Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not for U.S. consumption: The Honda CB 400ss.

From the 35th Tokyo Motorshow

"Lightweight Handling and Thumping Big-single Torque.

The CB400SS is a sporting single in the finest tradition. Wearing new colors, it now projects a new image. A new electric starter added to the traditional kick-starter make this middleweight thumper easy to start, and the buffed pedals and kick-starter are quality details that every enthusiast can appreciate. Now equipped with HISS*(Lightweight Handling and Thumping Big-single Torque.

This customized model dresses out the CB400SS in the image of a more stylish classic café racer using off-the-shelf parts combined with a distinctive rocket cowling, aluminum tank, solo seat, and reverse cone muffler- a new direction in the café racer genre, and a sure hit on the street bike scene."

the other Cafe Racers-Cafe Racer Filmworks.

"Café Racer Filmworks is a dynamic new production company led by two seasoned veterans with experience in numerous genres of visual media, from reality TV to feature films, documentaries to dramas. That collaboration has already created an imaginative roster of projects that is innovative, budget-friendly and audience winning.

Our specialty: fresh approaches to story-telling and direct communication. Café Racer's goal is straight forward: to deliver inspired and highly inventive fare, without the bureaucratic morass that's all too familiar -- and inefficient. While the bottom line can't be ignored, our primary emphasis is always on creating the finest finished product for the most lucrative demographics. Our edge over the competition is that we follow through every step of the way, from the concept to the completed project. Not just on the executive producing level but in the trenches as well. Every phase is controlled and overseen directly by the principals. We don't farm out our work to others who don't share either our vision or our work ethic. With those we do hire, all share the enthusiasm and expertise that guarantees a better product. The adage "I don't care what they are like as long as they get the job done" is not acceptable. We invite you to work with people with passion."

When in South Carolina....Clemson Cafe Racers.

click on the banner to go to the Clemson Cafe Racers homepage
"In the early 1970's a unique motorsports convergence occurred in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the college town of Clemson and the mountain gateway town of Walhalla. A group of motorcycle enthusiasts gathered who favored the performance machines of the day which were at the time motorcycles manufactured by Norton, Triumph, Ducati, Moto Guzzi and BMW. No doubt the proximity of some of the best motorcycling roads in the southeast was a contributing factor. A long summer afternoon could accommodate a 100 mile ride up through Walhalla to Highlands or Clayton or Cashiers with a little bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway thrown in for good measure. A good Saturday or Sunday ride might see a dozen or so riders in black leather and scarves carving up the curves. Some of these roads are now listed in the must rides for sport riders in a number of publications, but we'll never give away our favorites. A number of the motorcycles were the most sophisticated that money could buy at the time. A not insignificant portion of our number pursued racing in the newly formed WERA. We had rallys and poker runs and "meetings" always with a little chaos thrown in. But at the finish line, everybody involved enjoyed a spirit and a camaraderie and an insanity that made Clemson Cafe a once in a lifetime experience that a few lucky individuals had the opportunity to experience."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Your Cafe Racer picture of the week:

From the Italian Cafe Racer Blog: Otto Nero

From the Return of the Cafe Racers blog: The Yamaha SR 400/500.

I recently saw this great write up of the Yamaha SR500/400 on the terrific Cafe Racer Blog: The Return of the Cafe Racers. So I will let our friend from down under describe this great little bike in his own choice words:
pretty cool right out of the box: The SR500

"Originally modeled off Yamaha's first true "big thumper", the XT500 which gained popularity through it's success in the Paris Dakar, the SR400 set up has been around since 1978. The earlier SR 500 became a legend as one of most reliable and easy-to-maintain motorcycles ever built. I was sold till 1999 and Yamaha enjoyed huge demands in Germany and Japan, until new noise and emission regulations signalled the end of the big air-cooled single. The SR400's being produced and sold in Japan today differ slightly from the earlier SR500 versions of the bike with a shorter stroke and heavier muffler to comply with tight emission laws. Powered by a 400CC four stroke single producing 27Hp (19.73kW) @ 7000RPM the bike is not what you would call an amazing performer but all up it's a solid set up and a good performer.

Aesthetically the bike hasn't changed much since it's conception and as such oozes retro classic appeal in todays market. The original SR500 look was designed to have a "strong family image and a strong link to our (Yamaha's) first four stroke, the XS 650 twin, which was also inspired by British design at first." Like the W650 the SR400's classic Brit bike looks have gained it a huge popularity in Japan and as such you can find parts for almost any type of custom conversion you may desire. Searching online will return examples of SR400 based Cafe Racers, Boppers and Street Trackers that will make any motorcycle lover drool. Here a few examples of beautifully customised SR400's I found online...

Here's a few links for those wanting more...
Yamaha Papercraft Oragami SR400
Super cool Official Yamaha SR400 website - The aptly named SR Cafe (Japanese only)
Yamaha Japana's line up of custom parts - Y's Gear
Deus Ex Machina SR400 Grievous Angle Cafe Racer
Deus Ex Machina SR400 Manx
Deus Ex Machina Sr400 TT

If you're looking to get your hands on a Yamaha SR400 in Australia, once again the guys at Deus are importing them so get your orders in now!"

Official of Japan brilliant SR500 cafe

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Honda's future cafe racers ?

Honda is ready for the 40th Tokyo Motor Show, which will be held from the 27th of October till the 11th of November 2007. And right now, they're giving you a sneak preview of what you can perhaps expect from Honda in 2008! The prototypes you see above CB1100F and the CB1100R - stand a good chance of going into production next year.

