I'm looking for a project bike. Can you help me decide?!

Discussion in 'Motorcycles & Boats' started by walnut, Feb 13, 2013.

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  1. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    As the title says, I'm looking for a project bike. I only have about 1 year of riding experience and I purchased an '03 Buell XB9S for my first bike. I know people have pretty defined opinions on these bikes but let's just say that I love it and will not be getting rid of it and leave it at that. It is THE bike that I'd wanted for years before I got my license. My dad got his license before I did and I spent quite a while riding on his spare bike (Honda Shadow 750) with him to get some practice in before I bought my own. These are really the only bikes I've ever ridden.

    Part of my goal is to end up with a second bike so my dad and I can go for rides when he comes over to visit or if any of my friends with licenses feel like going for a cruise, we can. Moreso though, I'm interested in getting a bike that I can completely overhaul and customize.

    I'm having a very hard time figuring out what type of bike I should get. For instance, currently, I'm looking at a CB360 and an XJ550. The CB is a twin, the XJ550 an inline 4 so it seems like the CB would be more simple to work on since its got two less of everything. Also, it has a kickstart which is something I'd like to have but not a must have. The XJ has a better lb/hp ratio though. Either frame will allow me to do a rear mono-shock setup which is something that I really want to do. Then I came across the XS750 which is a triple, weighs about 60lbs more than the XJ550 but has an even better lb/hp ratio. I know there are a lot of other differences, but this is part of the problem.

    Do any of you have suggestions?
     
  2. wax

    wax Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Bobber?
    Cafe?
    Fighter?
    Tribute?
    Combination thereof?
     
  3. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    Sorry. Yeah, I'm pretty much looking to do a Cafe Racer but with some of the more modern styling cues I've seen in Street Fighter style bikes. I definitely want a bike from the '70s or early '80s.
     
  4. wax

    wax Three Time F1 World Champ
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  5. brownsgolf

    brownsgolf Formula Junior
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    An awesome site to look at completed bikes and the potential some of them, as well as gain advice is DO THE TON CAFE RACERS
     
  6. ferraripete

    ferraripete F1 World Champ

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    find an original suzuki katana that needs a resto. a killer bike and way ahead of the competition in the day...even cooler today!
     
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  8. Ducman491

    Ducman491 Formula 3

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    I helped a friend with a mild cafe build on a 1976 Yamaha XS 650. Very cool bike with a great aftermarket and it's a vertical twin so it sounds cool.
     
  9. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

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    You may want to join the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club. Vintage Japanese bikes are gaining popularity as us old farts are buying and restoring the bikes we had as a youth, some of which make for cool cafe racer bikes. Over the last 3 years I have restored a 1970 Honda CL100, 1972 Suzuki TM400, 1972 Kawasaki H2 and 1973 Kawasaki 250 F11; all bikes I owed as a teenager except for the F11.
     
  10. rdefabri

    rdefabri Two Time F1 World Champ
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    I second the XS - it's a Triumph clone -very cool.

    I also second the VJMC thing - I have a '67 CL77, and I find the VJMC to be helpful (although I am looking for someone to restore my bike...can't find anyone).
     
  11. tundraphile

    tundraphile F1 Rookie

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    CB750 seems to be the most popular bike to cafe these days. Plenty of power and tons of aftermarket parts available.

    I personally wouldn't worry about the complexity of a four vs twin, they are not that big of a difference when working on them.

    Many of these bikes today are fairly valuable, at least to chop up for a cafe so you are left with a very ratty basket case or one of the forgotten UJMs of the time.

    If you could find a GS1000 or GS1100 cheaply it would make a very burly cafe for sure.

    I toyed last winter with the idea of building one from a Honda CX500. Shaft drive makes it tougher, but having the Guzzi-like V would be appealing.
     
  12. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    #11 walnut, Feb 14, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
    I have been researching the XS650 and agree that they are very interesting and I would love to pick one up. I have been finding it difficult to find one for sale though. Also, I'm hoping to get a bike in the <$750 range which for the models I can find (XJ, GS, GPZ, etc.) isn't really that difficult. Basically I've been using SearchTempest to scour Craigslist and eBay. Do you guys have any suggestions for other places to look? Anyone have or know of someone with a bike sitting around that they want to part with?

