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wheelsmithy Dork
1/24/18 4:53 p.m.

This is sort of a mini build thread, but I've read affirmations that the Sprockets section on this forum can be a little neglected. Also, I'm dying to try the new GRM photo hosting. 

wheelsmithy Dork
1/24/18 5:37 p.m.

OK, I'm a little shaky, but managed to get a picture up, so, here goes. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

   This bike has a storied past. My buddy  Dirk bought it sometime circa 2005. It immediately blew up. He, having never rebuilt an engine before, proceeded to learn how on this bike. He learned how to jet. He learned how to use a torque wrench. He learned how to wreck... maybe he already knew that last one, but he certainly honed his skills with this bike. I personally picked it up off of him after an ill-advised bonfire stunt session in which he broke his collarbone, and had to be taken to the emergency room. I was behind him another time he wiped out harmlessly on the street for no apparent reason.  Yes, this Honda has been down so long it looks like up.

   The bike is a '94 XR650-L. When Dirk set out for California, and moved on to wreck KTMs, BMWs, and additional collarbones, he left the poor beast outside at his folk's place. Four long years it sat out in the rain, dying an undeserved death, until one day, Dirk called me, and asked if I'd like to have it-for free!

   Naturally, I took the poor thing home, and proceeded to dump some five grand into it. Powdercoat the frame? Check. Inverted forks, huge front brake, and 17" tires? Check. Horribly overpriced Staintune exhaust? Fancy new Gas tank? Corbin seat? Tapered bars? Check. Check. Check. And Check. I pulled the engine apart for new gaskets, found Dirk had put the piston in backwards, put in a HotCams Cam, and generally threw a ton of money at the now not-so-homely Honda.

   I enjoyed it like this for a couple of years, but when it was time to move, passed it on to my brother, who was between bikes at the time, and had done me more good turns than I can mention. He rode it to work for a bit, but then, you guessed it, wiped out. Twice.The first was minor. Slick paint at an intersection, if I remember correctly. No biggie, and we all know, there are three kinds of riders:

1. Those who have been down.

2. Those who are going down.

3. Those who are going down again.

  Well, the second wreck was more serious. A car pulled out in front of him, and he went down. Low-side during a panic stop. He suffered a spiral fracture to his tibia, and the fibula was also broken. This was May '17, and he's still recovering as of the present (Jan '18), but has plans to ride again. All in all very lucky.

   But back to the Motard; Insurance totalled it, and he bought it back for $250.  I  am still in a limbo between moves, and need a project badly, so he gave it back. This is a thread about me bringing it back-Again.All pictures up to this point are how I got it back, after its most recent horizontal excursion. Note brother on crutches in background.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/24/18 7:08 p.m.

After a moment's repose, I regretted the title of this thread. If a mod wouldn't mind changing it to "Return of the Motard", I'd greatly appreciate it. 

EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
1/25/18 5:42 a.m.

Done. Although changing it to "Mo'Tard" was tempting 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
1/25/18 5:47 a.m.

Sounds like Dirk needs to be more careful if he keeps crashing everything cheeky  

That's a sweet bike, I'd probably bend the rear subframe straightish, replace the headlight, and ride it as is- assuming there aren't more problems we can't see in the photos.  I love the old aircooled single cylinder stuff, off to craigslist to look for an XR600R.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/25/18 4:48 p.m.
EastCoastMojo said:

Done. Although changing it to "Mo'Tard" was tempting 

That would have been fine, too. Thank You for helping me keep it family friendly.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/26/18 9:10 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

 I'd probably bend the rear subframe straightish, replace the headlight, and ride it as is- assuming there aren't more problems we can't see in the photos.  

That is exactly the plan. I'm not so bucks-up as I was with the original build, and now I just want something to ride. The bumps and scrapes don't bother me a bit. 

   First up, the headlight, and front blinkers.I got a "cafe racer" headlight off amazon. It needed some persuasion with a welding cannister lid....And some more persuasion....Until it sort of cleared the ignition switch on the headlight bracket I built previously. No provisions for headlights on those YZ 426 (I think) forks. 

The headlight is in, but will need a bit more tweaking. Note new blinkers soldered to pigtails of the old harness so it all makes sense. They're rubber mounted, as the old Leds kept breaking off....And a shot lit up.

wheelsmithy Dork
1/27/18 1:33 p.m.

Next up, the shifter.

Before:After:Good enough. Note the widened footpegs, also part of the previous build.

