On the way home from the Indianapolis Dealer Expo, earlier in the year, Duane, Chris and Brent Brown, of BBR Motorsports, began to think about creating something in the spirit of those early 80’s factory Honda works bikes. The brothers always have more ideas than they do time, so it sometimes takes a unique sequence of events to make the idea jump to life. A few months ago the BBR team learned of some bad news about the health of motocross legend David Bailey. In a nearly instant response, Duane Brown said…Lets build a bike for him.
Meanwhile some of BBR’s friends from Honda North America had contacted the Brown Brothers to see what help could be mustered to assist an old friend and motocross icon. The culmination of ideas and events came together causing the energy level to reach boiling point on this project and the Brown brothers sprung into action.
The Brown Brothers quickly gravitated toward a vision that was deeply rooted in their childhood memories. This vision was to build a BBR minibike that paid homage to the early 80’s works bikes that the brothers Brown had plastered across their bedroom walls as kids. The very bikes that were piloted by legendary riders Bob Hannah, Johnny O’Mara and of course David Bailey. Those bikes were ingrained in the Brown Brothers DNA at an early age, played a pivotal role in their life choices and truly were the impetus for what was to come.
Just the mention of this era of motocross bikes gets Duane and Chris smiling and reminiscing about the early 80s when they saw factory Honda mechanics and riders working their magic. It was a life changing experience and a piece of that magic is still with them each and every day at BBR.”We’re here in a big part because of our experience in 1984 when we were able to sneak into the pits and watch the factory Honda guys change a rear wheel. They blew our minds when they quickly popped the axle out and changed the wheel. We were like wow, they didn’t even need a punch and sledgehammer like we did back in our parents garage. ” —Chris Brown
It was that no-boundaries, no-limits approach to motocross bikes that forever changed the way Duane, Chris and Brent think. Duane reflected, “Honda was throwing enormous resources into those bikes and they were changing, modifying and customizing components all the time. The big innovation push really sparked something in Duane and Chris and is reflected in their work to this day. Now they have an opportunity to say thanks to one of the riders who made these bikes come alive. So they set off to create a one-of-a-kind David Bailey factory Honda works replica based on the signature BBR CRF 50 minibike.
For an extended period of time this vision monopolized the minds of Duane and Chris and some of the other top fabricators on the BBR production team. The retro 80s swingarm was mission number one. This was such a unique piece it would be integral part of the true works bike look. Fortunately, the Brown Brothers have an on-site library archive of every off-road motorcycle magazine published from the mid 1970s through present. After finding a few great magazine photos of David Bailey’s 1983 and 1984 Hondas, the CNC machines were fired up and the cutting, grinding and welding commenced.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was finding the exact paint specifications. Having the right industry contacts and a 20-year relationship with a local car paint supplier from the Mopar restoration days allowed the Brown Brothers to get the exact hue of early 80’s Honda red. True to the times, a custom blue seat was made from scratch and the blue number plates with the yellow #1 were created. Every detail was fashioned to reflect the look and feel of that genre right down to the original 1983 Sunline De Bruizer bar pad which was salvaged from a box of throw-away parts at a local motorcycle dealer. “Our lives revolved around visions of those works bikes at and early age. Not a day has gone by that we haven’t thought about those bikes. ” —Duane Brown
What began as a vision earlier in the year, became a show-stopping walk down memory lane by early August. The entire staff was wandering out into the shop to get a sneak peak of this bike which was quickly becoming the talk of the town. Brent Brown noted, “What’s amazing about a re-creation project like this is really the sense of time and place it triggers in your mind. One look and it takes you back to the no-limits, no boundary days when the factory Honda works bikes dominated motocross. The excitement of that era has had an unmistakable impact on the sport and inspired many of us in the industry to continue to push the envelope.
With the spirit of an 80’s works bike fused into the form of a BBR 50, this tribute bike is complete. BBR has built scores of custom bikes over the last 10 years, but this one is perhaps the most meaningful to date. David Bailey is a motocross legend, icon of strength and perseverance and a dear friend to many in the industry. This one is for you David Bailey!
The Brown Brothers are offering this bike to be auctioned off at David Bailey’s All Star Extravaganza This event’s charter is to raise money for the benefit of injured riders allowing them to live healthier and more productive lives. The event will take place Monday, September 11th at Cahuilla Creek MX Park and Pole Position Raceway near Temecula, California. For more information go to www.davidbaileymx.com.