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Author Topic: UJM fate - I vote STOP ruining awesome bikes, build rad Cafe's out of the rest!  (Read 3668 times)

Offline Chuck78

  • Posts: 299
    • my bike photo album
I thought I'd stir the pot a little in the "anything goes" section of the forum and echo the sentiments of most of the veteran members of here and the other big cafe racer forum, due to observations and further realizations in recent times.

My buddy and I were chatting the other day about this, and he mentioned that every single time he finds any decent pictures or videos of his model of bike, a 78 Suzuki GS550C, they are all franken-cafe's... he rarely ever sees a tastefully modded and unmolested nice project build, they are typically all permanently maimed poorly engineered builds with generic typical "Cafe" seat humps and seat cushions that are no good for any longer distance than riding from one cafe (or rather, bar) to the next... bikes with 27 or 28 degree frame rake, running forks that are way way too short to ever make the bike handle around corners with any decent lean angle, and running triple clamps for those forks that have so little offset (intended for 23.5 or 24 degree rake frames and a 120/70-17 tire) that the stock frame rake or even steepened a bit through ride height/stance alterations will generate a substantially higher trail geometry figure than stock, making a front end that not only steers like an old man harley cruiser or a dump truck, but also kills any real sporty lean angle when swapping a modern inverted fork front end onto a bike that is a poor fit for such a thing... Not to mention this in conjunction with ultra stiff cheapo $79 rear shocks, or if they're lucky, RFY  shocks rebuilt from new (properly) and rebranded by Chris Livengood... hopefully with a spring rate that compliments the weight of the bike and the rider and the swingarm leverage ratio...
Worst of all, the first thing done is as we always fear, the hacksaw and angle grinder and self taught Harbor Freight "MIG" welder (flux cored) lessons come before ever riding the bike and getting it in tip top shape... rendering the bike permanently devalued unless it is done by a world class builder and sold in New York or the greater Los Angeles area to a rich hipster...
The even better part of this is... this same friend who had this realization while chatting with me, just a year ago was so enamored by all of the cafe racer bikes... until he actually got his first vintage bike of decent performance pedigree, his first bike ever, period. Then he started seeing all of these generic chop&downgrade themes to most bikes of that style... and started looking at more of the 70's classics and appreciating the semi-stock look and stylings of the good builds or even mostly stock bikes...



Yeah, so....

I vote that if you fit any of the above description - or at least the general description not caring about enhancing (or rather detracting from instead) the performance of the bike to begin with, but rather just build a bike that rolls down the road when you twist the throttle and looks cool, and has the aggressive aesthetic that you desire to carve and shape it into,  then please reconsider chopping up awesome old UJM's and start out with something a little more off the beaten path, or at least, if you love the Japanese inline fours or parallel twins for your build, pick the ones that are turds from the factory like the GS###L models or the KZ###LTD or CSR models... Not the ones that take very little alterations from stock to make them even more classic (flattening the seat cushions, superbike bars, lowering the gauge mounting position, smaller/shorter turn signals or none- hand signals)

These classic UJM's are becoming more and more scarce now, I have seriously noticed a HUGE decrease this year in the amount of project bikes that I'd like to buy on craigslist and fix up for friends or flip. Many would have beens are now cafe looking bikes that don't run right and need mechanical work and have the back of the frame gone and a skateboard with 1/2" of foam and leather/vinyl on top for a seat... or with a DIY fiberglass job humper on the back.
SSSSOOOOOOO many of these bikes have been parted out now and are gone forever (ever look on ebay for parts??? Extreme proof), hacked up into cafe art bike perpetual projects, or even exported back to Japan where you could not buy a Japanese 550, 650, 750, 900, 1000, 1100 etc bike back in the day due to the 400cc limits in some countries... a good fella that I know makes a real good living income solely buying bikes in all over the USA, and exporting them back to Japan. I have seen one other guy locally who does the same thing, and that is not to mention others like the Japanese guy who showed up to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days a few years ago with a giant shipping container trailer, and filled the entire thing full with almost every single good project bike for sale in the 22+ acre swap meet, all bought the very first day of the swap meet in the early AM,  before hardly any enthusiasts or cafe-wannabe art-bike makers could even have a shot at buying anything good... I'm dead serious about these great vintage bikes now becoming both scarce and headng toward the more expensive end of things... meanwhile, one that is chopped up into a bobtailed cafe frame with a dented 4-1 exhaust and forks several inches shorter than the frame needs, will be not worth very much still at the time when a stock example is worth SUBSTANTIALLY more than it was just a few years earlier due to the economics of supply and demand.




