BMW Motorrad Spezial

Honda CB160 custom

Honda CB160
The most extraordinary thing about this build isn’t the bike itself—a humble Honda CB160—but the story behind it. Because the ‘Rusty Rocket’ was constructed almost entirely out of spare parts, collected over a year. Owner Scott Elder visited local vintage racers in Portland, Oregon, and dug through their ‘cast away’ piles in the corners, sheds, and backyards, finding a fender here, and a headlight there. There are a few exceptions such as the pipe, intake manifolds, and leatherwork, but almost everything else was borrowed or stolen—or ceremoniously traded for beer. A daily cafe racer built, literally, on a coffee-cup budget.

Honda CB160
According to Scott, “This project took me to at least 17 private parts collections, suggesting that this bike was built from the ashes of at least 21 ‘retired’ machines. I’m not sure if this is simply the ultimate in ‘freecycling’, or a tragic indictment of my cheapskate nature!”

Honda CB160
The bike came together at Poor Bastard Cycleworks. “The man behind it conjured the pipe out of thin air and a quick sketch I made on a napkin,” says Scott. At New Church Moto, they laughed but didn’t kick Scott out when he showed up looking for someone to help create a “strap-on chin pillow.” I’m glad Scott persevered—it’s certainly paid off. [Thanks to Matthew Sanders for the tip.]

Honda CB160
Honda CB160

  • Edbarton

    that’s just lovely.

  • Curtis1218

    that thing is rad!

  • Kumo

    Love the bike, the history and that second lamp on the side!

    But… What about that side stand??

    Nice recovering and building work.

    • Tunafish

      MX stand

    • Dave in Kalifornia

      CB160’s do not have sidestands… Only centerstands. I like the idea of the MX stand, but would just hate to have to cart it around… I have a pristine 160 in the shop ATM that is being ‘mildly’ cafe’d… The owner is a cute little tattoo artist, who has just been dying for a small bike to arse-about on. I might submit some pics to Chris when it’s done…

    • pascie

      Can you tell me what the second lamp is for?
      I like the looks of this bike!

      • SE

        Thanks pascie! The second lamp is a vintage fog lamp that I found rooting around in the “crashed parts” box at a local scootershop. ( At the time, I was looking for a way to augment the existing (dismal) headlight on portland’s foggy mornings–this one is wired directly to the battery, and toggled with the switch i drilled into the housing. I don’t use it all the time, but it makes a difference when I do!

  • BoxerFanatic

    Wow, tiny tires.

    The only thing it needs now, is a secondary set of rearward foot controls, somewhere between the rear axle and the rear fender, for a real superman riding position… with your chin on the tank.

    And I would put a side-stand on the bike, rather than having to carry the mx-style stand along, or propping the bike against a wall or a tree.

    • thinking the same thing…tires are stock but seem a little anemic.

      • SE

        I agree — they do look very dainty, especially under the stock fenders!

        These are race take-off bridgestone BT-39ss’s, and are remarkably amazing tires. (It really was a significant leap in performance shifting to these–modern tread, modern rubber, less rotating weight–over the more ‘correct’ 18″ avon’s).

        That, and the price was right. ;)

  • SE

    when we built the low 2:1 pipes, none of the stock stands i could find would work. an easy solution was to build a mx-like triangle stand and just slide this into a peg when parked–on the days when it’s not simply leaned against a building.

    of course, it got old carrying this, so now there’s a bracket to hold the triangle stand over the license plate.

    • BoxerFanatic

      Nice work, and even better considering the budget.

      Interesting about the exhaust preventing the side stand. that would be a good reason.

    • SE

      ( you can actually see a second stand hanging in the license plate bracket in one of the photos… borrowed from the race bike. $5 of rod steel, and 5 minutes of MiG ). cheap, but super stable–highly effective for a daily ride.

  • Sweet!

  • Reeroo

    Well done Scott, this thing is sick from front to back. The first CB I’ve been impressed with in some time.

  • revdub

    So freaking awesome. Great to see a small bike get such a great treatment. I would rock this every single day of the week!

  • This bike is just dripping with character, large puddles of awesome forming underneath. It’s part period-correct classic, a little steampunk, part shabby-luxury with the leatherwork.

    The only thing that would improve this bike is having my name on the pink slip. ;-)

    I know that mirror… it’s one of the best available, Japanese anti-vibration marketed as “Bar-En” (no typo, the “d” is cut off).

    • BoxerFanatic

      I have a pair of Napoleon (brand name) Bar-En TT model mirrors on my 89 Hawk GT.

      Same as that, but mount with an allen cap screw to the stock mirror mount points on the hand controls, and have the same ratcheting joint in the arm. I love those mirrors, and I have yet to see another set in person like mine.

      • The reason I prefer actual bar-end mirrors is that they are out further… regular mirrors always seem to give me an absolutely perfect view of my elbows.

        With the style pictured, they can be mounted upright (as shown here) or swapped left/right and mounted under-slung.

