Choosing Your Winter Motorcycle Project And The Guys Who Can Help
I’m still searching (and saving money) for my winter project bike and I think, due to the available support and homebuilder aftermarket parts out there, it comes down to a Yamaha XS650 or a Honda CB750.
Both machines offer the combination of horsepower, size and handling that I’m looking for in a second bike – and with any luck at all – one that I can resell to maintain domestic tranquility when the riding season rolls around here once again in the next 75-90 days.
Why did I settle on these two particular models of machine? For the same reasons that everyone else does – they’re simple, fast, relatively lightweight and they made them in staggering numbers. They’re also affordable for the Man Without Means, and that may well be the most crucial element in the whole equation.
Metal Head Fabrication XS650
Around here at least, you can pick up a rusty but serviceable example of one of the bikes on my list for $1,500 or less, and with PayPal’s new “pay later” program, I should have time to complete the job and get the project on the market before the expense of the whole insane project catches up to me and forces me to move into the basement in shame.
Once you have your hands on a suitable donor bike to start hacking, you have to make some practical and esthetic decisions. What kind of bike do you think will sell? What kind of bike would you like to ride? What style should it be; streettracker, cafe racer, chopper, brat, bobber? What am I going to do with the bike until someone comes along to take it away and hands me the correct amount of American Cash Money?
Choppers and bobbers have always ruled on Ebay, but hard times have driven the market away from chrome-heavy homebuilt choppers and toward cafe racers and bobbers. There are lots of people out there making those, and some of them are supremely talented individuals whose services command premium prices. And therein lies my problem – those premium prices are well out of reach for someone who already has a perfectly good motorcycle to ride.
Sure, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the offer of a lightly used Harley Davidson from my local dealer, but most of my money is earmarked for more immediate needs, so that’s out of the question.
Being at best a shade tree mechanic, I’m going to need some help along the way and there are a ton of guys out there willing to lend a hand with advice, parts and the benefit of their experience. The motorcycle community is cool that way. I’ve been doing my research and looking around for ideas on how I want to proceed, and during the course of that research, I’ve run across some guys who really do it right.
Here then is a list of those kind and talented folks and links you can use to check out their work and get in touch with them yourself:
Steve “Carpy” Carpenter is a legend in his own time. A guy who loves motorcycles and all things in mechanical motion, ‘Carpy’ has spent his life focusing on the cafe racer culture he loves – and learning to build and rehab the venerable Honda CB750.
Located in Southern California, Carpenter creates superb examples of what is known as a Cafe Racer Motorcycle. He’s a real maestro and if he doesn’t answer the phone himself when you call, you can be sure you’ll get an email back from him is you send him one at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not the email type, call his shop at 714-744 4597 and he really will call you back.
Carpy’s 1976 Honda CB750 Cafe Racer
Hugh at HughsHandBuilt
Hugh Owings took the leap of faith and went back to school to get a degree – relatively late in life – in industrial design and product development, but his real passion is the XS650 motor and all the ephemera associated with that most excellent motor.
Hugh is the man when it comes to tips, advice and tech information how to get the most out of your XS650 mill.
The best part, if he doesn’t know the answer to your question, I’d bet even money he’d be happy to help you find someone who does…
Located right down the street from my humble shop and hangout you can find the guys at Bro’s Manufacturing, and they know choppers. They’ve been building them for a long time and they offer a whole bunch of useful tools, parts and advice to anyone who’s willing to get their hands dirty and build a slick chopper.
2653 Seventh Street
Muskegon, Michigan 49444
Hours of Operation
Mon-Fri 8AM to 4PM
This site is just pure awesome for all the photos of bikes guys have built from the venerable XS650. Heavily biased toward choppers, bobbers and other variants, the various short build stories and photos alone are worth the visit.
Check them out:
These guys are the kings when it comes to a superb amount of activity on their forum and help with your build.
Their tech articles alone will save you hours of time and heartache on your build.
Tips for buying your motorcycle insurance, coverage you need:
- Medical payment or personal injury protection to cover the medical bills resulting from an accident.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist to protect us when the other driver is at-fault and does not have coverage or assets out of which your bills can be paid.
- Collision to pay for damage caused to your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or any stationary object.
- Comprehensive to cover such things as fire, hail, wind, vandalism, hitting an animal, etc.
- Towing / Pickup