Saturday, December 30, 2023

Once in a lifetime opportunity.. 1982 CB1100R

It’s funny that someone had recently asked me about what my dream bike list was and after the highly sought-after RC30, I had mentioned the Honda CB1100R, which was sold in very limited quantities in non-US markets. They have that cool look of the vintage endurance racers from that era and were in fact built to satisfy the homologation requirements to race as a production-based machine in world championship events. The production numbers were approximately 500 in 1981, 1500 each in 1982-83.

Unlike the svelte 400 lb RC30, which is a 750cc street bike version of their highly successful V-4 racing machine, the CB1100R is based on the 1983 CB1100F street bike which was sold in the US and is a powerful, but hefty machine, weighing in nearly 518 lbs dry. The fuel tank is almost 7 gallons, so the wet weight increases dramatically. See: for an overview. They were produced from 1980-83 and each version (B, C, D) has unique features that do not interchange with the other models.

Various articles have been written by others, and published, on the origins of the CB1100R, as per the below links.

So, surprisingly, a CB1100R popped up on Facebook Marketplace and the posting gave “San Diego” as the location of the bike. The owner was a local Motorcycle Wrangler, as I would describe him. I had looked at some of his bikes when he lived in a different location some years ago. He was always turning over new stock and seemed to be able to find some unique bikes, but I had never worked a deal with him. More surprises were revealed when he mentioned that he had TWO of them for sale!

I made an appointment to go and see him and his current stock of machines. He had a Z1-R Kawasaki sitting out in front of his garage and mentioned that there were FIVE Kawasaki 750 Turbo machines stacked inside of a storage container. He was reluctant to reveal how he got his hands on two CB1100R machines with OR titles, but he just said that he was at the right place at the right time, overhearing a conversation at a local auction house. So, he snapped them up and posted them on Facebook.

The bikes were supposedly from the UK and showed the kind of “patina” that comes on bikes that are used and ridden in a mostly humid country. The key tag for the bike was a dealer item with the name of a motorcycle dealer in South Africa, though!

The brake lever pulled right to the handlebars and the plastic master cylinder reservoir was definitely showing its age. The bike supposedly ran, the inside of the aluminum tank was clean and the bike appeared to be fairly complete but weathered. It had pod filters on the carbs, but came with the stock air box and a new windscreen. The standard 4 into 2 muffler system had been replaced by a 4 into 1 collector, which looked fairly new. The tires were worn and one supposes that the drive chain and rear wheel dampers would need replacement. It was a project, but a very rare machine to be found anywhere in the US, much less right in SoCal.

One bike had already been sold, which apparently had 90k kilometers on it. The remaining one was showing about 46k which is about 28k miles. They both looked in similar condition, but the remaining one had its price reduced by $2k. I have owned several CBX six-cylinder machines and worked on several DOHC Honda 750-1000 machines when I was working at a Honda shop in the 1980s, so the engines are not unknown to me. They do have 4 valves per cylinder and after 40 years, the valve stem seals are undoubtedly hardened causing oil consumption. When cared for, the engines have a long life, but there have been instances of broken cam chains or tensioners leading to expensive repairs.

The basic 1100 engine was tweaked with hot cams and a 10:1 compression ratio so premium fuel is required to feed the 115 horsepower powerplant. The bikes were built to compete in 6-12 hour endurance races in Europe and Australia, so were not your average EPA-tamed powerplants.

Fortunately, Matt, the owner of the moment, agreed to deliver the bike to me despite not having any front brakes and we made a deal that I hope I will not regret. Be careful of what you wish for….

Arrival and evaluation.


Between the two of us, we managed to wrestle the big bike off of his truck and pushed it up onto my motorcycle rack without incident. Having only a long side stand, the bike wouldn’t stay on the rack as the stand end extended past the edges of the rack. Fortunately, I did have a rear bike stand which was slid up underneath the swing arm and raised the back wheel up centering the bike on the work stand.