How about this idea which I fully endorse. Start building cafe art bikes out of other models like Honda Rebels, single cylinder bikes like the LS650 Savage, Yamaha Virago (I've seen some really great looking Cafe'd Virago's), etc

Or the one that I appreciate the most - take a modern bike like a Suzuki Bandit or Suzuki GS500, and build a rad retro style cafe racer themed bike out of them... then you have a substantially more ultimate performance package to begin with that has the same look as the modern parts you would attempt to graft to a vintage bike, and you can work some cosmetic magic out of the rest of it... and you get better parts availability to boot! You don't need to worry about mis-matched steering geometries, because you already have ultra wide 17" wheels and a modern large diameter fork, more advanced engine, more horsepower, and a stiffer more advanced frame... I for one don't care for the look of most modern sports bikes, but I do appreciate the performance.  The Japanese exporters aren't trying to snatch up Suzuki GS500's, SV650's, or air cooled Bandits... These bikes are all varying degrees of awesome from a performance standpoint, so the challenge now is to make the look like killer retro cafe racers or retro REAL racers that one could sit on and race around backroads for hours or do an endurance race on and still be able to walk straight and sit on their hind end afterwards


I realize this will, to many (mostly youngsters), be a controversial topic, but I think it needs to have some more light shed on it, as I bring up some grim realizations for those of us who would rather be able to go and buy a nice CB750, KZ550, GS1000, etc for a fair and affordable price, instead of scouring the whole country and paying a very substantial price or having to even ship a bike cross country, adding to the cost and never seeing it in person beforehand...  I'm also of the opinion of many realists amongst us who are all tired of perpetually seeing these awesome old bikes hacked up into rookie non-mechanic amateur cafe build disfigured orphans. I'm trying to keep the bashing to a minimum here and keep it more cordial in an attempt to have serious conversations about this.

I prefer to get my kicks adding or making bolt-on performance mods and upgrades to these classy bikes, restoring them to fairly stock appearance with some functionality/reliability mods, and ripping around the backcountry on my own resto-mod builds in a very sporty manner and tweaking out on the adrenaline induced from such a capable vintage machine, as well as getting extreme life/world/Trump-America therapy through spending endless hours wrenching on these awesome classics. I can only hope that there will be a fair amount of un-maimed examples of these bikes left on the road and/or for sale in the distant future.

To Be Continued....




« Last Edit: Apr 18, 2018, 00:37:18 by Chuck78 »

'77 GS750 920cc, 4-1, GS1100E swinger, 18" Sun rims, Fox Factory Shox, twinpot dual disc, CR31, Yosh cams
'74 Rickman VR250MX
'99 Kawasaki KDX220 rugged terrain ripper
PROJECTS:
'77 Suzuki PE250B
"Pure Enduro" trail beast, ported, Wiseco, TüBliss, Fox Factory Shox/RaceTech
'76 Rickman CR GS1000-1120cc roadracer, Yosh cams&4-1, RF900R fork, Works piggybacks
'79 GS425 489cc Formula 500 racer, Tempter cams, GS650 forks, twinpot brakes, DID rims, GS1100E swinger, Fox Factory Shox
'77 GS550's 650-740cc susp&brake mods

Offline Chuck78

  • Posts: 299
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LIKE THIS...

