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Stay with the stock forks, or go new?

  • Stock forks.

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So when I first joined this forum, I didn't really know what I was doing or looking for. And I know realize I walked in here with my head pretty far up my ass. I joined a couple more forums, looked at a LOT of builds, and really took a look at what I want my bike to do.

I now realize that to me, cafe racer is a style, but shouldn't completely throw handling and performance out the window. I want to build for looks, but those looks sure better be able to deliver what is expected or else they are useless. I'm not a racer, I wont be running 120 mph everywhere, but performance is important. You can have the best looking, bad ass moped anyone has ever seen, but it's still a moped. So now I know, ask performance based questions on a performance based forum. Save the styling questions for a different audience.

Ok, sob story apology over. Time to get back on track! So I got myself an 82 xv920 virago recently and have the bike torn down and waiting for powder coat and paint in the workshop. I was looking at the front forks and wondering if there was a better, modern day options. Those forks are 33 years old! Can I gain anything in the handling department by switching up for a new set of forks, or is it better to just give the old ones a once over? If new(er) is my best option, what would you guys suggest? I was looking at a set of 2000 r1 forks but I didn't know how they would effect the bike.

I'm not made of money, so something that would work with little modification would be best, but I'll listen to what you guys have to say first before I go doing anything.
 

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I would go for a Bandit 1200 front end. They are conventional style forks (not USD) which IMO fits in with the style for a period bike. They are also a bit longer than your newer sportsbike USD front ends so that's a bonus.

The steering stems are the same diameter (30mm at the bottom, 25mm at the top) so you can use the Virago bearings. Should be pretty easy apart from steering stops and a shim or two to adjust for the different stem length.

Get the entire front end. Every man and his dog are chasing R1/GSXR/CBRR/ZXRR USD front ends so a Bandit front end should be comparatively cheap to come by.
 

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Yep, the 1200 Bandit forks would be a good option. The Bandit wheel and the brakes would even work pretty good on the XV.

Danger, is my business."
 

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The bandit front end is a good choice but I wouldn't poo poo the R1 either. If you could find an inexpensive set I feel it lends itself to the look of a 920 cafe.......not to mention keeping things "Yamaha".

There's nothing wrong with looks. We all like what we see and make personal notes on what we would like to incorporate. It's only when a person makes a bike dangerous for the sake of asthetics that it's a no no. And of all the more modern 80s bikes folks are cutting up and making them into abortions of what they once were.......the Virago imho is a better candidate. Classic v-twin, sleek.......the very thing the original cafes were way back in the day.

Post some pics of your bike. Good luck.
 

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The bandit front end is a good choice but I wouldn't poo poo the R1 either. If you could find an inexpensive set I feel it lends itself to the look of a 920 cafe.......not to mention keeping things "Yamaha".

There's nothing wrong with looks. We all like what we see and make personal notes on what we would like to incorporate. It's only when a person makes a bike dangerous for the sake of asthetics that it's a no no. And of all the more modern 80s bikes folks are cutting up and making them into abortions of what they once were.......the Virago imho is a better candidate. Classic v-twin, sleek.......the very thing the original cafes were way back in the day.

Post some pics of your bike. Good luck.
An R1 front end is probably far too short to function properly. All the dumb ass builds by guys like Hageman and " whatever their brand is ", does not make fitting short USD forks a good idea. Even the " I'm not racing " excuse does not cover up too little ground clearance and cornering clearance, weirdness under brakes and twitchy high speed steering.

A XV was never " classic or sleek ", and with it's weird firing sequence, it doesn't even feel like a V -twin, honestly. It always was a lame, heavy, underpowered soulless cruiser lump, and still is. Even the TR-1 and the XV920 was just a cruiser playing sports bike dress up. It really is nothing at all like a café bike Triton or a Gold Star BSA, in form, in function or feel: not even close. I've ridden a few of the XV models, BTW, and I was amazed how long, and slow they are. A CX 500 seems like a serious sports bike in comparison, and that's a bit of a miracle.

I don't mind a good XV build, but get real here.

Danger, is my business."
 

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A XV was never " classic or sleek ", and with it's weird firing sequence, it doesn't even feel like a V -twin, honestly. It always was a lame, heavy, underpowered soulless cruiser lump, and still is. Even the TR-1 and the XV920 was just a cruiser playing sports bike dress up. It really is nothing at all like a café bike Triton or a Gold Star BSA, in form, in function or feel: not even close. I've ridden a few of the XV models, BTW, and I was amazed how long, and slow they are. A CX 500 seems like a serious sports bike in comparison, and that's a bit of a miracle.
R1 being a little to short......yes. I will not argue the points on its performance but consider this......

With all the 82 GPZ cafe or GS whatever or for that matter any later cb.........a clean 920 cafe is more true to the roots of cafe than any gs1150 or Interceptor or 84 KZ700 or whatever. Sleek? In comparison....yes. Classic?.......also yes in comparison. With the exception of early CBs........cafes were singles and twins. With that in mind a Savage 650 is more of a cafe than an XS1100.

With that said.....I have never ridden a virago. I have ridden a vision 500 many years ago....I think an 82. Nice bike.
 

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Those forks are 33 years old!
Old doesn't matter as long as they were properly serviced and maintained. Remember, they may be aged technology but tech doesn't move as fast as your think and this package was designed by an engineer who was paid to sit in his cube for 40 hours+ a week and figure out the handling using math.

Can I gain anything in the handling department by switching up for a new set of forks, or is it better to just give the old ones a once over?
Can you gain? yeah probably but it is not a guarantee. You still have to do the math behind it and figure out what works. Giving the forks a "once over" (which I assume means a rebuild, tune up, and upgrades where available) isn't a bad idea if you are lazy and don't want to do the engineering legwork. If keeping the old, remember upgrade everything from the tire to the fork fluid, including the springs, the damping, brake pads, lines, and if possible add cartridge emulators (don't know if your stock forks are cartridge forks).

