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  • [IMAGES] Bobber progress

    [Originally started this as a blog post, but I wanted to post more photos than the blog system would allow, so... plan B is a forum post]



    It's been a good 9 or so years since I sold my RF600RR, but as of about 6 weeks ago, I'm back in the saddle again! Instead of going the sport-bike route, I wanted to try something different... and I just couldn't resist the idea of making a sweet-ass bobber on the cheap.


    From Wikipedia:
    A bobber is a custom motorcycle that usually has had the front fender removed, the rear fender "bobbed" or made smaller, and all superfluous parts removed to make it lighter.

    The bobber was the earliest simple and stripped down custom motorcycle hand-built by individuals with mechanical skills, and was often part of the early biker-club scene before there were any such things as choppers. This style of custom motorcycle, which took shape in the 1940s and 50s, is generally thought to have been started by returning WW II American servicemen working on ex-military motorcycles, and inspired by lighter European motorcycles they had seen and ridden. The bikes reflected their owners and were often homemade.

    Whereas customized motorcycles can be extremely expensive, bobber builders tend to adopt an economical approach involving old, second hand, recycled parts and hand machined items redolent of the period before the mass-market motorcycle accessory industry had developed.


    This is my "new" 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic (VN800B) in stock form. This is big ole swoopy thing is what I got for my for hard earned $2,000. The Miami-Dolphins Teal was horrific, but it was mechanically sound, which was really what I was looking for - since it wasn't going to look this way for long. (The aftermarket Cobra pipes were an unexpected bonus.)





    First night home, and Avery can't believe the saddlebags, front fender, and backrest are already gone!





    This photo was from shortly after I got it. Gandparents took the rug-rats for the weekend, so me and Mrs.Six rode to the movies (Prometheus - it was meh). She's on a 1985 Rebel 250, bobbed, with a solo seat, swing-arm mounted rear-fender, drag bars, and a ratty, satin-black, rattle-canned tank.






    All the tins stripped off, ready for a trim.





    That big front fender wasn't going to get thrown out though, as I decided to repurpose it as a bobbed rear fender.

    Made a cardboard template so both sides would match. Traced the line w/ sharpie and then cut it w/ a Dremel.






    For the front attachment point, I bent a piece of house-framing-strapping around the swing-arm pivot - works just fine to hold the very light rear fender.






    Shaped, sanded, and almost ready for 'paint'.






    Couldn't be happier with the new silhouette.






    PlastiDip is a spray-on, rubberized coating. It sticks to just about anything, and is super durable once fully dry. I love the stuff! Only takes a couple coats, goes on evenly, and if you mess up, you can just peel it off and start over!






    I PlastiDip'd the rear fender, tank, and headlight bucket. It looked good, but I decided all matte-black was a little... boring. To make it a little more interesting, I taped off a tear-drop, and put a few coats of high-gloss krylon. I like how the black-on-black two-tone look came out.






    Next up was making the mounting brackets for an old boot-leather seat I found on Craigslist. Home Depot has aluminum stock for cheap... 6 bucks for a 4-foot length of this 1.5" wide stuff.






    Solo-seat sprung and mounted.

    (Can also see the matte/gloss line pretty clearly in this light too)






    Next up was the handle-bars. I replaced the stock bars with 10" mini-apes from Santee (only $35!!). They come pre-drilled for internal wiring.

    Making extensions for, and snaking through, nine wires on the left side and five on the right was a huge pain in the ass... but worth it in the end.






    Bars mounted - much, much cleaner w/ the internal wiring.

    Also, more importantly, a MUCH more comfortable riding position. Think about where you rest your hand on the steering wheel when you drive - the top right? This is pretty much that exact posture, times two hands.





    Pesky law enforcement. Wanting to have a license plate. Psh. ;)

    On a stock Vulcan, the plate mounts on the rear fender. That wasn't happening on mine, so I just bent up a piece of aluminum and bolted it on where the chain-guard used to live. A $3.99 LED plate light from ebay makes it street-legal[ish].






    Next thing I wanted to do was black-out the pipes. I'd seen a few bikes w/ wrapped exhaust and it really gives a nice old-school look I think. I found 50' of black, fiberglass header-wrap for $25 off ebay. Used probably around 40' of it?

    Internet says to wear gloves and soak the stuff before putting it on. Another tip was to start at the end and work your way towards the motor... so the overlaps point away from the wind. So that's what I did.




    With the pipes wrapped and air-filter cover blacked out. Only thing left to do is the front end!





    First step was to put in progressive-rate springs and lower it a touch. Turns out it was super easy to swap springs. Just pop the top off each fork-tube, pull the old spring out, and put the new one in!





    Original spring side-by-side with the progressive rate spring. The new springs come with a spacer that you cut to your desired height. I cut it to ride an inch and a half lower than stock.





    Regular floor-jack works fine to get the front wheel off the ground - just lift the frame on the opposite side of the kick-stand, et viola!






