Friday, September 25, 2009

Craziness on the Prairie

I clearly remember growing up in farm land when a local farmer bought a Kubota tractor. The ridiculing he received at the feed store and farm meetings was over the top. But the farmer just went about his business and worked as we found out with a superior tractor. It didn’t matter to him the history or significance of owning an American made tractor, he just needed a tractor that performed ike he needed it to. He had enough of dealing with the local tractor dealers and having to settle for their prices and limitations. Now Kubota…well you get the picture. Now off-brand tractor companies advertise that their tractors are really “Kubota’s” with different labeling. My how far we have come.

Tom Rose and I have been chiseling on Ben to get an FXR and join the ranks of owning a functional motorcycle that handles well, runs well, and can haul and drag zombies like no ones business. Hell we said, “ There were no other Harley’s built after the FXR was discontinued.” We laid it on pretty thick and Ben wrote back…(we were just kidding Ben, we here at the Chronicle don’t care what you ride, as long as it can survive the apocalypse and we don’t have to hire a huff truck to go riding with you….Huff truck, I thought they died out with Poker runs and forward controls.)

Here is what Ben wrote:

“If I had 5000$ to spend on a motorcycle, then I would consider an FXR to be a viable option for a project But, the most I have ever spent on an initial bike purchase has been 800$. So that leaves the Evo powered FXR’s out of the equation.This is my Project Vulcan. AKA : Project “I’m broke. What’s your excuse?” The initial goal was to get a v-twin powered jap cruiser wrecked for dirt cheap and make it work really well. And to make it do everything I needed:
Haul myself and a passenger easily, Go fast, Handle good, Stop good, Start every time reliably, Not break down every time I went for a ride, Be comfortable. I got this one for 600$ and some labor. It had 800$ worth of new parts that came with it!New fork tubes, new front rim, spokes, bars, covers, ect.
As it sits now I have about 1200$ into it. I was pretty disgusted that I had to buy a 200$ used gas tank since mine turned out to be completely rusted and could not be repaired. But, that was the biggest expenditure.

I chose the Vulcan over a few other wrecked cruisers for a number of reasons:
4 valve heads, single carb instead of some insanely wacky double carb setup, chain drive, the rear tire was only a 130 series. (I don’t like fat bikes or huge fat tires.) , I had heard from some guys I know that the 800 Vulcan’s pepped up nicely with pipes and jets. Once it was up and running I was pleasantly surprised. Everything works fantastic. But of course there is always room for improvement.
I went off the deep end and tried it make it TOO practical and ended up adding a lot of weight and making it REAAAALLLLY ugly. I was pretty content to have it just be an ugly, heavy, practical motorcycle until one day Tom Rose gave me a really severe tongue lashing and told me that there was no way I could have such an ugly motorcycle
So, I started to strip it down to lighten it up and change a few things. Lowered the rear fender 2”, changed to 883R bars, (much lighter and better bend), and tossed the seat. So far I have lost 31 lbs (not including the front fender, the turn signals, the taillight and the headlight since I never had them to weigh them in the first place.)

Changes to come still:
I want to switch to a 16” front wheel for less lateral flex under hard loads, and more bump absorption. Figure out some sort of front fender. Four piston caliper on the front disc,Cut off some more heavy parts of the rear frame and move passenger pegs. Lighten up fender struts and rear fender. Move battery down low, maybe run 2 separate 6 V batteries so I can mount one on either side of the monoshock mount at the lowest possible place on the bike. Possibly lighten up the swingarm …it weighs 24 lbs now, so that’s not bad, but Tom Rose assures me it can be made at least 30% lighter. Find a lighter rear wheel with a nice disc brake setup. The forward controls are working good right now, but maybe work on mid controls.Toss the dash and speedo and run a Trail tech digital unit for much more info and weight loss. Get my headlight fixed back up … (my nice H4 headlight broke last night and I had to run that crummy rectangle one to get by.
I was told by many, many people that the Jap cruisers were worthless motorcycles that did not work, could not work, and should never be considered as an option for discerning people that wanted to use their motorcycles. This bike has blown away all of my expectations and made a believer out of me. Nice low center of gravity, good usable 45 horsepower (about the same as most stock Harleys with a lot less weight) with good torque, great ground clearance, very good light handling, much better brakes than I had ever imagined, very good useful suspension, roomy for two people, sounds nice with straight pipes, runs beautiful all the time, no reliability issues, easy to work on, one carb, two plugs, and a battery and oil filter you can get to easily.

Ben is a regular contributor to The Chronicle and I will be posting chopper stuff over his blog Attackchoppers.blogspot.

I think it needs some Ammo cans and cut the ducktail off that fender, weld an extension to it and ad a trailer light!

1 comment:

  1. reminds me a lot of my intruder project. i got the bike for free and only had about $200 into when i got rid of it. i can't paste the link here, but if you go to the march archive of my page you can see some photos.