Monday, December 17, 2012

Mud Time

It's winter and I have the binnacle off the VSTAR as the first part of the tear down. Should have pictures as I go. I'm excited to start tearing off paint and getting that dent sorted.

Meanwhile, I also need to get Lindsay's old CT70 running. It's just about all complete but the wiring needs work and I think I need to clean carbs and the fuel line after years of abuse.

Once it is up and running, I'll be looking for a dirt bike of my own. I don't have one and I don't plan to start brand new. I'm not jumping or racing, but I would like something to play in the mud with and to go up logging roads exploring.

Reading the ADV sites, a couple of bikes have my interest even though I'm not a dirt bike guy. Here's the buck list -- or my Craigslist Wish List:

TW200 : Yamaha is still making these -- and have been since I was in high school -- virtually unchanged. They are trail thumpers that are easy to ride, impossible to kill and reportedly very fun to have around. I'm tempted to sell El Burro for a pair of these and get Amy riding with me.

The XL Hondas look just modern enough without looking like a pointy-plastic Asian appliance. The XL600 R would be a great Dual sport, especially if I could find one to restore in the Red-White-Blue of the Paris-Dakar trim. The Red Engines Made 'Em Better. According to the forum on ADVRider, they will keep up with modern 650s for the most part and are actually lighter than the Hondas that came after. I think they'd be a blast on the logging roads or out in the fields. 

NX 250 - 650
These days Dominators are getting chopped up into streetfighters all over the world. Yet, I love their fairing up front and trail bike stance. I think it would be great to have one of these. In fact I almost went south into Oregon to buy an NX250 the week I bought El Burro. 
From ADV rider
Honda Transalp in the form of my teenage dreams.

Rare. Beautiful. This was the motorcycle in the Honda shop when I was a teenager that called my name but I could never take home. They only imported them to the US for a few years, but sold them like hotcakes around the world. Would love to get my hands on one for long range adventure touring. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let there be lights!

I needed a bit more light on the front end this time of year as the sun starts setting later in the day. I picked up some yellow fog light from and some frame clamps. I wired straight into the blue wire so the are always on. The lollipops only come on when turning.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Paint Ideas of El Burro

"I like it red," Amy says and I let that be the last word on a debate going on in my mind.
The inspiration for El Burro?

With the rust and the dents in the tank, the Burro is going to need a paint job, and that's the fun of buying an old bike -- making it my own.  For a few hundred more, I could have had a garage queen, but chose the donkey that had been ridden 25,000 miles instead.

My V-star 650 classic will need a paint job, and like my last build, I want to do it myself. So what color?   Blue or Red Motorcycle? A question as old as time. 

It is red over purple now. I thought a dark matte blue would be cool and even painted the side covers that color, but I also return to my first impressions. When I was driving bike home in the back of the truck I saw it as a crimson and gray tribute to my alma matter - Washington State University. 

I don't want to do a traditional chromed out custom, or a matte black monster. Custom means you take other people's ideas and let the source material speak to you, tell you what it wants to be. My crimson and gray paint scheme will take it's cue form the current Cougar uniforms which are bad ass.  I especially like the gloss gray over matte gray of the alternate helmets - would like to incorporate that somehow.  I even found a website that has the hex numbers for the branded colors, so I can get a pretty good match.

So, now that I've decided on Crimson and Gray - what style? Well, here are some inspirations. This is the bike The New Blood from Deus Ex Machina. I love the matte red and pearl and think my bike would look great with the same style in Crimson and Gray. Deus did an earlier Harley custom with an all gray finish, which is my other main inspiration - Their 1200 V-Twin Cafe Racer.

I also like some of the designs from Shaw Speed - especially the Flatliner and other more retro builds.

Shaw uses bullet lights mounted under the mirrors and I like that look. It cleans up the front end and gets rid of the lollipops.

Brighter LED turn indicators should help make me more visible to a texting driver getting ready to make a turn. The Deus boys tend to hide their indicators, which is fine when you are not battling fog on a "summer" day like today. One the handle bars, they integrate better. Smaller but brighter is what is in my mind for both the front and the rear of the bike.  I can run the electrics from the signals down into the handlebars along with the other wires when I cover the loom. Should look pretty cool, but the test will be when I look at how much work it will be do get rid of the old indicators up front.

Moreover, I have a nice set of passing lamps I purchased from down under. Should I put them on - using the existing light bar, or should I keep the front end clean? Decisions - decisions. That's why I'm happy to let Amy make at least on key choice for me.

For want of a bolt.

It's a convoluted story, so here goes. I bought a fairing off Ebay. It didn't fit the classic, so I sold it to a buddy with a Vstar 650 custom. While I was looking at it, however, I decided to take off the fairing mounts left on by the previous owner. Three of the four mounting bolts came off without a hitch. The fourth bolt was stripped. I spent a day on one bolt. Finally broke the head off, then I started in with the EZ Out borrowed from my father in law. Broke the EZ Out.

