“Go chase your dreams” – a phrase so often said by parents to children or from one friend to another who won’t stop talking about his/her ‘great’ idea. Thing is, much like a stereotype, there is a hint of truth to phrases that are so often repeated that they begin to be taken as whole truths.
In the case of California-based mechanical engineer, Ara Mekhtarian, he took that saying one step further and built his dream. “I’m a Mechanical Engineer specializing in system dynamics and controls,” said Ara.
“But since my father is a machinist, skills like traditional machining and fabrication were engraved deep in my roots at a very early age. I’ve also always been very inspired by automotive designs of the 50s and 60s, both artistically and from a fabrication stand point.” Obviously, that source of inspiration has led to us to this, a restored 1971 Honda CB450 ‘Cafe Racer’ named ‘Starlight Dream’.
Ara found the bike on a Craigslist listing. “The seller had found it on a ranch in Northern California, where the bike had apparently hibernated for 25 years or so. Cosmetically it was in very poor condition, with the engine and all the chrome heavily oxidized.” The usual condition you’d expect to find a 40-plus year old motorcycle in, then.
Upon getting his hands on the motorcycle, Ara got around to lightening up the frame by removing unnecessary parts and replacing them with cross-frame bars to stiffen things up. Next, the factory welds were given a touch up and the frame was painted in a Honda metallic blue shade. Following that, dual front disc brakes were added on while a scoop and vents were included to aid in cooling for the rear drum unit.
Moving on, the front forks were subjected to a rebuilt and the rear suspension received an upgrade in the form of progressive coil-overs with nitrogen dampeners. The front fender was then positioned closer to the front wheel while the rear fender was initially a front fender (confused yet?) from a Yamaha XS that was adapted for this build.
“The gas tank, front headlight bucket and speedometer are from a ‘63 Honda Dream, which have been heavily customized to fit the build. The seat cowling is from a ‘50s Harley Davidson Aermacchi, customized with a subtle fin to flow with the tank,” added Ara. The motorcycle was then finished in a shade of Honda Starlight silver hence the name – a process which Ara admits was one the hardest parts of the entire project.
“The tank and the seat cowling were repainted three times, with new coats of primer in between. As elegant as it looks now, it was extremely difficult to get that translucent silver Honda color to look consistent across the whole bike.”
Last but not least, the engine was fully rebuilt and the ignition setup was upgraded to a 21st Century electronic system. “The flow of the Honda’s lines is what really makes me smile,” concludes Ara. “Every part that was added to the bike was done so to keep the flow of the lines consistent with existing lines on the bike.”