Todd Hunter wanted a nice little bike to run around the campground and found just what he needed, a 1971 Honda SL70, and though it ran just fine, the picture he had in mind was something a bit more classy. He sent me some photos of his little resto-mod that looks, for all the world, like a mini Triumph Scrambler. Look closely, you’ll see a lot of detail work that completely transforms the little Honda. Quite impressive and very sweet!
Here’s Todd to tell you how it all came together:
I developed a love for motorcycles in mid-life. Unlike about 95% of the guys I know who started out riding small dirt bikes as kids, I bought my first motorcycle, a 2006 Triumph Bonneville T-100, when I was 40. I am also involved an all hobbies miniature and motorized. Many people would consider my custom projects toys, but the term “toy” is relative. My love of miniature mechanical things, and motorcycles, lends itself well to the Honda horizontal engine bikes. I have built or restored seven of these little bikes since 2008.
The latest is a 1971 SL70 resto-mod I call Bivouac and is part of a continuing search for the perfect campground bike. It began as a mostly complete, veteran SL70 that ran like a top but had 42 years of patina and use showing. This, to a sensible person, would be a perfect campground cruiser – strapped on the bumper of a camper like another well used piece of camping gear. However I am not a sensible person and I could not leave it alone.
Unlike the other pressed steel, or single tube frames that the horizontal engine bikes usually have, the SL70 has an actual frame that reminds me of a “standard” bike. Since my first love was Triumphs and I needed a semi off road capable bike, this bike would be built with a Triumph-ish scrambler looking theme.
I wanted the tank and seat to be more horizontal and the bike to be a little longer. I am not a skilled welder but I do have a cheap flux-core wire welder that is good for melting steel together so I used that to make a bracket that changed the angle of the seat and tank by 3/4″. That subtle adjustment changed the entire look of the bike and gave me the confidence to press ahead with the vision of a fully functional, scale model of a scrambler.
The swingarm is from a 1983 XR100 with the tabs ground off and the rear fender had to be moved rearward 4 inches to match the length of the swinger. While pondering what I would do with the front end, I remembered I had a junked CB125s frame and left fork on the side of my house that I was going give away as scrap. I looked at the badly pitted chrome but I noticed that the aluminum fork bottom looked really similar to the SL70 fork bottoms, and that it had the boss mounts for a disc brake caliper. The CB125s of that year used a mechanical cable actuated (as opposed to hydraulic) disc brake caliper and that seemed like a quirky feature I could add to a mini scrambler. This brain fart idea would become the most challenging and fun addition to the bike. All I had for the brake was the left lower fork and the rest would be found on ebay. The fork upper pipes are the stock SL70 pipes and the internals pistons, springs, and guides are a hybrid CB/SL concoction. The completed front end is a composition of Honda CL/CB/CT/SL parts from the mid ’70s, some of them cut to fit.
A 16 inch wheel was built to replace the stock 14 inch. The rear hub is the stock SL70, laced to a larger 16 inch rim from ebay, using the spokes from the stock SL70 16 inch front wheel. The front wheel was built using the CB125s hub, stock SL70 front rim, and some spokes I found online by accident that turned out to be the right length. I had to teach myself how to lace and true a wheel using videos on youtube.
The paint I did myself and almost ruined the whole project doing so – twice, but I learned what a nib-file is used for. The frame is Krylon Oil Rubbed Bronze and has an awesome dark gold and/or olive tone in the sunlight. The white is a GM Duplicolor spray-can and the green is a factory Honda automobile color from 2008 Kiwi Green Pearl chosen by throwing a dart at a panel of color swatches. An auto body supplier mixed the green color and put it in rattle-cans for me. The gold pin stripe is vinyl tape that I clear coated over. The clear coat is a two part (2K) rattle-can that has a hardener capsule inside the can that you brake just before use. Once the hardener is introduced to the clear, you have 48 hours to use up the can. The results of the paint are not perfect but by far the best thing I have ever painted – then sanded and re-painted.
I fabricated my own front fender stays and oil cooler mount which I welded just below the head tube. The engine began as a 50cc from some other bike and is built up using JDM parts from Takegawa to be 124cc. It has 16t/35t sprockets and propels my 200lb body to over 65mph with ease which is plenty fast on a small bike. The ignition is 12 volt CDI but I use a 6 volt reg/rec, battery, and bulbs.
The header pipe is made from three different pipes including a piece of garden umbrella pole as a transition piece that allowed it to line up in a scrambler type position. The muffler is a vintage Cobra from a Honda ATC of some sort and the heat shield is an aftermarket piece I modified with scrambler “speed holes”. Every fastener is from the original SL70 or NOS Honda. Whether mini or full-size, this is by far the funnest bike I have ever ridden.
Be sure to click on the photos to examine them up close. You’ll see Todd built far more than a perfect campground bike for himself, it’s a beautiful piece of work, period. Nice job, Todd.