A first-time build from Bloomfield
More than just somewhere to put our junk, a home needs to be an environment that is both interesting and practical. Plunging into the research process takes time and can be quite exhausting. The countless options can leave us endlessly wondering if there isn't some place better. Additionally, many Pittsburgh neighborhoods are experiencing transitional growth, causing conflicting feelings from established residents.
Often referred to as "Little Italy", the neighborhood of Bloomfield is a lively part of town rippling with creative enthusiasm. Pointing out some of the local spots he frequents, Nick Fortunato mentions that getting to know the people and spending time in the community has proven to be exhilarating. Nick grew up in neighboring Wheeling, West Virginia but later moved to the borough of Bloomfield where he has developed a sense of community and belonging.
Nick grew up racing hare scrambles. So while he was very fond of his new community, acquiring a motorcycle would help it feel a little more like home. When a friend of his who was moving across the country had to quickly sell his ride, a very favorable deal was made. The bike was a 1982 Yamaha XJ750 Maxim, a four-cylinder that was only produced for a few years. The air-cooled, shaft driven Yamaha was titled and running great, but Nick pictured something much different. With the help of some Honda CB parts, the café racer build began to take shape. A Honda CB400 fuel tank was fitted with minimal work, and a CB750 headlight was used in place of Yamaha’s bulky square setup.
According to Nick, the two toughest parts of the build were working with the carburetors and building the seat. With no previous mechanical experience, switching to pod filters with the constant velocity carburetors was frustrating and required a great deal of experimentation before getting it right. In order to get the lines to flow cohesively when building the seat, Nick designed a platform that he wrapped in fiberglass with the electronics appropriately hidden underneath.
As an active member of Bloomfield, motorcycles have become Nick Fortunato's preferred method of maneuvering through the bustling neighborhood. “If I didn’t have this bike to ride around on, I’d be a very sad person,” he says. Now with a sincere passion for building bikes, Nick has already started on his second build and doesn’t plan to stop there.