        I just realized the Napoleon brand mirrors you have are the same brand that I have… Napoleon is the brand name used by Okada. The name slipped my mind until you mentioned Napoleon.

        You can see all the styles including your Baren TT and my regular Baren here:

  • Anton 3000

    Good shit. A great ‘city’ bike – love it.

  • tq

    i have a 1962 cb77 in my garage awaiting restoration and this is exactly what i want it to look like. The brown leather – so choice! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • KIK

    i want to borrow it…..please!!

  • “Strap-on chin pillow” sounds dirty…

  • SE

    Wow, thanks everyone… really. I am beyond pleased to see that some people get it! ( Honestly, I was really bracing to get blasted–I’m always in awe of the caliber of builds that are posted to this site. )

    Rob – Cheers for the tip on the bar-en. I found this on a crashed yamaha rz, and have been trying to figure out what it is!

    • Glad to help. When Chris approves the post I made above, you’ll see the link to their catalog.

      Just looked at your website – amazing photos. Is that a translucent red tube connecting your carb?

      If you’re ever in the Atlanta region, stop by and I’ll give you the tour of some racing toys (contact me through my facebook link).

      • SE

        Good eye: the intake manifolds are somewhat translucent–they were early prototypes of the Poor Bastard racing kit, set aside by the shop due to evolutionary changes in the mold.

        Re: ATL. You know, I’d be glad to! Hoping to race some more AHRMA events this year, and Atlanta is on the calendar (and map) between Barber and Daytona… ;)

  • Panzer

    Saw this bike at The ONE Motorcycle Show here in Portland, OR. Was surprised to see it here today. I hope some of the other bikes from the show make it to your page!

    • SE

      Agreed. There were some really amazing builds at that show–a considerable amount of talent is percolating around here!

  • Doc M

    Sweet-ass ride!!!

  • kawasaki street fighter

    awesomness! gotta be one of the amller racers around here… 160cc!

  • Leo

    Dig it.

  • joe momma

    …i was gonna snivel until i read about the cheapskate angle……brought tears to my eyes……i will endeavor to sell all my overpriced crap and go guts like this……???……at least till i sober up…….

  • I’d like to know more about the wiring and the switchgear of the bike. And where can I get those levers?

    • SE

      Stock levers and stock wiring harness–I found one still attached to a headlight bucket under someone’s saw table. The only exception in wiring is the hardwired starter and fog lamp, which are on an independent DC circuit and about two feet of reclaimed speaker wire. ;)

  • Mitch687

    I am absolutely blown away by this bike. What a beautiful machine. Kudos my friend..

  • I think anything bad anyone could have to say about this bike is immediately nullified by the price. Noses go up in the air when the bike costs $12,000, but this one’s more like $120 to build and full of character. Awesome bike, hope to see it on next year’s calendar!

  • This is what it’s all about… to have a bike in Your backyard, no mather the price, the technology of the bike, not even the looks. Build It… Ride It… and if You don’t Love It, means You are not one of us!

  • SenorPedro


    You just seem to be everywhere Scott…

    Looking good as always.

  • MaSK

    That brought a smile to my face. Love the story, and the bike looks good too!

  • lonelyrhino

    What a beautiful build: aesthetic and process. Any documentation of the build process? Would be awesome to see it from beginning to end.

  • Well, that’s just one of my favorite ever Bike EXIF posts, right there.

  • joe momma

    …..p s…..most my old machines have modern tires installed…..just shows a modicum of good sense….

  • Mule

    It appears that with enough “Patina”, the current generation will buy ANYTHING!

  • Opinionistic


  • Kurtblankemeyer

    This CB160 is great. Love it. The sidestand mount is a great idea also.

    As I get older, I enjoy more and more smaller cc bikes as they have character and don’t get you in trouble as much.

    450cc used to be a big bike!

  • FlyLo

    Love the bike… At first wasn’t so keen on the second lamp but when I read of it’s truly functional nature on foggy Portland mornings, that sold me on it.

    Really nicely done…

  • Jpezc5

    I have a CL160 in my family room waiting to be reassembled. Fenders, tank, carbs and pipe have been removed for refurbishment. Thing is, it looks so darn good without its clothes that I’m not too put off while waiting for a warm enough day outside to apply fresh paint on the body. The sloper engine with no frame cradle is a work of art and totally ahead of it’s time.

  • JT

    I’ll cast my vote for this bike right now. In a sea of vintage Jap bikes with clubman bars, cut down seat foam and muffler tape, this machine really steers a unique course ahead of all the generic crap. Really cool. The fog lamp and the integrated leather details are just awesome. Please bring it to Rockerbox in Milwaukee this summer.

  • great story. would be fun as hell to ride, but id wear a full face helmet so people couldn’t see my stupid grin. Well done love it.

  • That is absolutely perfect.

  • Daniel

    Interesting to see that seat together with the rear fender.