Inglorious MC The Cali
By James McCombe - 09 Feb 15
As someone once said, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Sometimes those rose tinted spectacles can play tricks on us, deleting the bad, embellishing the good, even transposing events or people that weren't actually there. But right time, right place is a phrase that can confidently be applied to an era so indelibly inked into our grey matter, do we even question its accuracy any more? An inspirational era, providing an unmistakable aesthetic and dreams of a lifestyle that seems impossible to many of us. The Californian Hot-Rod scene of the 50's, its influence so far-reaching nowadays that new generations may not be aware of the origins but know that it just looks right. Who even cares that some considered Hot-Rod a derogatory term back in the day anyway...? But this isn't California, this is Essex in the UK. So while the orange-skinned people with blinding white smiles may momentarily fool you, it's fair to say that's where the similarities end. But for Sam Evans of Inglorious Motorcycles, the influential Cali-culture spurred him on to capture a little of that sun-kissed scenery into his CB400 build. "This was the first bike that I built after starting Inglorious motorcycles in the early part of 2014. I first got into bikes and bike building like many others probably, after seeing the Californian based builder Kott motorcycles video on Vimeo: Cafe Cowboy" Working at a vintage race and rally car garage, Sam was kept busy enviably building and restoring mid-80's turbo era F1 and Group B rally cars. But near the start of 2013 the company no longer needed his help and, left jobless for some months, change was needed. It was his Dad who asked the pertinent question, "What do you really want to do in life?". To which the answer came easily: "Build custom motorcycles" Not having a whole lot of experience with bikes at the time, Sam knuckled down and spent 7 months at a local custom motorcycle shop, learning a lot about fabrication and frame building. With confidence and knowledge swelling, it was time to go it alone. We've actually featured Inglorious Motorcycles second build back in August of last year, a peppy little Gn250 Scrambler. But going back to where it all began, an Ebay sourced 1978 CB400 is the base upon which "The Cali" was built. Found literally just down the road from Sam's house, the signs were good. Owned by an old guy who had fell out of love after it had developed an electrical fault, there was just enough wrong to get it for the right price. However, once home and disrobed of all the retro plastic, Sam found that typically ugly period Honda frame. A plan was needed and despite not knowing quite what he had got himself into, he knew it had to stand out from the other cafe racers around. With that Hot-Rod aesthetic at the forefront of his mind the plan was to make the CB look like it had been pulled out of a barn in California and dusted down. Keeping the main subframe structure, the extraneous rear spars were chopped and looped, over which Sam fabricated a sleek cowling. A barely-there LED brake/tail light was notched into this, a million miles from the original chrome and plastic affair. The front forks were lowered 3 inches, giving a far more aggressive stance to the bike and combined with a set of divisive Firestone Champion Deluxe rubber, the squat, over-tyred looks trade off the Hot-Rod inspiration well. So while Mr Marquez may want to tweak the geometry and tyres for a hot lap of Mugello, it'll be just fine and dandy for a blat up the Pacific Coast Highway. A set of fabricated clip-ons are finished with some perforated leather grips, matching that deep, fluted seat. The seat base itself was made with enough room underneath for all the electrics, while an aluminium aviation style box carries the battery in style. Having replaced the standard tank with a wider version from a CB750 the paint work would have plenty of space to play. It was taken care of by Greg at Black Shuck Kustom. After meeting at a local bike meet and seeing Greg's work, Sam knew he was the guy for the job, and it sure stands up to inspection. Having explained the look and feel behind the bike, they decided to go with an old Volkswagen Dove Blue, commonly found on a California camper of old. Greg then sanded and air brushed the faux patina onto the tank, hand painting the Inglorious logo on top and finishing the job with a satin clear coat. With the holy trinity of paint, polish and powder applied, the bike was once again assembled, bu this time with numerous leather and brass details throughout. The willing 395cc twin retained the original carbs, so to deal with the dreaded running problem that plagues airbox removal, Sam fashioned up some custom length velocity stacks. 2 inch stainless mid pipes with a small baffle in the end, provide the two-pot soundtrack. Finished with titanium laced heat wrap, there is still something undeniably period about the Firestone/heat wrap combination. Add in the patination and the bike could very well have been whipped out from under a dust sheet in some long forgotten barn. Without even a test ride it was time for its maiden voyage to TheBikeShed 3 event at Tobacco Dock; and she didn't miss a beat. Happily, 'The Cali' found its soul-mate and now resides with a new owner, but fire a mail over to Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in a commission or visit the splendiferous IMC website. Of course up to date progress on the latest projects can be found on IMC Facebook and @ingloriousmotorcycles Instagram accounts.