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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys,

I have been looking for a wider higher set motorcycle for a few years now and i recently stumbled upon the single rear spring Virago Cafe Racers and would like to build one myself. Here comes the problem. I have never worked on motorcycles before in my life (though I have been working on cars for years; primarily high performance engines and transmissions). Where would you guys recommend I start? I would assume motorcycles are aren't too different than cars, but in all honesty I don't know. Any help would be awesome.

Thanks in advance,
-esk
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lol... I'm looking for a place to learn more about motor cycles in general before I begin... I also need to finish putting the transmission back in my 1974 VW Beetle first (30min job max once it finishes raining :rolleyes:)... Any books, or websites you would recommend I would check out to get a decent handle on motorcycle parts such as how to mount rear sets and such? I can ask how to do the more specific things like convert the front forks to fit a rear wheel later :p
 

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I would start by going through this website and reading every post that interests you before asking for such a widespread question. I"m not sure the Virago would be on my list of go to of bikes to start a cafe build with. It would be way below starting with a Harley Davidson Sportster which I proved could be done to the dismay many naysayers. But them I thrive on being told "it can't be done". Read all the threads here and understand the attitude you will be dealing with , learn to accept it and you will be off to a good start.
 

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I am we'll aware of how hated they are, but with results like these (granted I am no where near as good ad these guys are) how could I resist? Plus that is the stance I have always wanted from a "vintage" looking bike :)







all made from one of these :D

 

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Now why didn't Yamaha think of that? Those are some nice examples some beautiful bikes made from what I consider one of the ugliest bikes made. i live by the notion that there is no box, your imagination is your only limitation. You have some good examples there to start your build with. Good luck. I will say one thing about all those bikes and that is I am not a fan of bike fat tires.
 

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actually eskamobob - you are wrong. SOME viragos are hated, others not so much and one was even raced competitively back when it was new (by dave aldana in the 1980s). However, out of all those bikes you are fapping to, I think only two started out as that piece of shit cruiser you posted, the rest were xv920s (known as the TR1 in europe) - the standard yamaha built but sold few of. Also I don't think you have any idea what goes into any of those bikes, it is a lot of work for a mediocre result.

the chain drive xv920 we are talking about is this one:



plus all this talk about stance and look means you really don't get it. Let me put it this way, imagine I came to your datsun 510 club meet and talked about how I wanted to build an autocross and track 310 cherry with 13" wire daytons and candy flake money green paint. once you stopped laughing and saw how serious I was I am pretty sure you would say it is a dumb idea. that's kinda where we are at here.

incidentally, this isn't a new idea - there was a guy in the 1980s who used to sell a vincent dress up kit for these bikes to fake look like a vincent.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Lol... I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of motor cycles is extremely limited... All I have is what transfers over from my experience with cars... Also, from what I can figure out the only one bassed off of the 920 is the green build (last pic)... That said, the only difference I can find between the 500, 750, and 920 is that they have different sized motors (same frame from what I can find) and that the 920 had an electronic monitoring system

As for your example of how crazy this is, I don't get it in the slightest :p... The main reason of this post is to find a place where I can learn more about motorcycles before I even get the bike to work on... I won't even have time until the beginning of next school year. I just figured I should get a head start as everyone I know works on cars, but not motorcycles :)... And if you are worried about my mechanic skills, they shouldn't be a problem since I both already own a car that needs to be worked on every time you turn around, and that I work at an auto fabrication shop... The stuff I don't already know how to do, I will be more then happy to learn :)

@marc
Those wheels are one of my favorite part of those builds :rolleyes:... I actualy hate the look of most modern motorcycles and prity much all bobbers, but I have always loved the look of cafe racers :)
 

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Lol... I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of motor cycles is extremely limited... All I have is what transfers over from my experience with cars... Also, from what I can figure out the only one bassed off of the 920 is the green build (last pic)... That said, the only difference I can find between the 500, 750, and 920 is that they have different sized motors (same frame from what I can find) and that the 920 had an electronic monitoring system

As for your example of how crazy this is, I don't get it in the slightest :p... The main reason of this post is to find a place where I can learn more about motorcycles before I even get the bike to work on... I won't even have time until the beginning of next school year. I just figured I should get a head start as everyone I know works on cars, but not motorcycles :)... And if you are worried about my mechanic skills, they shouldn't be a problem since I both already own a car that needs to be worked on every time you turn around, and that I work at an auto fabrication shop... The stuff I don't already know how to do, I will be more then happy to learn :)

@marc
Those wheels are one of my favorite part of those builds :rolleyes:... I actualy hate the look of most modern motorcycles and prity much all bobbers, but I have always loved the look of cafe racers :)
The bike will not handle as well with those big tires as it would with normal sized tires.
 