The two bikes are powered by 1100cc inline-fours and while the CB1100F (above) seems to be a modern interpretation of a traditional 1980s UJM("universal japanese motorcycle"), the CB1100R (below) which looks totally brilliant- It has that 1980s, Freddie Spencer era Japanese cafe racer cool and we so love this bike. Awesome!

More details will follow as they become available. In the meanwhile, you can visit the Honda website here.

From Faster and Faster:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vintage 1999: The Laverda Black Strike 668 Cafe Racer.

From the Laverda factory web site: March 1999.

"As any true Cafè Racer, the Laverda Black Strike 668 has a 650/668 has a non-conventional look. It is all black and the only other colours are the white background of the instruments and the silver grey. An elegant and sporty combination that highlights the uniqueness of the Laverda Black Strike 668 Cafè Racer. They were manufactured in an exclusive series of 50 numbered-distinguished by a special plate and certificate of originality, and was very well received and sold extremely quickly.

"The air and oil cooled Laverda 668 engine delivers 70 HP and has been submitted to a large variety of upgrading and improvements. It has a new engine head, the cylinder liners have a new grinding, the pistons and the piston rings are new as well, the oil circulation circuit has been redesigned to improve cooling and lubrication at the same time, the oil pump has a larger flow and the crankcases are the same of the 750 c.c. versions."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lets go shopping: The Tank shop.

John Williams of the Tank Shop makes these superb
polished aluminium petrol tanks to spec order only
All tanks come with a baffle to stop the fuel moving
and filler cap i.e. Aero, Monza, Italian or alloy screw cap.

Rickman Z900 tank £350

T140 Triumph tank £350 Manx alloy seat £150

Flat Tracker Tank £450 Mudguard - (long pictured)

Unique seat with twin custom lights tunnelled into the back.
Cost depends on shape of lights and time involved.

A very special Vincent: the Vincati.

From Cycle World october 2006 by David Edwards

"What makes a custom a custom and a special a special? Hard to say for sure, but generally the latter involves an engine swap. We all know about “Tritons,” with their built Triumph Twins in the famously good-handling Norton Featherbed frame. And, of course, that rarer, costlier derivative, the “Norvin,” featuring a hulking Vincent V-Twin somehow shoehorned into the same cage (perhaps, as our own Allan Girdler has suggested, with a whip and a chair?). And who can forget the “Nortley-Fartster,” a Harley Sportster motor housed, again, in a Norton Featherbed?

To this convention of crossbreeds let's now add the “Vincati,” a 998cc Vincent Vee slotted into an early 1970s Ducati 750 GT frame. As you can read in the current October issue, we sent Peter Egan to ride a freshly cobbled Vincati, the creation of Vincent specialist (some would say legend) “Big Sid” Biberman and his college professor son Matthew.

The duo wants to build a limited run of Vincatis at (wait for it…) $100,000 a copy. For those kind of clams, you can buy a pristine stock Vincent and the best Ducati GT in the world, but, hey, nobody said building specials was an exercise in rationality."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar: The NSU Hammock.

From the amazing and really interesting FFMCC (feet first motorcycle club)
"NSU produced a couple of prototypes from 1954 to 1956 as part of a speed record breaking project designed and ridden by Gustav Baumm This was so succesfful that they started an exercise to turn it into both a road bike and a GP racer. Unfortunately, the FIM introduced some very restrictive fairing rules for racing and the progress of M/C deisgn took a very different turn. It's amazing to think that if this had not happened, we might all be riding this sort of thing today."

Gallery: Thruxton JP's "SR400 Sports M1 Road-Bomber Replica"

Ah, Italy in the spring: The Italjet Amarcord.


"Gracefully retro: This is the best definition for the new incredible creation of Leopoldo Tartarini, founder, president, as well as inexhaustible source of creativity and innovation at the company.

Amarcord leaves you speechless right at first sight, thanks to its retro styling, its futuristic and timeless look, and its brand new technical solutions (rear suspension system).

Its intriguing look is paired up by its driving style: You drive an Amarcord as if you were in the 1920`s, but with the addition of excellent comfort and the guarantees of a state of the art 150cc 4T engine.

Scootering Nov 2001 said: "This motorcycle was styled to look like a single cylinder Italian motorcycle of the 1920's..." This machine is in the final stages of development at the Italjet factory and will be available in the spring.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Carpy on the history of the Seeley 750.

Carpy's 78 Seeley 750 Honda

Carpy of 750 Cafe writes of the Seeley history:

"Between 1975 and 1978 The English company Colin Seeley International was
responsible for 300 neatly crafted SEELEY HONDA'S with CB750 engines
and other running gear. The majority of the Seeleys were supplied as chassis kits,
to which engines were added. But a number were commisioned asComplete Motorcycles, using brand new Honda's as Donor bikes.

Former Sidecar GP racer Colin Seeley had founded his own marque in the
1960's to build road racers around single-cylinder OHC 350cc AJS and 500cc
Matchless engines, to which he had aquired manufacturing rights. After the British Single cylinder machines became outpaced by the New japanese two-strokes, Seeley decided to embark on a CB750-based project in the winter of 1974-75.

He purchased a K2 which was brand new and set about re-working it with the
aim of creating a top-quality road-legal motorcycle that was better looking
and easier to work on than the standard CB750.

A tailor made frame was designed, to be made by Seeley's welder Jack Wren,
in the same light guage reynolds 531 tubing as the Seeley racers. Of duplex cradle layout, it was well braced at the steering head, which contained taper roller bearings and was set at 28 degree's. The rear swingarm featured the simple and precise chaine tensioning system
devised by Seeley racers and substantial sheet-metal gusseting supported its pivots.

