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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all! I'm tired of my Virago. I'm tired of getting the biker wave from Harley guys. I'm over feeling foolish leaning a cruiser with mid controls and ape bars into a turn at 90.
So. I "bought" another cruiser, because I'm a real genius like that. There are aspects of today's man bun wearing cafe bikes that I like which will serve as inspiration for this build.
Let's introduce to you the victim after I pulled it out of it's muddy grave. ccRKcIwl.jpg
URoI9L0l.jpg .
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That firewood looks nice. Good and weathered. Should burn nicely
I probably should have bartered for that instead of the Nighthawk. Instead I traded painting and tuning his RC truck then dragged the flatelining wretch out of there to my buddies shop.
While I wanted to keep the spongebob-duct tape, threaded rod, turn signal stalk, I started to peel back some of the layers of abuse from the maniacal previous owners of this poor little bike.
Turns out it was in much worse shape than first impressions gave.
Back to front:
Shocks, just springs.
Wheels, are true.
Rear body work, hacked apart for an attempt at some sort of disco lighting theme and then mended with pop rivets and that pipe hanger stuff with all the holes in it.
Seat, foam is good but Hannibal Lecter must have supplied the cover.
Airbox, modified with a 32oz Estwing.
Wiring, ugh. Now I know how people who know nothing of a bikes electrical system feel when they look at a wiring harness. The only wires that are un-molested are the two battery cables.
Carburetors, "just need to be cleaned" apparently.
Engine, 9000 miles on the gauge but for some reason the crankcase seems to be a vessel for holding Marvel mystery oil. Has Compression!
Gas tank, Rusty, gummy and denty.
Controls, garbage. Same with the neck bearings, stanchions, fork seals and wheel bearings.
Not bad, right? So first things first was to sort some of the wiring to make some spark. Drain the gunk and replace. Filters, plugs.
Soak, strip, scrub and rebuild the carb bank.
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Now that it starts and idles I'll start procuring parts and getting deeper into it cleaning and rebuilding what I can, replacing what I cant.
My hope is to bring this back to life and get it as near to 90hp and and 45-50 ft-lbs torque. I think it can get close to those numbers judging by the stock specs for this model. hoping to reach that with just headwork and tuning. I want to keep the stock internals and the compression at a reasonable level as I plan on actually riding this heap at some point.
 

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1100 eh ? xseleven but the cruiser style
it could be a fun bike but you are doing it wrong it appears cause its long and real heavy you wont be able to muscle it through curvy roads sitting down in it and reaching to that broom handle
it needs a standard xs type gas tank so a proper seat that will get you up on top of it wont look weird
top it off with some 4'' rise flat track/superbike type bars
you need to be up on it sitting proud and high to flick it into turns .....well flick may be optomistic
but right now looks like something for drag racing maybe thats your plan if so NEVERMIND
 

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Discussion Starter #6
1100 eh ? xseleven but the cruiser style
it could be a fun bike but you are doing it wrong it appears cause its long and real heavy you wont be able to muscle it through curvy roads sitting down in it and reaching to that broom handle
it needs a standard xs type gas tank so a proper seat that will get you up on top of it wont look weird
top it off with some 4'' rise flat track/superbike type bars
you need to be up on it sitting proud and high to flick it into turns .....well flick may be optomistic
but right now looks like something for drag racing maybe thats your plan if so NEVERMIND
Sorry for the confusion, the bars (piece of conduit) and pods and crap are just to wheel it onto the lift and see if it would fire up. We smashed in the knee dents and added Emgo's just to call it a "cafe racer". It's being built in a zero metric tolerance shop so something had to lighten the mood. I already have a couple tanks for it a 1980ish cm450 tank (may be to wide for the front end I'm going with)
and a 1973 cb350 tank in candy gold and black.
I'm actually rebuilding a set of forks and some cheap rear shocks that will show more the direction I'm going with it.
It's a 1983 Nighthawk CB550sc But the shop is split between "the Chickenhawk 550" and the "Honda Nightmare"
Once I get the all the fluids changed out and the clutch slave cylinder rebuilt we'll get a baseline on the engine.
It will be nice to hear something other than a v-twin in here:
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Rebuilding those cheap RFY shocks is a little more involved than I anticipated. I did manage to track down enough information to help me at least not make them any more dangerous. I replaced the unknown oil with Motul synthetic 2.5 wt. That's just a guesstimate but I sure hope it's viscous enough cuz these are a pain. I didn't turn them into bleeder shocks, I used the same method I use on my 1/8 scale buggy shocks to bleed them. They are now nice and smooth. That notchy feeling they had is gone. They feel a tad oversprung for this bike but I wont know for sure until the shakedown ride.
If the rest of the bike turns out fine and these are letting it down I'll consider putting actual dollars into the rear shocks.
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I prefer the 73' 350 tank.
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The stock forks are a poorly executed good idea with their air adjust. The leading axle, ugh.
I don't know if you can tell from the pics, but this bike was ridden into something head-on.
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I personally like the look of USD forks and I'm willing to put up with the inevitable bro's in their mma affliction shirts trying to strike up some blah blah.
I found someone with far better math skills than I to direct me as far as trail, rake and offset. I actually got lucky and was able to use a lower yoke/triple from a k3 gsxr 600. Cut a stem on the lathe and upgraded the neck bearings.
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As sure as Axe body spray smells like date rape, a 19" wheel will cause mucho clearance issues. Not really an issue as I will be changing front and rear to 17".
I like the look of spokes but since this is my bike and I'm the one what has to maintain it, it will have tubeless alloys. 03' GSXR front and a Honda Deauville NT650 rear. Neither of which I currently have.
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No way I was going to attempt to make the top yoke on the Bridgeport. So I called a certain VA based custom shop and got this beautifully machined top and stem nut.
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Next up will be some bodywork and figuring the rearsets.
 

