Saturday, June 29, 2013

The First Victim

After reading magazines, searching online, and browsing Craig's List for a few weeks, I finally decided where to start.  My first project was going to be cafe racer-ish and I was watching CL for a donor bike, most likely of Japanese manufacture, from the 1970s or very early 1980s.  Ideally, I was hoping for a runner that I could ride around as is for the first few weeks until I got a feel for exactly what I wanted to change.  I found a few that I was mildly interested in but nothing that really blew my skirt up.

There was a project bike that I had noticed in the metalworking area at TechShop.  It had been sitting there, next to the wall, for a couple of weeks and it seemed that no one was actively working on it.  Finally, I asked one of the DCs. (Quick aside: that's what they call the people that work at TechShop, DCs or "dream consultants".  Yes somewhat dorky but it goes with the TS motto: "Build Your Dreams Here.")  Anyway, I asked the DC who it belonged to and he told me that it was one of the instructors, a guy named Matt, who I happened to have taken a class from on angular sheet metal techniques a few months earlier.  From class I remembered that Matt owned a shop called Pipeworx so, with help from Google, I found his contact information and I got in touch with him about the bike.

After a few emails and a brief chat on the phone I found out that he had been building it as a shop bike for himself.  He had intentions of completing it but that work and other projects kept him way too busy at the moment and that didn't seem likely to change in the near future.  He said that he would be willing to sell it, provided it was to someone that would finish the bike.

Before we got to discussing a selling price, he started listing off the work he had already done to it as well all the parts he had purchased.  I was adding up the cost of the parts in my head as he spoke and already knew that it was going to be way out of my budget for my first project and we hadn't even discussed the cost of the bike itself.  I mentioned that to him and thanked him for his time but then he said, "If you will finish it, I will sell you for just the cost of the parts I've put into it."  How could I pass that up?

A couple of days later we met up at TechShop and he helped me load the bike in my truck.  Afterwards, I met him back at his shop where he gave me a box of additional parts and we discussed his original ideas and the direction he was going with the bike which was going to be a bratstyle build.  I'm already thinking of what I want to do a little differently.  In general, I like the direction already but I have to incorporate some of my own ideas.  I don't have anything specific in mind just yet but I do think I may add a little bit of a salt flat racer vibe into it.

The bike is a 1980 Yamaha SR500.  Here is some quick info on it and a brief list of the parts that came with it and/or work that has already been done:

  • Matt had already chopped and dropped the back of the frame using castings from a 90s era Sportster
  • The swing arm was lengthened 2 inches
  • The forks were internally lowered 3 inches
  • Rims, fork lowers, and upper and lower triples are powder coated
  • Woodcraft Clip-Ons
  • New Firestone vintage tires
  • New 36mm Mikuni carburator
  • 320mm Ducati rotor with a Brembo 4 piston caliper
  • Custom CNCed brackets and adapters from Pipeworx to make above work
The bad thing about the bike is that it's just a roller.  Matt also had removed the original gas tank mounts from the frame as he was planning to build a custom tank which I will now have to do.  Both of those mean that there is a lot work remaining to be done before it will be back on the street.  I think I may be in over my head already.  The amount sheet metal work alone is intimidating as that is a skill which I don't have.  Well... don't have yet anyway.  That was the point of this project, right? To learn new skills?

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