The earliest of the series of these cafe racer motorcycles retained many
original Honda parts and components, including the instruments, front forks,
brakes, exhaust system and sometimes even the seat. However, Seeley subsequently produced racer-style single and dual seats to match his handsome 20 and 25 litre aluminium petrol tanks, and used various proprietary parts. Kits were added to covert F1 and F2 models, as well as the K series of Honda's.

Cast alloy wheels were sourced from Campbray in the UK and later from the US
company Lester, when Seeley became it's UK agent. Other American components used on some machines were Hunt plasma-coated aluminium brake discs, Jardine exhaust systems and S&W rear suspension units.

Seeley also devised his own four-into-two exhaust system and his frames were
usually finished with nickel-plate, although an F2 powered limited edition sported an unusual but eye catching White enamel frame.

Some of the Seeley Hondas sold as complete bikes, and had US US-sourced
big-bore kits giving capabilities of 810 and 1,000cc.

Although some UK dealers, Including Read-Titan, were distibutors for the
costly Seeley honda, most examples were exported to a total of 12 countires.
For the German market, where a significant number of kits and machines were
sold, the necessary TUV approval was obtained.
Seeley also negotiated imports to Spain, despite the countries embargo on
fully Japanese motorcycles.

Like Seeleys Racing machines, the re-framed Hondas were well noted for their
superlative roadholding, elegance and exclusivity."

On Ebay: The 76 Kawasaki KH500 Cafe Racer.

Edited for size from The Hotrod homepage.

Up for auction on E-bay is my HIGHLY modified Kawasaki “KH750″ Cafe Racer. Old School Style with the help of Modern 2-stroke Technology….

It has taken the better part of 4 years getting this bike to what it is today…. Plenty of trial and error, a ridiculous amount of time and money, and a HUGE supply of help and advice from the good guys on the KTW (kawasakitriplesworldwide) forum. The bike has gone through 3 major transformations, all a step in the right direction, and finally ending up as you see it in these Photos.. An ultra lightweight (nearly 90 pounds lighter than a stock H2), ROCKET of a two-stroke street bike!!! I have almost enjoyed building it as much as riding it, and luckily I’ve been able to ride the bike in the Mountains surrounding Deals Gap for 2 years in a row….Not to mention all of the back road riding here in Minnesota chasing (sometimes leading) friends on modern sportbikes and old two-strokes alike.

1. Lightened ‘76 KH500 frame…. the final year 500 Triple (KH500) frames came from the factory with headstock gusset plating and extra corner bracing which greatly helped ridigity. Frame was thoroughly de-tabbed, and shortened, (15+ pounds of unnecessary weight removed from frame alone) Frame was then Powdercoated “Satin” black

2. Aluminum FZR400 swingarm…. Mono linkages removed and 3 position “dual shock” tabs welded in place. Allows for shock angle and ride height adjustments in addition to adjustability of shocks themselves. Swingarm then De-anodized and polished. New pivot needlebearings were installed as well.

3. Works Performance shocks…. Dual rate, valved and sprung for 175-180 pound rider. These shocks work wonderfully on this bike!

4. Front fork…. Stock H2, with Progressive springs. Lowers powdercoated black. New seals and dust boots. Caps are custom road-race Billet extensions that allowed for mounting clip-ons above upper triple clamp without sacrificing fork travel.

5. Fuel tank…. Late ’60’s British Aluminum Thruxton or Triton style “Cafe” tank cut and modified to fit KH500 frame. New Billet Aluminum “pop-up” cap installed including vent hose to catchbottle which eliminates vent leakage under hard cornering. Pingel petcock. Graphics on fuel tank are 3M vinyl and are easily changeable. This is actually the 2nd color scheme I have had on the bike. The bike spent a year in “Candy Green” before deciding on Black when I added the Gold Sun wheels last year. Fender and Tail section are all that needs paint if you do decide to change the color yet again. I will include a few rolls of different colored vinyl for you to experiment with if so inclined.

6. H2R style fiberglass tail section…. Cut and modified to fit KH500 frame. Seat and side areas reinforced with additional fiberglass for strength. Storage compartment is accessed through perforated aluminum panel (shown in video), which is attached via Velcro (light weight!). Tail houses Oil-Injection filler cap (tank located beneath tail), and is still large enough to carry tool kit, spare plugs, etc. Seat Padding is 1″ closed-cell foam and believe it or not, it isn’t as uncomfortable as it looks….. Riding position is comparable to most modern sportbikes, with a little less weight on the wrists.

7. Aluminum (Vortex? i cant remember?) Clip-Ons…. doweled into top triple-clamp to eliminate possibility of rotation on hard braking and acceleration.

8. Sidestand… shortened ZX636 Ninja…. 1/3 the weight of a stock “solid” sidestand.

9. Rearsets are modified Raaske… to be honest, this is one of those things I intended to eventually upgrade and still a bit rough around the edges. Modern ZX Ninja, Honda CBR, Yamaha R1, R6, Suzuki GSXR style pegs would save a bit more weight and look a lot better. Shift lever is a single unit (KV75) mounted directly to the shift shaft. This eliminates ALL possibility of slop through linkages for more positive shifting. Shifting does require a bit more “force” as leverage was lessened, but once used to it, shifting becomes 2nd nature. Brake lever is cable to drum as described below.

10. Stock H2 steering damper…. in excellent condition and works well.

11. Stock H2 triple clamps (lightened) with new tapered roller bearings


1. Sun Gold Anodized 18″ Aluminum rims (2.15 front 3.5 rear) laced with stainless Buchanan spokes to lightened S3 400 rear hub and KH500 4-bolt front hub. All hub and brake components powdercoated “Satin” black

2. 520 DID X-ring chain conversion with Sprocket specialist “Titan Tough” hard anodized aluminum rear sprocket. 16/51 or 3.18 (stock H2 being 15/47 or 3.13). 16 tooth countershaft sprocket used to gain chain clearance around larger FZR400 swingarm pivot tube.