As stated, I'm really not bothering with cosmetics right now, unless they also affect functionality. The goofy curve to the shifter, and scratched engine case are fine for now. This bike may see as many trails as it sees paved roads once I get it back together, besides, chicks dig scars, right? The bike is about 200 miles from where I'm currently working/renting an efficiency. Yep, in my Mom's garage. I am only in on some weekends, and have very limited time to mess with it-maybe a couple of hours on a Saturday. So, progress will be slow, but it is a small project anyway, so now we're up to date, and I've got to work every weekend in February, so, for now,


wheelsmithy Dork
3/19/18 8:37 p.m.

So, I've been chipping away at this. Forward motion, if only incremental.



It's amazing what some wet sanding with 500 grit, moving up to 1000 can do. Note also, the ultra trick footpeg mounts I made, topped by craptastic generic pegs. The paint turned out beyond my best expectations, and so, I brought the rest of the bodywork, except the tank back to my apartment, so I can work on it. Here's what the bike looked like when I left it Saturday.

And a final, gratuitous shot of the expensive oil cooler I bought from a graphic artist online who was doing limited run production on them. It's a beaut, and surprisingly enough, I couldn't find one made for this bike anywhere else. 

So, there is still plenty more to do. I am unhappy with the headlight situation, and once it is physically sorted, I feel an LED bulb is necessary, as it is the last incandescent on the bike. I scoped out the frame, and the bend on the rear rail is very minor. The powder coat survived, so I'll try to bend it back into place cold, and only heat and beat if I have to. The oil needs to be changed, I need to do a test ride/measurement/eyeball to see if the forks and handlebars are straight. Just details after that. Like a good wash, for instance. More later.

wheelsmithy Dork
4/21/18 3:55 p.m.

I've been working, although in mind-numbingly tiny increments, and with slow progress. 

The excellent results I got on the scratched side panel inspired me to remove the truck bed liner, and try to make these beat panels nice again.

100 grit is rough.

I asked my Mom to take an action shot of me bending the frame back with a 5' cheater bar. It was an unpleasant awakening concerning the details of my hairline, but I got it done none the less. Apologies for the BOLD, I'm largely computer illiterate, and just relieved to be able to tell my story.

Now, I'm back at my crappy apartment, sanding body panels in the bathtub, and painting once I believe they are "OKayish". 

Here is a picture of a tree I like for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

I like trees.

wheelsmithy Dork
4/21/18 4:32 p.m.

I almost forgot. I was very unhappy with how the headlight bucket was looking, so the angle grinder came out... details to follow.


And this is what the rear fender looked like after frame re-straightening. 


More to come...


ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/21/18 11:39 p.m.

Still liking this thread; glad to see some progress!

Cooter HalfDork
4/22/18 8:01 a.m.

Nice looking Sumo.  


Hopefully this thread will inspire me to finally source some adapters to swap 17s onto my KTM. 

wheelsmithy Dork
4/22/18 8:47 a.m.

In reply to Cooter :

That is one nice bike. My love of the Duke is what still fuels most of my motorcycle mayhem.

Cooter HalfDork
4/22/18 8:56 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

I should have bought a Duke a few years ago when you could still find decent ones under $2k .

wheelsmithy Dork
4/28/18 6:08 p.m.

This is the result of an insane amount of sanding.


They are far from perfect, but some elbow grease, and rattle can black beats maybe 200 bucks for new bodywork, which would need cutting down, sanding and paint. 

If anyone is considering truck bed liner from the flaps for anything, I'd highly recommend against it. It flaked right up off my truck's floor (brush/roll on), and was hell to get off these fenders. The old tank I painted with it blistered, and peeled off, but not completely. Never again. 

wheelsmithy Dork
5/7/18 4:35 p.m.

I had about half an hour to dedicate to the bike this weekend. Luckily, it doesn't take long to bolt bodywork on. 

The frame and fender look good to me.

And so, we're full circle to the confounded headlight.

We'll call this strike two.

Excuses are like noses, as my Old Man always said, but it has been 6 months since my hands were on a Tig torch, and I was only starting to feel good with what I was doing then. Suffice to say, I determined that this was beyond my abilities at the moment. I did successfully Tig an exhaust back together, which was dirty, and my primary target, so there's that. 

I stopped by Harbour Freight on the way back to my crappy apartment, and bought some J(wanna)B Weld, and am pointing towards the grandstand for the third pitch.

