Life with Rhonda.
Rhonda is my Black Honda CB750-K7 of 1978 vintage, although she was first registered in 79, and from what I can work out somewhere in the midlands. †I bought her to replace my old Z650 after I sold it.
Rhonda is a feral bike living out on the street come summer or winter, rain or shine, her wheels in the gutter and a glint of rust showing her age and environment. I am not to blame for this though, as she was already a bike of the street left out to the weather in the back streets of Battersea when I bought her on that day mid September 2006.
I had just sold my Kawasaki Z650, and was looking for some new old wheels, but I was not sure what I wanted at the time. So when I saw the CB750 sohc on e-bay, which looked pretty good in the pictures. And a decent start price, and also with the benefit of being in London, with a description that read along the lines of, taxed, tested, and good condition, front brake needs adjustment/bleeding, and forks need new oil, but it is ride-able, then I had to have a punt, so I did, and I won!
Later having made arrangements to collect the old girl, I grabbed my lid and jacket, and caught a Sunday morning train to London, me, full of enthusiasm and the train full of football supporters, Chelsea were playing at home! And then getting the tube as close as I could get to Battersea. Finally, walking the rest of the way along the Thames on a fine September morning, and sitting outside a pub with a cold beer, while waiting for the owner to arrive.
Well my first view of Rhonda was a shock, she was far from the condition I had been led to believe, and looked worse for the caked on dirt and accumulated sap from the lime trees that she was parked under. †The front brake calliper was completely seized up and made no attempt to grab the disk rotor. The forks had no fluid in them and a drain screw had been broken off in situ. Her redeeming feature was the fact that she started easily on the kick-start, although the battery never had enough charge for an electric start. And to be fair I could probably have walked away from the deal with no comeback from the seller, but I didnít, I took my life in my hands and rode her home, through London, the A4, and then down the M4, with no front brake and non existent forks.
The last time I rode a Honda was way back in the late seventies, a CB250K. I remember it was either the blue or gold, we had one of each in the family so I donít remember which was last, but I had forgotten how easy they were to ride, they never seem hurried in the same way the Kawasaki Z650 does, in fact it almost plods by comparison, though not in a bad way.
It would seem this bike has had very little if any maintenance in 28 years, as so many of the parts fitted are original in look and function, and came complete with 28 years of grime, from both summer and winter. The funny thing is, is that all the bits you would expect to show signs of neglect, like the chrome guards and four/four exhaust are fine and virtually rust free, but the lower frame and fittings have a coating of surface rust that shows the lack of winter cleaning and how bad salted roads can be to a bike. Having said that the rust comes off easily and the frame cleans up well ready for primer and topcoat.
However, that was back then, I have owned her a few months now and things have moved on. First, it was a complete clean and polish, followed by another complete clean and another polish, finally she started to look like a classic Honda again. I have degreased, greased, oiled, and wiped, I have undone, tightened, wiped over, wiped down, cleaned up, and lubricated.
By then it was time to start replacing parts, and as is my way, I try to source genuine parts first before turning to pattern parts. Therefore, a complete front brake overhaul kit was ordered and duly fitted, and it all now works, even if it is only just a little better than having no front brake at all.
The broken fork drain screw was removed, the forks were stripped, cleaned, and rebuilt, and now they work perfectly with no leaks. New coils were fitted, due to a miss-fire and lack of power, and on feeling the exhausts, number two & three cylinders were noticeably cooler than one & four, and as both are fed from the same coil, I pulled them and fitted a new unit. Wow what a difference that made, giving a much smoother power output on acceleration, I also fitted a new choke cable as I had the tank off, the old one was worn and would need holding out, rather than staying out on its own.
In addition, a new seat cover, and both tyres were replaced, as were the rear shocks. The first cold spell of winter killed the old battery so a new one was bought, this really improved the already impressive starting, and she was then taken for an MOT that she flew through with only one advisory.
Now I have owned her a while and put some miles under us both she has become like an old friend. She sounds great with the four pipes burbling as you cruise on a Sunday morning, and she gets lots of comments from the guys who had one back in the day, and she does look good with her black paint and lots of chrome. I still have some things to do to her, but I do not intend to make a show bike out of what was, is and will stay a feral bike.