Monthly Archives: January 2016

PC800 Project Start

This PC800 was up for auction on eBay in June 2013. Located on Merseyside, it had been stripped of its bodywork, exhaust and clocks – not by scallys but by the owner, who had sold them off after discovering the cost of getting the panels professionally re-sprayed. I was the only bidder.

PC800 P1 A04 Before

Having listened over the phone to it running, I took a chance, buying it unseen. When it arrived I tried starting – it fired up on the first attempt, sounding like a Harley with open pipes due to the missing silencer. That was promising – it meant the battery was good so the charging system probably was too, the carbs were not gummed up and the fuel pump worked. The tyres were good but the rear slowly lost pressure.

My intention was to build a lightweight Gold Wing substitute. Lightweight being relative, as a standard PC800 weighs over 250kg. I had already acquired a Vetter Windjammer fairing as fitted to some early Gold Wings. Although the windscreen was broken, the rest was in fair condition.

PC800 P1 A08 Fairing

Some essential missing  parts of the bike would have to be replaced – the instruments, the silencer and lower part of the front exhaust downpipe and the seat. An original silencer would be useful as they incorporate the collector box. I kept an eye on eBay motorcycle spares section and to my surprise, soon found four incomplete and rough-looking bikes for sale from a dealer near Chester. Two of them had the required parts; one of these had a front fairing but poor tyres, the other had decent looking tyres but no fairing. I was very tempted to buy both, with a view to taking the parts I wanted and using the rest to make a rat bike to sell, but some remnant of good sense told me this was a step too far. I bought the faired one, a 1994 M-reg, with thoughts of using the inner part of the PC800 fairing with the outer from the Vetter, solving the problem of attaching the Vetter.

PC800 P1 A16 Before

It was soon apparent that the two fairings were completely incompatible, but the exhaust, front seat and clocks would be OK, and easily worth the £200 cost of the bike plus delivery. The exhaust was a bit of a pig to remove, needing a large hammer applied to various parts to separate them, but I found it to be solid and the chrome trim polished up quite well.

PC800 P1 A06 Exhaust

A trip to the A47 Autojumble near Leicester rewarded me with a fibreglass rear mudguard for £5 that would do nicely for the PC800, and a Ford dashboard clock for £2 that might be fitted later.

PC800 P1 A10 Mudguard

A final bit of eBay shopping obtained a pair of fibreglass Craven panniers which, from research with Craven, appear to be one-offs used by Warwickshire police on a BMW K-series, presumably before going with another manufacturer. They would need some suitable brackets and a bit of tidying-up, but I liked their unusual design.

PC800 P1 A12 panniers

 All I had to do was put the bits together – or so I thought.

My PC800 – A Brief History

PC800 P1 X08 After

The picture above shows the bike in the summer of 2015. Here’s how it came to be . . .

I had decided to rebuild my ST1100 again and fancied a Honda GL500 or CX500 Custom as an alternative. Searching eBay for a ‘GL’, I found a GL1100 Gold Wing (unfaired version) for sale nearby, fell in love and bought it. It was the most comfortable bike I’ve ever had, fantastic for relaxed cruising, but the handling, brakes and lack of power let it down. It was also extremely heavy, nearly 300kg.

GL1100 P0 Standard

I would have loved to have a fully dressed one  – not an over-the-top 2-wheeled mobile home, but a comfortable bike with a fairing and panniers, for lazy riding. However, the weight of the undressed ‘wing was too much for me to move around so a dressed one was out of the question.

GL1100 P0 Interstate

I could have gone for a Honda Silver Wing – the CX500 derivative – but they don’t have quite the same appeal for me, and apparently are top-heavy, which would be a problem. I drop bikes that are top-heavy.

So, after a while the GL1100 went and a BMW R850R took its place. A good bike in many ways, but too top-heavy, too vibey and the wrong riding position for me.

I had not intended to start another bike project, as the ST1100 rebuild was still unfinished, but sometimes an opportunity just has to be taken, which is how in the Summer of 2013 I came to have two partially-dismantled Honda PC800s cluttering up my garage and drive.

The Honda PC800 Pacific Coast, to give it it’s full title, is quite rare in the UK – I read somewhere that there are only about 300 registered, all grey imports. They sit somewhere between a Deauville and a Pan European in terms of size, weight, looks and purpose. So not the most exciting of bikes, either to look at or ride. But with a large windscreen, fully enclosed bodywork and capacious “trunk” as they say in the USA where many of these came from, they fill a niche and have a reputation for reliability. Most UK owners are enthusiasts and regard them as the ultimate touring bike.

PC800 P0 Standard

The V-twin engine is similar to that of the Shadow 800 and related to those of the Deauville, NTV600/650 and even the Transalp and Africa Twin. The frame and bodywork are unique, but many other parts are shared, as one might expect. They also, like the Pan European and Gold Wing, have shaft drive and an underseat fuel tank.

The first PC800 I came acrosshad been a few years previously, stripped of its bodywork and advertised for spares. I thought it would make an unusual project, but on inspection there was too much missing to make it worthwhile. Ever since then I had occasionally scanned eBay for a cheap one that could be butchered without too many qualms. Then this one came up, a 1989 F-reg, missing the bodywork and various other parts but otherwise in good condition. It even had an MoT!

PC800 P1 A02 Before

Having sold the BMW in the autumn of 2014 I had enough incentive to get the PC800 ready for an MoT by March 2015. The priority was getting it rideable, so mechanical repairs, de-rusting and making it legal were the priorities. Perfecting it will take a little longer.