Custom: Ray Fitzpatrick’s Honda CBX

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“I don’t like Cafe imitations, they are gay as fuck and uglier than hell. Only a ’50s or ’60s Brit bike can be a real cafe racer and they even still look like they have a dildo butt plug built into the seat.”

Don’t let Ray Fitzpatrick’s coarseness or Brooklyn accent fool you. He’s a genuinely nice guy that’s been riding motorcycles as everyday transportation for longer than I’ve been alive. He’s got the scars and road rash to prove it too. For decades, he rode without a license, but two years ago he forked over the $21,000 in fines and fees to get it back. A Honda mechanic by trade, this is his very special CBX.

Update: here’s two videos with sound. Video 1, Video 2.

Ray makes a living wrenching on bikes in his Studio City garage. Guys like him are a rare breed these days. Ray specializes in ’79-83 twin-cam Hondas, but he’ll work on any Japanese bike if you ask. He’s been a die-hard Honda guy for a long time and his current personal bikes are a CL350 scrambler, VFR1200 and a ‘79 CBX. That CBX is a long way from stock and pretty damn interesting, especially when compared to the endless sea of ’70s Honda motorcycles sporting clubman bars and bullet seats that pass as “cafe racers” these days.

Now about that bike: immediately obvious is the fact that this is not your average CBX. This is a motorcycle meant to be ridden often and hard and after a recent gearing change, the 600-pound behemoth does effortless power wheelies.

F2 CBR wheels and forks bolt to CB900F triples that have been machined from 39mm to 41mm round out the front end. Look past the steering head and you’ll find a freshly painted tank, Corbin seat, blacked out motor from an ’81, carbs from an ’80, an unobtainium Schule 6-1 pipe, trick ignition and an alternator from a ZX-7. There’s also an oil cooler and a steering stabilizer mounted to a very functional piece of angle iron. Nothing can prepare you for the sound the six-cylinder engine makes. At idle it’s just as smooth as a modern fuel injected machine, but with the throttle held wide open and the revs up, not even a MotoGP bike sounds as high-pitched and aggressive. The closest thing I can think of is a V12 F1 car.

Out back an aluminum JMC swingarm replaces the wet noodle stamped steel factory unit. Nitrogen charged Works Performance shocks handle damping duties, and the whole thing is supported by an F3 CBR wheel.

Less obvious are all the subtle aesthetic and day-to-day usability changes. The factory CBX dash “looks like Mickey Mouse’s head” so Ray swapped in one from a ’79 CB750F (the last year before the gov’ mandated 85 mph speedo). He mounted the GL1200 clock in a Summit Racing housing and bolted it to the old choke knob location on the triple clamps from a CB900F. Keen eyed readers will also note that there are turn signals and a monster horn present. I can’t help but think that this bike is a lot like the Johnny Cash song “One Piece at a Time.”

This CBX is simultaneously an over-the-top build with a ton of expensive parts and time consuming labor, yet also a perfectly usable motorcycle. With the exception of the steering stabilizer mount, the bike is extremely well finished. The re-purposed factory Honda parts play a big part in creating a polished overall look. The modern suspension, sportsbike rubber and perfectly-tuned motor mean serious capability both in traffic and on canyon roads.

Ray’s riding style has changed quite a bit in the last couple years. Chalk it up to getting older and wiser, but he tells me that the CBX can still “drag pegs, knees and case guards.” I’ve seen him ride and I believe him. The motor is internally stock and for good reason: back when he rode less like an old guy that knows better and more like a knee dragging speed demon, he had another bike.

Honda never sold the CB1100R in America, but that didn’t stop Ray from building his own old-school superbike once upon a time, complete with pro-link rear suspension, modern forks and brakes, and ultra-sticky rubber. Ray rode the 1100 for a few years but decided to part it out after bad knees made him rethink his rearset positioning. Worthy of a feature in its own right, this bike is long gone but the 1123cc 130rwhp monster of a motor is still lurking in a dark corner of his garage.

  • Brendan

    I’m normally pretty uptight about homophobic language but that opening paragraph is so unbelievably crass I just had to laugh. It might even be poignant.

    …and FUCK what a bike. If I ever have the knowledge/resources to throw something like that together I’ll die pretty content with myself. CBXs are too cool.

