Words by Gary Inman, photography by Paul Bryant. There’s a phrase, very popular in England, “You can’t polish a turd”. But, taking on their first project bike, Sideburn magazine tried.
The starting point was a £370 ($600) Honda FT500C, and the magazine didn’t want to spend a lot on it. Luckily, they had Carl of CFM in Lincolnshire, England, on their side. He’s a local one-man do-it-all bike builder/fabricator, and he sorted the bike out.
One of the biggest jobs was removing the FT500 sub-frame and replacing it with raised seat rails. This was done to make the new tank sit parallel, and look good with the seat. The tank? It’s from a 1970s Garelli sport moped, while the seat is a repro Norton race unit, with a Steve Adams seat pad. The distinctive paint, based on an optician’s colour blindness test, was laid on by British cross-genre artist, Death Spray Custom.
The front forks were replaced with Yamaha TDR250 legs, with the stock triple clamps bored out to accept them. The puny and worn-out front brake was ditched for a Yamaha R6 caliper and custom-made EBC disc, while the rear is another EBC disc, with a standard caliper. Sideburn went to the bother of having one-off discs made to avoid caliper adapter plates—always ugly and best avoided. The rear shocks are British-made Hagon Nitros.
There are dozens of tasty little details. The footpegs are KTM beartraps, while the rear master cylinder is Yamaha YZ450. The stock headlight is on a cut-and-shut standard bracket; the front master cylinder is from a Honda CFR450, and the switches have all been moved to the headlight shell.
Want to know more? Grab yourself a copy of Sideburn #6.