Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Go Baby, GO!

FINALLY! I got some time to get into the garage. Beautiful newly powder coated frame and all the stuff I need to get this project on the way. I just need to pull the trigger on a bunch of stuff that Mark Apland has set aside for me.

This project finally drew first blood. I put a pretty deep hole in my hand today. for some reason it didn't hurt at all after the initial poke. just looked down and the surgical glove I wear to work started to fill with blood...a lot of blood. Pulled off the glove and I had a bunch of sub dermal fat sticking out of the hole that the spring pulled into my hand. Cool.

After the bood drama finished I got the chrome center stand on as well as the side stand, the Manx style PCV breather tank and the alloy swing arm. Pics coming soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

At last!

Great! My frame has finally returned from the powder coater. I was told at first that it would be a few days. It ended up taking him 2 tries and 3 weeks to get it right. It's ok though, he's a pretty nice guy who's just learning the trade. I'll use him again because the frame looks GREAT! I'm pretty busy for the holidays so work won't commence until the the new year.
Happy holidays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Liberated Swingarm

OK! I guess I finally found a use for all of my big SAE wrenches! Following the suggestion to use them as spacers and slowly pull the shaft through until it came all the way out. Nice. It took a long while to do it. but in the end, all of the internal parts have been saved and the old heavy swingarm will be scrapped.

The frame has made it to the powder coater on schedule. This is the first time I've used this guy, he offered me a beer as soon as I walked up. I think I'll be going there again! I hope his wok is as good as his customer service. He said it'll be done in the next 5 days.

Now it's time to dig into the engine a bit more and start cleaning and polishing stuff for assembly to start in the next couple of weeks. Though I may need to take a holiday break and begn again after the new year commences.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Swingarm headache

Fingers crossed wasn't good enough. The stock swingarm is stuck tight! Since I'm putting on my alloy swingarm I really don't care about destroying the stock one. I just need to be careful not to damage the shaft and sleeve inside since I'll need to reuse them.
So I drilled a few holes and pulled the grease zirk. Now I have 4 holes open to the shaft inside. I filled the chamber with carb cleaner to loosen up all of the 32 year old grease and rust. I'll let it sit for the afternoon and try again with the mallet later.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Engine Removal

Got the engine out tonight without the help of the stupid Sears piece of shit bike lift. It's still leaking hydraulic fluid in the trunk of my car. But the engine is on the bench ready for tear down and blueprinting.
Next on the menu is removing the swingarm. Can be simple, but also can be a complete ball ache if the bits are frozen up inside. (fingers crossed!)


Just started to work today and my bike lift died. It started oozing hydro fluid and the bike came gently to the garage floor. I went to Sears to get it replaced and they won't do it. Apparently the warrantee changed from lifetime to 1 year. So now I have no lift and I'm mid build.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New SR500 teardown

Back from the weekend at my sisters place. I got into the garage only for a few minutes to work on the SR. It's pretty much ready to grind off the extra brackets and clean up the frame. then I guess I'll either rent a welder or take it to a local shop to get a few tabs put on. I'm chasing down a powder coater here since I'm kinda new to this area. I'm missing the awesome shops in and around Motown for car and bike custom work.

I plan on draining the oil and pulling the engine out tomorrow if I have time, but I do have some other chores and appointments on my shedule. It's always a strange thing to open up an SR engine. So many people have suped 'em up over the years that it could be a gold mine of race goodies inside or it's bone stock and worn out ...or...it's a fucking mess that a ham fisted kid with good intentions but poor skills has destroyed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New SR500

OK, I Bought another SR500 this week. I'm really looking forward to building this! I got it in Traverse City, MI. When I drove 5 hours to get it I was - well... disappointed. When I got there. It was a lump of SHIT! The owner had exaggerated the condition to say the least. Last time I bought a lump of shit like this, at least it had some good internal parts. This one is just an old tired 28,000 mile thumper. So I'll have my work cut out for me on this project.

So far, I've completed the initial break down and component removal. I'm now in the process of dry fitting all of the cafe bits to it, grinding off the unnecessary brackets and welding on some new ones.

I drove out to my storage space and pulled out all of my SR spares and the alloy tanks to see what will look best.
I'll still need to get new clip-ons, lights, fork tubes, tachometer and speedo set, etc...etc. I know how these things evolve.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I'm entered in an eBay contest for the motorcycle I built. I want your help to get some votes. All you need to do is vote and pass on the link to anyone you may know that has an ebay account (you need to have one to vote.) I worked really hard on this bike and with enough support from my friends and their networks, I think I can win. If you don't think mine's the best don't vote for it. I'm not asking for sympaty votes just honest opinions.

Here's the link to my entry on ebay.

Marc D

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009


With out question a double sided four leading shoe brake (4LS) is the coolest kit out there for a cafe racer hub.

There is a dual single leading shoe (SLS) one from a Benelli looks pretty cool. If you could get one for less than $500 it would be a good deal.

Available new is the Grimeca 230mm stopper. On the same hub as the Benelli but has different backing plates. available for about $700+ I have one of these on my SR500 and the only complaint I have is the weight. This is not for guys that like to wheelie! It will stop you fast though.

Also keep a look out for a Suzuki GT750 double sided drums (also called a 4ls brake) could be a good cheaper option for a good drum. Usually available for about $250 - $350. They're really good brakes for the money, but usually need to be restored. Like re-chroming the arms turning the liners and getting new shoes. could be spendy if you get a cheap crappy one. For that reason it can be worth it to look for one thats in really good shape. I have 2 of these in my collection: one is fully restored and the other is somewhat less attractive. :-)

There are other truly exotic (and sweet looking!) 4ls brakes available Ceriani and Fontana come to mind, If you have deep pockets these others are a good option, if not, they'll likely cost more than a complete project bike. Unless you are playing the "I'm better than you" game in the ARMHA paddocks these are a little over the top.