Hey batta, hey batta, hey batta batta,...Schwing.


wheelsmithy Dork
5/14/18 7:16 p.m.

For anyone in doubt, yes, I know this is the lamest build thread of all time (L.O.A.T.), but it is keeping me on track. 

I ordered a 2"GPS speedometer, and some el cheapo bucket I hope it fits in, and did this: 

1st coat of fake JB Weld sanded, 2nd and final coat applied. Maybe we'll settle for a rbi.

This weekend, I touched up some paint on the headlight bracket, and drained the oil. Not much came out of the frame/tank, but plenty from the crankcase. It all looked like oil, as opposed to metal flake a la Corvette summer, so that's a positive. 

More to come.


wheelsmithy SuperDork
5/29/18 4:39 p.m.

Stuff's been happening.

Like I'm finally ok enough with the headlight. The wiring fit inside without any unnecessary roughness.

Overall, I like it. It is just one step closer to a Lost Boys bike. 

The GPS Speedo I got from amazon has poorly translated directions, and says it is only waterproof from the front. Huh.


"Please use the product accordance with the user manual strictly."

"The product need professional installation, otherwise easily get an electric shock"

and my favorite, " Fierce vibration and strong impact may make the product failure"

Okee dokee.

The bucket I rolled the dice on didn't work, but I have an idea...


Oh yeah, and I fired it up, everything works as it should, except one thing. It's not oiling. There's that bolt you pull out on dry sump engines, you know, the one that once oil is running out it, all is well. Well, I let it run for a couple of one minute spells, holding it vertically, and it was still dry in that hole. My hope is that being so thoroughly drained, it lost the prime on that oil cooler, and just needs a little love. I didn't see any leaks. I decided to walk away before I did some damage.


David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/29/18 7:54 p.m.

This thread is awesome. And, yes, I like trees, too. 

wheelsmithy SuperDork
6/2/18 1:09 p.m.

I'm away from the bike this weekend, but there's still stuff to do.

Wired the speedo up so I could fiddle with it, find out how it works, what's up with the wiring, etc. I have to admit, I'm confused. there are two positive and two negative pins as per the instructions, but it appears they're redundant.  The instructions are tough to follow, and I just got bifocals recently, so this is all sorts of fun. Time for some trial and error...I  mean scientific method. I brought the bike's battery and a charger back. Now to take this for a ride in the car.


wheelsmithy SuperDork
6/17/18 6:40 p.m.

I figured out that the wiring was indeed redundant. One +, one- , and you're good to go. The soup can idea, as fantastic as it was, died on the operating table. This thing seems every bit as accurate as my car speedo, and, say you only shut it off for ten minutes, it synchs back up in a couple of seconds. For $60 (as I remember,) it is well worth the scratch. I've been using bicycle speedometers for quite some time on motorcycles, but the future is here. I want neutral, blinker, and hi-beam indicators, and a speedometer that is not affected by the coil doing its job.

So, I made a bucket. The GRM speedshop (Home Depot) had the first thing I needed.

 Add bark buster mount I don't necessarily plan on using, 

Tap it, and enlarge the ID for my "Pro Taper" bars.

As usual, my methods are crude, but effective.

A test fit on the bike, next to the Cateye I have somehow lost the sending unit for,

and I can bring the parts back to my apartment to fiddle with during another work week.



jfryjfry HalfDork
6/27/18 6:12 p.m.

I would bevel the edges of the bar mounts so they don’t dig in as the bar flexes. 

wheelsmithy SuperDork
6/30/18 6:28 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

I believe I'll take the advice from the stuntman. Question: are we talking just like an 1/8" bevel both parallel to, and perpendicular to the bars? Like no sharp edges where bracket meets bars, right?


In other news, I had another half hour I could dedicate to the bike in person today. I started it, still no oil coming out the weep hole. Leaned her over about 45 degrees to the left:nothing. Same thing to the right: Bingo! Once stood back up, it was oiling fine. Funny thing, I had about a quart too much oil in it when I first fired it up. So I drained a quart. After I had oil coming out the weep hole, I was a quart low. Go figure. 

So, I'm basically all set. I guess I'll get the speedometer finished up, but then its tags and registration. Did I mention I have a big ol pumper carburetor I couldn't get right before? Well, we'll see how long it takes me to get around to that one.

jfryjfry HalfDork
7/1/18 1:58 a.m.

It might not be necessary (rounding out the edges) but I wouldn’t do much. 

Here is an example:



And don’t give up on the carb - you’ll get it!

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