New Member intro and advice request
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New Member intro and advice request

This is a discussion on New Member intro and advice request within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; New member here. Little bit of background, then onto my project. I'm 34, a mechanical engineer by trade, but my loves are woodworking, metalworking, and ...

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  1. #1
    Junior Member DuckHunterJon's Avatar
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    New Member intro and advice request

    New member here. Little bit of background, then onto my project. I'm 34, a mechanical engineer by trade, but my loves are woodworking, metalworking, and riding. I started riding at 16, and put on about 10K miles a year currently. Bikes in my stable are my first bike ever - '71 CL450, an '83 V45 Interceptor (this one was given to me by a dear friend, is 100% original, all honda-line accesories, and could pass for new), an '03 KLR650, and my main ride an '07 DL1000. All different personalities, all enjoyed.

    So, fast forward to two weeks ago. I've been thinking about doing a cafe bike for a while. I've been searching for an RD for about a year, everyone that comes up is more than I can scrape together. So a couple weeks ago, I am surfing C-List and come across an ad that says "Old yamaha motorcycle, moving and need gone". I emailed and said I'd be interested, asked all kinds of questions. The reply was almost instant, "come look and take it away for free". I'll be right there! The whole way over I'm hoping it's an RD or DT or XT or... So I show up and find it's an 83 Virago. Crap. I figure I'm there, it's free, at least I can get some scrap value out of it. So I load it in the truck and he says here - hands me a signed title.

    I get home and start looking at it - it's a 920 and pretty complete - only missing one turn signal and the side covers. Last time it was on the road was 1994 - yup, been sitting for 17 years. On a lark, I pulled the carbs (solid gunk) and the tank (not really that bad some how), and emptied about a gallon of cherry pits out of the air box. I cleaned up the carbs, dumped in some fresh gas, connected up my 4 wheeler battery. The thing cranks over about 10 times and fires up. 5 minutes later, I was running up and down the road. Still spits and sputters above 4K, but runs.

    So if you're still with me, you need help - but thanks. I started looking around and decided since I currently have $2.99 invested into a titled running bike (can of carb cleaner), I'm going to build it into a CR. First thing to address is the gravel and marbles in the starter. Have researched it and have no problem rebuilding it. Next will be to fully clean the carbs and get it running tip top. After that, I'm open to suggestions. I've looked through the posts here as well as other places, and I like features of all of them. One item I'm struggling with off the bat is whether to keep the front rim, or go smaller. I will ride the crap out of this thing, and understand the smaller wheel might kill the handling.

    Any other suggestions, comments, encouragement, statements telling me I'm nutz are welcome. [] Thanks!
    Jon Hunter
    Marion, NY

  2. #2
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    Jon, Welcome. How much time and money and effort do you want to put into the Virago. Here are my ideas. I don't like the leading axle front forks, 19" front and 16" rear wheels and the crappy front brakes. I would replace the complete front end with one from and FZR 600 to get bigger fork tubes and better brakes. I would replace the rear wheel and front with ones from the later Virago that came with spoke wheels and lace up 18" rims front and rear. I think you could fit a 150 or 160 18" tire in the swing arm. Then I would replace the rear sub frame to get the seat where I wanted it and would pick a nice fiberglass seat from either Tannermatic or Brett on here. Then I would change out the exhaust and the rear shock and be done with it.

    Ken
    WERA 119
    CCS 119
    CRA 119
    AHRMA not anymore
    \"Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.\"
    Evan Esar
    Newbies, Geeto and Tex (Bye Tex)hate me!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member kenessex's Avatar
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    Jon, Welcome. How much time and money and effort do you want to put into the Virago. Here are my ideas. I don't like the leading axle front forks, 19" front and 16" rear wheels and the crappy front brakes. I would replace the complete front end with one from and FZR 600 to get bigger fork tubes and better brakes. I would replace the rear wheel and front with ones from the later Virago that came with spoke wheels and lace up 18" rims front and rear. I think you could fit a 150 or 160 18" tire in the swing arm. Then I would replace the rear sub frame to get the seat where I wanted it and would pick a nice fiberglass seat from either Tannermatic or Brett on here. Then I would change out the exhaust and the rear shock and be done with it.

    Ken
    WERA 119
    CCS 119
    CRA 119
    AHRMA not anymore
    \"Think twice before you speak, and then you may be able to say something more insulting than if you spoke right out at once.\"
    Evan Esar
    Newbies, Geeto and Tex (Bye Tex)hate me!!

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Judeyramone's Avatar
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    Pics (include some woodworking projects), or none of the above is true.



    (Describing someone as "... a dear friend" on this site means you're gay... unless you're a chick - in which case, you have to post pics of the sweater kittens as proof)
    Many a man who falls in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl. - Evan Esar

  6. #5
    Senior Member Judeyramone's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Detroit-ish, MI, USA.
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    Pics (include some woodworking projects), or none of the above is true.