Another consideration is the displacement of your bike. I don't know if I'd want to have drum brakes on a bike bigger than a 650cc. If you are doing a 750 or larger discs would be a sound idea. (or life insurance.)


Booo yaa! this is the rim you want. This style rim is the standard of light and strong. It comes in a few different guises. the most notable being the Borrianai and Akront from Italy and Spain respectively. These are the most sought after and will cost accordingly. I've found the Takasago from Japan to be a very well made rim and prefer it to the DID version. However, I still run the DIDs on one of my bikes and have no complaints. The key here is the high shoulder. Great for rigidity and it looks superb. Downside: cleaning them is a chore.

for the BSA, it really depends on how wide you want the rear tire but if, for example, you get a 19 front and the 18 rear, its a pretty common combo. the larger dia. front will have a lower profile tire and the rear will inherently have a little taller profile. this makes them pretty close to the same o.d. after fitting rubber. It makes the bike handle quite controllably and smoothly. I, however prefer the look of matching Dia. rims -and nineteens would look the dogs bullocks on your bike! If you get a matched set of the Takasago rims from the XS650 they will be pretty thin for a rear tire. but it can be done

BSA Cafe Racer

I'm helping a friend build a 67 BSA into a cafe racer. He's not really new to biking but he is pretty new to the whole custom cafe racer and modifying culture. So I thought I'd share some of the emails I send him.

I hope this stuff will help others out there keep from making costly and or hideously ugly mistakes while chasing the cafe racer dream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Burt Munro. Nine letters that spell HERO. That guy was truly a gifted human. How is it that some of us can live a passionless life? True passion is what Burt had for his bike and for Speed. I have not yet had the pleasure of studying about his life, but Anthony Hopkin's portrayal of him in the World's Fastest Indian was inspirational. What would Burt say if he saw the time we waste blogging or watching TV. His days were spent in his shed solving complex engineering problems and finding solutions to unsolvable problems. All I have to Say is: Burt, GOOD ON YA MATE!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I really think in the grand scheme of things, the importance of life and possessions are really central to the existence we lead. For example in social interaction, I've noticed that the mere mention of motorcycles will usually ostracize me from a potential new social group or employer. Like a motorcycle (or 4) in my garage relegates me to the fringes of society where crystal meth fueled brawls and unkept beards are secretly being filmed by the FBI (or History Channel's Gangland.) Instead of being a "fascinating hobby" like photography or rock climbing, it's like a blot of gravy on a resume.
Well, here I am, not belonging to either of those worlds. Half of my days are spent denying my 2 wheel impulses so I might be presentable in hopes of regaining some kind of reasonable employment to support my family. The other half of my day is spent either wrenching away at some greasy hulk in the corner of my current garage or studying the aesthetics of classic race machines like pornography for my mechanical fetish. So, is it these impulses we feed that are shaping us socially and professionally? Is it these machines that define us as humans that allow us to stand out in relief against the smooth surface of society? Am I wrong to feel that my life and possessions are one great unemployed blob of mechanics and aesthetics? Maybe...

Friday, January 30, 2009

This is a really cool illustration of the differences in the mechanisms of 3 Norton Engines. I especially like the sweet high compression piston on the Manx. I'm not too familiar with the extent to which Norton actually used the Desmo head, but it seems they were pioneers for Ducati's later use. Of course Ducati really ran with it and beat the pants of most comers with their version!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Scans and Such

OK I finally got motivated to do some scans from my old motorcycle engineering books. The scans came from P.E. Irving's Motorcycle Engineering (pub. 1961) and P.E. Irving's Tuning for Speed (pub. 1948) 
These are some great drawings from motorcyling's past. Enjoy them, and if you can, try to hunt down some of the original books. They're pretty cheap if you an find 'em and they have some good basic info for any one putting together a cafe racer or working on their classic bike. Anyone who reads this is welcome to contact me for larger hi-res scans of these great Drawings. More to come in the future!

After I post this I'll be off to my workshop to sort through my extra stuff to cull the herd so-to-speak. I'm down to the more expensive tasks on my Aermacchi 350 and my XT500 Paris Dakar rally bike replica. I'll need the extra coin! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Holy crap! This is sick!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Multimedia message

Today I'm volunteering at the North American International Auto Show. Wow! This stuff is sweet!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I've been working on the controls for my SR500. I'm trying to clean up the cables and wires as well as replace the tach. I really like the Smiths ATRC I had on it. but I think I'll run that on my Aermacchi. I'm also lowering the clip-ons and replacing the headlight ears. Pics are coming soon.

Getting close to completion on my XT500 project. I'm looking for some taller suspension but the stock stuff will be ok for now. I'm gonna have to tackle making my own wiring harness. I'm the first to admit that my greatest weakness in bike building is the electrical system. Now, if I can just find a place to get 20 different colors of wire!  

Friday, January 23, 2009


Home sick today. I guess I'll finally have the time to start this blog. I've been using a Yahoo group as a blog for a while. I think this is a better place for it. Use the right tool for the job, right? 

Anyway, I'll keep posting updates of my cafe racer builds and whatever-the-hell-else I feel like posting. What'r YOU gonna do about it anyway!