3. Bridgestone BT45 Battleaxe tires (140/70-18 rear 110/80-18 front)

4. Rear Brake is stock A1/A7 (lighter than S3 unit) drum. This brake is nothing more than a road-race spec “Hill holder”, as there isn’t a lot of leverage with the Raaske brake pedal/cable set-up.. No Matter, as I do not use rear brake unless riding in rain or dirt… This bike obviously wasn’t ridden in those conditions. (save for getting caught in a rainstorm at Deals Gap 2 years ago). If you are a “Rear Brake” type of guy, you will definately need to address this…

5. Front brake…. Nissin Master (Sudco), Stainless braided brakeline, rebuilt Nissin EX500 caliper with EBC HH pads.. MORE than enough brake for this bike during spirited street use. Will lift the rear wheel under hard braking.

6. Front rotor is stock KH500 (4-hole) that has been lightened. Drilled and thinned to 5.5mm.

7. Speedometer is a magnetic sensor (Stingray) Bicycle Computer. Battery recently died in this unit, so I purchased a new Sigma Computer to replace it. The stingray was only good to 120 mph any ways and needed upgrading. The Sigma is good to “as fast as this bike will go”, which is definitely higher than 120. Buyer of bike will get the new Sigma in box and ready to install.


1. Early ‘74 H2b engine cases w/rare factory aluminum slugs. Slugs removed and cases then fited with Suzuki GT750 “silentblock” rubbermounts. Takes away ALL of the nasty H2 engine vibes, and makes the bike a pleasure to ride long distance. Oilpassages drilled to accept ‘72 H2 cylinders and early (better) ‘72/’73 oil injection system.

2. ‘72 H2 750 high-cut cylinders… Cylinders are on 1st overbore and have been ported to a “Stage 2″, which I was told is similar to Denco 120 specs (crank hp)

3. Aylor Engineering Reed Valve kits installed to bring back all the missing “bottom end” which happens when any amount of portwork is done.. Kits feature Boyesen Dual Stage reed petals and modified Wiseco pistons. Probably the best “Drivability” modification done to this bike. The engine is just as happy putting around at 2000 rpm as it is screaming past 8000+. Engine no longer exibits any amount of typical “H2 surging”, and has excellent throttle response even from low RPM’s.

4. Heads… Outer heads welded for strength. Heads beautifully machined by Chuck “Supertune” Quenzler in Florida to modern specs. Combustion chamber design, squish, volume info sent to me from Leo M. in the Netherlands, who is always on the leading edge of Kawasaki Triple technology.. Static compression is at +/- 150 PSI, and runs perfectly (without detonation) on regular 91 Octane pump gas.

5. Transmission was sent to Mark Doucette at R&D racing transmissions in Florida, a foremost authority on high performance Motorcycle dragracing and roadracing transmission. Parts received magnaflux and roadrace spec back cut on all 5 gears. Shimmed to better than factory specs using all new shims and clips.

6. Clutch is stock H2 w/full Barnett spring and plate package.

7. Project-H2 Sytech clutch actuator makes clutching a 2 finger affair, even with the 5 Barnett springs. New cable.

8. Stock “early” H2 oil-injection system with stat-o-seal crush washers. Oil pump cover drilled and “sight window” installed so you know at a glance that the oil injection cable is working (a common failure on these bikes)

9. Mikuni TMX35 Flatslide carbs.. These carbs have AMAZINGLY “crisp” throttle response when coupled together with the Reeds and Chambers. Still set up a bit on the “rich” (safe) side of things, but once again.. I like my engines to last…. One thing these carbs will probably need is new “lighter” gauge springs made. These carbs are originally designed for modern single cylinder 250 Moto-X bikes (cable pulling on only one carb), so 3 of them together requires a bit of force from your throttle hand. I just got used to it.. You can tell by the looks of the right handgrip.. lol

10. Neville Lush (Australia) designed expansion chambers. Mild Steel cone kits rolled by Leo Molenaar (Netherlands), and assembled to fit frame by myself and good friend Pat Foner, who is a locally renowned bike-builder in his own right. Pat and I have well over 20 hours into cutting/welding/fitting these pipes to the frame for maximum cornering clearance. Old-School welds were purposely not ground down or cleaned up as a tribute to the roadrace pipes being built in the late ’60’s-early ’70’s…although these pipes are Substantially FATTER/BETTER than the skinny chambers of yesteryear…. I have been applying “Mop-N-Glo” to these a couple of times a year to keep the rust away.. So far so good. I was going to have them ceramic coated, but the “RAW” bare steel just works with the rest of the bike. Pipes are a “Torque” designed pipe for EXCELLENT streetability. I’d guess they are making max HP around the 8200 RPM mark and sign off well before you hit 9000. No reason to over-rev an H2 on the street. Crankshafts last MUCH longer that way. Silencers are modified DG “Ovals” held in place by moto-x spec “Moose” clamps. Silencers are Lightweight, and not overly loud, but still retain that wicked H2 howl when you’re “on it”.

11. Crankshaft was sent to Damon Kirkland (”the crank god”) of Dothan, Alabama for FULL rebuild. Crank was fitted with newer style “slotted” rods, new Factory Kawasaki Seals (now NLA) and new bearings.

12. Engine covers (clutch, stator, oilpump, countershaft) all Powdercoated “satin” black. Shift and kickstart levers were also Powdercoated.


1. Ignition system is primarily “Stock” H2 with the exception of the Neville Lush Mini-coils, which offer higher output at 1/3 the weight and space. New non-resistor plug caps and wires. CDI box is stock H2. Stator is NOS (new old stock) H2. Kill switch located in hidden toggle. Wiring harness custom built to accomodate only those things necessary for spartan street use.