If new(er) is my best option, what would you guys suggest? I was looking at a set of 2000 r1 forks but I didn't know how they would effect the bike.
Before you do anything else, you need to figure out a few measurements:
- Rake
- Trail
- combined wheel and tire height
- fork height
- triple tree rake
- triple tree offset
- triple tree fork width
- Front wheel width
- Rear wheel width
- neck bearing sizes
- stem height

Once you have those numbers you can start to look for a modern USD fork that will bring you close to the stock numbers. Typically when people swap front ends they use the whole front end from the tire to the tree, so you want to get in your mind how much is bolting up a new modern front end is going to change the handling geometry.

I'm not made of money, so something that would work with little modification would be best, but I'll listen to what you guys have to say first before I go doing anything.
most people playing with bikes aren't wealthy. the secret is to be resourceful. and patient. these things take time. Some guys spend years sorting out a bike (riding it the whole way because how else are you going to know if you are making positive changes). If you can't wait, bolt it back to stock.
 

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R1 being a little to short......yes. I will not argue the points on its performance but consider this......

With all the 82 GPZ cafe or GS whatever or for that matter any later cb.........a clean 920 cafe is more true to the roots of cafe than any gs1150 or Interceptor or 84 KZ700 or whatever. Sleek? In comparison....yes. Classic?.......also yes in comparison. With the exception of early CBs........cafes were singles and twins. With that in mind a Savage 650 is more of a cafe than an XS1100.

With that said.....I have never ridden a virago. I have ridden a vision 500 many years ago....I think an 82. Nice bike.
Your logic is flawed.

I talked to a guy I know in the street a week or so ago. In the middle of his talk, everything he said made perfect sense. Then I walked away thinking everything he said was total nonsense.
Your lines of logic are very bizarre.

A KZ700 is more like a real old GP racer like a M.V. Augusta, than any V-twin Yamaha cruiser.

A 650 Savage is nothing at all like a sports bike or café racer, I've ridden them, they're a good bike, but they are not a sporty café bike by any standard.

The XS1100 was serious race - winning endurance superbike years ago. The XV's would hardly have ever turned up at a race track, I say.

You have to see what bikes were used for back in the day, not what they look like now.

Danger, is my business."
 

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Your logic is flawed.

A KZ700 is more like a real old GP racer like a M.V. Augusta, than any V-twin Yamaha cruiser.

A 650 Savage is nothing at all like a sports bike or café racer, I've ridden them, they're a good bike, but they are not a sporty café bike by any standard.

The XS1100 was serious race - winning endurance superbike years ago.
My logic is impeccable and never flawed.....just misunderstood.

The OP doesn't desire a serious - race winning endurance superbike or gp racer.........he desires a cafe styled theme..........however.....

As gentlemen.......we are going to have to agree to disagree.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Witworth, yeah I hear that the r1 forks lower the front end quite a bit. Somewhere in the range of 3" if I'm not mistaken! And Geeto, will do with the measurements. I know for a fact that the PO did NOT take very good care of the bike, he painted every speck of this bike rattle can metallic fleck black and by the looks of it never changed any of the fluids other then the oil. The seals look to be intact, but are showing signs of dry rot and small rips.
 

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you could try early r6 if you want right side up forks. i think they're fairly long for a sports bike, and they're a proper cartridge fork.

otherwise, fit emulators to the originals, or have a suspension specialist who knows the forks modify them for you. they will do emulators and maybe a few other tricks. you just need to find the right specialist.

spring them correctly for you and the bike, and you can play with oil height to alter the full compression spring rate if required. i'd ride it with zip ties around the leg and make a journal of how much travel you use in normal riding and the occasional big hit. then you can work from the old springs to give you a new rate and what sort of travel range you'll be using. no need to use a heap of travel if it's sprung well. and you might be able to get rid of a heap of sag, depending on how it is now.
 

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you could try early r6 if you want right side up forks. i think they're fairly long for a sports bike, and they're a proper cartridge fork.

otherwise, fit emulators to the originals, or have a suspension specialist who knows the forks modify them for you. they will do emulators and maybe a few other tricks. you just need to find the right specialist.

spring them correctly for you and the bike, and you can play with oil height to alter the full compression spring rate if required. i'd ride it with zip ties around the leg and make a journal of how much travel you use in normal riding and the occasional big hit. then you can work from the old springs to give you a new rate and what sort of travel range you'll be using. no need to use a heap of travel if it's sprung well. and you might be able to get rid of a heap of sag, depending on how it is now.
Good enough advice for sports bike made after 1990, but no real use for the old, long and flexy XV frame setup. I doubt forks much better that good condition stock ones would make any appreciable difference to the handling of the bike, if at all. Probably the best mod to make the bike handle better would be a harder rear spring, most mono XV's have a saggy and soft rear shock spring.

Danger, is my business."
 

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R6 front end will fit but you'd have to run 2 x XV bottom bearings (the R6 stem is 30mm top and bottom). Not sure if the R6 forks are any longer than Bandit ones (I doubt it). You'll need as long a sports fork as you can get for a Virago frame. Bandit springing would probably be better suited to the XV weight than the R6 would be.

R6 has better calipers though.

Go here and see what other options you have:

Fork conversion All Balls Racing
 

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Yep, the 1200 Bandit forks would be a good option. The Bandit wheel and the brakes would even work pretty good on the XV.

Danger, is my business."
Cool .. would that Complete front end 1200 bandit front end would work smooth on a Yamaha Virago 500
 
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