After acquiring a 1974 Honda CL 200, unspoiled yet barely running, Dan Mantyla was faced with a decision: restore or customize?
Dan is a guy who understands the connection between art and engineering. He’s a shed-builder by night and a web developer by day. “I wanted to build a bike that to the untrained eye looks stock,” Dan tells us. “But what they’re doing in Japan with Bratstyle bikes and in Europe with scramblers is just too inspiring. When you get to design your own cockpit, you don’t pass that up.”
Customizing a bike as rare as the Honda CL is a delicate situation. Especially when the bike has survived 40 years without someone taking a welder to the frame or a hammer to the gas tank. It requires thoughtfulness rather than brash ambition, and Dan kept that in mind throughout.
Some of the modifications were an easy decision: like replacing the dorky taillight and lollipop blinkers with smaller ones, dropping the handlebars, adding more aggressive tires, and removing the mirrors.
Other mods were more challenging. Dan has kept the side covers, but had to repair extensive cracking. So with the help of bondo and fiberglass, he installed little mesh grills—a very neat custom touch. And the muffler, rendered useless by rust and holes, was chopped off to make way for beautifully chromed, glass-packed exhaust pipes.
But where do you draw the line? For Dan, that line was drawn on the bobbed rear fender, so the stock seatpan and sub-frame could stay. The Interior Shop, a hot rod upholstery business in Kansas City, wrapped the deeply upholstered seat.
While all this was happening, Dan was rebuilding the busted motor. He installed oversized pistons, resurfaced the head, and refinished the cases. It’d cost a small fortune, but the little CL was now complete.
The end result: a modest, unassuming resto-mod with styling cues from trackers and Bratstyle bikes alike. “The bike is a scrambler, capable both on- and off-road, and that’s what I wanted to convey,” says Dan. “This Honda CL is the bike for me. It’s vintage, it’s beautiful, and it wouldn’t look out of place ripping through a scene in the first Mad Max movie.”