Motorcyclists are often superstitious creatures. Some riders put guardian bells on their bikes, others won’t ride green motorcycles, and some regard dropping a helmet as bad luck. ICON even sews tiny St. Christopher medallions into the pockets of its jackets.
So goodness knows what the Federal Moto crew made of this Honda CB750K. If ever there was a bike that should have been parked in Tutankhamen’s tomb, this is it.
“This bike was a curse for us,” says lead builder Peter Müller. “It was our ‘Dark Passenger’ that always seemed to be there, never going away. Anyone who’s ever tinkered with bikes knows how the story starts: You buy a cool old bike, probably over-pay for it, and ride it for awhile until it inevitably starts to have problems.”
In the case of this CB750K, the engine literally blew up. The cam ate up the head, so the bike sat around while Peter and shop owner Shaun Brandt grew their business.
“We’d work on it every once in awhile, but couldn’t find the time to give it a proper treatment. About a year went by with the engine untouched.” And the deeper the Federal crew went into it, the worse the problems became. The previous owner had attempted a cafe build, but screwed up almost every part on the bike.
“We decided that the best way to get the bike running again was to turn it over to a local mechanic and let him deal with it, because we were too busy with our client builds.
“Unfortunately, we picked the wrong mechanic. The bike sat in his shop for a year, and he did more harm than good. He over-charged us and tried to scam us, so we had to practically rebuild the whole thing a second time.”
Three years later, Federal’s CB750K is finally finished. We’d describe the style as classic CB cafe racer, but with a twist—thanks to the upswept exhaust and extended ducktail.
It’s a hard bike to pin down visually, because it’s a mélange of mostly CB750 parts from slightly different eras. The tank is from an earlier ’72 CB750, but the forks are from a later model CB750F (SuperSport), attached via a top triple clamp from Cognito Moto.
The wheels are original, rebuilt and re-laced with stainless steel spokes and nipples, but there’s a custom dual-disc brake setup with phenolic pistons. And if you look closely, you’ll spot the lovely finned 1969 calipers upgraded with stainless steel lines. Jeff Stephens at Godffrey’s Garage supplied the drilled rotors.
The engine has been spruced up with carbs from a ’73 CB750, but it’s the pipework that’s impossible to ignore. Vintage 4-into-1 sport headers are mated to a Danmoto GP Extreme muffler via custom stainless plumbing. Arc Academy in Chicago handled the welding, and the pipes are finished in titanium lava wrap.
At the back there’s a tail section lifted from a wrecked 1978 KZ1000, reshaped by hand, and then mounted to a custom subframe.
The electrics are all new, with a custom wiring loom. It’s hooked up to the headlamp from a 1978 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing and an LED brake light strip.
There are high-output LED turn signals hidden under the tail and on the headlight ears, and Federal have upgraded the cockpit with high-end Japanese Posh switchgear. The grips are from Biltwell Inc., and all the little details have been sorted—like new stainless steel fasteners and hardware everywhere.
Gus Abarca handled the paint—a cool two-tone grey scheme, with a Mobil pegasus adorning the tank. “I was fascinated with the logo as a child,” explains Peter, “as well as its use on vintage race cars.”
“This one is a true nod to the past—a simple, timeless cafe racer. No bullshit.”
The CB750 also marks Federal’s move from being based in both Canada and the US, to running a single operation in Chicago. “As a small shop, it just didn’t make sense for us to be spread across two countries,” explains Shaun. “We made the decision to expand in the city because we felt it was best for us to grow.”
Federal have already been accepted into a local business incubator, giving them access to a bigger space and more resources. So we should be seeing a lot more from these guys in the future—and hopefully a little better luck.