Of Minds and Motorcycles

"I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party." - Ron White

Kawasaki S3

El Citron, in its semi-original state, before I bought it.

If you haven't heard of El Citron, you can read more from one of my previous blog posts El Citron – Taming the Lemon. If you'd rather not read too much, I'll give a quick summary of the story behind El Citron.

I bought the bike back in 2014, when I was just starting to get into the idea of building bikes. I had very little experience with vintage bikes, and had no idea what I was getting into. The previous owner warned me, but was tired of dealing with the bike, and probably didn't know the full extent of the problems it had.

From the first time I rode the bike, it was constantly developing new problems. For the most part it was fouling spark plugs like crazy. I thought this was just the temperament of the bike, but later in the winter when I decided to take it apart, I found many bigger problems. Stripped bolts almost all over the entire engine and frame, a kickstarter shaft welded to the transmission, and bent piston rods to name a few. The bike was in need of a major overhaul, and required a lot of money and patience.

I decided to go all out and do a full custom build in a modern sport bike style, including GSXR forks, and a modern swingarm and monoshock suspension. I've done a lot of work on the bike to date, but haven't been on top of updating on its progress. So in this post I'll be starting with a review of some of the major frame modifications that were done in order to turn this bike into a modern looking cafe racer streetfighter kind of thing. I completed the engine rebuild last summer, and have been working on the rest of the bike since.

Swingarm Mod

A while ago I spoke about how I needed to fit a wider Suzuki Bandit 600 swingarm into a narrow frame I Got 99 Problems. Well over last winter I finally mustered the courage, and hacked into the frame to widen the mounts. When I say I, I mean Roger did most of the work:

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Roger plasma cutting mounting plates

I was extremely lucky with this swingarm, in that the width was exactly the same as the width of the frame at the stock mounts. To widen the mounts we made replacement swingarm pivot mounting plates, and positioned them in the exact location using custom made aluminum spacers. The plates were positioned and tack welded to the frame, and then the old mounting plates were cut off with a plasma cutter. Although the result wasn't the prettiest, it worked!

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Plasma cut edges on the frame in preparation for new mounting plates

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New mounting plate being bored

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Mounting plate spacer on the lathe

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Roger TIG welding the new plates in position

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A bit of reconstructive surgery on the frame. Reversing bent sections from years of abuse.

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Next I took the rear shock from a GSXR1000 and made new shock mounts to weld to the frame.

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Front End

The front forks came from a 2004 GSXR600. I had a custom steering stem made by Cognito Moto, which made the swap to modern forks easy.

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Pressing the old stem out of the triple tree

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Rolling chassis

Subframe

I cut the existing frame off from where the tank ends and fabricated a new hoop with a slight bend upwards to provide plenty of clearance for the rear wheel.

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No turning back now

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Hot sand-bending rear hoop

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Rear subframe almost complete

I also added support tubes to make a smaller triangle section, and created a "V" shaped support for the rear shock.

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Extra shock support

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TIG welds getting better and better

Which brings us to June 2016, when the bike looked like this:

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Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll be finishing a review of what's been done to date.

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