Most builders dread dealing with the electrics on a bike. But not Joe Tessitore of Portland-based Digital Directiv, a mad scientist operation focused on bringing vintage bikes up to date with modern electrical technology.
“Builders don’t usually talk about upgraded electrical systems or modern convenience, especially on vintage motorcycles,” says Joe. “It’s all about crazy fab work, bumped up horsepower, or period-correct pieces. That’s not my thing. I do electrical and I do it well.”
For three years, Joe was Jay LaRossa’s right-hand man at Lossa Engineering. And the skills he picked up from Jay shine through on this 1976 Honda CJ360T.
“Working with Jay, I learned how to build a custom wiring harness with my eyes closed. So I knew this would be a focal point of the build, albeit an almost invisible one. But the pièce de résistance is the hidden keyless ignition—a swipe of the RFID key fob in just the right spot, and she comes to life.”
Joe’s CJ360T has the attitude of an urban pothole jumper, but embodies many of the traits of a Lossa bike: It’s clean, without a spot of rust or a speck of dirt, and the lines are clean too. “Tabs, wires, brackets, switches, anything … if it’s not serving a purpose or complementing the lines of the bike, it has to go,” says Joe.
No part is untouched. “If you can buy a new part, do it. If you can’t, refinish it. Seals, bearings, bolts, bulbs, nothing is safe.” The bike looks (and works) as well as it did when it rolled off the Honda showroom floor. “Paint, powdercoat, zinc, chrome, polish, whatever it takes. Even machines destined to be daily riders should leave the shop looking like a show bike.”
Visually, it’s not an easy build to pigeonhole, and that’s deliberate. Joe believes in ‘building the bike you want to see.’ “Fads come and go while people’s opinions are all over the map,” he says. “At the end of the day, be true to yourself and your craft and you’ll be respected for it.”
I think he’s earned that respect already. Find Digital Directiv here.
Images by Truen Pence.
1976 Honda CJ360T
Digital Directiv RFID keyless ignition & scratch built wiring harness
Custom CNC’d front brake adapter w/ CBR600 front caliper
CNC’d battery and electronics tray
Lossa Engineering exhaust cone
Motofactory rear brake stay
Leather upholstery by New Church Moto
Cleaned, de-tabbed, and chopped frame
Re-sealed and re-finished motor
Mikuni VM30 carbs from Sudco
Pro Tapers risers
XR650 fairing and headlight
Hagon rear shocks
Tarozzi fork brace
All Balls steering head and wheel bearings
Ballistic Li-ion battery
Pirelli Scorpion tires
Koso digital gauges
Ducati Monster style LED taillight
Renthal dual compound grips
Magura brake master cylinder
Braided Stainless steel brake line
Stainless, re-finished, or replaced hardware