Honda CB985F Evolution Is a Neat CB900F Restomod Built as Something of a Sleeper

2 months, 3 weeks ago - 27 February 2024, autocar
Honda CB985F Evolution Is a Neat CB900F Restomod Built as Something of a Sleeper
For a guy like Darren Begg, building rad custom bikes and breathtaking restomods is just business as usual.

He goes by dB Customs and has long been among our favorite builders from Canada, operating in the capital city of Ottawa. As we’ve already talked about his background and previous ventures many times before, there is virtually no need for us to give any sort of introduction here.

Instead, let’s jump straight to one of the projects put together by Darren a few years back. The said motorcycle might’ve been built in 2018, but we reckon it’ll still be worth looking at many years from now. Dubbed the CB985F Evolution, it is a tasty restomod based on a Honda CB900F from 1982. Coincidentally, the very first motorcycle Darren had ever worked on was also a CB900F, so this project held great personal significance for the author.

He sought to create some sort of tribute to his first build, seeing that the client was happy to give him carte blanche for the most part. The guy’s only major request had to do with the paintwork, as he loved the Honda’s original livery and wanted to see it reinterpreted on the finished bike. Otherwise, the mastermind at dB Customs was left to his own devices.

You can still tell that it’s a CB900F from a mile away, as Darren wasn’t really concerned with making any major cosmetic adjustments. That’s not to say the customization process was straightforward, though, and a closer look will reveal exactly why. With this being said, it’s time for us to dive in and inspect what took place here, because there’s quite a lot to cover.

Once the retro Honda was on his workbench, our protagonist had its frame reworked to accommodate a Suzuki GSX-R600 SRAD swingarm. This was far from a plug-and-play affair, of course, but a few clever tweaks made everything fit together seamlessly. Next, the Gixxer’s swingarm was mated to a pair of Ohlins shock absorbers, featuring adjustable preload and piggyback reservoirs.

These bad boys connect to bespoke mounting points up top, yet the CB900’s subframe was otherwise left unchanged. Suspension duties at the front are also managed by Ohlins paraphernalia, and the forks are held in place via tailor-made triple clamps. The yokes were fashioned by Zanzani all the way across the big pond in Italy, seemingly out of billet aluminum. Darren hasn’t toned things down in the unsprung sector, either.

He promptly did away with the factory wheels, making room for gold-anodized, six-spoke alternatives from OZ Racing. They measure 17 inches in diameter front and back, with grippy Michelin Power RS tires covering their rims. Down south, the alloy hoop is coupled with an aftermarket rear sprocket supplied by Driven Racing, but what really caught our attention are the upgraded brakes.

Darren installed a ton of Brembo goodies for improved stopping power at both ends, including premium calipers and floating 320 mm (12.6-inch) front discs. Braided stainless-steel brake lines have been sourced from Spiegler, and the front master cylinder is a high-grade Brembo RCS item. The cockpit area is also home to a multi-function Koso dash and a low-profile handlebar equipped with bar-end mirrors.

Furthermore, there is an NHK steering damper providing extra stability at high speeds, while the chunky standard turn signals got replaced with aftermarket LEDs. A pair of equally compact blinkers can also be spotted at the rear end, hanging on to an unobtrusive license plate bracket right beneath the boxy OEM taillight. As you might’ve already guessed based on the motorcycle’s nickname, some extensive powertrain upgrades were also part of the dB Customs treatment.

The CB900F’s inline-four mill makes a very healthy 95 hp in stock form, but Darren knew there was a bit more potential to be unleashed. He therefore fitted a set of forged Wiseco pistons that raise the engine’s displacement to 985cc, while also porting the heads and installing top-grade cams with race-spec timing chains. Moreover, the four-cylinder titan benefits from fresh breathing equipment, too.

Air flows in through a quartet of 36 mm (1.4-inch) Yoshimura TMR-MJN carburetors topped with individual pod filters. On the other hand, combustion by-products exit through stainless-steel pipework that features a four-two-one configuration, courtesy of JayGUI. As for the paintwork, it was executed by dB’s long-term collaborators at Sketchs Ink, who mixed a black base with red and gold detailing in graceful fashion.

When all was said and done, the CB985F Evolution could make 105 hp at the rear wheel while tipping the scales at just 443 pounds (201 kg) fully-loaded. Add the upgraded running gear to the equation, and you’ve got yourself a very capable restomod, indeed! Although Darren showed quite a bit of restraint on the cosmetic side of things, he most certainly went to town with all the performance upgrades. 

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