Years of neglect were apparent, especially with the condition of the master cylinder, which had lost much of the factory black coating and the exposed aluminum badly corroded. I was able to disassemble the master cylinder and it will get a bath in phosphoric acid to neutralize the corrosion and then give a better view of the overall condition. I had already purchased a $40 repair kit for it, plus another $25 for the plastic reservoir so I hoped that it would be repairable.

The bike had gone down on the aftermarket 4:1 muffler, which suffered a pavement grind spot along the lower edge.

The bike did come with an Oregon title that had a strange VIN number that wasn’t from Honda. As it had no VIN number up where it belongs on the steering head, the only conclusion is that it has a new frame installed and the VIN number originated from Oregon. I actually reached the owner on the title in OR, but he was a wrangler as well and had no clear memory of the bike.

The bike had a loose combination of non-OEM nuts, bolts and other fasteners. The fairing and rear tail light assemblies are all mounted on little rubber mounts which incorporate 6mm studs for mounting. Two of the rear ones were severed and the fronts were missing altogether. Removing the gas tank was a revelation in that it was a 7-gallon tank that weighed just a few pounds due to its aluminum construction.

I was able to remove the carburetors and inspect them briefly. There was fairly fresh fuel inside and no signs of contamination or corrosion, so I didn’t go further into them. The intake manifolds were rock-hard and when the aftermarket replacements arrived, it was evident that the Chinese copies for $16 a set were just 4 copies of one of the four different part number manifolds used on the 900-1100 engines. The replacement OEM manifolds were $125 a set.

When the old manifolds were removed, there were trails of crystalized gasoline/oil in the ports, so it is hard to tell if that was old carb residues from sitting for many years or something more sinister. I’m sure that the valve stem seals need replacing. I did that once on a CBX by just lowering the engine in the frame and removing the cylinder head. That’s not possible in a 1100 chassis so the whole lump would need to be extracted from the chassis. The bike is sitting on a rear swing arm stand on my bike bench, only having a side stand to prop it up with, and because of the length, it extends past the edge of the bike lift.


I was able to extract the rear wheel and have a new tire installed. The rear brake system was empty, so will need rebuilding like most everything else on this bike. I am not sure how I can support the frame to remove the front wheel and forks. The seals are leaking of course. The tire date codes were from 2011, so everything needs attention.

A gel battery was ordered, but was much smaller than the battery box. With the CBX bikes, there was a spacer that could be used to install a smaller battery than the GL Goldwing unit that takes up the whole space. I wound up using some wooden spacers to help secure the battery in the box, but it wasn’t the greatest remedy for the situation. I jumpered the solenoid and the starter motor spun the engine over okay.

Removing the instruments from the cowling, revealed a cheesy strip of metal that was used to hold them in place. The original steel instrument bracket was not included and are NLA hen’s teeth out in the world. The speedometer was removed as the reset trip meter was cockeyed and the reset knob and shaft were missing. The meter was sent to Foreign Speedometer who observed that the speedometer was similar to the later CBX units. In a desperate search for replacement parts, I contacted Tim’s CBX parts online and he sifted through a pile of old units coming up with just one that was a match. He kindly sold the unit for $50 including shipping to the speedometer shop.

Forks were disassembled and new seals installed, but the bottoms of the fork tubes were deeply scored with no apparent reason or source of why they would have become damaged like that.

I managed to wrestle both wheels off with the bike supported on jackstands under the frame. The rear wheel had a lot of corrosion which took about a half hour to remove down to the parent metal so the tire would fit the rim securely. The front wheel was taken to a local motorcycle tire shop and they swapped out the rubber with no comments about the rim condition. The only way I could remove the front wheel safely was to remove the axle clamps, pull each fork up through the triple clamps and roll the wheel out from underneath it all.

The master cylinder was successfully rebuilt and used to push out the right-side caliper pistons. They came out all blued with signs of severe overheating, either from racing or from sticking in the calipers and dragging the rotor for a while. A lot of the brake parts were shared with other models, many of which were for the CB900-1100F bikes.

