Monday, June 9, 2008

Ian's 400F, Continued

Ian took out "ye old grinder and sawsall" and went to town on ripping open a hole under his pet 400F's sidecover. He took out the battery box and ground down every tab, nub, and other bit of metal daring to block the beautiful view through an open 400 Four.

A small battery will go under the seat, making the bike pretty much kick-start only. Ian may leave the starter motor in it, though, "just for fun."

Now that the first stage of roughing out how he wants it to look is done, Ian can go about finishing it with clip-ons and a wheel package: buffed-up hubs and aluminum rims. When you take off the pounds of a steel wheel, steering is a whole lot nicer.

So far, the bike has lacked a seat. Ian's trying to get a new one done as quickly as possible, so he can ride the bike raw. The new seat complements the "roundness and squarishness" of the tank--meaning the seat is pretty boxy with some nice curves. It's almost done. Ian just needs to rip up the backside (as shown by the black Sharpie line), stuff in a half-moon LED taillight, and weld some more steel back there to close it up.

"It should be striking when it's all done," he said. "It'll be mean. You wouldn't want to run into it."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ian's 400F

Though this 400F has been for sale, Ian hasn't been trying too hard to sell it. Though some people have expressed interest in it as it is, he wants to build it into a cafe bike--make it his own, private project.

"This thing is mechanically solid," Ian said. "It doesn't even have any slap on the cam-chain adjustment. We kind of miss the Knockout 360, because that was going to be our personal shop bike, so I'm going make this into a really nice cafe 400 with a custom seat. I want to make a bike I can rock around on."

So he's thrown it into the pile of work already on the list--something he can work on during the couple of evenings that he sets aside each week to get caught up on stuff and to do pet projects.

The changes the 400F needs are all pretty much cosmetic. It'll have one of Ian's trademark steel seats, a single speedo (no tachometer), a drilled rotor, and a cleaned-up engine--though it already runs perfectly fine. The electronics and battery, currently blocking the view between the subframe and the frame, will move out of the way, the shocks and tires will probably get upgraded, and Ian will do anything else Ian wants to do.

Ian plans to keep the header pipe--the exhaust pipe--and do something fancy-schmancy with the mirrors. He may switch to clip-ons and will replace the turn signals and taillight with something "a lot more sleek."

What about the wheels?

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the wheels," Ian said. "I might rebuild 'em. I might buff 'em up nice and shiny. Maybe I'll put in some aluminum rims."

So it's a dream in the making.

When he's done everything he wants to do with it, will he consider selling it?

"Well . . . everything I have is technically for sale, except my TX and my SR500," Ian admitted. "I guess I'd part with this bike if somebody funded it for $5,000 or more. I keep asking for more money on these things because I keep having to part with good bikes, and I never have one to ride myself. I've been having fun on this one."

Reluctant as Ian might be, chances are that someone with grander dreams could also probably negotiate, with a good-sized deposit.

Winter Fruit

The boys of Twinline have been busting ass all winter on several custom projects. I've talked about the Knockout 360 and Project Goldhead. Here are some more coming down the pipe, all to finish by September.

This 1974 CB550 Four has a rebuilt motor. It has a custom exhaust pipe and a Supertrap muffler and will be disk-tuned soon. A Supertrap diffuses overall noise while emitting a deep rumble that should scare the crap out of people who don't expect a medium-bore 550 to "come up growling into its territory," as Ian put it.

The bike will have Clubman bars. Clubmans stick through the top of the bike and are higher than clip-ons, which are race-style. (Clip-ons clip onto the front fork.)

The 550 Four will go two-up--that is, allow for a rider and a passenger. As I got this definition from Ian, he lapsed into Italian, a.k.a. "Ducatese":

"One-up is solo--mono-posto," Ian said. "Duo is bi-posto."

Alrighty, then.

Already, the 550 Four has a drilled rotor, a rebuilt frame, and new Avons. (Avon tires are good for a wide range of vintage applications.)

