Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Bell helmet update.

I've just spent a week in New York and I was amazed at the lack of motorcycles in Manhattan. A couple of tragic cruisers with tassels and stuff was about it. One would have thought that with all the traffic that people would turn to bikes in order not to get stuck in the congestion, but no. Very few bikes. In places like Milan and Rome, where car drivers drive like maniacs, there are bikes absolutely everywhere. Strange.

And of course: with few bikes, there are also very few dealers. I only found one, and that was small and poorly stocked. No sign of any Bell helmets. So I call Bell's support centre and even they couldn't tell me where to find a "Custom 500" in New York. Hm. When I was a kid riding motocross bikes, there were Bell helmets all over the place. Guess the brand must have deteriorated.

Fortunately, Bell has a web shop, and I now have a white Custom 500 on order. Time to order some paint. Marcus of Marcus Moto Design tells me you can get two pack in rattle cans nowadays. Weird, but if he's not pulling my leg, it's apparently true.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Air or water?

I STILL haven't decided on what to build next, and it drives me crazy. All I know is that I want something that can travel a little further than my Husky tracker. Don't get me wrong: I love the way the Husky came out, but it's not very, erm, comfortable.

I came very close to buying a mint KTM 990 motor this week. The price was right and it had only 2400 clicks on the meter – barely run in. It's a cracking engine, powerful, light for a twin and thoroughly modern, which I like. It would be the perfect engine for a kick-ass street tracker. There is however, the issue of the cooling. The Katoom engine is liquid cooled and since it puts out a lot of power, it needs big coolers. And therein lies the rub: it's very difficult to build a naked bike with all those coolers, hoses and little plastic tanks. I haven't seen one that looks good. And believe me: I've looked through the entire Internet looking for good looking KTM-based bikes. Yes, the entire thing.

I figure I need about 80-90 bhp in order to build a fun bike, if It's a torquey engine and if I can keep the weight of the bike under 180-190 kg. Which got me thinking about that Buell engine again... Now, there's no denying that an air cooled engine looks a LOT nicer than water cooled ones. Just have a look at the sketch from Bottpower above. How cool is that! They are aiming at a weight of 170 kg, which I think may be a little optimistic without spending a fortune on components like the wheels, but 180 should be attainable without braking the bank. But the best thing of all is the fact that their sketch does away with the aluminium perimeter frame, instead opting for a central tube. Which makes it possible to use a proper gas tank (incidentally the same tank as on my Husky. It wouldn't be too difficult to build either. All you need is a big, bent steel tube (preferably cro-mo) from the swing arm pivot up to the steering head, some brackets to fix the engine in place, and presto: good looking, minimal frame. At least that's what I'm thinking at the moment – I'm not sure about where the mounting points are on a Buell. Tomorrow I'm going to the local Harley dealer to take some spy shots!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

More images.

I got an email from the guy who runs Bike EXIF – one of the bigger blogs for cafe racers and customs – requesting some images of my bike and I sent him some of the shots that weren't featured in Sideburn.

I must admit that it was with some trepidation I sent Chris the images since quite a few bikes get "murdered" in the comments on his blog. But people were actually quite kind and even the "Yoda" of the street tracker scene, Richard Pollock (of Mule Motorcycles) put in an encouraging post.
Click here to see the images on BikeEXIF.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Preaching to the choir.

You probably know this already, but there is a new issue of Sideburn for sale, and my bike is featured! Buy it. You WILL love it. The best bike magazine, bar none.

PS: if you're working for the Swedish Postal Service, stop reading this and hurry up with my issue will ya?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Captain Sweden.

I normally use a full face helmet. But after seeing the wonderful "Riding September" video, I now want an open face one. And being too cheap to buy one from Ateliers Ruby, I've decided to go for a "Bell 500 Custom" which are on sale for about $100 in the US, despite being made from proper fibre glass.

I've always liked the "Captain America" scheme featured in the movie "Easy Rider" – even if it is a little overexploited by now. So I thought I'd try my hand at making a colour scheme of my own and throw in some Swedish influences as well.

The plan is to get a white one and then paint it myself like my Photoshop-sketch above. I'm planning to use rattle can paints and not be too fussy with the masking and painting in order to achieve a little bit of a "retro" feel – as if the helmet had been painted in the seventies by some hippie and then lost for decades, before being rediscovered by me. That way I get a nice looking lid and still get modern levels of protection. That's the plan anyway... If anyone uses a Bell 500 please get in contact with me – I need some help with choosing the correct size.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Santa was late.

But then again, what's a day or two when you get something like this! I mentioned earlier that I tried a Keihin FCR flat slide carb on my bike during the summer and I just could not believe what a difference it made compared to my old Del' Orto. It was as if the old jerky and vibey Husky big bore lump had suddenly been transformed into a modern, smooth and really powerful weapon. It also made the bike a doddle to start – hot or cold. I've been on the lookout for a 41 mm FCR ever since, but come across a lot of dodgy ebay-sellers that refused to send images or otherwise behaved strangely.

Then I found this Dutch website: http://www.frankmxparts.com/ and got in contact with the very friendly and helpful owner Frank. Not only did he find the carb I needed, he also got it jetted to my specs, changed the wire operated (from the handlebars) hot start mechanism to a simpler and nicer button on the carb and changed all the transparent tubing for black ones. The cost of all this, including shipping: €360. Considering that the carb I got is almost new (and really looks as good as new too) and that the throttle and cables were included, well, I think that is awesome value.

If you want to transform your thumper, buy an FCR. And do buy it from Frank.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Got it!

Now I know what I want to build next. A Porsche 909 Bergspyder. The pic is from Porsches' own museum and doesn't it look great? It was built in 1968 "specifically for competing in hill climbing competitions" and it weighed an incredible 385 kg! That's a 100 kg less than the weight of a modern Formula 1 (sans driver and fuel)! The 909 encompasses everything I like; light weight, no nonsense styling and of course: black rims. Now I just need to work out how it would look as a motorcycle. And what engine it should have. Back to the drawing board!