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Good call on keeping a 17" front wheel - from the pics it looks like the spoked wheel might hit your headers under braking.
 

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looks like the 17 might be a problem too, maybe just the photo angle. undo the fork caps and let it drop.

you could get a 16 from a blade or hornet.
 

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let me see if I got this straight:

- Harley dude complains about how cruiser rides, so buys another crusier
- makes changes that are basically only cosmetic and don't actually address previous complaints (you are going to get the wave from HD dudes anyway, I do all the time on the ducati, get over it).
- throws parts at it without fully understanding the effect of geometry on the chassis


yup....all seems smart. carry on.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
looks like the 17 might be a problem too, maybe just the photo angle. undo the fork caps and let it drop.

you could get a 16 from a blade or hornet.
That's a good idea. I put on the biggest 17" tire we had, a 120/90 and at full compression it would just scrub the inner header pipes with the forks near what is to be full lock. With a 120/60 the forks would have to be fully compressed, flexed backwards over 2.5cm and at those same two degrees of turning. I'm no Marc Marquez, so if those requirements were met during riding I think tire rub would be just one more cause of death on the list. I could lace a 16" but then I would probably run into problems with the collector scraping during right turns. Really, this 4 into 1 is kind of a pain. I think it's some crappy Mac exhaust. Just one more thing that, if this bike turns out alright, I would put actual monies into. Nice stainless 4 into 2...
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
let me see if I got this straight:

- Harley dude complains about how cruiser rides, so buys another crusier
- makes changes that are basically only cosmetic and don't actually address previous complaints (you are going to get the wave from HD dudes anyway, I do all the time on the ducati, get over it).
- throws parts at it without fully understanding the effect of geometry on the chassis


yup....all seems smart. carry on.
I was sincerely hoping you personally would comment on what a shitbox I was building! I have read quite a few "build logs" on here, and dammit, I'm actually a fan. You've made my day more than once. That said please allow me the obligatory retort because I feel like my entire manhood has been called into question since someone on the internets doesn't like my bike.*

Harley dude? Not entirely accurate. In my town if your a bike mechanic and you want to actually make enough $ to feed the family you have to work on Harleys. I've asked my boss on numerous occasions to let me take on metric work. This is usually met with the same amount of enthusiasm and disdain as your comment waah!
whatever, I'm building it for me and me only. I've been working on bikes for thirty years most of them professionally so if I don't understand something I know someone that does pal!

Geeto is right though, this is a vanity project. I've tried to make that apparent. Though it is built of spare parts nothing has been thrown together with reckless abandon
*Just playing. That's how these usually read.

So I had time this weekend to start changing those things what hold your feet and started some work on the seat. Yup it has a bum stop even though the frame of this bike has one built in because I like how a painted steel cowl looks on the back of a bike. Originally I had planned on just bracing the frame between the rear shocks but now I'm thinking that I'll bend some tube and integrate an LED strip for run/brake/turn and make a loop out back also.
The guy doing the headwork has told me I should use a catch can for the crankcase vent, but I might just shove some uni foam into the rear downtube and run a line to it, eh?
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A real fan, I'm touched (in the head but you knew that)

here is the point I try to make with everyone: Just because it is a custom doesn't mean it has to be a "Racer". Having the racer mantle comes with certain functional expectations, if you aren't going to try to live up to them then why even emulate it in vanity. Why not instead make the custom bike you are going to actually enjoy to ride? I doubt low clipons and a tank humping riding position really contributes to that.

seems like you are at least checking the clearances and such which is more than most do, so carry on.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
A real fan, I'm touched (in the head but you knew that)

here is the point I try to make with everyone: Just because it is a custom doesn't mean it has to be a "Racer". Having the racer mantle comes with certain functional expectations, if you aren't going to try to live up to them then why even emulate it in vanity. Why not instead make the custom bike you are going to actually enjoy to ride? I doubt low clipons and a tank humping riding position really contributes to that.

seems like you are at least checking the clearances and such which is more than most do, so carry on.
Checking clearances, you will be proud to know I have two Gerstner chests just loaded with feelers, Starrett dial calipers, micrometers, steel rules, edge/center finders...etc. I've been lucky enough to have some better brains show me how at least some of them work.

