Paul Harding's 1974 Honda CB450
Paul Harding's 1974 Honda CB450
It was the best $400 he ever spent. Eight years ago, Paul Harding found a 1974 Honda CB450 lying in a barn in Darian, NY. The 1992 state inspection stickers gave away how long the bike had been dormant. “It was covered in dust, rust, and crust,” Harding said. “It had been modified in the past and was sitting on super long ‘raked’ front forks on an otherwise stock bike. It really sucked to be honest, but it was ‘clean’ enough.
After shoving it in the back of his friend’s Jeep Unlimited, they drove it back to Buffalo, NY and got it running (well, roughly) that night. It was fall in western NY and Harding wanted to get some riding in before the winter storms rolled in. It wasn’t until two months after Christmas that he found some time to really dig into his project. “I had it down to the bare frame in about 3 hours and I thought to myself, ‘Welp, that escalated quickly.”
Harding, now 31, works in technology sales. He got his motorcycles endorsement at 18 after taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. He’s always loved motors and liked hearing his father talk about the Hondas he had before kids came. Paul got into sport bikes in college and, after losing some friends in accidents, his bike sat untouched. He sold it and didn’t touch a motorcycle for two years. When he moved into an apartment that had a two-car garage, the itch to use the handy skills he inherited from his father kicked in.
Over the winter, he de-tabbed the frame, outfitted it with a café-style seat, erected a paint booth in his apartment (sorry, landlord) and cleaned up the wiring harness, among other projects. “I made the custom rear set linkages work with the low-slung stock exhaust and even figured out custom brass tips, which were just heater parts from the local Ace Hardware. You’ll find a lot of that on my bike. Unorthodox parts that I made work and some general ‘outside the box’ thinking like the old door hinge I used as a mount for the café seat. It allows easy battery access.”
When Harding got a job offer in Southern California in 2011, he sold off everything except for the bike and his tools and left New York for Orange County. In the eight years he’s owned the bike, he’s never stopped working on it, making custom tweaks and improvements here and there. The engine has been out of the frame no less than four times and he’s spent far, far beyond the original $400 purchase price. The fun and memories he’s created have been priceless. And he never let small issues hold him back or keep him from riding it or progressing with the build.
“If I hit a roadblock of something I didn’t know how to do, or didn’t know how to accomplish, I researched it and figured it out. The seat tray is on a door hinge for gods sake! Any lunatic with a cutting wheel/grinder, some free time and some creativity can probably recreate what I’ve done on the bike, if not do it better than me. I wouldn’t call much of what I did real ‘fabricating’ and I certainly don’t consider myself a ‘builder’ but, regardless, I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish here and I look forward to expanding my skillset on projects in the future. I think as long as you have a vision of what you want, you can accomplish it. Don’t ever let space, access to tools, or money get in your way. You might be on to the next big ‘thing’ and not even know it.”
Even his fiancée, Jessica loves the bike so he’s winning there as well. Today, Paul’s bike is titled as a 1974 Honda CB450 but had a 1972 motor with a 1975 CB500t transmission.
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- Mikuni VM32’s (pre-jetted for CB450)
- Progressive rear shocks
- Heavily modified and cut down DCC café seat
- Coils, reg/rectifier, timing points kit, misc electrical bits
- LED cat eye taillight
- Rear sets and linkages