    In addition to lowering the front, I also wanted to black it out. Lower forks, triple-tree, and risers all drying after PlastiDip application.















    Someday kid, someday.




    ... Now I'm just waiting on my Scootworks lowering kit for the rear! Well.. I suppose that's not entirely true - I'd like to put white-walls on there too, but the current tires are pretty new and it's hard to justify throwing down that kind of cash for something so purely cosmetic. :)

  • #2
    Looks great.

    Really dig the wrap on the exhaust.
    doYouEvenLuftwaffe

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bobber progress

      Nice work! Very sexy bike W6!

      sigpic


      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bobber progress

        been following this since it was a blog. Loving the old school fifties look
        "Everyone makes fun of us rednecks with our big trucks and all our guns........until the zombie apocalypse"

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bobber progress

          Nice looking bike. Maybe one day I might do something like this to my Sportster when I can afford a cruiser for long rides.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bobber progress

            Amazing work! Needs the TG dog tags on the tank though, I think it will tie it together quite well. How does it ride?

            [unit][squadl][command2]

            KnyghtMare ~You could always tell the person holding the gun to your head you would like to play on a different server...

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            • #7
              Re: Bobber progress

              Originally posted by Dredge View Post
              Amazing work! Needs the TG dog tags on the tank though, I think it will tie it together quite well. How does it ride?
              heh... i've been thinking about stuff to put on the side of the tank and the tags crossed my mind.... well, it'd just be the silhouette, but...



              It rides really really nice. Progressive-rate springs in the front, and double sprung rear (seat springs on a soft-tail).

              Can't corner very well... or.. at least I haven't pushed it, unlike all my other bikes :D

              Clutch is actually slipping a little when I really hammer it. It's a wet clutch, so I'm hoping the previous owner just put some bad oil in... I heard if you put in automotive oil w/ friction reducers (for better MPG), it can make your clutch slip.

              Comment


              • #8
                Try running synthetic in it
                "Everyone makes fun of us rednecks with our big trucks and all our guns........until the zombie apocalypse"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bobber progress

                  Spring 2013, time to get back into it!


                  Next up was to lower the rear. I found a Cobra lowering kit, which is just a replacement lower clevis bracket for the mono shock. A 1/2" or so drop in this connection point is supposed to equate to a 1.5" drop over all. My helper holds the new piece next to the old:





                  Using spring-compressors intended for a car (borrowed from AutoZone), was a bit of pain in the ass, but... finally got them compressed enough to get the adjustable on the lock-nut below the clevis:






                  With the rear dropped (don't have great before/after pictures, sorry), it was time to get the seat lowered too. It's about as low as it could go in stock form because this crossmember and the battery are in the way. Obviously wasn't going to let that stop progress.

                  Cross-member being removed:






                  Battery will be relocated to the cavity where where the tool-pouch/manuals used to live:





                  Picked up this 1.5" angle (aluminum) at HD for pretty cheap... Two vertical pieces bolt into the brackets for the old plastic tub, and then one horizontal piece makes the shelf for the battery to sit on:





                  Battery is held in place by two 7" screw-type vent clamps. First bolt the clamps to the shelf, then tighten it all up:









                  Dremel off the little bottom part on the right-side cover, and viola! Fits over the battery like a glove! I'll end up cleaning this up once it's all fab'd. (paint clamps and shelf black, peel sticker off the battery, etc)






                  Supposed to be rainy this weekend... hopefully I'll have time to get the pipes back on and wire it all back together :)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Bobber progress

                    Very nice. Do you intend on keeping that stock tank on it? Doesn't look too...bobberish.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Bobber progress

                      Originally posted by mangeface View Post
                      Very nice. Do you intend on keeping that stock tank on it? Doesn't look too...bobberish.
                      for now, yeah. was considering a sportster tank, but not in the budget.... yet ;)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Bobber progress

                        Originally posted by WhiskeySix View Post
                        for now, yeah. was considering a sportster tank, but not in the budget.... yet ;)
                        Yeah, a HD Sportser tank would look amazing on it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Bobber progress

                          Originally posted by WhiskeySix View Post
                          for now, yeah. was considering a sportster tank, but not in the budget.... yet ;)
                          Yeah, a HD Sportser tank would look amazing on it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Bobber progress

                            Wow looks fantastic Whiskey! :) It looks similar enough to your wife's bike. Does you guys swap bikes at all? Like she rides on yours and you ride on hers every so often?
                            |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
                            TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
                            Former 9th & 13th

                            Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
                            Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





                            SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

                            TG Primer and Rules

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                            • #15
                              Re: Bobber progress

                              Thanks :)

                              It doesn't really look like it in that photo, but the 800 is a fair bit larger and a LOT heavier than her stripped 250... so she, being petite, isn't really comfortable on it.

                              I've taken hers out for around-the-town stuff. It's fun to toss around, but it's small, so I feel/look a little goofy on it :D

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