Apparently, the brake calipers came from a related model, but the rear caliper pistons were 27mm instead of the 32mm specified. Using the microfiche parts illustrations on was helpful to a point. There is a CB1100R Facebook page and a CB1100R owner’s page that requires a $25 subscription fee, but was worth it for the additional tech information it contained. Slowly all the brake components were rebuilt and installed. Bleeding the twin-piston calipers took some time, but finally, I got a front brake that worked.

The carburetors looked correct, but the codes on the bodies didn’t match what the owners on the FB site had to say about them. The clutch and twin throttle cables were replaced. I had to create a little piece to anchor the choke cable to the handlebar bracket which was missing.

With some new OEM 8mm fuel hose and a brass T fitting I was able to feed some fuel into the carburetors using a remote reservoir and the engine fired up! There is a bit of a rattle in the clutch housing which may be like that on the CBX models which used rubber cushions on the clutch basket. After years of service and age, the rubbers shrink and the cushion effect is nullified. The part number does trace back to the CB1000C and the CB1100F models.

I have to say that it would have been wiser to “Stay in my Lane” instead of having a fantasy of riding this brute on my Sunday rides with my Jamuligan friends. The combination of a lot of one-off parts, plus the condition of what was there has led to a lot of expense and effort, just to get it running and functional. There will be no “restoration” of the bike, but hopefully, there will be some DOHC wizards who desire to bring it back to its former glory. I’ll be keeping my 420 lb NT650 Hawk GT for my Sunday rides, probably forever. But it was an interesting experience to see what Honda’s race team conjured up starting from the CB1100F model and giving it the performance to win 6-hour endurance races repeatedly.

CB1100R anyone?

Bill Silver

aka MrHonda


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

L’Orange CB77 from 1963 +1… Part 2

And the beat goes on….

I was called by the owner, described above, in early Dec. to see if I could help him with repairs to the CB77. He had sold both the 1963 CB77 and a 1966 CL77 to the same owner in nearby Rancho Santa Fe. He sent photos of a large pool of oil beneath the CB77 and maybe a little leak beneath the CL77. The new owner was requesting assistance in getting the oil leaks repaired as soon as possible.

I was going to be in the general location (about 40 miles from home) for my monthly chiropractor visit, so it was convenient to swing by and have a look. It wasn’t pretty….

I had never seen that kind of oil leak beneath any 250-305 before, unless the drain plug was loose and the bike sitting for weeks. I had brought tools and the previous owner supplied some oil seal kits so I could hopefully do an on-site repair and head on home. After a quick view, it was obvious that the bikes needed to come back home with me for repairs. The new owner had left the key in the PARK position, so the battery was completely dead. 

The oil leak was drooling from the shift shaft seal, which is an easy replacement, but the oil smelled of gasoline which apparently leaked into the crankcase before the last ride. Somehow, the gas-oil mixture didn’t ignite when the bike was operated and then shut down. The diluted oil leaked past what was probably the original 60-year-old seal and drained the crankcase down to where the level was nearly at the seal level in the clutch cover. Thus the large pool of oil beneath the bike.

Both bikes were loaded up into the Tacoma and hauled back to Rancho de Honda for repairs. The next day I changed out the shift shaft seal, then drained the oil as the drain plug appeared not to have a gasket installed. What drained out was watery, dark-colored oil that reeked of gasoline. I had also replaced the crankshaft seal and was putting things back together when I turned the engine over with a wrench and heard a god-awful squealing sound emanating from the engine somewhere up high. It was one of those fingernails on the chalkboard kinds of noises, which got louder when the spark plugs were removed. My best guess was that the diluted oil had caused some kind of metal-to-metal damage and that the engine would need to be removed for inspection and repairs. After the findings were relayed to the owner, permission was granted to move on to the repairs.

I did pull the clutch cover off, just in case the primary chain nut was backing off or something else was loose under the cover. I did find the oil filter was tight on the shaft and that the outer clutch pressure plate was contacting the inside of the clutch cover, too. The filter needed servicing anyway. Clearance was provided so it spun easily on the shaft as normal.

Once the engine was out, the top cover was removed and the crankshaft was turned again to try to pinpoint the squealing noises. The top end looked pretty dry, but nothing horrible stood out. I shot some WD40 into the cam bearings, where I thought the noise might be coming from, but it didn’t have any effect.