1. Headlight is PIAA Diachronic 55w beam. Extremely bright, lightweight and compact. Remote on/off switch mounted to side of Tachometer. I did not modify the headlight wiring harness when installing, instead tightly bundling it up and locating it under the headstock gusset plates along with the inline fuse.

2. Tail/Brake light is LED, which is also Extremely bright and lightweight. (brake light is only operated from Master Cylinder switch as I do not use rear brake)

3. Charging system is as stated above…NOS. Has stock (late model H1/H2) Voltage Regulator/Rectifier and Bat-Pac Battery Eliminator Capacitor.

ALL of the ignition components are located beneath the fuel tank (barely). Coils are fixed via an aluminum jacket and zipties, and CDI box and Voltage R/R via small brackets. This bracketry is meant to be solely utilitarian, and cosmetics weren’t an issue being mounted beneath the tank. “Pretty” brackets will be up to the next owner.

4. Tachometer is cable driven “tiny tach” and is back-lit for night use. I had originally planned on updating to a Vapor Trailtech or Acewell style digital Tach/Speedo unit, but with a cable driven tach, it gives you peace of mind knowing that the oilpump is spinning since the tach and oil-pump are driven off of the same gear set.

5. As stated before, Speedo is magnetic pickup Bicycle computer. New Sigma included in sale, but needs installing.

6. There are NO turnsignals on this bike as Minnesota allows the use of hand signals.. Check with your State. Turnsignals wouldn’t be terribly difficult to add to the system.

7. There is also NO horn on this bike. Another thing that could be easily added at the expense of more weight.

I’m not going to go into any more individual detail, but there are MANY other subtle changes and modifications I have made to this bike over the last 4 years..all of which were done to improve its everyday “Ridability”…. As it stands right now, the bike/engine has approximately 5000 miles on it, and it is as dialed-in and set-up as it has ever been.. As for what it needs? Nothing really, but a new owner that is going to respect the power and capabilities of this machine. Even for a 30 year old design and frame, this bike is VERY fast, fun, and exhilarating to ride..all of the modifications (especially the huge weight reduction), giving it a very confidence inspiring feel. It is solid as a rock up to and well above 3-digit speeds, even bent over in corners. I am not a good enough rider to explore the limits of what this machine is capable of.. I do know that I have owned CBR’s, FZR’s, Ninja’s, and currently have a ZRX1200 as my “push button” bike.. NONE OF THEM come close to the sensation of riding this motorcycle. That said, This bike is NOT recommended for anybody but an experienced rider/mechanic that understands how a 2 stroke works and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when something breaks. It is a 2-stroke. Something will eventually need attention. You can count on it.

I suppose I should touch briefly on Cosmetics… I did not build this to be a “showbike” or “trailerbaby”. It was built to be RIDDEN, and if so desired.. RIDDEN DAILY..for hours at a time.

It is a true testament to “Form Following Function” and in my humble opinion turned out to be a beautiful machine. There are however, the typical small scuffs, scratches, nicks, dings etc associated with building a “New” bike from mostly “refurbished” parts. It has NEVER been dropped in the time I have had it. Up close and in person it resembles a very nicely kept racebike..Speaking of which, if it were safety wired, I’m sure this bike would do VERY well on the track with an experienced rider aboard. Like I said before….I am VERY happy with how it turned out, as it far exceeded my expectations of what a 30 year old bike is capable of….Not only cosmetically, but functionally as well. Even though the bike represents well as-is, it could use a thorough detailing as it has spent more time being ridden than being polished. I honestly only dusted it off for these photos….

So why am I selling it? Well, I have another “Custom” H2 project waiting in the wings that is going to take some serious time and financial dedication to get started (and completed). If I had deeper pockets, I would not even consider selling this bike, and up until a few months ago, you couldn’t have offered me any amount of money to buy it… But things change, I’ve come to terms, and I’m ready to move on. Bottom line is that I cannot afford to keep this and start another. It would cost you well in excess of $10,000 (parts and outsourced labor alone) to build this bike. That doesn’t begin to include the 100’s of hours (seriously) of labor, design, parts sourcing, fabricating, tuning, and maintaining that I have into it.."

Friday, September 7, 2007

Innovation: Craig Vetter's 1968 Suzuki 500 seat/tank combo.

From Craig

"I took this bike drag racing at the Indy 1/8 mile drags. It was light. I was light. We were very fast.
One night after the heats, I parked it next to a beautiful, customized Triumph Bonneville that I had just dusted off. To my disappointment, nobody seemed to be interested in my slick design. Turns out it was too slick. It made your eyes zip right off onto something else. Anything else! Like the more complicated looking Bonnie.

When it came time to redesign the BSA Rocket 3, I made sure that it would stop your eye. That is the basis of the distinctive "Z" profile."
Vetters seat on display at the AMA's Hall of Fame Museum

Vetter has recently just started a new blog: Craig Vetter on motorcycle design. be sure to check it out,-it could be most interesting.

Dave Hartleip's Ducati Monza 250 Cafe Racer.

Another great score from the Kneeslider.

"This bike was a literal barn find that my brother and I stumbled upon in 1975. The farmer gave it to us, and we spent the next 18 months rebuilding it into a cafe racer. We sold it to a high school friend, who rode it a couple times before the bevel drive shaft blew apart. He put it in his Dad’s chicken coop and forgot about it. I saw him at my 25-yr high school reunion and he told me the bike was still in the coop. I bought it from him, and completely rebuilt it with many additional modifications, including: Modified frame to accomodate stainless steel underseat exhaust, homemade rearsets, gas tank from a Benelli Mojave, laser cut stainless tank badges, handmade seat and steel tailcone, etc. etc. I finished it right before the 2005 AMA Vintage Days at Mid-Ohio, where it won “Best of Show - European Motorcycles”. Ducati was the marque brand that year, so it was very special to win. I never planned to show it, mainly I just wanted to see if i could build a custom bike!"

