Saturday, December 8, 2012

XS750 Restoration, Part 10 -- Commitment

Once again, it's been a while since I've written anything about the bike. That's due to a combination of factors: I've been waiting on parts, it's not terribly exciting to post "spent an hour stripping paint from the tank" ;) and it's been too cold outside (like 0F, +/- 5 degrees) for the last couple of weeks, so I haven't even been spending that much time working on the tank.

However, I have gotten a little work done since my last post. First, the stainless steel brake lines from SV Racing arrived. I think I could possibly have gotten Goodridge lines from Bike Bandit a little cheaper, but first, as I've said before, Blair is a great guy to work with so I like to support him and second, SV Racing's lines came with all of the banjo bolts I needed for the bike, which makes up quite a bit of the difference between his pricing and Bike Bandit's (although admittedly, not all). The finished brake lines look great, although I think I could have ordered the top line from the brake handle to the tee about an inch shorter. Still I'd rather have it an inch too long than have it an inch too short, so I'm happy.

After installing the brake lines, I hit a bit of a slump, unfortunately. Stripping the tank is no fun, and after a couple of weeks of nothing but grinding away at an unattractive, but quality, paint job, I was starting to get a bit demotivated. However, I had a little extra time the other night, so I grabbed the seat from the bike, and starting ripping the old upholstery off. Hmmm...I don't know. What do you think? A little naval jelly, and the seat pan should be as good as new, right? Yeah, I don't think so, either!

Fortunately, I was goofing off on YouTube the other day after work, and found a video of Herm from Dime City Cycles showing how to build a fiberglass seat for a cafe racer (and part 2). Dude makes it look SO easy :) so on the way home from work today, I stopped by Michael's and picked up a big flat sheet of foam, two packs of foam blocks and one can of Elmer's spray adhesive. Total cost: $31, although I think I'll need one more pack of foam blocks, and I still need the fiberglass and the polyester resin.

When I went out to the garage tonight to start laying out the new seat, however, I realized that my bike wasn't ready for me to start working on the seat yet. For a cafe racer seat, the rear frame of the bike needs to be perfectly flat, or at least, very nearly so. My bike, however, still had the rear fender (which sticks up above the frame), a storage compartment mounted on top of the frame, tabs for the seat hinge, and a bizarre, bulbous appendage on each side of the very back of the frame, to which a half-dozen bolts and the rear turn signals are attached. I started by removing the fender and storage compartment, then temporarily reinstalled the gas tank, so I would know where the seat pan needs to begin.'s starting to actually resemble a cafe racer, now!

But these things have GOT to go! do the stock seat pan hinges...

...and -- eventually -- the air box mount tabs (but not until I know I am happy with the K&N filters!).

Okay, well, there's the vision. Am I brave/stupid enough to dig out the angle grinder and start hacking away at the frame to make the vision a reality? What if I cut too deeply and damage the frame? What if I don't like the look of the finished seat and frame, and want to go back to stock? What if I end up selling the bike to someone else who wants to put it back to stock?

I read somewhere that fear prevents us from being successful, and I want this bike to be a success!

I took a deep breath, and...'s an action shot of yours truly removing the seat hinge tabs. While I was actually doing this, there were sparks flying everywhere, but they didn't show up in the photo <shrug>

I don't know how long I was out there with the angle grinder -- all I know is that we had just finished dinner when I went out to the garage, and when I came back in the house, my wife was already asleep! -- but I managed to cut all of this extra metal off the frame. I want to add a hoop to the rear of the frame to tie the two sides together. As I understand, that's best-practice for a cafe racer build, so I'll assume that those who have come before me knew what they were doing (not a big assumption -- it makes sense to me).

Here's the "after" photo, showing the new, lighter, trimmed-down aft end of the bike.

Next, I temporarily reinstalled one of the side panels. Ideally, I'd leave the side panels off, and trim the side panel mounting tabs to shave a little more weight off of the bike. However, then all of the electronics would be exposed and open to the elements. Unfortunately, the side panels extend beyond the down tube on the frame, since they initially were intended to cover the air box as well. I've removed the air box, so I don't need side panels quite this long, and IMHO, they ruin the lines of the bike. Consequently, I guess I'll need to fab up some custom fiberglass side panels as well as a custom cafe racer seat. I'm gonna need more foam...

At this point, I decided to call it a night. It's late, I'm tired, and...I ran out of things to do for now :)

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