re looking at now is Rob’s personal bike, so most of the work was done in Canada. Rob bought the Honda as a ‘pile of parts’ two years ago, and has gradually built it up in between paying gigs. “I wanted to create a bike that has modern suspension and geometry, like I’m used to on my race bikes,” he says. “But at the same time I wanted to showcase that 1980s CB engine and tank. The look I was after was pure muscle, executed like a bike Honda might produce today.”
Of the frame, only the original engine cradle remains. “All unnecessary tabs and the original rear sub-frame are now gone,” says Rob. “I designed the rearset supports to run CBR1000 adjustable units, and custom fabricated the new sub-frame and shock mount to support a mono shock arrangement.”
Working from front to back, this CB900F now has a Harley-Davidson V-Rod headlight with an ingenious custom mount that doubles as an adjustable steering stop. The front end is from a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750, with wave-type brake rotors, a Honda Fireblade radial mount brake master and clutch perch, and braided lines. Rob also machined a new upper triple clamp, mounted a digital dash using an aluminum CNC-cut bracket, and installed Woodcraft clip-ons.
Rob designed the fiberglass tail unit using foam, and created a plug and mold for it. (He’s used the same design on some of his other CB builds.) He also flush-mounted an aircraft style quarter-turn gas cap into the tank.
The swingarm is a Honda CBR600F4i item that was machined to fit the CB900F’s frame. Rob then machined off the F4i shock mount and created a new aluminum mount from scratch, so he could fit a Yamaha YZF-R6 shock.
The rear wheel is also from a Honda CBR600F4i. “Due to the wider wheel and rear sprocket offset I had to custom make an offset front sprocket to get everything to line up just right,” Rob says. “Seems no one makes items like this for the DOHC bikes—strange.”
Finally, the engine received a complete rebuild and overbore to 985cc, and is now fitted with Keihin CR31 carbs. The exhaust is a modified 750 unit from Steve ‘Carpy’ Carpenter that Rob cut and extended under the engine, altering the angles to suit the CB900F frame. “It’s extremely loud, even with the supplied baffle, so a titanium exhaust can is in my future plans. And yes, I used pipe wrap (sparingly) just to keep my foot cool around the rearsets!”
Rob also wired in a car-style ignition—“Just turn the key and vrooooom!”—and powdercoated the frame, wheels and engine covers. He designed and sprayed the paint himself, but shipped the seat pan to Chris in California. “His awesome upholstery guys sent back a beautiful white stitched ass pillow.”