Don Vanicek's 1978 Honda CB750
Don Vanicek’s wife thought he was having a mid-life crisis. He had sold off the stable of street and dirt bikes 25 years prior, started and raised a family and built up a successful canvas awning company. About 10 years ago, when he saw episodes of “Café Racer TV” on Velocity, the memories came back to him and he couldn’t shake the two-wheeled joys and desires he once harbored as a teenager and young adult. After selling his first café build for a profit, a 1981 Honda CB750 Custom, his wife suddenly got it. The 1978 CB750 (Super Sport) pictured here, which he found on Craigslist for $1200, is his 10th build.
Vanicek grew up in Dallas, Texas. He started riding and wrenching on bikes at 14 and rode a Suzuki 125 Enduro. “I learned to ride from one of the best,” Vanicek said. “I was fortunate enough to be the brother-in-law of one of Texas’ best ever flat track/road racers, Paul ‘Hogman’ Stephenson.” They would go out together on afternoons and weekends and trail ride until sundown. Stephenson was a force on the Central Motorcycle RoadRacing Association and battled future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame riders such as Mike Kidd and Freddie Spencer, the two-time 500cc FIM World Road Racing champion (now MotoGP). “I remember seeing Freddie road race as a kid. He wasn’t old enough to race anything larger than the 125cc class. He was killing the older guys in his class.”
The ’78 Honda came to Vanicek in good condition. It was owned by an older gentleman who used it to commute to the DFW airport where he worked in aircraft maintenance. “He put about 20 miles a day on the old girl and it was used strictly for utilitarian purposes. Even though the bike wasn’t running I felt sure the previous owner hadn’t ragged on it too badly.”
The military theme is a tribute to all the troops in the United States branches and to Vanicek’s son, who served 10 years as an aviator and commanding officer for the Army. “He gave me inspiration for the theme of the bike.”
Vanicek had grown tired of the café racer platform and he admits he suffered some “builder’s block” while working on the ’78. When he attended the International Motorcycle Show he loved the new scrambler trends. “I wanted to do something that would satisfy my art release as well as have the best chance of selling for profit. I’m not in it to make money but, it sure is nice to have a profit to fund the next project.”
He tore down the bike, de-tabbed the frame and changed all the wheel, steering bearings and rubber bits. He fabricated the front and rear fender from the front fender off a 1980’s Yamaha. The paint was done by a friend, a local artist who suggested the riveted panel look. “That gets a lot of attention. People are constantly taking pictures at events.”
He used a Cone Engineering slip-on with fiberglass wrap on the headers. He decided to mix in some brat style, too, so he chopped the rear section and added a tail hoop to complement the brat seat. After rebuilding the carbs he went with open pod filters. The powder coated Comstar wheels and forks were blacked out. Fork gaiters and a headlight grill finish off the scrambler look. He estimates he has about $3000 into the bike, including the original purchase price.
“The build took me right at a year. I have only around 100 hours in her. Being in somewhat of a seasonal business I did most of the work on winter nights and weekends. I am now starting my eleventh build in nine years, a 1978 Yamaha XS650 that is going to be a street tracker.”
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- Fork Gaiters
- 12” SS Reverse Cone Slip On
- Exhaust Header Wrap
- Naked Leather Upswept Brat Seat
- Rear Tail Hoop For Large CC Bikes
- 2 ½” Classic Round Tail Light
- Biltwell (Thruster) Grips
(via Dime City Cycles)