The last few days of work have been a somewhat frustrating experience. I've spent a lot of time on the bike, including several late, late nights, but the bike looks even further from being roadworthy than it was this time last week.
First, after consulting with some of the other forum members on the Triples forum, I decided to bite the bullet and pull the exhaust pipes before painting the frame. I've really been going back and forth over the prep work for painting. Ideally, I would really like to remove EVERYTHING from the frame -- engine, front forks, wiring harnesses, coils, rear suspension...everything -- then sandblast and powdercoat the frame. That's the RIGHT way to do it, anyway. However, truth to tell, I'm nervous about stripping the frame that bare. Mostly, I'm concerned that if I take the bike apart to that extent, I might not be able to put it all back together again...not to mention that I don't have access to a sandblaster, nor do I have the budget to powdercoat all of the metal parts. However, it looked like pulling the exhaust to get better access to the frame would be pretty easy, and would allow me to do a better job prepping and painting, while staying within my budget. By the time I had the exhaust removed, I went just a bit further and pulled the rear passenger footpegs, the rear brake, the rear brake mounting plate and the rear wheel (whew!). I also removed the tank (again!), since I'll need access to the frame under the tank when I start stripping the paint, and then priming and painting it again.
Speaking of the tank, I received the rebuild kit for the two fuel petcocks in the mail from Mike's XS. The rebuild kits are $$$ but, from what I understand, leaking petcocks can cause contamination of the engine oil, as gasoline leaks into the crankcase, which is way much bad juju, as a friend of mine used to say -- as in, "seized pistons due to inadequate lubrication." Yikes! So, rebuild kit = $$$; no rebuild kit = $$$$$. Yeah, "ordered!" Rebuilding the petcocks was beyond simple. Including cleaning both petcocks, I had the job done within an hour. If only cleaning and rebuilding everything else on the bike were that simple!
Even better, the morning after I pulled the rear wheel, I got a call from Anchorage Suzuki/Arctic Cat telling me that the Continental Conti Go! tires I had ordered had arrived. Synchronicity! :) Before I install the new Conti Go! tire on my wheels, I think I might wrap the tire in a plastic trashbag or three, glue some foam over the works, and lay up some fiberglass for a custom rear-hugger to protect the electronics in the frame. I'll either do that, or I'll need to braze or weld a sheet of steel in the frame just ahead of the rear tire. We'll see...
While goofing off on YouTube yesterday, I found a video showing a beautiful CX500 cafe racer build. In particular, I really like the integrated brake lights/running lights/turn signals that the builder installed (although the integrated light is very thin, which doesn't give me confidence that other drivers are going to be very likely to notice the brake lights or turn signals). Pricing them out on-line, I found that they are available for $50-75. Hmmm...I'm sure I can easily spend twice as much building something that only works half as well... ;) I hit up Superbright LEDs to see what they had that I could use on my bike. Yep: a pair of concentric, amber LED "Angel Eyes" in 60 and 80mm for the turn signals, surrounding a red 1157 LED bulb would be pretty sweet. Total cost, $97 and change. I'm pretty sure it would be a lot more noticeable than the Chrome Glow integrated lights on the CX500, however.
In addition to the work listed above, I have also been sanding and finishing (ha!) the two fiberglass sidecovers that I built in the last installment. Here, I've got another bit of a conundrum. In my vision of the finished bike, there are no sidecovers. I like the clean, open look of the frame without these pieces in the way. However, if I want an open frame, I need to eliminate -- or at least, relocate -- the battery and electronics. A lot of cafe builders either hide the electronics in a faux oil tank or they stuff it all in the cafe seat. IMHO, the faux oil tank is kind of cheesy, not to mention that the voltage regulator really needs airflow to keep it cool. Hiding it all in the cafe seat suits me much better, but, well, there's not a lot of room there, so I'd really like to go with a smaller battery if I'm going to do that. But if I'm going to spend money on a smaller battery, I want to go with a Shorai Lithium battery...which means I need a MOSFET-based voltage regulator with better reliability and current shunting to keep the battery from going catastrophic.
There's that whole, "integrated system of parts" thing again, sigh...
So for now, I think I'm just going to keep the build simple and cover the electronics with fiberglass, at least for this summer. Next winter will be a whole new wrenching season, and with a season of riding the XS behind me (I hope!) I will have a better idea of which parts of my vision are realistic and workable, and which parts are just delusional :)