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The alternative: The Yamaha XS650.

From Bikernet. and originaly reprinted from "Cycle World" magazine March, 1979

"A lot has been said about tradition, about how the Yamaha XS650 sounds and feels like the British vertical Twins that dominated motorcycling in the 1950s and 1960s. Present-day cynics weaned on multi-cylinder bikes say that the Yamaha vibrates and runs rough. Compared to a Four or Six, that’s right. But within the context of being a vertical Twin without dynamic balancers to offset the natural vibration of two large pistons pumping up and down, the Yamaha is remarkably smooth. Not only is the Yamaha far smoother than the old British Twins, but it is in every way a modern motorcycle.
So while it can be argued that much of the Yamaha’s appeal lies in the traditions of its powerplant, it is also true that the XS650 is a big seller for reasons unrelated to fond memories of the past. Reasons like low initial price, easy maintenance, handling, styling.
And more esoteric reasons.
It’s the sound, as much as anything. Hit the starter button and the engine growls to life with a subdued roar, then settles into the loping gait of a large vertical Twin, the sound of an even series of cylinder explosions separated by flashes of silence.
It doesn’t purr or whine or mumble. It idles, the handlebars and front end moving with the engine pulsations, trembling in anticipation of the ride to come. It sounds like a motorcycle, not a two-wheeled Porsche; and feels like a motorcycle, not an electric golf cart. You can hear and feel the source of power, gasoline explosions encased in iron and aluminum and steel. The rider, like it or not, is involved in the reality of the machinery.
That reality starts with the 653cc SOHC engine, which is slightly oversquare with bore and stroke of 75 x 74mm. The 360° crankshaft uses three roller bearings and a ball bearing, and drives the clutch via spur-cut gear. Rod big ends have needle roller bearings, while bushings are used in the small ends. The camshaft rides on two pairs of single-row ball bearings and is driven at half crankshaft speed via a roller cam chain. Combination cam follower/rocker arms open the valves: valve lash is maintained by conventional adjustable tappets. Ignition points are driven off one side of the camshaft. Transmission is five speed. Two 38mm Mikuni constant vacuum carburetors feed the beast. The rider has his choice of starting methods, kick or electric. Weight with a half-tank of fuel is 481 lb.
Because the Yamaha 650 is a traditional sort of engine there has long been talk of its heritage.
The engine does have a heritage, but it's not the one most often mentioned, the Triumph 650 Twin. That engine was extremely undersquare (71 x 82 mm) and had two camshafts operating pushrods and rocker arms plus many more detail and conceptual differences. The only real connection is that both were vertical 650 Twins.

The Yamaha’s line of descent actually reaches back to 1955 and the Hosk SOHC 500 Twin, which in its day was the only Japanese motorcycle capable of running with the fast British machines of the period. Along its path into the motorcycle business Yamaha acquired Hosk, so that’s where they got the basics for the XS650, introduced in 1970.
The days when Twins were the fastest motorcycles are long past, but the XS650 turns in a respectable performance in class, with a standing-start quarter-mile of 13.86 sec. at 96.05 mph. That elapsed time is the same as the best recorded by the 1978 Triumph Bonneville 750, which turned 13.86 sec.; and better than the 14.14 sec. turned by the Kawasaki DOHC KZ750 Twin. The XS650 is also quicker than the Harley-Davidson 1000cc V-twin Sportster (14.22 sec.) and the 1979 BMW R65 flat-Twin (14.31 sec.).