So I just bought another tripple tree crown. When I get it, I realize I haven't put the new risers on yet .. and they won't come out of the old one. In fact, even with a "tap" from a hammer, they won't budge. Screw this - ebay - new risers.

By the time they come in the mail, I've missed the better part of a month of riding because of one damn little bolt. I put it all together and it works great ... except I have almost no front brake -- somewhere when the handlebar was off, I lost my brake fluid. (sigh)

These little frustrations slow me down, make me think about where I want to go with this bike, what I want it to look like. I am making it a point to replace every bolt with a new one as I go. Slowly but surely, I will leave this bike better than I found it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Okay so I got some Rustoleum hammered paint and wanted to try it out. I also have these purple side panels on the vstar and I hate purple. I used WD40 and a blow dryer to remove the stickers then scuffed the plastic with some 400 grit. Two layers of the hammered look good but I will probably cover it with a darker color eventually when I do a full repaint. Hard to see in the pics but the hammered does make the plastic look like metal -- I'd call it more pitted than hammered -- but that might be due to temp and humidity where I was painting. I've got to make myself a paint booth before I do the whole rig.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paint Ideas

Not my bike, but I do like green. (Blue Collar Bobbers)
As you can see from the previous post, there is a rust on the tank and a few other places on this bike which I'll have to clean up. The tank itself has a bunch of little dents all over and one big one. As I repair, I am going to need to repaint as well and high gloss paint is not going to be my friend. Instead, I've been looking at some of the alternatives popping up in recent bobber customs. I like bobbers to some extent, the lack of chrome and utilitarian nature in particular. However, every trend in motorcycle building leads to excess.

Blue Collar Bobbers features some nice designs to showcase their kits. I particularly like the paint job on this bike, perhaps because it is so different from anything else I've come across. And, I like green.

My last bike came out blue and gold ... two colors I like and the school colors of Naselle. "Comet colors" my girls say. When I first bought this bike, they both insisted I paint it blue and gold. Here's another from the Blue Collar website that I like.
 From Blue Collar Bobbers.

Of course, getting the white tires might be tricky.  1912 Harley From
Of course, my bike is maroon and purple (although it is so dirty it looks black.) Got me thinking early on about going with crimson and gray of my alma mater Washington State University. I think a gray enamel frame and paint scheme would also hark back to the Silent Gray Fellows of the earlier years ... or not.

The folks down at Deus Ex Machina recently brought back the Harley gray with their wonderful V Twin Cafe Racer custom. I love the muscular nature of this concept, but it is really the gray paint that stands out. Looks almost like a powder coat and I think it would look amazing on the Vstar. Be sure to click the image for closer up views.
Big engine, light weight, no chrome. That's how I like my motorcycles.a powder coat. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

El Burro Restoro Update

New bike stand from Boss Power Outlet on Ebay. It's cheap and works great
I just came inside from tucking El Burro in for the night. The temp is supposed to get down in the 20s tonight and it is forecast to be rainy and blowing in the morning. I've been busy before and after work doing little things and surveying everything that needs fixing. I bought a bike stand - cheap and easy - and a mirror on a stick to check the oil sightglass while riding. I also bought a cover -- since my garage is waterproof but just barely and less so during a big storm. I repaired the  neutral switch which stopped the oil leak. The directions here at  Zia Rider  were invaluable.

 Tonight I changed the oil - very easy, but I noticed a few bolts were missing! Just the engine covers, but I bought some new ones to replace the missing parts anyway.  Next up: Tear down, clean up, rust hunting and adding the sissybar. 
Dents I don't mind. Rust needs to go. I'll pull the tank, strip it to the bare metal like I did with the Honda.
Here's the bike stand in action. 

There are bits of rust you can't see in the pictures. The wiring from the handlebars is rust-stained too. 
This bike once had a windshield - the mounting plates are still on either side of the headlight.
The bike stand made the oil change a piece of cake. Need a long-handled allen wrench set to change the oil filter.
Bolts missing from the the side covers.

For as bad as the dents and rust on the bike. The seats are in great condition.
Rust monster.
I wasn't going to do anything to the binnacle until I realized it was plastic and the chrome was peeling on the  right hand side. Maybe I'll sand it down and paint it brushed aluminum or flat black. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seeing a Man About a Mule

I had just spent all morning answering tough questions in an interview for a promotion at work. I was forced to answer mostly existential character-type riddles. Good thing I do love to prattle on.

When I got out I had two calls to make -- two ads for the same year and same vintage bike, both well within my price range. At the first call, the word was that someone else wanted the bike but had to wait until the next day to get the cash and they would let me know if it all fell through. When I told the wife that I had cash in hand  and was heading right past their house, I got a quick call back from the husband saying that he was going to work but to stop by. I called the other place and got a thick Spanish accent. Of course the bike would be available. I got directions and an address and was told to give a ring when I got to Yelm and he would guide in to where the bike was located. He was in the process of moving, but he would be happy to show it to me.

I picked up some ramps at Lowes and promised my wife that we could use them to borrow her dad's riding lawnmower this summer. Then I called the first guy back again - got a message.

