I’m quite partial to adventure tourers spruced up with gear from the likes of Touratech. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, a 40-year-old motorcycle is probably not the best choice of transportation. But Jay LaRossa of Lossa Engineering begs to differ, and he’s built the bike to prove it.
This is Jay’s personal ride, a 1970 Honda CL450 built to tackle the rough stuff—and look sharp doing it. It’s also a practical custom, with not only panniers to hold Jay’s gear but also solar panels to charge electronic equipment.
“I haven’t built a bike for myself in over three years,” says Jay. “So after a horrible 2012—getting cancer again, doing chemotherapy and full body radiation and having a bone marrow transplant, I was aching to build something.” And here it is: the bike that Jay’s been kicking around in his head for years. He decided to use the build as therapy while recovering. “I wanted to build something I could take off-road, or jump off a curb, and use to carry stuff when I ride.”
Jay had been collecting the parts for his ‘ideal’ CL450 for years, and swung into action. “I started to spend every Saturday just working on the fabrication. I basically assembled and built the CL450 as it was going to be finished, and then took it apart for all plating and coatings.”
The CL450 has been totally rewired and fitted with a modern rectifier and dry cell battery. Custom headlight ears house a HID light with a built-in rock guard, and the gas tank is from a CL350. Every nut and bolt was accounted for, and all the chrome stripped off. After Jay was happy with the mock-up, he sent everything out for powder coating, yellow zinc plating, anodizing and paint.
The bike was put back together for the second time with Renthal bars, and the billet levers, throttle, brake strap and axle adjusters were supplied by Joker Machine. The rims are Excel high-flanged aluminum, shod with Dunlop dirt track tires.
At the back are 40 cal. ammo cans, custom mounted with 1970s Hondaline saddle bag mounts that Jay modified so they could be taken on and off easily. The custom Lossa Engineering exhaust exits under the left side can and the rear suspension is taller than stock, so Jay fitted custom gearing and revised the chain clearance. The engine has been treated to Mikuni VM34 carbs with K&N pod filters.
It’s an accomplished, high-quality build. The standout feature for me is also the most unusual one: the ammo cans house solar panels from Goal Zero. Via a USB port, Jay uses them to charge a flashlight and speakers (also from Goal Zero), and to charge his iPhone while he rides.
And the taillight? “It’s a Model A reproduction from Licks Cycles that I bought over five years ago,” says Jay. “It pretty much sums up my 2012, and how I felt against the world!”