Honda's VF500F Interceptor may have been considered the best handling motorcycle of the 1980's, but its styling was rather run of the mill. Fast forward 30 years and its square tubular frame and plastic bodywork looks about as impressive as VHS reruns of MacGyver. So where do you begin when you've got a VF500F sitting in your workshop and the desire to create a cool Cafe Racer?
Craig Rodsmith's '84 Interceptor project began when a fellow builder offloaded it to him. As Craig put it "He gave up on the idea of trying to make it cool." Initially he was also stumped by the outdated Honda, but with a workshop full of fabrication tools and years of coach building techniques up his sleeves he took up the challenge..
Craig Rodsmith has become one of the most respected metal-formers, fabricators and bike designer/builders in the motorcycle community. His eye for aesthics and attention to detail can be seen in every motorcycle he’s built. Besides creating one-of-a-kind motorcycles and hot rods, Craig has worked on everything from bicycles to WW2 fighter planes.
Craig was born in Melbourne, Australia. As a kid, many Fosters ago, he customized anything he could get his hands on. He started with his’ 57 BSA when he was 12 years old, which landed him a short stay at the local police station.
"As usual I wanted to make it look like a traditional Cafe Racer, but somewhat outside of the box." says Craig. "I planned most of it in my head and because I do all the metal work and fabrication I don’t need to rely on drawings."
"One of the first things I decided to do was run the air intake through my custom gas tank, which was quite a challenge." Honda's V4 engine configuration sits the carb inlets under the tank so channeling air straight through it was the most direct method, despite creating some design and functionality challenges.
Using traditional metal shaping techniques Craig handmade the bikes aluminium fuel tank, fender and rear cowl. He modified the sub frame, shortening it and adding a hoop for more balanced proportions.
The deerskin leather saddle, stitched together by JB Seats, was one of the only parts of the bike Craig didn't complete himself. Liking how the leather looked against the polished alloy he rolled panels into his bodywork and inlaid more of the deerskin hide.