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The Misfit: When building a CB750 becomes therapy

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
Mike LaFountain has been working on vintage motorcycles since he was 17, and he’s a perfectionist. His creations are nut-and-bolt perfect; they attract crowds (and awards) at premier events like The Quail, and sit next to other supermodels at the Haas Moto Museum.

Getting to this level of quality can take quite a toll on a builder though. And so Mike recently decided to cut himself a little slack with this Honda CB750. Not that we can tell …

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
“A few years back, I built a CB750 for the actor Ryan Reynolds,” Mike explains. “I was under the impression that I’d be building something with the same fit and finish as my previous work: perfectly polished aluminum, high gloss paint from an exotic supercar and pristine leather. But I couldn’t have been more mistaken.”

About a month into that project, the direction changed. “Ryan began texting me photos of random distressed objects—anything that inspired him,” says Mike.

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
“Old pipes, raw metal, brass, copper … anything with patina. That CB750 ended up being as raw and ‘unrefined’ as possible. And although I absolutely loved the result, I’ve always wondered what that bike would have looked like, had it not gone done the road of Imperfection.”

Cut to a few years later and now we know: ‘The Misfit’ is the CB750 that could have been.

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
“During the first build there was quite a lot of R&D,” Mike recalls. “Which led to lots of parts that didn’t make the final cut.”

“I ended up making two or three of everything: I made two fairings and oil tanks, and three seats, fender sets, and front ends. I even made two sets of wheels, which are some of the most expensive components in any build. I ended up going with discs on Ryan’s bike, leaving a beautiful Suzuki GT750 drum brake collecting dust.”

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
There was even more stress involved with Mike’s last major build, a Kawasaki W1R that took seven years to complete. So this CB750 was just the kind of project to ease Mike back into the business.

“I had forgotten why I loved building motorcycles in the first place. I needed to go back to the beginning, when building was just for fun and just for me.”

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
“As I looked around the shop I began to realize that I had enough for an entire bike. That’s when The Misfit concept hit me. I would go against all my instincts and the obsessive pursuit of perfection, and just build a bike with whatever I had lying around from the Reynolds build.”

Mike had a 1974 CB750 in the shop—a basket case that he’d snapped up on Craigslist years before. He rebuilt the SOHC motor back to factory specs, but upgraded the breathing with a beautiful set of Keihin CR29 roundslide carbs, topped with K&N filters. These are worth a 10% gain on the stock horsepower.

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
At the exhaust end there’s a simple but effective 4-into-1 custom system, terminated with a single reverse cone muffler.

Mike made only a few design alterations to the original concept, and one was the introduction of a rare ARD magneto. “Although an electronic ignition system would work just as well, the magneto just looked so damn good so I went with it!”

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
Another change was the instrument panel, because Mike has always loved the look of vintage racecar dashboards “with just about every gauge imaginable thrown in there.”

“I wanted to replicate that look, but it took me about a month—due to the lack of space in the small fairing. I could only squeeze three gauges in, and even three felt like too many. In the end the dash, was the most difficult portion of this relatively painless build.”

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
The overhauled suspension is now hooked up to a pair of high-shouldered Excel wheels, with custom-built Works shocks of Mike’s own design at the back.

The wheels have been laced up and trued by Buchanan’s Spokes & Rims, and are shod with Avon Roadrunner F2 and R2 historic motorsport tires—molded from a race compound but with a vintage pattern to suit the style of the Honda.

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
The front drum brake is from a Suzuki, and was professionally relined and arced. “The GT750 four-leading shoe brake in original OEM state is a great brake for a Honda CB350 with a 140lb person on it,” says Mike.

“But if rebuilt properly, it’s light years better than Suzuki ever intended—and completely adequate for a bike of this size. Moral of the story: if you are going to run a drum and you would like to stop, have them professionally rebuilt!”

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
The tank is from a Suzuki too—a 1984 GS400S—and heavily modified. Mike also built the sleek aluminum fairing, oil tank, tail and seat unit, and the front fender and its stays. He even machined the rearsets too.

Although the CB750 is literally a ‘misfit,’ it’s also one of the most coherent and elegant CBs we’ve seen. And we’ve seen a lot over the years.

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles
“There are a few small angles and lines that I disagree with,” says Mike. “But I can sleep at night.”

“I fulfilled two goals: one was to see what that Ryan’s bike could have looked like, but more importantly, ‘The Misfit’ was a bit of therapy for my OCD. It was an absolute blast to make!”

We bet it’s an absolute blast to ride, too.

Raccia Motorcycles Facebook | Instagram | Images by (and with thanks to) Paulo Rosas of Speed Machines Design. Shot at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California

1974 Honda CB750 K4 cafe racer by Raccia Motorcycles

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