    More profiles like this please.

  • Ducky

    Great story, and a badass bike. I never get tired of seeing those 6 primary headers

  • Michael

    Be it Sei, or a CBX, there is something exciting to me about a bike with those six pipes jutting out the front.

    Maybe someday if I get mine Ray will still be around to fix it up a little.

    The pipes here are awesome. The only thing cooler would be the legendary prototypes Honda supposedly developed to sound like a Phantom jet. No idea if that story is true, but it’s a cool story.

  • jason

    Video??????/ Would love to hear it 9and yes, I know there are other CBX’s on Youtube).

    • Sean Smith

      I had to do some digging, and it’s not long, but here you go. You also get a taste of what it might sound like when Ray talks about cafe racers.

  • Mike

    I immediately recognized him from his time on the cbrxx forums. Yeah, a real sweetheart. “automatic transmissions are for faggots and women.”. Kthxbye

    • Ray

      I am a real sweetheart aint I?
      I still think the same thing, that’s why my VRR1200F has a man’s transmission with 6 manually shifted gears.

      • Michael

        Kinda weird that when a bunch of gay people are hanging out they call each other faggot all the time. I hear it here in NYC regularly.

        I don’t buy home-field exemptions to slurs. Either it’s allowed or it’s not. Until people get worked up over hearing it in a group of gays talking to each other, and they NEVER do, it’s just reverse-discrimination.

        Rock on, Ray.

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          Reverse discrimination implies equal footing societally, which there is not. There is one group with the majority of social power, that is the ability to even define its institutions as well as others, and one without this ability. In this case homosexuals are clearly the group with disadvantage. From the ability to define their unions as marriage to the less obvious ability to be considered a “norm” homosexuals of all kinds are not reverse-discriminating.

          That being said, Ray seems to be just saying that automatic transmissions are bad. Which of course is defining with other “bad” or non powerful things in his approximation like Women or Homosexuals. A homosexual might describe automatic transmissions as being fey, I’d call automatic transmissions infantile (as I’m ageist), but whatever our differences in how we perceive the rest of the world, we would all still agree, Automatic Transmissions are for unskilled, weaker riders.

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            This is an awful lot of analysis over a word all of us hear spoken in this sense likely multiple times a day.

            • Dumptruckfoxtrot

              It used to be that the N word was used multiple times a day by many, and in fact at one point it was argued to be valid in much the same way that gay slurs are now. It is possible that these words will become as inoffensive as hooligan (an irish slur) is now, but despite its familiar usage the word most certainly is still used as a slur for homosexuals by many people.

  • Ray

    Thank you for featuring my bike in your publication
    Check out these videos of my CBX with the old 79 engine.
    http://s34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/fasterspider/CBX/?action=view&current=CBX.mp4
    http://s34.photobucket.com/albums/d138/fasterspider/CBX/?action=view&current=NoelonmyCBX.mp4
    I have no recent high powered videos with the 81 engine but, it does have the Schule still and always will.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Awesome, thanks Ray.

      • dux

        Sounds fuckin’ great. The F1 analogy is apt.

    • Steven

      more like schwule, amirite

  • jason

    Ok, the machine is good, but all this A-Hole needs is a spike on top of his helmet to complete the picture. Oh, but I guess helmets are for faggots as well. Nice choice to represent. “you meet the nicest people on a Honda”, indeed.

    • Ray

      You can call me an asshole if you like, you don’t have to censor yourself, I have tough enough skin I can take it.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Hell yeah – now that is a bike.

    From the sound of things I’d get along with that guy as well. haha

  • Bill

    I never tire of looking at specials like Ray’s. Beautifully put together, functional, and above all, understated. No useless bling, almost like a competition piece. Kevin Cameron once referred to this as the “operational look”.

    • Gene

      +1000, perfectly said (and I have to say the CBX ranks just behind the RC-211V and the NR-750 in my list of favorite bikes, so it’s good to see it “damn well done”)

    • Peter88

      Totally agree. I’ve been drooling over the bikes Sanctuary puts out and this one tops them them with that 6-cylinder motor.

  • Gregory

    This is what I want to do to my KLR.