    I'll definitely look into the VJMC. I've already been reading quite a bit on DoTheTon.com and CafeRacer.net as well as several other model specific sites.
     
  13. Skyler

    Skyler Formula 3

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  15. Zxgarage

    Zxgarage Formula Junior
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    I have a BSA cafe...waiting to be finished. I may sell if someone want a fun easy classic project.
     
  16. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    Zxgarage, I'd be very interested in hearing more about your BSA. Do you have any pictures you could post up?

    Thanks for all of the suggestions and site links everyone! So much information to digest.
     
  17. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    After more research and consideration of what is available in my area, I've decided to go after a GS550. Eventually, I might pick up a spare engine and replace the top end with one from a GS650 (about a 50% bump in power and almost a direct fit). After I get the mechanicals worked out I *plan* on trying to convert it over to EFI. The goal is for it to be a long term project.

    If/when I find a donor I'll post some more information up.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the info.
     
  18. wax

    wax Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Now ve vait.

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    via rubber ducky
     
  19. Zxgarage

    Zxgarage Formula Junior
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    If you still want see the bike, just send a pm and I will send more info. It's a nice bike but need kick start gear replaced (I already have a new one) and needs some overal tlc. I have a nice seat and fuel tank / fiberglass/ period correct, cafe style.
     
  20. Wade

    Wade F1 World Champ
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    #18 Wade, Feb 21, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Yes, nice choice! This was my first bike as an adult.
    1981SuzukiGS550E-2.jpg
     
  21. kiesan

    kiesan Formula Junior
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    #19 kiesan, Feb 22, 2013
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    How about a 1975 BMW R60/6 that has a R75/6 shoehorned into it? Medium patina... needs tlc. Fresh mechanically in most areas.
    IMG_3025_zps73f14616.jpg
    IMG_3024_zps760e2fe7.jpg
     
  22. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

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  23. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    Some very interesting suggestions and selections out there, but I'm really looking for a GS550 now. Doesn't necessarily need to run (especially for what I'm hoping to spend) but I want it to have all the bits and pieces so I've got a good place to start from. There are a few "local" to me on Craigslist but my work schedule just went nuts and we're expecting our first child in a month's time so I'm not sure how I'm going to find a way to pick one up for quite a while now.
     
  24. skelly

    skelly Formula Junior
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    I used to ride a 1985? GS550ES, with the half-fairing and rectangular headlight. Neat little bike. I also spent some time riding an '80 GS750. I was much more impressed with its engine, but the bike was quite heavy.

    Have you seen the more modern GS500 twin? I've always thought that was a neat bike.

    Another one to consider is the 77-81 Honda CB400T. It's a relatively modern design with classic UJM geometry. I like the twins because they tend to be narrower and lighter.

    Let us know where you end up!
     
  25. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    I have looked at it and while its neat, I'm really looking for something with the old school tube frame. Looked at a KZ650 last night, trying to see a CB750 (heavy though) this weekend and might try to look into a CB650 sometime soon too. Sadly, I've not been able to find a good GS550 near me. That's still really what I'd like to find.

    I've thought about looking for a smaller displacement bike but the fact that many of them are only 20-30hp scares me away from them. I know its going to be slower than my Buell, but I don't want something that can be out dragged by a moped!
     
  26. skelly

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    I still have a '73 CB350 twin. While they're certainly not fast bikes, they have enough power to go about 90mph. I think they're rated about 35 hp from the factory.

    I definitely recommend that you consider the smaller bikes of the era. None of the seventies machines will feel particularly quick. In my opinion, lighter is better.
     
  27. agup48

    agup48 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Bring a Trailer has a motorcycle section that you should look at. Some very cool motorcycles listed.

    There are some you can call projects and there are many that are ride-ready.

    Motorcycles
     
  28. walnut

    walnut Formula 3
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    Well, I pulled the trigger this weekend on a 1980 Honda CB650. While its not the make and model I was looking for, its the same basic setup and seems to be a solid bike that is in need of some TLC. I'll post pictures eventually, but for the time being I have a lot of other projects to get done around the house before the end of the month. I'll probably start a build thread here to document what's going on and to get some pointers.

    Thanks all!
     
  29. skelly

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    Congratulations!

    Be sure to post pictures of your progress.
     

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