I don't think the term racer could ever be applied to this thing. I dunno streetfighter? Not quite either. It is what it is, a mishmash of aesthetic and performance enhancing mods. As far as the ergonomics, the Virago is way to small for my big dumb apeish frame, so much that I will regularly sit on the bit** seat. I've literally built this Honda around my body size. Any day I get to ride now is enjoyable! I've been riding this XV around for the past seven years like it was a TZ350 so the Chickenhawk will definitely suit me better especially since my days of long rides are sadly behind me. Maybe this is my mid-life crisis? At least I won't get in trouble for sticking my willy wonka in it and the insurance is lower than a new M5...
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The guy doing the headwork has told me I should use a catch can for the crankcase vent, but I might just shove some uni foam into the rear downtube and run a line to it, eh?
That's an option as long as it vents properly - any restriction will more than likely blow oil up into the cylinders and your bike will look like a 2 stroke from a distance.
 

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you dont need more bracing between shock mounts it will be fine with no hoop at all
i would remove those engine crash bars cause lowered as it is they will ground out quick
ideally you need longer forks somebody out there makes screw in extensions tho
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That's an option as long as it vents properly - any restriction will more than likely blow oil up into the cylinders and your bike will look like a 2 stroke from a distance.
I had told him I was just going to put one of those little K&N pod looking filters on a length of tube and I got the lecture about the airbox being the filter and if he does the porting, and gets the compression
close to 10:1 a small filter may contribute to a blow by effect. He was planning on to put larger valves in but for some reason he said just the intakes. I can't really relay everything he said because he talks
like everyone has a Phd in this stuff. I told him to do whatever he wants because I still have the head that's on the bike now.

you dont need more bracing between shock mounts it will be fine with no hoop at all
i would remove those engine crash bars cause lowered as it is they will ground out quick
ideally you need longer forks somebody out there makes screw in extensions tho
I don't think you'd mess with me about the bracing. When I gave the bike a test ride with these suspension changes the rear would feel a touch ... Hmm Mushy? Not like undersprung more like a underinflated tire.
At the time it had a sh**** Kenda on the back which I no longer have to check if was a radial or bias ply. I realize that with the ridiculous amount of changes to the geometry it's not going to feel dialed in straight away, but I figure eliminating the possibility of frame flex would be a good place to start.
The crash bars are coming off. My boss likes to use tie down straps whenever a bike is on the lift and the bars a perfect place to strap to.
I think Yoshimura made some extended fork caps but I was thinking of getting in touch with someone like Banke Performance or Cognito moto about a top triple that steps down
like these
Billet-Triple-2.jpg billet-triple-8.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Had to take some time away from this project to start on another Honda. 6qpm2C5.jpg
Pretty excited to take an NSR 500 for a ride.
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I had told him I was just going to put one of those little K&N pod looking filters on a length of tube and I got the lecture about the airbox being the filter and if he does the porting, and gets the compression
close to 10:1 a small filter may contribute to a blow by effect. He was planning on to put larger valves in but for some reason he said just the intakes. I can't really relay everything he said because he talks
like everyone has a Phd in this stuff. I told him to do whatever he wants because I still have the head that's on the bike now.


I don't think you'd mess with me about the bracing. When I gave the bike a test ride with these suspension changes the rear would feel a touch ... Hmm Mushy? Not like undersprung more like a underinflated tire.
At the time it had a sh**** Kenda on the back which I no longer have to check if was a radial or bias ply. I realize that with the ridiculous amount of changes to the geometry it's not going to feel dialed in straight away, but I figure eliminating the possibility of frame flex would be a good place to start.
The crash bars are coming off. My boss likes to use tie down straps whenever a bike is on the lift and the bars a perfect place to strap to.
I think Yoshimura made some extended fork caps but I was thinking of getting in touch with someone like Banke Performance or Cognito moto about a top triple that steps down
like these
View attachment 76049 View attachment 76057
that cb350/cb360 33mm top triple(the actual photo) was made by a shop up in wisconsin,... i think wis but for sure its their patrt
they do lots of trik parts for vmx and who knows what else but he advertises as willing to fab one off custom parts as well
as far as frame flex you wont get anything to notice until you push it pretty hard
the front end geometry isnt as radically changed as it may seem cause the triple clamps and the short offset they have gets thr trail back closer to where it plays nice
-the nighthawk forks had more offset and shortening them up a bunch would have impacted trail more
but its not just steering angles ,trail and so on and so forth
its changes in weight ditrubution that may effect a bike as well, to what degree you will find out
leading axle forks are a far superior fork for many situations ,they have lots of advantages and are only outclassed by straight leg forks when the travel needed is short and the machine has a low steering stem(a normal street bike in other words)\
and if the straighjt leg forks are highly precision with low friction bushings in the 2 now standard for all forks locations
but if the bike mfg wants 6'' or more travel and like on a dual sport is deal with a 21 up front there is no comparison
leading axle forks have more overlap which means less flex and much smoother more compliant action
that is why they became standard issue on jap criuisers the high front end demands that superior design on long forked cruisers and mx bikes as well
being a leading axle does nothing negative to a bikes handling because of its basic design ,per say
in fact they impart a lighter feel in slow speed situtuations
doing headwork has zero effect on the engines crankcase breathing needs
leaving that stock is best in my opinion
 
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