Taken within the context of a motorcycle marketplace dominated by multi-cylinder motorcycles, the XS650’s performance doesn’t fare as well. But even though it isn’t quicker than the Fours in the same size category, the XS650 Twin does hold a few aces. The Yamaha weighs more than the GS550, 481 lb. versus 466 lb., but is far narrower in engine case width, 15 in. for the Yamaha compared to 21 in. for the Suzuki. In the case of the Kawasaki KZ650, the Yamaha is both lighter and narrower than the Kawasaki’s 493 lb. and 21 in. of case width. The Yamaha actually weighs 7 lb. more than the Honda CB650’s 474 lb. with half a tank of gas, but is narrower than the Honda, which measures 20 ¼ in. at the cases.
Besides being narrower than competing multis, the Yamaha also carries its engine weight lower. That lower center of gravity means that the XS650 can be flicked from side to side and can change direction more easily and quickly than the Fours. It means that the Yamaha feels lighter in traffic and at speed, and steers faster. The difference a lower center of gravity makes shows up dramatically when the rider is cutting through traffic, a time when the ability to make quick lane changes is desirable. The narrowness of the engine also makes riding between lanes of a traffic jam (in states where that’s legal) less nerve-wracking-the Yamaha can fit through a tighter space with more clearance.
More than drag strip times and numerical comparisons of engine width and motorcycle weight, it is such actual riding experiences that reveal the most about a motorcycle’s character.
The XS650 has a broad powerband and runs easily at low rpm. Starting at 2000 rpm and shifting up at 4000 rpm feels natural and is enough to run away from traffic. Below 4000 rpm. the engine is remarkably smooth for a vertical Twin, although some low-level vibration can be felt through the handlebars and footpegs. Even so, the mirror image is reasonably clear. The bike makes its best power above 5000 rpm, but low-frequency vibration increases dramatically above that engine speed and can be felt through the seat as well as through the rubber-mounted bars and pegs. In spite of the fact that the KZ750 Twin has dynamic balancers to theoretically reduce engine vibration, the XS650 actually vibrates less at higher rpm than the Kawasaki. The Yamaha is also smoother than Triumphs we’ve ridden.
An indicated 65 mph requires about 4200 rpm, and at that engine speed the machine is smooth enough that our riders could stand a long day in the saddle without discomfort.
A long day wouldn’t make the rider’s arm or wrist sore from holding the twist grip open, because the Yamaha doesn’t have excessively strong carburetor return springs. Besides making life a little easier for the rider’s throttle arm, the butterfly-throttle, vacuum-piston Mikunis also have a lot to do with the Yamaha’s excellent gas mileage. The bike averaged 51.4 mpg on the Cycle World test loop, a mixture of city and highway riding and did marginally better (51.6 mpg) in constant-speed high- way riding; That means an XS650 ridden at an indicated 65 or 70 mph on the highway can travel about 200 miles before the fuel tank runs dry. Even during the hardest highway running, the Yamaha delivered 46.8 mpg, a figure some multis couldn’t reach at a constant 40 mph.
But back in town the carburetors contribute to an annoying amount of driveline snatch, especially when creeping along in first or second gear with traffic. It is impossible to accurately control engine speed at very low rpm in the lower gears and the bike won't stay at a steady speed. Instead, the machine wants to constantly accelerate or decelerate - a constant state isn’t attainable.
Accumulated transmission gear engagement dog tolerances combine with the low-speed carburetion inaccuracies to cause the Yamaha to jerk back and forth as throttle is applied or released. The trait can be compensated for by careful use of the throttle and clutch, but idling smoothly along-in gear and with the clutch out isn't possible.
The transmission which has proven itself during the XS650’s lifetime requires a firm foot on the shift lever. It doesn’t clunk, but is a bit hesitant to slide from gear to gear. The transmission works, but won’t earn praise for effortless or slick shifting.
The only time the clutch demands notice is immediately after a cold start. The clutch squeals and squalls at the engagement point, grabbing and making smooth starts difficult or impossible. The noise is caused by inadequate initial lubrication of the clutch basket bushing, which is only stressed when the clutch is disengaged. After a few minutes of running, oil reaches the bushing and the squall disappears. A Yamaha spokesman said that XS650s have always had that peculiarity, but that it isn’t harmful.
The bike starts easily even on cold mornings if the correct procedure is followed. The “choke” lever actually activates enrichening circuits in the carburetors. With the “choke” on and the throttle left closed, the XS650 starts quickly. But the motorcycle won’t start if the throttle is opened at all.
By removing the passenger grab strap and substituting a grab rail behind the seat, Yamaha engineers improved the XS650’s seat a great deal. Seat grab straps have a nasty habit of being positioned just where the solo rider wants to sit, making the seat less comfortable at best and often numbing the rider’s butt during long rides. The 1979 version of the 650, thanks to that simple change and also the suspension, is the most comfortable XS650 so far. Fork compliance is good. With a 140-lb. rider and no baggage, the rear shocks are too stiff, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Suspension action on both large and small bumps is above average. The only chassis flaw encountered during highway testing was a tendency for the Bridgestone Super Speed tires to follow freeway rain grooves and produce a slight front end oscillation noticeable through the handlebars.
In sporting use the XS650 acquitted itself well, largely because of its low center of gravity and ability to turn quickly without requiring a lot of rider force. Instead of having to lift the bike up - as is the case with many street bikes - from one side and throw it down on the other side to make fast left-right transitions (as in ess curves) the rider can accomplish the same thing with far less effort. Simply put, the Yamaha Twin responds to rider input quickly and easily. Only the fastest, quickest - entry turns produced the barest hint of a wallow with the shocks at the lowest preload setting. At the highest speeds it is capable of attaining, the XS650 handles almost perfectly. Ground clearance is excellent, and only the hardest riding is likely to drag parts. On the left side, the side stand scrapes. On the right side the footpeg and muffler bracket mount bolt will scrape, but only at the point at which the tires slide and lose traction. When the bracket bolt touches down, the rider better be ready to try a flat-track-style slide or else abandon ship. It takes an extreme lean angle to get into that kind of trouble.
The single front disc feels strong and is controllable, but we had problems keeping the rear drum from locking during panic stops (for braking distance tests). Rear brake control under normal conditions wasn’t a problem. Front brake effectiveness is limited by tire adhesion - the brake can deliver more stopping power than available tire traction can handle. Finding the point of maximum deceleration while avoiding lock-up is not difficult.
Instruments, lights, controls and electrics are all what we’ve come to expect from Yamaha. They work, and work well. Turn signals are self-canceling. Instrument illumination at night is especially good. The numbers on the speedometer and tachometer appear white during daylight hours, but glow a subtle orange at night. Readability is excellent and so is speedometer accuracy: indicated 60 mph is actually 59.36 mph.
The fact that motorcyclists today are not surprised when a bike has reliable electrics and readable instruments and easy-to-use controls shows just how far motorcycling has come since the days of British dominance. Old-time Triumph owners never bought one replacement part - they bought two.
The XS650 really isn’t very much like the Triumphs and BSAs of old. It’s a modern motorcycle, refined and honed and civilized, and it does what it does very well."

Craigslist treasures: 1981 Puch Cafe Racer.

