“Success requires first expending ten units of effort to produce one unit of results. Your momentum will then produce ten units of results with each unit of effort.” – Charles J. Givens
It's been over a year since my last post, mostly because I've been working on the bikes, and building my skills in metal working. Since I last wrote, I've learned how to TIG weld, have switched shops to a more professional industrial space, and have started to create custom metal pieces for furniture prototyping in addition to all the bike work. I've moved my motorcycle work space to a smaller garage at home, and do all my metal work at the bigger shop.
The biggest thing I've learned from all of this is that you never know where you'll end up.
You've probably heard this one before, but the quote that stands out for me now is the one by Steve Jobs: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."
I thought I was going to turn myself into a custom bike builder, when really I've become more of a metal worker. Which I suppose is connected and somewhat obvious, but I could have focused more on being a mechanic. At the end of the day, I love bikes, but when I go with the flow I tend to gravitate more towards creative metal projects, which I guess is why I started customizing bikes in the first place. Metal work is where all the creativity happens, and where I can sculpt a bike into whatever I want. What feels great is that the more skilled I get, the more I can turn my ideas into reality, and the crazier I can be with my ideas.
In any case, here's an update on how the bikes are coming. I'll try to give more detailed updates soon.
The XS (XS1100)
First of all I finished the XS1100, or Big Bertha as I had called it (a name I haven't been happy with since I finished the bike). I have a friend who calls it "The Mad Max", but I hesitate using that as well since every custom bike made in this style references Mad Max or post-apocalyptic themes. Maybe I should call it "Bike" or just "The XS" as I've gotten used to saying.
El Citron, my 1974 Kawasaki S3, is coming along nicely as well. I've pushed through some of the more challenging parts of the build, and should be ready to finish it soon; which really means I'll be finished it next year. Here's where it stands right now. I'm glad this picture has an engine, because people love to make the same Flintstones joke when I show a frame on wheels: "So this is a foot powered motorcycle?" It's a frame on wheels asshole!
Another bike with no name, my SV650 was the first bike I customized, and a bike I haven't touched much since the battery exploded on me last year. I fixed the battery issue with a new regulator/rectifier, and a new lithium ion battery, and it runs great. The battery incident did rust out the subframe pretty badly, and in general I'm waiting to tear into this bike to make a go at round 3 of customizing. This time since I can do all my own metal work, the bike will be getting a full proper treatment. I've also learned that clear powder coat isn't great at rustproofing, as little spots and lines of rust are forming throughout the tank. At least I know what works now, and that the trend of making "raw metal" durable is a load of shit; unless you want a rat bike. I'm probably going to head in the direction of nickel plating, as I did for The XS, or paint, as they're both proven methods of rust prevention.
This time I'll be making a new subframe with a custom seat pan. I may try out the English Wheel and try to do some interesting body work as well, but we'll see.
In September I made a trip to the mountains in North Carolina with my main gal Yasmin on the Fireblade, my Honda CBR900RR from 1999. I'll talk more about the trip we did in a future post. I've been using the Fireblade as a practical sports tourer, but it definitely has its limitations. I thought I'd be a tough guy and take a sport bike across the country, until I realized that everyone was right, and that my neck and ass were killing me the whole trip. I pushed Yasmin to take her '95 Ninja 600R on the trip too, and while she was a trooper (especially since the bike was temperamental the whole trip), I don't think she's loving sport bikes so much anymore. I'll be playing with the idea of turning the Fireblade into more of a roadster, but in the meantime it's still my go to bike for reliable riding.
Stay tuned for updates on El Citron, and a review of the last few stages of The XS build.