In the mid-nineties, at a time when I was switching from mopeds to ‘real’ motorbikes, the first waves of the British Streetfighter movement were spilling over the continent. And since I ever had a soft spot for unconventional rides, I was hooked from day one. If you take a closer look at early Streetfighters, you’ll notice lots of similarities to the bobbers and customizing in the 30ies and 40ies in general; spicing up affordable or crashed bikes by cutting off anything superfluous while adding some performance parts to the mix.
I’d like to insist that I’m only talking about the beginning of this movement, when Streetfighters where mainly based on 80ies or early 90ies big bikes and had certain rough edges. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, Streetfighters have been put in unfavorable light over the years by people building two-wheeled atrocities any sane onlooker can’t decide whether he should laugh or cry.
But to this day, after some experience with heavily modified bikes of that kind and a significantly decelerated idea about having fun on a motorbike, I still have a soft spot for builds coming close to that original idea of the Streetfighter. So it was clear that Origin8or Custom Motorcycles' 1981 Honda CB985F had to be featured on 1down4up.net.
Rob Chappell from Ontario in Canada started to ride dirt bikes from age 5 and later in life studied automotive, welding and graphic design. He took the latter through college and makes a living from it for 25 years now, but with a background like this, it was clear he had to build bikes during his spare time.
Four years ago, Rob had already build a CB of this kind but after getting an offer he couldn’t refuse, he was now giving it a second go with the intention on keeping this one.
It started with bone stock 1981 CB900F in fantastic condition that didn’t run. Rob didn’t mind, since he knew from the beginning he would rebuild and modify the engine. So the lump was bored to 985cc and equipped with several stainless hardware. All the engine components were powder coated in gloss black around a matte black engine block.
The frame was reinforced in front of the engine, below the tank as well as around the lower mounts to handle the new swing arm nicked from a 08 Yamaha R6. Upside-down forks from a GSX-R750 work in the front while forged Carrozzeria V-Track Wheels equipped with Dunlop GP tires guarantee safe contact to the road. A set of Keihin CR31 carbs, a Cycle-X exhaust system, adjustable R6 rear sets with Woodcraft pegs, Woodcraft Clip-Ons, a Cognito top triple, a new oil cooler with braided lines as well as a Harley-Davidson V-Rod headlight where added to the mix. I can’t imagine any headlight looking better on this build.
The electrics where jazzed-up with a Dynatek ignition, Dyna coils, an Anti-Gravity 8-cell battery, digital gauges, bar-end signals as well as GSX-R 1000 controls. The LED taillight integrates a license plate light as well as indicators in order to keep the bike street legal.
Rob cut up the stock tank in order to integrate knee dents as well as a pop-up gas cap. He modified a KZ1000 tail and made a mold so you can buy it on his website if you like. The tail sits on a new sub-frame with a triangulated shock-mount and is equipped with a one-off Tuffside seat made from suede, carbon and leather with yellow stitching.
When it came to the paint job, Rob played around with many different themes before settling with Black Pearl metallic, Silver metallic, Lemon Sting, Liquid Copper and Red metallic. The retro-design graphics match the look of the bike perfectly.
In the end, Origin8or Custom Motorcycles’ Honda CB985F is one of the rare bikes that remind me of the early Streetfighters from Great Britain. It might be way cleaner and built to higher standards, but it’s just the right mix between old and new. I would be surprised if it hadn’t already awakened some people’s interest. Let’s see for how long it stays in Rob’s garage.
Pictures by Dan Lim, Ben Quinn and Mat Manser.