Recently spotted on The Bay area Craigslist is this brilliant 81 Puch Moped Cafe Racer. It has a two speed auto. Aluminum rims, cafe race bars, bap muffler and adjustable shocks- a snip at a mere $850.00 or best offer. See the full ad here.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ode to the Dustbin Fairing:

Edited for size From RoadRacerX

Airtech Streamlining's Dustbin fairing on a MV Agusta 175

"Dustbin fairings were banned by the FIM in the years after WWII. It was a period of increasingly restrictive rules, as forced induction (i.e., turbo-charging and supercharging) was also banned. Nominally, the fairing rules were put down to ensure that motorcycles had adequate steering lock and were not imperiled by crosswinds. The truth is probably that the rules were British punishment for the Germans’ starting the war and the Italians’ role in it; the restrictions definitely extended the useful life of the British racing singles that made up the bulk of 350 and 500cc grids.

The rules that define legal motorcycle fairings have hardly been revised since. Both wheels and the rider need to be pretty much fully visible when seen from the side. I think it’s time to toss out these rules in MotoGP. If the rules were binned, it would not be long before we’d see a return to full—dustbin-style—fairings.

Airtech got this from a purchase of old molds that were from Greasy Dick Kilgore's Fibercraft. This beautiful dustbin fairing is fairly narrow but has worked on singles, twins singles, twins and four cylinders applications

Here’s why I think dustbins are an idea that should be saved from motorcycling’s, er, dustbin:

First, the original reasons cited for banning them no longer make sense, if they ever did. The steering-lock argument was a canard; race bikes need very little steering lock and in fact they get safer with less of it, not more. As for crosswind stability, that’s a problem that contemporary wind-tunnel testing and aerodynamic modeling should make entirely solvable.

Second, fully faired bikes would be a modern sponsor’s dream. Seamless rolling billboards with lots of logo space would make it easier for MotoGP teams to defray costs by attracting outside money.

The third reason is the most important; wide-open fairing rules in the prototype class would make MotoGP bikes and superbikes visually distinct. Although I am loathe to draw too many analogies between cars and bikes, the clear visual separation between Indy Cars and NASCAR, between F-1 and touring cars or rallying, between Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, have all helped to build audiences who understand that both sides of those pairings are “top” classes in their own ways.

Right now, only real aficionados can tell the difference between superbikes and MotoGP bikes at a glance. Not only that, the two classes will tend to converge as manufacturers homologate production bikes with styling cues (those new shorty exhausts for example) and fundamental engineering (such as mass centralization) inspired by MotoGP research and development. If proddie machines echo MotoGP bikes, production-based superbikes inevitably will, too.

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the relative popularity (and viability) of Grand Prix racing and Superbike racing wax and wane. Right now, MotoGP seems dominant, but that championship faces rising costs (and the threat of shrinking grids). Although there are those who say that decreasing displacement to 800cc in 2007 won’t have any effect on speed, I think it will, at least at the more technical tracks. By contrast, World Superbike winter tests on new-gen Pirelli tires suggest that we’ll see some overlap in MotoGP-Superbike lap times. If the two championship’s bikes look the same and are equally fast, it’s vital that fans can see significant differences to avoid a situation in which our sport’s audiences cannibalize each other.

That said, at least at the faster tracks, the fairings would help MotoGP bikes make distinctly quicker laps, too. That would be good; it would emphasize the fact that ten million extra bucks buys something in the way of performance. But, it wouldn’t hurt superbikes; they couldn’t be blamed for not being as fast as the obviously space-age prototypes.

In the long run, I continue to believe that the best future for our sport is one with two equally prized road racing championships—a World Superbike Championship for production-based motorcycles (perhaps with even more restrictive rules than we currently apply) and a MotoGP Championship for wide-open prototypes.

Fans shouldn’t have to choose which championship they follow, any more than they have to choose between food and wine. The two should complement each other. Superbikes’ popularity will always hinge on the fact that fans can easily relate to racing on bikes like the ones they ride. MotoGP bikes should not just apply prototype technology, they should look different, too. Bringing back dustbin fairings would be the easiest way to achieve that goal."

The Manchester Online review of the Voxan Cafe Racer.

From Manchester Online:

VOXAN have been around for nearly ten years, but financial problems and a corporate restructure have kept them out of the UK until now.
There are three Voxan 1000 models about to be launched as the French company sets up its UK dealer network. The bikes are the Black Magic Roadster, Street Scrambler and the Café Racer. All of them use the same basic chassis and 996cc V-twin engine.

The first thing that strikes you about the Voxan Café Racer is the meaty engine. It's a smooth, torquey motor, producing about 100bhp at just 8000rpm. Digital fuel injection keeps the throttle response rapid, although there was some popping on the over-run. It isn't as fast as a 999 Ducati, but it does feel potent enough.

The motor is set very low in the chassis, which comprises of two steel tubular backbone sections, with the engine hanging low from the main tubes. The weight of the bike is 185kgs, which is lighter than, say, a Suzuki SV1000 or Aprilia Mille. Suspension is top notch, with 41mm Marzocchi forks and a Paioli monoshock, mounted underneath the engine, which keeps the wheelbase short. The riding position is semi-race, so you soon get into chucking the bike into roundabouts and bends with confidence.

The Voxan feels precise, solid and responsive - it handles A roads with agility and finesse, but isn't quite in the Ducati 999S class.

Some details, like the rearsets, the white-faced clocks and the massive Brembo brakes, give the Voxan Café Racer a classy appearance. It looks like a connoisseurs' motorbike and worth the likely £8,000-ish price.

But other aspects, like its notchy gearbox or its dated-looking fairing section, suggest that Voxan still have some development to do on the Café Racer project.

Personally, I loved riding the Voxan and found it unique, exciting and alive with grunty power. It isn't as smooth and effortless as an SV1000 Suzy or a modern Ducati, but it has a certain charm. If you like the V-twin experience then maybe the Voxan could be your cup of café espresso.