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1973 Honda CB175 K6 - Part 2
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On a whim, David Towers bought an early-70s sports twin. And now he has to fix its oil and petrol leaks, and figure out what it's actually for...

The Honda CB175 K6 was the faster-faster version of the CD175, released from commuter hackdom and given a sprinkling of chrome. The CB survived the enthusiasm of youth thanks to its well-engineered motor, which used roller main and big end bearings and could withstand being revved to its 10,500rpm redline. However, after nearly 35 years, this newly-purchased CB was looking rather tired…

Fixing the carb was but the work of a moment. A little float height fiddlin' made easy by Honda's sprung clip holding the float bowl on (did they know?), and petrol she poured no more.

Same photos as last time, sorry. 1973 Honda CB175 K6

The oil leak was more mysterious. Why would oil leak out of a cable? Because, oh gentle reader, the oil was being pumped up the cable, at pressure, by the failing of a 74pence oil seal (thanks again, Mr Silver), allowing oil to be where it had no right to be. The previous owner's remedy really amused me - he'd filled the rev counter drive with rag! New seal fitted, everything worked perfectly again, and of oil and petrol leaks there was no sign.

As I bought this thing on a whim (all right, a long running whim - can you have long running whims?), I didn't really have any grand plan for it. This particular jolly jape had definitely run its course. And then I'd actually gone and bought the thing!

You've got to admire anything that's survived 34 years of basic use and abuse, minimal servicing and care. She's a bit like an old seaside donkey, a bit moth-eaten and definitely past her best, but with her straw hat still at a jaunty angle and ready for yet another season at the front. But fully and finally deserving of the care and attention of the RSPCA rest home. So that's it then - the RSPCA for tired Hondas it is!

(Blimey. Wonder if I'll get a royal charter?)

Same ignition switch under nose of tank. 1973 Honda CB175 K6

So as the days passed, and the more local running around she did, the more attached I became. Dear God, I'm a hardened (not to forget, hard) biker. And hardened bikers do not get sentimental over 34 year old learner fodder! Do they? Yes of course they do! So on the one hand I've got a snarling growling Triumph that takes no prisoners, and on the other, well, you meet the nicest people on a Honda! Gawd luv us and comfort us, is this payback for owning a Goldwing?

Tee hee indeed!

So a gracious semi-retirement was decided upon. Hells bells, she deserves it! In one way, it would be nice to keep her as she is - retain that patina of use. But how can a lady feel good about herself in her declining years, when she doesn't look her best? Anyway, it's the right thing to do by her. She's served long years and now she deserves a bit of a makeover.

Thus started an extensive trawl for better bits. Good old eBay. So far we've come up with a second set of clocks that I can cannibalise and make a good pair out of, a decent rear mudguard, which doesn't actually match the one that's on her at the moment, but is, apparently, the correct one for a K6. So now I need a different back light as well! I've got a decent front guard. Actually, I've got two. Bought one at Shepton for a tenner, and the other as part of a job lot (which included handlebars and all the cables) off, go on, take a guess, yup, eBay.

Same rack that was obviously purpose built... ...for a much bigger bike.
175 Honda Stuff on eBay.co.uk

I also got a new seat for the old lass. Blimey I'm all for conserving originality, but how the existing seat could actually stay on a bike without being prosecuted under the trade's descriptions act I will never know! The new one (shown in the pics), is mega comfortable, fits a treat, and its steel base shorts out the (badly fitted) battery nicely! Tee Hee.

She also needs new shocks and exhausts. The shocks are not a problem, Mr Hagon or Mr Silver can take care of those. But this CB uses Dunstall Decibel silencers, and although they're a bit past it, they just sound sooo good! So another set will have to be found. The wheels should be okay, tiny bit scabrous but solid and presentable(ish). The rest just needs a strip down and restore. Repaint the frame, bash out all the dents in the tank (got a new set of panel bashing hammers in readiness for the big day), and Bob's your Auntie's husband! (If only…)

My wife mentioned something about a 'budget' and that threw me completely, did that. Let's face facts, if we actually want a pristine example of our hearts desire (stick to bikes will you please!), then the only sensible choice is to go out and buy someone else's completed restoration project. The value of most classic motorcycles is but a fraction of the cost of restoring one. In the 175's case, a grand should buy a mint example. £500 would get something presentable, yet restoration will cost (ahem!) a bit more than either of those figures. Tee Hee.

The thing is, I really want to rip her apart and restore her to her former glory, It's the thrill of doing and the sense of achievement that comes from restoring some old relic. Plus, and forgive me if I'm the only person that thinks (feels?) like this, there's more to a bike than just being a machine. They acquire a personality over the years (decades) a warmth, a character that is fundamentally 'them'. It's a 'something' that demands that they be treated as an entity, their feelings to be considered. Yeah, I know, I'm weird!

Same sagging rear carrier... 1973 Honda CB175 K6

So why am I still dithering when I should be restoring?

It's simple. I'm really enjoying riding her! There's something truly satisfying in trolling about on a baby bike. No excess of power, so every journey transports you back to days of yore when 22bhp was a figure that could only be dreamed about. It's all about momentum you see, slowing down is an absolute last resort! Bit like driving a Citroen 2CV, but with less street cred!

The thrill of cornering on skinny, razor-like tyres made by some Chinese chap with a finger missing and a grudge. Handlebars that are narrower than your shoulders, attached by worn and perished rubber mounts. Brakes that were marginal in the 70s, as far as retardation goes, are now proficient in the gentle art of teaching 'anticipation'! The very lack of available speed makes riding this bike such a different experience - less intense somehow. More time to smell the roses, admire the view, to remember the simple truth - the fun that is riding a motorcycle.

But (I do so like contradictions!), riding the CB is also so much more intense! So much more concentration is required on the sheer mechanics of riding an old bike. Things that over the years have become second nature need to be thought about again. Gear changing becomes a carefully timed event, braking something to be considered before use, corner speed something that not only effects MotoGP gods. Forethought is king!

Riding a baby bike takes away some of the sense of responsibility. There's no desire to be an ambassador for our sport. People do (rightly or wrongly) have expectations of us. Riding the Wing, I'm the acceptable face of motorcycling. Coming out of a café, it's not unknown to find the bike surrounded by little old ladies having their photos taken. Riding a modern bike, I'm just a noisy hooligan having a mid life crisis. Riding the Bonnie I become an ageing rocker with a bad attitude. Someone who middle-aged women can tut-tut at as I pass by.

And on the CB175? I'm almost invisible (not a totally good thing with other drivers around!). So it's time to break out the full face helmet, dark visor and a bomber jacket and scorch round the B-roads (at all of 65mph) like a demon! And moreover, there's nothing to be feared parking her in town - no one is going to steal her, blimey she's not worth the effort, and if she acquires another scratch, how would I, or anyone else, notice?

Problem is, these baby bikes are addictive. I've got a bit of a hankering for an LE Velocette as well now. And a D1 Bantam would be most pleasant.

Blimey, these baby bikes are no laughing matter!



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