The cylinder head was then removed and the noise became centered on the pistons and rings. The cylinder walls were dry and the rings were dragging against the cylinder walls metal-to-metal. I suppose that if I had just shot some oil down the spark plug holes when it was still assembled, the noise would have been reduced and that would have pinpointed the cause of the noises. Still, there was evidence of the head gasket leaking up front and around the edges, so it was best to just go through the top end anyway.

The speedometer was showing less than 9k miles and the relative lack of carbon buildup on the piston crowns and valves seemed to reinforce the truth of the miles shown. The ring gaps were not terribly excessive, but the to edges of the rings were worn sharp and several of the rings were sticking in the ring lands of the pistons. The pistons were free to swing back and forth on the rod ends, but the piston pins, themselves were immobile when the clips were removed. Again, I give thanks for finding the Benelli piston pin removal tool that I had bought a few years back when I owned a Benelli Sei. Using the tool to its fullest the pins begrudgingly gave way to the tool’s force and were removed. One pin had an odd wear spot on the middle of the pin, but mostly they were undamaged. Piston pin fit is normally a finger push fit into the piston pin bores, so it is unclear why these had become so tight. I have a bottle brush hone that is the right side to open up the pin bore holes and it was used to allow a proper pin fit.

I had the cylinders honed at my local machine shop and ordered new STD piston rings from who turned out to be a former San Diego friend who moved to Minnesota a few years ago. While waiting for the parts, I disassembled the cylinder head, checked for any damage, touched up the exhaust valve seats, and reassembled it all.

When I turned to the round bowl carburetors, I discovered that someone had sealed up the overflow tube on one float bowl and that the main jets were #125 instead of #135 specified. The float levels were set at 26mm instead of 22.5mm so perhaps the bike had lived in high altitude for part of its life. The carb insulators were RTV glued onto the carburetor flanges and cylinder head. The more you look the more things wrong you find, in many projects like this.

The float bowl overflow tube had a split down the side causing a fuel leak, which was soldered for repair. The floats were original round bowl types, which come close to the side walls of the float bowl. I had many leftover round bowl gaskets from kits which contained both round and square bowl gaskets. Sadly, most of them had come from Keyster kits and they are just not made correctly to OEM specs. When the bowls were removed, the gaskets were cork and had shrunk up quite a bit. I ordered new floats from along with their swell-proof gaskets.

I had already removed the clutch cover, so I thought I better check the clutch plates. They were, of course previously stuck and there was rust embedded into the steel plates. Oddly, the outer pressure plate edges were sticking up proud of the edges of the clutch basket, instead of just tucked under the edges. This stack height apparently led to the contact marks inside the clutch cover. All the plates seemed to be of the right thickness and number (it was a 6-plate clutch), so I decided to mix-match the clutch pack with some thicker 268-020 plates, just fewer of them. In the end, it was a little shorter than normal, but it will clear the clutch cover now. We’ll see how that works out in the end…

I cleaned the carb insulators of the black RTV that was coated over them and installed new Honda 260 code o-rings on the insulators and the carburetor flanges. The cleaning process always involves flattening out the flanges, changing the o-rings, and checking for any tendencies for the slides to stick in the carb body bores. The main jets will be bumped up to #140s, which seem to work better on today’s E10 gasoline, which causes engines to run lean on standard settings.

When the engine was installed, I tried to quick-fire it up, but it backfired and spit back. The coils were tightly grouped together and the leads crossed each other. Swapping them back got an initial startup, but the ignition timing was incorrect. When the right side points were adjusted, one of the point screws was stripped in the hole, so a substitute point plate was acquired and installed. After picking up a fresh set of D8HA NGK plugs and raising the needles up a notch, the bike finally fired up and settled down to an idle. The throttle cable was a bit cranky and the cable adjuster on the right side carb is raised up more than the left to get them synchronized.

The last step will be to replace the old floats with the square bowl types that have more clearance around the edges, so they don’t interfere with the float bowl gaskets. Of course, the petcock needed to be rebuilt including the brass tube that was down to about an inch high.