    -gceaves
    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

    • dux

      I’m eagerly awaiting that build thread in ADV Rider :D

  • Denzel

    Always thought you’d have to be a Honda mechanic to be able to own and run one of these byzantine bikes… Great to see these two found each other…

    • Sean Smith

      Ah, just think: 2000 mile valve adjustment interval, 24 valves, they all have shims, and you have to damn near pull the motor to get the cover off.

      Ray’s awesome just for owning and riding a monster like that,

  • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

    What a fucking dick; I love ‘im! And that CBX! Wouldn’t want to try and sync those 6 carbs, though. That’d be a week-long project for a hack like me.

  • Cajun58

    What’s next favorite rides of the Ku Klux Klan? Why is it alright to give this guy a venue to spew his hate? Come on Wes your good at smart ass answers how do you justify yourself this time?

    • Denzel

      I suspect Ray is more Cartman than KKK…

      • Sean Smith

        Close, but he’s more a Peter Griffin kinda guy.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      So saying the word gay suddenly equals kkk membership? Well fuck, there’s going to be a run on white pillow cases down at the bed bath and beyond. Censoring the way real people talk, even if it sometimes sucks, is still censorship.

      You’ll never read an HFL staffer using that word in a derogatory sense, but we’re reporting on the real world, not some pc dream land.

      • dux

        And I thank God for it! Keep the great articles comin’, Wes

      • Ray

        Gay is not being used to describe someone’s sexual prefernce anymore, it is just a word to descsribe horrible, less that manly taste.
        I don’t care, I am a biker that speaks what is on my mind straight out and very blunt.
        I am a rude, crude, rotton son of a bitch.
        But, I build bad ass fully DOT approved and very funciotnal machines out of vintage super bikes.
        Pay no attention to the owner of the CBX but, pay close attention to the awesome motorcycle he has built.

      • Cajun58

        You know as well as I do that the word gay
        in this context is clearly being used in a derogatory fashion. These comments are completely without any redeeming social value and should have been omitted from the article.

      • Dumptruckfoxtrot

        So if someone described a bike as looking like it was utilizing African American engineering (though with a few less characters) you would feel comfortable with publishing that in an article? Freedom of speech is fine, but many publications look for quotes that show flavor without resorting to using slurs. I’ve seen good arguments for both sides however, I’m not criticizing, I’m just curious how far your commitment to freedom of speech or insistence on a lack of culturally sensitive editing goes.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          If it characterized the way someone spoke, then we’d consider it. Each case is unique and obviously that word would need a much stronger case made for its use.

          It’s not about promoting hate and it’s not even about freedom of speech, it’s about painting an accurate picture of the subject, warts and all. We cover reality.

  • Michael

    owning a CBX has been one of my dreams, awesome bike ray, a thing of beauty!

  • Alex

    Ahh, the joys of the freedom of speech. Fuck political correctness. This bike is the sex.

  • Von Scotch

    Lets not get into any PC drama, as an ex Jalopniker, I dont want to see anyone getting their fanny (UK) in a fankle because they’re offended on someone elses behalf.

    Also, what a bike. As a friend of mine aptly put it, it has no “baton twirler” bits. Just things that work.

  • Scott-jay

    Good job, Sean!
    HFL does best while running all over track, changing lines & staying out of ruts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    Awesome bike. A real labor of love, which is much too rare these days.

  • Thom

    Horse Feathers I say !!

    For Mr Fitzpatrick to say he doesn’t WANT to build a Cafe Racer out of a Jap bike is one thing .

    For him to say all attempts to make a Cafe Racer out of a Jap bike are fucked up is the purest form of Bullshit he could utter .

    Perhaps he’s unaware of the work the WrenchMonkees in Denmark are doing . Or the multiple gems being built in the US as well

    Honestly his comments about all Cafe Racers needing to be old Brit bikes goes against the whole philosophy of the Cafe Racer , which was and is : Take what you’ve got and make something better out of it .

    Plain and simple Cafe Racers are Two Wheeled Hot Rods , be they British , Japanese , Italian ( oh some of the Ducati and M/G based Cafe Racers being built these days ) New or Old British , they can be done right .

    Or they can be ****ed up . Depending on the builder , not the platform its based on .

    Having said all that Mr Fitzpatrick’s Honda is quite the M/C . I’d of done something different with the gas tank ( too busy for me ) buts thats my taste not his .

