View Full Version : '72 CL450 Hardtail

02-03-2015, 10:24 AM
Hi Folks - I'm new around here - I'll post an intro in the members section also.

So a couple of months ago I picked up the remains of a 1972 CL450. It really is a basket case. The prior owner was using it to learn about motorcycle mechanics. So when I got it the bike was completely dismantled, the frame was stripped, head was removed from the motor and all the cams, followers, valves, etc. were out. It looked like the head and jugs had been bead blasted. The bottom end of the motor was intact but open at the top to whatever wanted to crawl in and die.

All the rest of the bike is in various boxes. It seemed to largely be there, except for the gas tank... Discovery begins...
figured the best place to start was the engine, if that was shot then I'd be parting out the rest.

I like to pick music related names for bikes I'm working on and this one is Exile ... after Exile on Main Street... Released in 1972...




The PO left oil in the bottom end of the motor - it was nasty dirty oil - but still oil and it preserved the transmission and crank quite nicely.


02-03-2015, 4:08 PM
The bolt holding the shift roller and neutral detent to the shift drum is a staked bolt. someone working on the motor at some point had tried to remove it and shredded the JIS/Philips head - I drilled it out and replaced it. I'll lock it in there with red thread lock and stake it also.



Inspection of the bottom end revealed a couple of things. All of the transmission / crank tolerances are within spec. once clean, there should be no problems putting things back together and having a good running bike. The starter clutch/chain drive are gone - there are a couple of link shaped dents on the inside of the case so I'm guessing the bike threw the starter chain at some point and the starter clutch was removed as a result. The starter motor is in place still but it is just to plug the hole into the case. I'm taking the whole thing off and inserting a plug into the hole to keep the oil in, but reducing the weight by at least 5 pounds, and going kick start only.

I stripped the forks - again the oil was nasty but doing a decent job of preserving the internals. After a quick cleaning I'll reassemble. I'm not sure if it's worth replacing the springs. I probably will just because these ones have been compressed for 43 years. Fork seals and snap rings are in the mail.


The side cases were chromed at some point in the past and the chrome is now flaking badly - which means they need to be stripped down. I tried various grades of course sand paper and barely left a scratch. so I went to the grinder. The grinder will remove it but it's a ton of work to polish material that's been ground and get all the marks out... Figuring that there's gotta be an easier way... I went on ebay and found some cases being parted out. for approx. $10 each I had a new set. dirty and in need of a clean and spit shine, but at least not chromed...

from this...


to this


still working my way through sandpaper grades .. approx. 600 here ...

02-03-2015, 4:08 PM
And I got this in the mail the other day...


It's a hard tail from Voodoo Vintage in Austin TX. David's a super cool guy and a great craftsman...

Before I went in this direction I wanted first to make sure the bike could be a runner, then decide if I wanted to go in a café/brat direction, stockish scrambler, or hard tail it... I opted for the hard tail. Can't wait to get this puppy put together! I'm building a frame jig now.

Just sizing things up to eyeball to see if the hard tail will fit before I go ahead and start cutting the frame ... also picked up a tank on ebay for not a lot. It's in decent shape too. There were some badly dented/rusted ones on there for hundreds... nuts...


also got my cases back together - new cam chain and seals...



I think I'm going to re-bore 1mm over...

02-10-2015, 1:36 PM
Slow going working on the bike this week - the Snow around here is unreal!
Spent some time playing around on SketchUp to see what the profile looks like.



I like it!

03-01-2015, 9:54 AM
Im building a 1970 cl450 hardtail. your doing a great job, keep it up. I can appreciate what it takes mine is feeling more like a restoration than a build! Took me a year just to restore my 2 wheels they where completely seized rusted shut! Love seeing your updates!

03-01-2015, 6:57 PM
Smaller cc hardtails are high in my list of great looking bikes, can't wait to see this one come together.

03-13-2015, 1:20 PM
Thanks guys - progress has slowed a bit in the past month - I'm not rushing the build but I'd love to have it running sometime this year.
On the good news front - I was pleasantly surprised by the prior owner coming through with a new title - it was lost when I picked up the bike, which really makes things difficult in MA to get a registration - but the title solves all problems.

03-16-2015, 11:04 PM
I dont want to.sound like an idiot but how is that hardtail gonna work? There looks like a bar going across right where the back tire will be?

03-18-2015, 3:09 PM
You're right - it does look that way - That bar is not welded on yet (taped) - it's cut to dimension and can fit anywhere along the bottom of the hard tail to brace it, but only after the wheel dimensions are established. Bottom motor mounts are floating also.

03-20-2015, 10:21 AM
I thought so, that thing is gonna be sweet! Not alot of CL450 hardtails around, we are only a few to attempt this project it seems.

03-23-2015, 3:56 PM
Thanks man! hey check this one out...

03-26-2015, 8:06 AM
Thats awesome

01-25-2017, 5:48 AM
I know it's been awhile. Any word on the updates? My own cl450 rigid project got put on hold for a bit due to busy life..