    (Describing someone as "... a dear friend" on this site means you're gay... unless you're a chick - in which case, you have to post pics of the sweater kittens as proof)
    Many a man who falls in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl. - Evan Esar

  7. #6
    Senior Member spacmanspif300's Avatar
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    Welcome. There have been some Virago customs lately that I'm really not sold on, but that doesn't mean it can't be done well. 18" spokes look more vintage, 17" wheels give you more options with tires (as long as wheel changes are happening anyway) but I've heard a lot of people crying foul at front end swaps without looking into choosing appropriate springs and damping afterward. I also don't know whether the FZR swap Ken suggests is a plug and play deal, maybe?

    If you couldn't scrape together enough for a decent RD, my guess is your budget is low, meaning you'll either have to fabricate or, if you can't do that, then take things VERY slowly. It's all priorities. If you'd rather be riding sooner, then for now just sort the broken/dirty things like starter, brakes, lights, carbs, bearings, etc. and see how much you've spent just getting it in top shape. Also consider that it might be painful to, for instance, spend money on brakes that you plan to ditch, so as much as you can, decide up front on 'the plan' and stick to it.

    Good luck, and post pics of everything cool that you have done!

  8. #7
    Senior Member spacmanspif300's Avatar
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    Welcome. There have been some Virago customs lately that I'm really not sold on, but that doesn't mean it can't be done well. 18" spokes look more vintage, 17" wheels give you more options with tires (as long as wheel changes are happening anyway) but I've heard a lot of people crying foul at front end swaps without looking into choosing appropriate springs and damping afterward. I also don't know whether the FZR swap Ken suggests is a plug and play deal, maybe?

    If you couldn't scrape together enough for a decent RD, my guess is your budget is low, meaning you'll either have to fabricate or, if you can't do that, then take things VERY slowly. It's all priorities. If you'd rather be riding sooner, then for now just sort the broken/dirty things like starter, brakes, lights, carbs, bearings, etc. and see how much you've spent just getting it in top shape. Also consider that it might be painful to, for instance, spend money on brakes that you plan to ditch, so as much as you can, decide up front on 'the plan' and stick to it.

    Good luck, and post pics of everything cool that you have done!

  9. #8
    Senior Member hillsy's Avatar
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    They say there's no such thing as a free bike, but it sounds like you're doing OK so far.

    Is it a shaft drive or chain? Either way, if it has cast wheels, they are made of lead and a change to more modern rims / forks / suspension will yield pretty amazing results in the unsprung weight department. Finding a lighter rear wheel on a shaft drive may be a challenge though (but if it's a spoked wheel, then re-lacing a lighter rim is the way).

    I'd be tempted just to get it registered and ride it as a low cost commuter. No one in their right mind will steal a Virago, so they are real practical as a park anywhere bike......as long as none of your friends catch you riding it......

  10. #9
    Senior Member hillsy's Avatar
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    They say there's no such thing as a free bike, but it sounds like you're doing OK so far.

    Is it a shaft drive or chain? Either way, if it has cast wheels, they are made of lead and a change to more modern rims / forks / suspension will yield pretty amazing results in the unsprung weight department. Finding a lighter rear wheel on a shaft drive may be a challenge though (but if it's a spoked wheel, then re-lacing a lighter rim is the way).

    I'd be tempted just to get it registered and ride it as a low cost commuter. No one in their right mind will steal a Virago, so they are real practical as a park anywhere bike......as long as none of your friends catch you riding it......

  11. #10
    Junior Member DuckHunterJon's Avatar
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    No more "dear friend" - got it! Truth on that one - my best friend growing up passed away of leukemia, and his father became a second dad to me. He bought the bike new and told me a few years ago it was mine. So yeah, awesome friend.

    On to some of the other questions. It's a shaft drive, XV920. As for the rims, I would much rather swap them out for spoked wheels if I can find hubs that match. Lacing them up is no problem.

    How much do I want to spend - I'm thinking in the $2K ish region. Could be more if need be. I'll do all the labor. I have a fairly well stocked machine shop have done quite a bit of fab work. I should have mentioned I've rebuilt several non running bikes, snowmobiles, and more outboard motors than I can recall. Time frame - while I'd love to be riding it in the spring, it really doesn't have to be a quick and dirty build. I'd rather take my time and do it right.

    I liked the idea of register it and ride it cause no one would steal it - that's for sure, but I live in the middle of nowhere and don't worry about anyone stealing stuff.

    I may look into swapping forks. I've done a fork swap before (KLX forks onto a KLR) that involved pressing a bushings onto the stem, but I'll have to find out what would fit the Virago.

    As for pictures - I should have known. As soon as I can figure out how to attach them, I will.

    Thanks!
    Jon Hunter
    Marion, NY

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