    • Sean Smith

      Ray kinda has a point. A cafe racer is a bike that dudes street raced in England in the 50s and 60s.

      You can build a bike in that style, but just because a bike has the looks, doesn’t mean it’s the genuine article. By your definition, my GSX-R is more cafe racer than a CB750 with a Giuliari seat and Tomaselli clip-ons.

  • Devin

    Not a big fan of the huge chunk of plastic behind the seat but other it looks great.

    Custom bike that looks like it can two-up as well and is very liveable.

    That sound is wild. Wild.

  • Ray

    I will make a fresh video of my CBX up on the Snake the next time I have the chance with her Schule screaming at 9500 rpm, that will give you an eargasm if you are there when it happens.
    Have a great day all of you readers, enjoy it for what it is, just another day in a country that allows us to say what ever we want.

  • Robbo B

    Love these Hondas and this is a great looking motorcycle Ray. Well done! I need an exhaust like that on my CB750.

  • Paul B

    I used to ride with a guy who had a CBX. Absolutely the most insane looking thing on the back tire. It looked like a 10 foot wide engine on a unicycle getting ready to run over you.

    Awesome bike and thanks for the memories.

  • Cheese302

    i will own a cbx at one point in my life. great bike ray, cant wiat to get home from work to see the videos

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

    So where does that leave my old ’80 CBX – the one with the 6-6 open Denco pipes, Telefix clip-ons and RC166 replica seat & tank?

    • dux

      Pics, please

      • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

        Some negative scans (hey, it’s 1993) from when I was building it: Facebook CBX Album

        Will scan some negatives of the finished (mostly) bike later.

        After the seat & tank were finished, I pulled some molds off them. The molds were sent to Ruud who got someone to pop out about a dozen sets before the molds self destructed. Here’s where 2 sets went:
        http://www.cbxclub.com/ruud.html
        http://www.cbxclub.com/reger.html

        My CBX went to its next owner at the Steamboat Springs historic races in ’93.

        • Robbo B

          Great looking CBX rohorn, can’t wait to see the completed pics!

          • http://rohorn.blogspot.com rohorn

            Got some scans of questionable quality up in the FB link…

            • Robbo B

              Looks great! Very nice motorcycle. :)

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    I hate CBX’s. Not sure why.

    • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

      …because you have no soul? ;)

      • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

        Probably.

  • KeithTurk

    I don’t get the whole thing… This gig is a wicked pig… BUT why the need to denigrate someone’s junk cause you’ve a differing opinion…

    Cafe Racers and Choppers are defined by the shit head on top of it…. not some asswipe that’s never twisted a throttle… ( see Ray I wasn’t talking about You )….

    and I WANT to know what you have to do up there to get the minion of the law 21k pissed off at you…. what was that for… did ya run a fucking toll booth?

  • Ray

    I am so happy to have stirred the shit pot again and receieved so many differing opinions but, I am also honored at the same time to have my CBX and my big mouth represented by HFL.
    Thanks to all who took the time to comment and if you think my calling cafe bikes gay is outragous, ask me about choppers and bobbers.
    Muhahahaha.
    Long live the motorcycle and the riders that pilot them.
    KISS MY ASS!

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      You’re such a cool guy.

      • KeithTurk

        Hey Sugar britches… enough of that… TELL us what happens when you run a toll booth????

        K

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          I never deal with toll roads, there really aren’t that many out here in the NW. If I did run into any toll booths I’d probably just pay Shnookums. Even though I like acting a fool on a motorbike, I still think I should help pay for the roads I use. I wish I was as tough as you guys, but I just ride motorcycles for fun instead of being such a super cool BADASS.
          http://zackmorriscellphone.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/garfield.gif

          • Dumptruckfoxtrot

            However, you deserve credit where credit is due.
            Your CBX is really, really, no bullshit, tits and I would give my left nut for a Honda V65 similarly customized.

            • Ray

              It would take a bit of work to get past the shaft drive of a V-65 but, it is possible and I could get it done.

    • Cajun58

      Wow you are awesome they should give you a reality TV show. Please tell us what you think of choppers and bobbers. Does it involve more homophobia and misogyny or do you branch out into racial slurs and anti Muslim, Jewish etc remarks.

