Project CB250: getting started

Over the weekend, I made a little start to my project bike. I pulled some of the bits and pieces off the back of the bike. The picture below is shows proof that I’m keen to get started on this build.

Getting startedIdeas:

I began, like everyone does these days,  looking at bikes online. Initially,  I found a couple of CB250 about,  but nothing super special. Actually they were fairly ordinary I thought. They still looked like chopped up CB250s, and were not what I was thinking at all. But when I started thinking more seriously, I actually found a few more modded bikes for inspiration. The net is full of other bikes for inspiration these days. I want to do a post at some point that has other CB250 builds in it which I’ve found, that has helped inspire me.

Everything up front:

The handlebars are going to be one of the first things to get swapped. Its just got to happen. Once I get some clip ons on there, I’ll need to fit all the controls of course. For now, I’ll keep using the current leavers etc… but they are all a bit rough, and at some point I’d like to think about trying to re-finish them, or replace everything (Switches included) with after market gear. For now, They can stay original though.
After handle bars, there are the gauges, and the headlight. Both are a bit scraped up from some kind of drop at some point (not me). I’m thinking of either going a compact digital LCD system, or maybe a single all in one gauge for the instruments.
Regarding the headlight, I’m interested in trying out some LED headlights I’ve seen online. They seem neat. I just like the idea of the LEDs, and think it would be fun to play with.
Original mirrors are already gone, and will be replaced by ones that go in the ends of the handle bars. That’s what I’m thinking at this point anyway.

Replacement tank:

This is going to be key in making the bike look different. I’m trying to get away from it screaming CB250!!! I don’t have a tank yet, and I don’t really have an idea for a tank. I’m hoping I’ll be able to source something fairly easily  and relatively quickly, as I don’t want to get too far into anything else before I have the tank worked out. Getting a tank is going to be pivotal to developing things like the seat.


The seat is where I foresee the most work being involved for this part of the build. I’m thinking a relatively flat seat, with a fairly simple “loaf of bread” style upholstery. Its fitting the seat, and deciding if its better to leave some of the existing under-seat brackets and bits, or to remove or modify them for the task. This will be the no turning back moment. Everything else I’ve planned is reversible (well, depends on what will be needed to do the tank I guess). This is commitment time.  Actually, I’m not that scared of committing. I just want to make sure I have an action plan and have it ready to go, so I know exactly what I’ve got to do to make it ridable. I don’t want to end up with a bike stuck, than no longer can take the original seat, but also doesn’t have a new seat that can go on it!


Now, this is where things can get tricky, I’m fairly limited in my ability to to full on work to the engine. The bike has done about 93,000km, its probably getting close to needing some work done internally. Some stuff which I can do myself I’ll give it a go.
Sometime, I want to pull  the engine out of the frame, so I can clean it up, and clean the frame up, and paint it all up. I like the look of the engine with black engine enamel, and polished edges on the cooling fins, so that will be my goal for that. Painting the engine while its out is probably the best thing to do.
At this time, I’m not sure if I should paint most of the engine, or try polishing some of the covers as well. The problem with polishing, is there are a few dings which are pretty deep, and may not polish out so well. Then again, they may not paint over so easily either.
I don’t know if engine work will make it into Iteration One of the project.


No plan to do too much to the actual frame of the bike. As stated above, a few under seat brackets will get the chop, and I need to work out how to close in the ends of the chassis, probably a semicircular pipe the same diameter of the frame, bolted, or welded to the frame. Below is a picture from CafeRacerAustralia of what may need to be done to the bike.

Something like this may need to be done to my bike

Something like this may need to be done to my bike

Exhaust :

The current exhaust is a bit rough. It is scratched up, and has a few pinholes in it (as you can see from that black splatter patch under the bike in the photo). I am thinking very serious about making a custom exhaust for the bike at some point. There are a couple of ways I’m thinking of going right now. Option one is probably the easiest, and will basically follow the current exhaust, but with a new muffler, maybe a non cone shapes one, which is parallel to the ground. A lot of the other modded cb250’s seem to keep the exhaust fairly similar, to the point where I think they are just painting the current exhaust, or swapping the muffler for a different one. Option Two is to re-route the exhaust, so it kicks up high. Not sure if this involves kicking the exhaust up just where the muffler begins, or completely re routeing the exhaust. But no stress right now, that will be some time away I think. For Iteration One of the project, it will be donning a wrapped exhaust, with a High Temp painted muffler to hide some of the scratches in the current pipes.

That is already a fair stack of work to do. On top of this, there will always things that pop up along the way to do. I’m going to keep planning, and hopefully soon, I’ll have a neat little bike to ride around on.

CB250 Custom: The Beginning

The starting point. a 1998 Honda CB250, with 92,000km on the clock. Nothing special about this little guy

The starting point. A 1998 Honda CB250, with 92,000km on the clock. Nothing special about this little guy

A Spare Bike

With the addition of the Honda Firestorm to the ranks of vehicles at our abode, I found myself wondering what to do with the O’l Honda CB250 I’ve been riding for the last 5 or so years. The logical thing, of course, is to sell the bike. That was the original plan when I got the new bike.

