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.
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.
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.
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!
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.