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you aren't going to learn anything from the internet. You think you are but you aren't. Here is what you do: Buy a motorcycle. Want to know what kind of motorcycle to buy we can help you with that (not a virago). Want to know where to start here is where you start: buy a motorcycle that runs, is ready to ride, and ride it. Don't buy a style bike like a chopper or a crusier, or an adventure bike, or any genre specific bike. Just a standard like any pre 1984 japanese superbike, or an sv650, or a ninja 500, etc... then put rubber to road. Don't mod it, don't fap to fake cafe racer pron, just ride it.

The thing you are looking for is what you actually enjoy out of the hobby. Basically what kind of riding do you want to be doing all the time. what is enjoyable. You will begin to answer this question right about the 1000 mile mark, and if you are doing it right you will never fully get an answer but will think you have answered it many times.

ca va?

don't put the cart before the horse, you are literally a year away from doing anything remotely looking like those terrible viragos. terrible? I hear you gasp? yeah they fail at being motorcycles, but they are pretty. that's the poseur trap. It's easy to make something pretty, very difficult to make something worthwhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The bike will not handle as well with those big tires as it would with normal sized tires.
Having always ridden bikes (motorcycles and bicycles) have had tires on the bigger side so I didn't question much, but that makes sence for sure.

you aren't going to learn anything from the internet. You think you are but you aren't. Here is what you do: Buy a motorcycle. Want to know what kind of motorcycle to buy we can help you with that (not a virago). Want to know where to start here is where you start: buy a motorcycle that runs, is ready to ride, and ride it. Don't buy a style bike like a chopper or a crusier, or an adventure bike, or any genre specific bike. Just a standard like any pre 1984 japanese superbike, or an sv650, or a ninja 500, etc... then put rubber to road. Don't mod it, don't fap to fake cafe racer pron, just ride it.

The thing you are looking for is what you actually enjoy out of the hobby. Basically what kind of riding do you want to be doing all the time. what is enjoyable. You will begin to answer this question right about the 1000 mile mark, and if you are doing it right you will never fully get an answer but will think you have answered it many times.

ca va?

don't put the cart before the horse, you are literally a year away from doing anything remotely looking like those terrible viragos. terrible? I hear you gasp? yeah they fail at being motorcycles, but they are pretty. that's the poseur trap. It's easy to make something pretty, very difficult to make something worthwhile.
Thanks you very much for the advice. This is exactly what I posted here to find out. Building the bike I never saw a problem, but I didn't realy think about getting comfortable riding it. I learned to drive on a 600HP 6 speed with a hand clutch. That said, it's a lot different to learn on a powerful car then a powerful motorcycle. Thank you for the advice :) (btw. Is there a rep button I can't find on this forum?)

Lastly, seeing as I don't know much about motorcycles other then the engine mechanics and such, other then the massive wheels, what is it that makes these motorcycles "bad" (not arguing as you guys all know a lot more then me on this topic, just curious)

EDIT:
@Big
What are you talking about? :p

@monkey
I wish that were in every situation... Would make building cars about 100x easier :p
 

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Hey Guys,

I have been looking for a wider higher set motorcycle for a few years now and i recently stumbled upon the single rear spring Virago Cafe Racers and would like to build one myself. Here comes the problem. I have never worked on motorcycles before in my life (though I have been working on cars for years; primarily high performance engines and transmissions). Where would you guys recommend I start? I would assume motorcycles are aren't too different than cars, but in all honesty I don't know. Any help would be awesome.

Thanks in advance,
-esk
does someone here for years just start these things for entertainment value?
Have been a member for about 1/2 year now and think that multiple someone's "plant" these from time to time.. ;)

Eskamobob1: ... just ride it and look for a better bike to convert to cafe.. Virago is not an ideal choice , its more of a bobber, bomber, chopper type of bike.. my 2 cents
 

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you aren't going to learn anything from the internet. You think you are but you aren't. Here is what you do: Buy a motorcycle. Want to know what kind of motorcycle to buy we can help you with that (not a virago). Want to know where to start here is where you start: buy a motorcycle that runs, is ready to ride, and ride it. Don't buy a style bike like a chopper or a crusier, or an adventure bike, or any genre specific bike. Just a standard like any pre 1984 japanese superbike, or an sv650, or a ninja 500, etc... then put rubber to road. Don't mod it, don't fap to fake cafe racer pron, just ride it.

The thing you are looking for is what you actually enjoy out of the hobby. Basically what kind of riding do you want to be doing all the time. what is enjoyable. You will begin to answer this question right about the 1000 mile mark, and if you are doing it right you will never fully get an answer but will think you have answered it many times.

ca va?

don't put the cart before the horse, you are literally a year away from doing anything remotely looking like those terrible viragos. terrible? I hear you gasp? yeah they fail at being motorcycles, but they are pretty. that's the poseur trap. It's easy to make something pretty, very difficult to make something worthwhile.

