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Gas Tank Fitting for a Complete Novice

2609 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  jaguar
Im the new guy.
Not just new to the site, but new to the cafe dream. New to mechanic work, and new to tools that aren't shaping and joining wood. Please forgive me.

I received a project bike for Christmas and need some advice and help.

Its a 1974 Honda XL350 and runs well. Carb rebuilt and engine revamped. What doesn't suffice is the rusted out gas tank. Its a teardrop and is not at all the style i am looking for; and this is where I need help!
The Xl350 has a very v-shaped frame, given that its part dirtbike, which I need to compensate for with the seat and tank given that any serious welding and frame reconstruction is out of the question. How do I know that a tank will fit if I am buying it online? Is there a system in place for the type of mounting or size or distance between the front holding rubber mounts and the screw mount in the back I should be looking for, or should I just be realizing that I will need to get some help and some machine work to get a new tank to fit?

Any help would be much appreciated, any at all regarding my bike, given that I want a cafe/brat style and all I have seen conversion wise is more of a bobber.

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I will try to help.
First, I am not sure what the cafe dream is. Is your only exposure to anything labeled "cafe" internet articles written by hipsters for hipsters that always start with "since such and such was a child, he had a dream to build something that personified his existence as an individual?"
Is it your current plan to build a cafe?
If you want to play, we have to start with the term racer. A "cafe racer" is a bike that has been modified to drive better, often by mimicking race bikes. A lot of the guys on here race. They are not here for looks.
If you are here for help fitting a mojave tank, "brat" seat, and clubmans to the first bike that fell into your lap, and then riding it to the bar with a scarf, leather jacket, and goggles you probably should try
If you are here because you are interested in bikes for what they are and want to make your bike perform better and learn more about how to do that, then we are on the right track.
Now I am new to bikes as well, especially compared to most of these guys, but here is the general advice I can give:
If you have never worked on anything mechanical before, avoid taking on a large project at once. Start with basic maintance items like learning how the points work and how to adjust them. Maybe they could use replacing.
Check your tires, if they need replacing then do so. Do the same with your chain. If your forks are leaking, try replacing the seals.
If your first problem is rust in your tank, then try to remedy that. I have used muriatic acid, and even though its smelly, it works pretty well.
By the time you have checked over the whole bike and made sure it is in tip top shape, you will have probably learned about other bikes while trolling the internet.
If there are fundamental things that you do not like about this bike that you are unable to change, you should probably not spend a ton of time and money modifying it to overcompensate.
Maybe try to sell your well maintained machine and use the money to fund a bike that you like better, and is easy to modify.
If you just got a nice running dirt bike, and have no idea what you are doing with a wrench, I do not recommend hacking different gas tanks onto it without some research and practice first at least.
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