The huge volume of social media and web content available to us at all hours of the day means that the decision as to whether a bike is liked, loved or loathed can be knee-jerk and totally image based. OK, so a lot of this content is our fault but one thing we try to uncover is the newcomer. Whether young or old, seasoned rider or newbie straight from the test centre, what makes our day is to hear a story of someone overcoming some form of adversity in the mission to incorporate creativity into their motorcycling life.
Justin Tuskey is a 26 year old chef, originally form upstate New York and now tantilising palettes in Savannah, Georgia. His dad is an ex-professional motocross racer so Justin caught the bug early but it’s taken until the last few of years for him to fully embrace two wheels.
Rewind two years and buddy Brandon had bought a basket case of a CB360 and started the laborious resurrection, Justin didn’t even own a spanner at the time let alone a tool box, yet became totally transfixed by the process. He immediately went out and bought some basic tools, a load of degreaser and a non-running 1971 CB750. What he couldn’t find on the shelf was the 5 gallon drum of experience and knowledge required to get the bike going, so utilised his practicality with the assistance of online forums. 8 months later and the CB was running sweet and Justin had begun to scratch the custom itch.
Fast forward in time and Justin’s tinkering looked to be in jeopardy as he moved to a house that didn’t have a garage, a persistent problem for many of us. And this is what distinguishes Justin from the many, he used the house as a garage. The kitchen, dining room and living room became the workshop, now full of work tables, vices, a polishing station, electrical work bench, drill press, tool boxes, spare parts, shelves and new parts. There are 5 bikes out back, under the roof overhang and another 5 in the spare bedroom (some jerk in the past had converted a perfectly good garage into a bedroom, what’s with people!)
Justin sounds like our sort of guy “Work with what you have inside your means. Don’t make excuses, make bikes instead.”
This bike, Nox Dominae is Justin’s first café/restomod, the name loosely translates from Latin to “lady of the night” which turned out to be quite apt, “I spent many hours burning the midnight oil in preparations for this mistress to see the road. I picked up the bike from a buddy in North Carolina for a really good price, running and with a title. It looked decrepit. Someone before my buddy tried to make a café racer out of it but failed pretty miserably and then left it outside for a few years. It ran really well though surprisingly.”
Justin’s buddy Omar Portigliatti, and Italian jeweller, proved pivotal in with this build and together they went from contemplating a quick paint, service and sell-on to the more in depth project seen here. The low mileage motor was good and tight so a soda blasting and re-paint saw it ready to go again, with the addition of a trick, transparent points cover. Whilst dealing the mechanicals all bearings, seals and perishable parts were replaced.
Owners of CB750s will be fully versed in the trials and tribulations of tuning these engines to run properly with pod filters, they work better with the original airbox, period. Justin left this in place and utilised the side panels to shroud a custom battery box and tool roll holder. Practicality and custom bikes, surely not. The cleaned carbs provide the perfect mixture to the engine, jetted correctly for the Cycle-X 4-2-1 race exhaust, which according to the guys sounds fantastic.
The engine might have been in fine fettle but wiring in the 1970s wasn’t renowned for being particularly resilient to the elements, nor slimline. Justin started from scratch and made a completely new loom, hiding the guts of it in the tail hump, including an air horn to alert idiot road users, should the race exhaust’s decibels not be enough. A modern bucket houses the Truck-lite LED headlamp and the cockpit has been relieved of the clunky ignition. A dedicated ignition circuit utilises an LED idiot light in the headlamp bucket and starter button recessed into the headstock nut, for a completely keyless set up. It took Justin a while to figure out how best to incorporate this without blowing fuses, but it’s turned out to be one of the most rewarding parts of the build.
Car nuts among you might have recognised the paint colour, yup, that famous Shelby GT500 ‘Eleanor’ or Pepper Grey Metallic as it’s called on the can. The spray booth was of course one of the corners of Justin’s house and from here the finish looks pretty good. To give the more mundane components an individual touch Omar spent hours engraving intricate patterns into usually overlooked parts.
There’s a stack more other work carried out but in this case the grit and determination of the builder is what we wanted to shine through. Justin says “I am pleased with the end result. The bike is an absolute monster. The clubmans sit low, and as you ride you can really feel the road as it zooms by. The sound is incredible with the 4-2-1 exhaust, and it inspires near redline shifting. It gets plenty of looks everywhere it goes, and someone asked me what model Honda it was because they didn’t see it at the dealership. I told them it was from 1978 and their jaw just about dropped. Sorry pal, can’t buy it. Gotta build one.
Justin has not only proved that you don’t need a mega-workshop in order to build a stunning bike, but also given us an idea for a t-shirt design. “Don’t make excuses, make bikes instead”.