The photo doesn't do this bike justice. The powder-coated frame is actually a kind of metallic-flake silver. A Norton-racing-yellow tank and matching sidecovers will complement the frame. (Sidecovers are the things that cover the electronics and battery.)

"It's gonna look pretty fuckin' dope when it's all done," Ian said.

This bike should be done by the end of the month. The boys are just waiting to get it back from painting to put on the final touches. When all is said and done, it should haul ass and look good doing it, just the way we like it.

Next we have a 1975 CB400 Four. It has a powder-coated frame, a 466 big-bore Yoshimura kit, and a genuine Yoshimura pipe. It's getting a custom seat. Of all of our winter-fruit bikes, it will probably be the biggest sleeper. The only tell-tale sign that it's a little special is the Yoshi stamp on the pipe to match the Yoshimura "pistons of glory" (yep, that's an Ian quote) inside it.

"The only time you're going to notice the pistons is the lovely sound they make as they leave you in the dirt," Ian said.

This thing should have about 40 hp at the rear wheel and weigh only about 360 or 375. Upon doing some Dyno time, it should get up to about 130 mph. It's getting close to completion and has had the business done to it.

Next is the Rocket. One of Twinline's interns and his dad are building it together on Daddy's dime. They've scrubbed every nook and cranny. It's turning into a great original-type rebuild with Clubman bars and drilled rotors. Everything's been buffed, polished, and powder-coated. It'll probably get new paint, too.

Ian's assessment?

"It is going to show off like nobody's business."


The Goldhead is also still in the works. It's the best custom work we've ever done, largely thanks to the funding that backs it. More on that when we finish it up.

This one is no slouch, either: the British Racing Green (BRG) 400F. (Okay, it's blue right now. . . .) The owner originally wanted to go military-flat green, but after the frame came together--and the engine turned out so nice, and we collected all the accoutrements--this bike needed to be racing green. So . . . full-on, hardcore, British green it will be, with traditional silver pinstriping. We also have a wheel package and will powder-coat rims, hubs--this, that, and the other. It will be beautiful when it's done.

Here we've got a CB200 RR, with an electronic ignition, Mikuni carbs, and some CL high-pipes that have been hacked at the muffler, so they're optimally loud and horsepowery. Then, of course, Motobits rear sets, Bridgestone BT39 race-spec tires (the kind that 160 racers race on), and some Hagon shocks. We just became a dealer for Hagon. (Woo hoo!)

This bike is actually two days away from firing and looking good. Don't judge by the picture; they always look worse before they finally come together. The brakes have been done. The rotor's been drilled. It's just gotta go through paint, but the weather has been uncooperative.

Finally, we have this SR500, which will be a cafe bike. We've got some aluminum rims for it. We have a White Brothers exhaust, now customly ceramic-coated. We've got the Supertrap to acknowledge all the hard work and development that's getting the most out of the little engine without blowing it up. We've got a flat-slide Mikuni carburetor. A custom seat is on the way. We'll be running clip-ons. No electronics will show: they're all going to be tucked up underneath the seat the way we like 'em.

We're going to go solo-dial on this one (just a speedo; no tach), and we'll get it tuned up and ready to be the hooligan bike it was designed to be.

Why go solo-dial?

"All of these single-overhead-cam beasts don't really care for revving beyond what you need," Ian said. "They're built to accelerate as quick as they can; the motor over-revs past its power production."

What he means is that you don't need a tachometer because, as you run out of acceleration, you go, "Oh, I'm running out of steam; I'm going to shift." So you shift. All of a sudden, you've got power again.

"That's the loveliness of the single-overhead-cam, two-valve-per-cylinder motor," Ian said, "and that is the Dope Cafe SR500."

We don't really have another nickname for it. Don't laugh. These things happen.

The Dope should roll out of here at the end of the month.

"It's gonna be pretty burly when we're done with it," Ian said.