  • Ray

    Yes!
    I am an equal oppotunity hater. Bahahahaha.

    Because I publicly say nasty, STUPID things about imitation cafe bikes does not mean I hate homosexuals, women or other races.
    For fuck’s sake, I live happily in Los Angeles, an ethnic and uni-sexually orientated clusterfuck.

    Just take it for granted that I have a very warped sense of humor.

    Also know that if I saw you broken down on the side of the road with your “gay” imitation cafe bike, I would stop to offer my pretty decent mechical help or my cell phone to get you rolling again even if you hated me and the things I say.

    Long live the motorcycle and their riders.

    • Robbo B

      Ray, I didn’t like your gay comment, but I love your motorcycle!

  • KeithTurk

    I don’t think folks understand that your not actually beating up on homosexual people here Ray… your just using the “Gay” Comment as a way of saying it doesn’t fit a norm…

    I’ve used the term a lot over the last couple of years … it’s gone form meaning Fun to homosexual to meaning simply wrong… and genuinely has nothing to do with homosexual… so folks kind of need to realize that it’s not an afront… and if you take it that way… well you must be Gay… ( in it’s current definition of course )

    • a hipster

      I read somewhere that Kanye was starting to call the shit that he likes gay…because gay people have good taste.

      I’m pretty sure poor, misunderstood, Ray was trying to be complimnetary, not derogatory because he is obviously as twisted and fucked in the head as Kanye.

  • KeithTurk

    So if your living in LA… then this 21K was purely attorney fee’s get your Lic. back?
    ( sorry I’m hung up on that… how the fuck do you cause that much trouble over a drivers lic.)…. did you run over a senator at a cross walk or something? ( good call by the way )

    • Ray

      I used to drive a cab back on Long Island in 1986/87 while I was messed up on illegal substances and did not care about paying tickets because my money was tied up with the conection.
      So they suspended/revoked my license.
      I lived still riding/driving on a suspended license and continually getting tickets I would crush up and throw out for the next 21 years.
      They started impounding my motorcycles that I cared too much about and I had to get right.
      I got my last unlicensed ticket on January 8, 2007, speeding 53 in a 35 and they almost impounded my Tacoma but, my wife was able to drive it away with me in the passenger seat.
      4 states, 4 lawyers, 45 unpaid tickets & violations.
      I could only appear in California courts and had to pay attorney’s fees in New York, Maryland, Arizona and California and then the tickets them selves but, I finally got my license back.
      Now, I drive the cage and ride my motorcycles a whole lot slower with a lot more respect than I used to because I am getting older.
      I have a new found respect for the law and believe it or not, for the police themselves.
      I don’t want any more tickets, I really like my license and there is fact that my insurance rates have dropped dramatically.
      I am no heroic super citizen now a days that still slightly exceeds the speed limit on the freeway but, surface streets have their speed limits and I obey them.
      To rebel the way I used to is for a youngster to do, not a man pushing 50 years old like myself.
      I have a wife who loves me for only reasons known to her and I love her with all of my heart, so staying out of trouble is the only logical thing to do.
      If you have been where I have been and lived through what I lived through, you might actually have as warped a sense of humor that I have.
      Don’t take me serious with the stupid shit coming out of my mouth, just look at the CBX I built.
      I hope that cleared up any questions about the 21K I had to spend to get right.
      Have a nice day and enjoy your motorcycles, what ever they may be.

  • Marlon

    Gaylord bike.

    • Ray

      Gaylord bike? you must be close to my age and have a warped sense of humor too.

  • KeithTurk

    Cool…. Ray…. I went to jail for 13 or so tickets prior to joining the Army… I was glad to have it behind me… and like you… I went straight….

  • Denzel

    Character… is one… has it…

  • Ray

    We gotta do what is right by the law as long as the law is just.
    I am a good, honest citizen now.
    That kind of freaks me out a little bit because of my sordid past.
    I even bent over off of my VFR1200F at a red light today to pick up a piece of littered newspaper today while people stared at me wide eyed not believing a biker could care about such things, it made me smile. I brough it home and put in the recycle bin so it can continue to help us in another way before it is destroyed or lost at a landfil.
    Peace