Saturday, December 18, 2004

Installed a CX650 engine

Not many pictures this time, but I've made some rather major modifications. I installed a CX650 engine in the chopper. After an initial test period of a couple months to make sure the engine was solid, I took it back out and painted it with VHT Brake Caliper paint. Looks spectacular. I'm currently in the process of polishing every piece of aluminum on the bike. You can see the valve covers, clutch cover, intake manifold, exhaust flange, cx650 emblems, and several other parts already polished. The new CX650 engine (actually 673cc) is more powerful than the 500... but vibration isn't reduced much and the overall gearing (ie: vibration felt at speed) did not change much. However, I believe this is because I do not yet have the cylinder head motor mount bolts installed yet. I need to take the front engine hanger to a welder and have him modify it to fit the wider spacing of the 650 engine mounts.

In addition to the engine and polishing work, I've re-mounted the rear fender at a more suitable angle, re-mounted the seat with a bracket in the front (rear bracket isn't finished yet), mounted saddle bags, mounted the sissy bar at a closer approximation to the front fork angle, and painted "Suicide Machine" logos on the tank. The green thing on the top of the tank is a pickle, in case you're wondering. Hope you're old enough to get the reference :)

I'll do a detailed parts assessment later... but basically, the 650 engine was free, I already had the polishing compound to polish the covers, I made the seat bracket out of scrap steel I had in my garage, the saddlebags are off my V65 Magna, and everything else was already on the bike. So, this month's mods were basically free!

Parts Breakdown:

  • VHT Brake Caliper paint (2 cans): $15 
  • Gunk Engine degreaser (3 cans): $10 
  • Paint stripper (1 can): $7
  • Total: $32

Running total for Chopper: $1237

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Got The Frame Raked

Yes, I've done it. Up until now every modification I've done to my CX500 has been possible to un-do. I could have rebuilt it to stock at any time. That was always comforting to know... I don't know why, but it was ;) No longer, though. Earlier this month, I had the frame raked by a local metric-only motorcycle shop called Scootworks in Zebulon, NC. They did an absolutely exceptional job. They cut the neck in slices, bent it to the proper angle, tig-welded it up, and then tig-welded plates on either side. I haven't done measurements yet, but I'm thinking it's around 40 degrees. The best part is, they left the VIN tag completely unmolested. They even moulded the plate around the original gas tank mounts, which I can unfortunately no longer use.

After some initial getting used to, the bike handles more than acceptable. There's about a foot of trail, so at slow speeds the bike is a bear to handle. The forks want to flop to either side, and if you don't have a firm grip they will. Tight turns at parking lot speeds take lots of balance and are not even close to smooth. But at higher speeds the bike is actually still relatively flickable. The heaviness disappears from the forks, and the bike turns very well. It's not a peg dragger by any means, but it will lean adequately. It's a blast to ride too.

The bad news is I can no longer use my fatbob tank. What's more, the stock gas tank doesn't even fit in the correct location. If you look at the picture of the steering neck, you can see that the tank is attached to the front motor mount hanger bolt. Even so, look how close the top of the triple tree is to the tank. Ideally, I should have had them remove the neck, streatch the frame 4 or 5 inches, and then weld the neck back on.

But hindsight is 20/20. I should be able to sell my fatbob tank setup on eBay, or maybe I'll keep it around and use it on an otherwise stock CX500. The relocated gas tank doesn't look bad, but I'm going to have to cut off the rear mount and just use gravity to keep the rear of the tank in place. Maybe I'll have a bracket welded to the bottom of the tank eventually, but it's no biggie.

The good news is that although I've had to adjust for the now missing fatbob tank, the chopper is closer than ever to the picture I have in my mind's eye. It's really quite stunning, even with the ratty paint, the rust in places, the corroded aluminum, and the dirt and spots from not having been washed in 3 years. It has always drawn a crowd at the local watering hole before... I can't wait to see the reaction now.

However, I'm concerned about the angle of the rear fender. I think it's sitting up too high. I need to re-mount it, but that means adding new holes extremely close to the old holes. Since it's a fiberglass fender, this will severely weaken the fender, even if I repair the old holes with fiberglass resin and reinforcement tape. I may be able to rotate the fender to get the desired look, but I won't know until I start pulling things apart to see. There may be issues with the seat.

The next step is to fit the CX650 engine I have sitting on my garage floor, and then build custom exhaust and forward controls around the larger engine. I'm going to have to beg, borrow, or steal a wire-feed

welder and an oxy-acetelyne torch to make the parts, though. Stay tuned for the next update!

Part or modification: Price: Got From:
•  Frame raked $300 Scootworks
Cost of April modifications: $300

Parts Removed from bike to accomodate new changes:
•  Fatbob Gas Tank $100
•  Brackets $5
•  Flashing $8
•  Leather $25
•  Spike Studs $15
•  Voltmeter $10
•  Oil pressure gauge $20
•  Harley gas caps $30
•  1 FIAMM horn $15
Cost of parts removed: $228

Total cost of Modifications so far: $1205