On top of it all, the tires are old and the drive chain needed to be replaced. I did find an inexpensive new 530 pitch drive chain and installed it before placing the kickstarter cover back on the engine. Setting the clutch adjuster with the new clutch pack setup actually caused the alignment marks to be just about right. The tire pressures were 18/12 psi when I took it around the block, very slowly.

The co-conspirator….1966 CL77

This bike came down with the 1963 CB77 for a checkover and a small oil leak complaint. It was parked next to the CB77 in the garage, adjacent to the large pool of oil/gas on the floor. I had gone through the bike earlier in the year after it had been sitting for about 10 years. It required the usual fuel system clean-out, a new battery and, and overall tune-up procedures.

I had ordered a pair of the pushrod seal retainer kits from the Cappellini dealer on eBay. The first one went on the CB77 after the extensive rebuild. This second one should have been a 15-minute parts swap but turned into over an hour due to discoveries beneath the kickstarter cover.

First, the two 6mm counter shaft plate screws came out very hard, perhaps installed with Loc-Tite. After I removed the screws, I wanted to clean up the threads for the new retainer screws. The 6mm tap went in about half-way on both sides, then sheared off when I was trying to get that little bit of extra thread clean-up. There’s no getting broken off taps out of a hole like this, apart from an EDM machine. Fortunately, I had a spare shallow spline sprocket that was in decent shape. So, that problem was solved. HOWEVER….

When the sprocket was pulled from the countershaft, I was amazed and horrified to see that the countershaft seal was partially hanging out with a large open gap between the engine case and the edge of the seal. It had been installed with some of the Permatex Moto-Seal or Honda-bond liquid sealer when the engine cases were bolted back together again. Whoever did it, failed to notice that the seal had squeezed out at an angle and was left in that condition. Not only that, behind the rotor there was JB Weld, right where the engine cases get damaged from failing to locate the crankshaft main bearing in the knock pin correctly.

It’s hard to know if the damage was done before the last engine work or during the assembly of it. The possibilities are that the bearing was reset and the oil hole was not blocked. The other scenario is that the bearing was left in the out-of-indexed location, which blocks the oil flow to the crankshaft bearing. The builder might have noticed the cracked engine case and just sealed it up, rather than dive back in to reset the bearing properly.

The bike has straight CL72 exhaust pipes with the Snuff-or-Nots installed at the back. They knock down the noise a little bit but I’m sure that the neighbors would prefer that I not run the bike around for long. The bike repair work was done, but was waiting for the return of the speedometer repairs from Foreign Speedo in San Diego, my go-to guy for vintage Honda speedometer repairs.

When the bike was ridden the speedometer needle was whipping around and scratched the faceplate. Fortunately, Foreign Speedo has a guy in San Diego who can silk-screen the faces back to their original condition, so there is a time lag when he comes to pick up various faceplates and when they are returned. The bike runs out very strong (and loud), so the speedometer is all that is needed to return it to service.

The bikes are scheduled to be returned on Dec. 28 in much better condition than when they left the owner's garage. 

Just another few weeks in the life of MrHonda...

Bill Silver


Monday, December 11, 2023

L’Orange CB77 from 1963… Part 1 (the Prequel)

I recently received a call from a local (25 miles away) man who wanted me to come by and have a look at his “all original” 1963 CB77 305 Super Hawk. He had owned a lot of bikes of various makes and models but wasn’t fully dialed in on vintage Honda twins. He wanted an expert opinion about the overall originality and what it might need to fetch a good sales price. I agreed to swing by on my way to a nearby doctor's appointment and have a look. He had sent a string of photos to my phone, but they don’t really give a full impression of a lot of critical details on these models.

On arrival, I saw the bike down in his ground-level garage, sitting next to a fully restored Bultaco Matador. As I approached it was obvious that this formerly Scarlet Red model had been exposed to a little too much sunlight which turned the factory lacquer Scarlet red paint into a dull pumpkin orange color. So, “points off” right away. The bike had been modified with a set of what appeared to be CL72 handlebars, with matching higher cables, but mysteriously had the “Diamond” pattern hand grips that are normally seen on 1961-62 machines. This bike was a 3112xx series 1963 model, which you wouldn’t expect to find those grips on a bike of this year's model.