The first bike was about 45 minutes closer. From the Craigslist pictures, it was loaded up with accessories and in good shape. It had over 50,000 miles on it. The second bike was out in the country, it had a dent in the tank, but since these are often starter bikes, they almost all have dents in the tank if they've been around a while. I kind of liked the idea that it had a few scratches, a few things to repair. I wanted to make it my own, if not customize it, and the thought of doing that to a pristine bike made me uncomfortable.

I also thought of the guy who looked at the bike, but had to wait a day to get the cash together. I would hate to swoop in and steal it out from under him. Bad Karma.

I arrived in Yelm and followed my GPS down descending dirt roads to a lane tucked in behind the great horse ranches that dominate the area now. At the end of a long dirt road was a yellow shop and a mobile home. The shop was big - the kind designed with truck sized doors for semis or yachts. It was surrounded by old cars and motorcycles. Off to the right stood a clean by tiny mobile home with a tidy grass lawn and a statue of the Virgin Mary out front. There was no gravel driveway, just some ruts in the lawn.

There stood Roberto next to a red motorcycle. Roberto was older with gray hair and a gray beard and round wire-rim glasses. He worse a gray sweatshirt. He seemed mildly befuddled by the whole situation. He told me he had the bike for three years, and that the dent in the tank was there before he bought it. He said he had ridden the bike on several long trips without problem but does not ride anymore.

He showed me all the paperwork, title, a shop manual that looked like it had never been opened. Service receipts -- the most recent from Sept. when he had the carbs cleaned, rejetted and synced and the front wheel alignment checked.

The bike was dirty, and sitting in a muddy lawn. The seats where in good shape, but the paint and wiring showed signs that at one time it had been stored outside in the sun. A Texas license plate clip indicated that it had not spent its whole life in the Northwest. The bike started right up, the clutch worked. The seat and ergos were very comfortable. I gave him the cash while he filled out the title transfer.

The next problem was how to load it. I had my eyes open for an embankment or ramp I could back up to, but everything in the area was pretty flat and fenced. I asked Roberto and he said with the ramps, he could get his friend to help.

Roary pulled into the driveway a few minutes later behind the wheel of a restored white 1970 Corvette. He was tall with a OD fatigue jacket and blonde ponytail sticking out of the back of his black ball cap. He wore jeans and lugged Harley Davidson boots. His Aussie accent was unmistakable, but it also sounded like he'd been in the states for some time. While I struggled with my new ramps, he looked at us like we were both idiots. Since he was wearing the HD boots, he lead the loading effort -- even showing me how to shoehorn the long bike into the truck in a way that let me close the rear tailgate.

As I drove away, I had that buyers self doubt I always get when I make a big purchase. After all I was making this decision alone, after a mentally taxing morning. However, the bike ran, and had a reputation for being bulletproof with an air-cooled V-Twin married to shaft drive. Yamaha makes durable bikes and this one was known to be able to take a lot of abuse.

I got it home and we broke off a turn signal unloading it, but still it rode fine and the coordination required to clutch and shift started to come back to me on the ride home from Amy's dad's place. I took a few pictures in the driveway and it looked like read vintage warrior in the mud and gloomy sky. An old Army Mule -- not pretty, but ready to move out when ordered.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New wheels for a retread

I found a new motorcycle and snagged it for a good price. It was discounted because it had a dent in the tank ... Since this my first big boy bike, I don't mind.

Friday, January 13, 2012

So I sold my CB400A. I was thinking about getting a new bike. I love my CB400, but would feel better having something more recently minted for long distance rides to Longview and Portland. Also, since I've never owned a manual transmission motorcycle, I really need to learn to ride with a clutch.

I just barely mentioned this on Facebook one day in the Honadamatic owners group and instantly had a buyer. John Paul down in Portland wanted it, so he could let his wife take over his 1979 CB. The Hondamatics are perfect for him because he has a bum left ankle. I've always thought the Hondamatics would be great rides for people recovering from left side injuries since you don't need to clutch and barely need to shift.

I had planned to drive it down in the back of the truck on Sunday, but forgot to get the title out of the safe deposit box. The weather was sunny and so that meant one more ride around the valley and through the covered bridge.

When I told the girls I sold it, they were crestfallen - particularly Grace. I had promised Grace that she would get a ride when she was old enough to rest both feet on the rear pegs. About two weeks ago when I was working on the bike, she climbed on and for the first time she could touch both pegs. We suited her up in Lindsay's helmet in gear and rode up to the Rosburg Store for some candy. She had a blast. Then I gave Lindsay a ride around the valley and through the bridge. The bike is so easy to ride and it purred.

At the church we loaded it up. It was hard to see it go, but the new owner was giddy with excitement when we arrived. He is turning into a collector. "I've determined never to sell them, since they are getting so rare." He had an appointment at his motorcycle shop for a tune up and safety check that day and posted pictures of it in the garage next to his other Hondamatic.

I'll still stay tuned in to the Hondamatic forum. They are great bikes and I continue to promote them. Of course, now the question is, what do I ride next?