The bike is OK, it runs pretty well, and has been a reliable bike over the time I’ve had it. However, a year or so ago, I noticed it has a relatively small oil leak around the cylinder head. I’m not entirely sure if that’s a sign of future failure or not, But I’d feel bad selling the bike to someone, and having it die on them shortly afterwards, even if it was just $1000 for a bike with almost 100,00km on the clock. One possible solution for this is to re-torque the bolts holding the head on. That MAY fix it. I’ll probably give it a go in the event I get the engine out of the frame. Otherwise, its going to require a lot more effort, the removal of the head, and probably a bunch of proper mechanic-ing, which would be fun, but I think is probably beyond my skills right now. It would be interesting to know the state of the internals of the engine though…

The Project Begins

With that in mind, and my interest in getting my hands dirty, I thought this might be an opportunity for a project to have some fun with, and learn some things I wouldn’t do to my main every day runner.

First things first, this bike will be as close to 100% done by myself. Its going to be a learning experience.  I’m confident I’ll be able to handle most of the non engine related work that I can forsee, and hopefully will be able to have a go at doing some deeper mechanicals on the engine itself. Also, by doing things myself, and not throwing things at a shop to do, I’ll be able to save money. This is going to be a budget build, and I’d much rather do something myself, investing my own time into it, then buying something off the shelf, or paying someone to do stuff.

Speaking of time, this is going to be a slow project. The plan is to make this bike a summer rider. 3 months rego over summer gives me 9 months of of f time to do serious stuff between seasons. That is, after this year. I am giving myself  until November / December this year to try and get Iteration One one the road.

A Plan in the Sand

Now, I have an idea for a  project. What am I actually going to do? CHANGE EVERYTHING! that’s what. As I write this, The ideas keep expanding, as I think of things to do / change. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I’m not locking myself into doing all of them straight up. Some of the more involved things may have to appear in future revisions of the project (or never at all). Cost is also a consideration. some stuff will be more expensive than other stuff, so that will also influence what gets done, and when. (as I said before, this is a cheapskate project, so the cheaper stuff will get done first)

  • Clip on handle bars – Probably my starting point. shouldn’t be too difficult. I hope.
  • Fuel Tank swap – This will need to be done before much else happens. It probably should be done before the handlebars even.
  • Custom seat – Wood, metal, fibreglass, with leather or  vinyl upholstery. Hopefully I’ll endup with a basic, but classy looking seat.
  • Chain and sprockets – These needs doing anyway
  • Fork Gaiters – A relatively simple addition that adds a lot of attitude to a bike
  • LED blinkers – something lower profile, and a little more custom I’m thinking.
  • Custom style brake/clutch leavers – The leavers on the bike now are a bit beat up, so something nice and shiny would be cool
  • Replacement gauges – either a digital unit, or an all in one analogue gauge unit. will probably be decided what I can find nice and cheap, that still fits the bill.
  • Removal of Air box / Fitting Pod filter – Looks. If I can find a way to make the air box look better, it would mean I could leave it, and reduce the need to have the bike tuned.
  • Exhaust Wrap – It looks pretty cool, having heat shield wrap around the pipes on the bike. I think I’ll be going with this on the bike!
  • Painted Muffler – The current exhaust is a bit beat up. If I tidy it up with the above wrap, and some high temp paint on the cans, it might look pretty cool until I can do:
  • Custom Exhaust – This might be tricky, but the rewards would be satisfying. Looking at some neat exhaust that I’ve fabricated myself.
  • Led headlights – I didn’t realise that LEDs had progressed so far as to be usable in headlights, but they apparently have, which is pretty cool
  • Make custom chain guard – You’ve got to keep things out of the chain, and the old plastic just won’t do.
  • Metal rear fender – Again, the original plastic just won’t cut it for this. Something neat, and worthy will have to go on the rear!
  • Clutch to hydraulics – This would be a bit of a “because I can” thing.  doesn’t look too hard, but the kits I can find are either really cheap,or really expensive.
  • Re-painting of everything painted – Its going to need to get some fresh paint (or powder coating for suitable things like the frame)
  • Painting of the Engine – I like the look of the black painted engines, with the edges of the fins polished up. High temp paint will have to cover this guy
  • Polishing of engine parts – To contrast the black of the engine, some engine parts and covers may be polished. It will depend on the state of most covers how much gets painted vs polished.

Documentation Starts Here

I plan, through out the project, to to keep the world updated on how this progresses. This will happen primarily on this blog, and likely through a forum post at the CanberraRiders forum. Direct link will come just as soon as I get it sorted. I plan on taking lots of photos through out. The photos will have dual purposes, to held document the project, and to help me remember where everything goes when its time to put it back together.

I thought it might be nice to have some video documentation of the project. This may a series of progress report videos, or a single video at the end of it all, or both. I haven’t decided how exactly I’ll do this, but I’ve been meaning for a while to get into producing some videos. I mean, I probably should do something to use the media degree that I’m half way through completing. If the videos happen, I don’t want them to be the usual webcam quality stuff you see all over YouTube. I’ll be aiming for a reasonable level of quality from it.

Well, that’s probably enough for one epic post of Ideas, and some very rough plans on what I’m thinking of doing. Now just to start doing! Expect some more thought posts as I continue actually doing some proper planning, and get some spanners out to get my hands dirty.