The front tire was an original OHTSU deeply ribbed unit that was certainly used on original CB77s in the early years. The rear tire had a pretty correct-looking tread pattern, but it was an IRC tire, so obviously not the original, especially with 8900 miles showing on the speedometer.

The bike featured the original stainless steel stock mufflers, but both had been cracked and repaired just behind the top mount where the muffler bolts to the footplate bracket. This is a common failure seen with stainless mufflers and even stock chromed steel ones where the top mount bolt was installed. I always leave the top mounting bolt out for this reason on all of my bikes.

Moving along, I noticed two different keys on the ignition switch key ring. One was an expected large head T series key, but the other one was one of the small head versions. When I looked at the steering lock, it had a different key number than the other two keys! When we turned the power ON at the switch, the neutral light was not functioning and the headlight didn’t come on when that headlight switch was flicked to ON position. The tail light did work in both tail and brake light functions, though.

Looking over the engine cases, it is clear that the clutch cover, oil filter cover and dyno cover were all painted over instead of being the original finishes. I was surprised to find the camchain tensioner with the adjustment bolt on the left side, which was an early feature of the engine series.

A closer look at the fenders and side covers revealed that they were a repaint in something like Cloud Silver, but with a flatter final tone.

The seat cover looked very fresh with Honda-like texture on the material, but there was no HONDA on the back and once we were able to remove the seat from the chassis, it was obvious that it was a re-cover from several details where the cover was glued on and not fitted just right. It did have the outside seat strap buckles in place. Removal of the seat was a chore as the forward two mounting posts, which are welded to the battery box edges were both bent inwards about 5 degrees. They jammed the tabs on the front of the seat pan, making installation and removal quite difficult. A closer inspection revealed a re-welded battery box to the frame, apparently replaced due to battery acid damage way back in time. Ironically, where the welds were done, the paint was touched up with matching orange paint.

We were unable to start the engine, due to some fuel feed issues. He was going to take the bike to a local motorcycle mechanic friend for some electrical repairs and to get the bike started up again. The dimmer switch select knob is rather sloppy and doesn’t feel like it is doing its job for the high-low function.

Also noted, is that the kickstarter arm was wobbly on the kickstarter cover bushing, somewhat consistent with the mileage shown on the speedometer and probably aggravated by a lot of kick-starting efforts in the past. When these bikes are tuned properly and have a fully charged, load-tested battery in place, they seldom need kick-starting at all. I would suspect that the starter clutch springs have collapsed and the starter clutch rollers are slipping on the clutch hub.

Also noted was that the position of the clutch adjuster index mark was off to the right, quite a bit indicating that someone had changed the clutch pack stack height. This coincides with the clutch cover paint job and the obviously damaged screw heads done when the cover was removed in the past.

There was a very unusual aftermarket side stand assembly mounted to the frame. It didn’t tie into the normal mounting points on the lower frame section and didn’t require the longer YB center stand bolt which is needed with OEM side stand bracket mounting. The side stand arm was black and had a flared end vs the normal little peg that was welded to the original side stand parts.

On the plus side, the original cloth tool pouch was present with most of the correct tools. The correct Dream 300 tank badges were still in good shape, despite the ozone weathering of the chassis paint. There is a box with a NOS set of OEM flat handlebars, cables, dimmer switch and a few other little tidbits to convert the bike back to original flat bar configuration. The CA Black plate license plate seems to be in the correct series of numbers for 1963 registration.

Overall, it seems to be a low-mile, mostly original CB77, with shortcomings in the faded paint, welded mufflers, polished covers that were painted-over, unknown clutch work, improperly welded battery box/seat mount fittings, and incorrect handlebars/cables. Once the bike is up and running again, more attention can be put upon the running condition, as far as noises, compression checks, clutch function, transmission function, ignition/fuel system functions, etc.

Bill Silver aka MrHonda

April/23 for photos and details