Rusty bikes seldom garner a second glance. But this new offering from Outsiders Motorcycles warrants close inspection—because there’s a lot more at play than a little patina.
Outsiders is based in the ancient city of Groningen in The Netherlands. The shop is run by couple Bert and Jene, with help from their apprentice Lex, and this Honda CB750F2 is their seventh build to date.
“A year ago, we got a call from our client Lars,” says Bert. “He’d just bought a 1978 CB750F2, and was looking for a shop to upgrade it. So we met in Amsterdam and talked all night about the bike.”
Most of Outsiders’ customers walk into the shop with a clear plan and budget. But Lars was happy to sit back and let the crew do their thing—as long as they ran any big expenses by him first. “He’s a graphic designer by trade,” explains Bert, “so he knows it’s important to let a certain ‘flow’ take over a project. The best stuff happens when you let go.”
Bert loaded the CB750F2 into his van and hauled it back to his shop. The engine was in a bad state so the cylinders were honed, the heads ported and the valves resurfaced.
New rings and valve seals were installed, and everything was put back together with stainless steel hardware. At Lars’ request, the starter motor was removed: this CB is kick-start only.
Outsiders also installed a rack of Keihin CR carbs with K&N pods. Bert’s old boss was roped in to fabricate a set of stainless steel, four-into-two exhaust headers—terminated with a pair of Spark mufflers.
Some of the ideas from Bert and Lars’ first chat included clean bars and an empty frame under the seat. The frame went into a jig to be de-tabbed and reworked. The subframe is all new, and includes redesigned exhaust and passenger peg brackets.
The under-seat oil tank had to move though, so a new one was made from scratch. It’s now located underneath the fuel tank—along with a Ballistic Evo2 battery and most of the electrical components.
For the cockpit, Outsiders installed a set of bars found at a swap meet. To keep the cockpit minimal, Bert built an internally-routed throttle and a cable-actuated front brake—with the master cylinder hidden under the seat. The bars are capped with a pair of Biltwell Kung Fu grips.
Lars is pretty tall, so Bert wanted to increase the CB’s ride height. A Honda Transalp front-end was grafted on, complete with dual disc brakes. Out back, Bert fitted a set of custom-made, 395mm shocks from Bitubo—now hooked up to a CB550 swing-arm.
The CB’s original Comstar wheels gave way to a set of Excel rims—a 19-inch laced to the Transalp’s front hub and an 18-inch laced to the CB550 rear hub.
When it was time to coat the frame, Bert had ideas of his own. “Lars wanted the frame black,” he explains, “but because he was so quick on the ‘OK’ with everything else, I secretly went to the coater to test a piece of brushed scrap metal.”
“Once we saw the result, we went for it: a sand blast, wire brush, acetylene, clear powder coat process. I didn’t know exactly how it would turn out, but Lars was OK with it right away.”
The fuel tank was an equally interesting process. Lars had taken it to a painter for a matte black job with gold leaf detailing—but on the bike, it felt out of place.
“We have old tanks lying around,” says Bert, “and one night we slapped some random tanks on the bike, out of desperation. A rusted-beyond-repair BMW tank looked really good on the spotless bike.”
Bert selected a CB650Z tank to replicate the roest effect. After modifying it to accommodate the electrics and new oil tank, he sent it off to the paintshop FutureRelics. They coated it white, red and then green, before sanding down and clear-coating it. A rust ‘goo’ was then applied: a combination of metal shavings and epoxy, treated with various acids.
On went a custom-made, brown leather seat, aluminum fenders, a small speedo and new lights. Every last finish was carefully thought out; the black housing of the Bates-style taillight was sanded and clear coated, and even the ‘CR’ logos on the carbs were changed to rusty orange. (Because “red looked wrong on the bike.”)
“Lars is not your ‘here’s a picture from Instagram’ type client,” says Bert. “He gave us really good feedback. And because our jobs are similar, we had good discussions about a lot of stuff we normally don’t ask clients.”
“He upped the ante. It was a steep learning curve, and I grew big-time as a builder.”
As the project drew to a close, the bike was scheduled to appear at The Bike Shed event in Paris. Then disaster struck. Bert had sent the rims off for powder coating (to cover up the yellow ‘Excel’ logos), and the coater had lost them.
With no option but to order new rims, the Outsiders crew put in over 100 hours a week to get the bike done in time.
“We were exhausted, but Paris was a complete blast—what an awesome event! Lars and his girlfriend booked tickets and came to see the finished bike for the first time at the show.”
“I think he liked it.”