Return of the Cafe Racers - Start up cycle – Brogue CB750 Nighthawk

Start up cycle – Brogue CB750 Nighthawk

“Brogue Motorcycles LLC was an idea that evolved over a long period of time and actually stemmed from a serious eye injury at work.” explains workshop founder Mike Schartz. “After multiple surgeries and some pretty tough times recovering, I decided I was going to build a motorcycle (the Brogue XS650 Bobber). Not only did I want to prove to myself that I could do it, but I wanted to get back in the workshop doing something I truly enjoyed. The build ended up being the best therapy I could have asked for. It allowed me to heal both mentally and physically, and move past a major life-changing event. I know, it sounds rather sappy, but fast forward 5 years, add a big dream, some hard work and good old determination, and you get a semi-successful side business that keeps growing after each new build.”

“My first encounter with motorcycles goes back to when I was a child, maybe 8 or 9 years old. My grandparents owned a farm in Ellinwood, a small town in central Kansas where my family used to spend our summers. We had an old Suzuki 185 and a Kawasaki 110 that were used around the property. I was too young to ride solo but my father would let me ride on his lap and I can still remember that first sensation of being on a bike, wind in my face, flying across the fields. These days I find myself getting wrapped up with projects in the shop quite often and have to remind myself to get out and enjoy the open road – because nothing beats a nice ride after a long day.”

Mike focuses on building one-of-a-kind motorcycles at his Brogue workshop in Arizona, drawing inspiration from both old and new elements of design. This bike, a 1982 CB750 DOHC Nighthawk, took roughly a year to complete and was clearly influenced by the cafe racer movement. “The main purpose behind building this bike was to showcase some of my skills and to officially start up Brogue Motorcycles LLC.” says Mike. “I had a lot of good friends with great skills come visit me in the shop to lend a helping hand with this build.”

Rather than working from a concept sketch for his CB750 cafe racer build, Mike took inspiration from the first part he built for the bike. “At the start of the project, I fabricated the tailpiece using an English wheel and leather bag – the fabrication of that one part ended up driving the entire project.”

To fit the custom cowl to the CB750 Mike completely re-designed the rear subframe, fabricating a new rear section from mild steel. Brackets were added along the top rails of the frame to mount a tray for the electronics and the rear frame rails were smoothed out. A custom made set of footpeg brackets were also welded to the frame for a more rear-set riding position.

With the bike in pieces, all of its running gear was given a full overhaul, upgrading parts where ever possible. To replace the bikes ageing electronics a complete DYNA ignition system was installed along with LED lighting, a Shorai lithium battery, permanent magnet alternator charging system and a custom made wiring harness. During the rebuild of the suspension, the forks received Progressive springs and the rear shocks upgraded using aftermarket units. All new bearings and bushing were installed along with new brake rotors, sprockets, chain and brake lines.

Despite the engine having relatively low mileage it was also treated to a full service to freshen up its performance and appearance. Along with all the work done to revitalise the engine, Mike was also keen to squeeze a few more horses out of it. To free up the flow of gases from the engine Mike put together a pair of 2-into-1 stainless exhausts, which he noted as being the part of the build he is most proud of. The two sets of headers run under the belly of the bike where they are capped off with a pair of custom made reverse cone mufflers that vent either side of the rear wheel. At the inlet end of the combustion cycle, Mike mounted a set of CR31 carbs that he synced and tuned to get the most out of his custom pipes.

To compliment the svelte proportions of his custom rear cowl, Mike then sourced a more streamlined fuel tank from a Yamaha XS750. After modifying the tank to sit level and low on the Honda frame it was also overhauled with new petcocks and resealed for longevity. The stock handlebars were also swapped for aftermarket clip-on bars wearing simplified controls and aftermarket grips. Aftermarket brackets were also used to mount the headlight low and tight between the fork tubes and a single tachometer was mounted to the top clamp.

When it came to choosing a colour scheme for his CB750 build Mike wanted a timeless, unoffensive finish. After powder coating the frame, wheels and engine in satin black the bodywork and headlight bucket were painted using a light cream colour and the seat upholstered using vegan sourced, tan leather. Despite being an 80’s era machine the Brogue CB750 now has a timeless air fitting of its cafe racer styling. If this is the bike Mike is using to launch his brand we can’t wait to see what he has planned next.

Photography by Joseph Liu

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