The Long Haul - Part 1: From Houston to Mid-Ohio & Beyond on a 1974 Honda CB450

Posted by W. D. Hesser on 5/10/2018 to CB450 / CL450 / CB500T

The Long Haul 2018!

Texas to Ohio to Minnesota and Eventually Back Again on a 1974 Honda CB450

Where are we going?

This July, Common Motor is taking a summer road trip on a vintage Honda CB450 K7 motorcycle. For the last few years we’ve made the trek out to our favorite vintage rally, the Mid-Ohio Vintage Days. We’ll be there again this summer and at least one of us is getting there on two-wheels. We are calling our project bike and the trip The Long Haul. 

1974 Honda CB450 Common Motor Long Haul

1974 Honda CB450

We will leave in early July and will ride this 44 year old motorcycle from our shop in Houston, Texas to the 2018 AMA Vintage Days (July 6 - 8, 2018) in Lexington, Ohio. Then we head northwest around the great lakes to town of Emily, Minnesota for a family gathering. Finally we will cruise this Honda CB450 south back to Texas.

If you're interested in attending the 2018 AMA Vintage Days you can get more details on the AMA website.

Why are we doing this?

We hear from many apprehensive customers, questions about the reliability of these bikes. Many doubt their ability for daily use, let alone a high mileage journey. However, these vintage Hondas are plenty capable to go the distance if properly maintained. This year we intend to prove it can be done, by preparing our 1974 Honda CB450 and taking it on a 4000+ mile road trip.

We will take you through all the repair work needed to ready a vintage motorcycle for thousands of miles of open road. Follow along as we post more how-to videos, articles, and parts needed to make the bike ready. We have decided to share our long-distance challenge with everyone, and hope, it inspires you to take your own personal motorcycle journey. Below is our video overview of the project:

Inspiration for the Long Haul: "Feel The Air" 2017 Motorcycle Road Trips

While you too might dream of setting out on a long motorcycle road trip, some might wonder what compels one to do such a thing. Here's some backstory:

My personal quest for motorized self reliance truly began the winter of 2011 the moment I signed the title for my 1968 Chevrolet C10. It would become my classroom, and from my perch inside the engine compartment I would become as familiar with its function and geometry just as I had with my beloved 20” BMX bike as a teenager. While the truck still gets weekly use I’m back on two wheels every day, they’re just a lot heavier and faster now.

That truck began my involvement with the Common Motor Collective, where I’ve since acquainted myself with a slew of old motorbikes. I know for a fact that a great number of people use these two-cylinder Hondas as their own personal classrooms. Like me, many of them did not have the particular luxury of growing up around motorcyclists or gearheads, so any knowledge and familiarity would need to be learned (most often self-taught).

For a beginner looking at this hobby as a dark cloud of troubleshooting and head-scratching, the silver lining is that it’s all just nuts and bolts. It doesn’t matter if it’s British, American, Japanese, a motorcycle, a coffee grinder, a weed-whacker, whatever. If you’re not afraid to buy a set of wrenches, open a service manual, and get something wrong a few times you can fix anything. However, even if it takes years, getting something running again is only level one. Any machine is simply a sum of its parts until it sees regular use. Just like how you don’t really know someone until you’ve been through some shit together, you’re only so familiar with a bike until you’ve felt it shake beneath you for hours on end - on hot days, on cold days, in the rain, with dirty carbs, with clean carbs, with a loose chain, with low tire pressure, when it’s dead out of gas rolling ever slowly on the shoulder of a busy street.

With this in mind I set out on my first few long-distance rides in 2017. At the time it was a very personal decision; a right-of-passage I set for myself after my uncle completed the IBA Saddlesore 1000 - a 1,000 miles in under 24 hour challenge. Many people have succeeded, but only a handful on small old bikes they alone maintain. To follow was the remainder of a 3000 mile Houston-Phoenix-Denver loop and a two-man trek back to Houston from the 2017 Mid-Ohio Vintage Days.

1978 Yamaha XS400 in the Colorado Rockies
William's 1978 Yamaha XS400 in the Colorado Rockies

I’ve since realized that while my reasons for these excursions are my own, there’s a fair amount for others to gain from my experiences. Not least of which is proof of what these old machines can really do when properly (or even improperly) maintained. If you'd like to see photographs from last year's rides, check out Feel The Air.

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