Every new member should be forced to read this before they join! Great response.
 

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EDIT:
@Big
What are you talking about? :p
The tank off all those bikes is a Benelli Mojave tank. Every man and his cat wacks them on every bike. But since moto what's their names built the virago thing, it's that tank and a nitrohead seat.

Buy a decent bike. Buy some modern tires. Make sure your brakes and suspension are up to scratch.

Read this a million times. Then practice.

A Twist of the Wrist: The Motorcycle Roadracers Handbook: Keith Code: 0636648000029: Amazon.com: Books
 

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OK, Eskamobob ( BTW, many of the Yup'ik and Inupaq people consider the term "Eskimo" to be a perjorative and prefer to be referred to by their language group),
Where are you located? That is helpful since lots of us like to cruise Craigslist and Ebay to provide helpful leads to prospective bikes.

Yamaha made 2 versions of their air cooled 750-1000 V twin the XV920R is the only one that is chain drive. It would be the best for the basis of a custom bike. It is not common, but is available. The shaft drive version, either 750 or 920 is cheap and common. It has horrible wheels, shocks and forks, but that can all be changed. They are also all limited to shaft drive, which is OK if you are aware of the limitations, you will be limited in rear tire width and you can't convert to chain drive without considerable expense or machining and welding skills. I think I understand what your desired look is and I think you can get that without sacrificing function for the sake of the look. Here is what I think would work for you depending on your skill set, budget and access to equipment.

1. Wheels - get a rear from a spoke wheeled Virago 1000 or 1100. Send it to Buchanans or order a set of spokes from them and a 17" 4.0 or 4.5" aluminum rim. Then fit on a 150 or possibly 160 rear tire. This combo will not fit until you notch and then plate the swing arm on the drive shaft tube side to clear the tire. For the front, replace the whole front end with one from an FZR600 or YZF R6 and use the front hub from an XS650, again laced up to a 3.5 x 17" rim, so you can run a 120 x 17 tire.

2. Shock. The stock shock does not use a linkage and is fairly short, so I would try something like a Ninja 650 shock to start with and see if it can be made to work.

3. Once you get the shock in and forks set up, you can then either make a new subframe to put your seat where you want it or you can adapt the subframe from a current model sport bike and bolt on a racetail for it. I would take a look at Airtech and see if any of their current model stuff looks like what you would like and can be adapted.

4. Fuel tank. I like the stock Virago tank if it has the angle changed so the bottom line of the tank is parallel with the ground when the bike is sitting on its new suspension with its new wheels and tires. The Mojave tank is the same old Benelli tank from the 60's that every "Custom Builder" thinks they discovered, cause it has a nice shape with factory knee indents. It is uver used and cliche at this point. Same goes for the CX500 deluxe tank. Just don't do it.


That will be a good start for you. The 17" tires will look big enough and be the right sizes for proper handling. The rear shock and R6 forks will give you the suspension and brakes you will need. There is still a tone of work to be figured out with seat, pegs, bars, guages, etc to keep you plenty busy, not to mention carbs, pipes and fixing the starter.

Good luck, do your due diligence before you ask specific questions and some of us may help you out if we feel like it.

Ken
 

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I had a virago 700. It was a nice ride with drag bars on it. Hated the stock handlebars. Never tried to cafe it. The geometry would have been alot to overcome, the engine had too many quirks and most of all the carbs were a M-A-S-S-I-V-E PAIN. I still shudder when I think about working on those. If you want a bike with a higher stance you don't have to go virago.

Could you do it? Sure! But go into it knowing that it will cost you much more money and frustration than the courses already suggested.
 

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Good luck finding a 920. Yamaha shipped most of the 920's originally shipped to the US to Europe, where they had a niche market. The 920 was never intended to be a performance motorcycle. It had a mild motor, a long wheel base and a huge gas tank, i.e. it was a long-legged tourer at heart. Its drive train differs from the rest of the line, being the only non-shafty in that pack as I recall. The 920's drive was, as far as I know, unique. It was a chain enclosed in lithium grease.
 

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Mr. Eskimo, please find, enroll, and complete and MSF RiderCourse in your area before you proceed any further. (Cue the "I took an MSF course and it sucked/didn't learn anything/I got yelled at" chorus) Regardless of what you THINK you know, there is always something else you NEED to know.

Then go buy a bike. I suggest a mid-eighties Honda Nighthawk S or a Gen 1 FZ1 (2001-2005). Good for taller folks.
 
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