My FAVORITE of the retro-fied modern bike look, built out of an already amazing performance package, the Suzuki SV650 (I just wish it was an air cooled engine, I'm hung up on the look and general ideas of air cooled)
I absolutely love this type of real racer tail section adopted to a cafe styling... about 1,000x better than the generic cafe "humpback" seat or fiberglass butt-stopper tail. This thing looks so great, and with hints of 70's Yamaha 2 stroke GP racer scheme paint



rad Suzuki Bandit, a serious performer compared to most vintage bikes, although I loathe the generic cafe butt-stopper, however it would be very functional on this bike as the horsepower would really necessitate some sort of rider-retention method such as this...


Here's another Bandit/GSXR retro-fied build:


Some SV650's already come with great mag wheels that look appropriate on a vintage bike, unlike most modern mag wheels.
This one has got a good thing started, and a great seat, although I think the tank is too tall and plump looking for the low profile seat cushion, and I don't care for the GS1000S themed fairing.
All that aside, this is a real great job in my opinion... and these bikes are everywhere (in closer to stock form)


The Holy Grail here, the XR69 racer look on a more modern platform... I'm not sure about those buggley eye popper headlights, but it's hard to fault this bike for much of anything. I can only see a few little subtle things I would have done different. Fantastic build.



A killer Suzuki GS500 build... already a good bike, great for learners, not so small that one would feel the need to upgrade once they learned how to ride it, good power.  The wire spokes would be a bit costly, but sure add to the awesomeness as the stock wheels aren't THAT classy.


a VERY KILLER GS500 concept track/retro bike with what I think is all SV650 running gear. This thing looks like it'd be an AMAZING bike to ride around a track or town or in the twisties, or just drool over...


Two more GS500 Suzuki's (1989-2010, cheap, plentiful, reliable, and decent weight and power) that were turned into the more "I wanna go offroad on my street bike with street bike for-smooth-paved-roads suspension, that weighs double or quadruple what a good offroad bike weighs, and don't care about my decreased cornering ability on pavement due to the knobby tires" type of "Scrambler" project. (sorry, I could no longer resist the logical-minded backhanded comment of bike themes that are a huge compromise or just a substantial functionality downgrade)

« Last Edit: Apr 18, 2018, 00:10:54 by Chuck78 »

'77 GS750 920cc, 4-1, GS1100E swinger, 18" Sun rims, Fox Factory Shox, twinpot dual disc, CR31, Yosh cams
'74 Rickman VR250MX
'99 Kawasaki KDX220 rugged terrain ripper
PROJECTS:
'77 Suzuki PE250B
"Pure Enduro" trail beast, ported, Wiseco, TüBliss, Fox Factory Shox/RaceTech
'76 Rickman CR GS1000-1120cc roadracer, Yosh cams&4-1, RF900R fork, Works piggybacks
'79 GS425 489cc Formula 500 racer, Tempter cams, GS650 forks, twinpot brakes, DID rims, GS1100E swinger, Fox Factory Shox
'77 GS550's 650-740cc susp&brake mods

Offline Chuck78

  • Posts: 299
    • my bike photo album
Feel free to post up other less collectible models from the 70's and 80's and beyond which are converted into a Superbike or Cafe Racer / Bar Racer / Brat / Bobber etc aesthetic... C'mon, I need more supporting evidence to entice people to keep the awesome bikes awesome and tastefully semi-unhacked, and make the less sought after bikes into the wild cafe racer art bike creations of the owner's own doing!

Flame away if you will, but I wanted to throw this out there as well as my opinions on where I think things would be better off. And yes, no joke, there are far less good vintage UJM bikes available for sale this year than ever before... You may live in a town or region that hasn't suffered this sort of trend YET, but it is very clear here to me that this is the downward spiral on availability and the upward spiral of value and pricepoints...
« Last Edit: Apr 18, 2018, 00:15:25 by Chuck78 »

'77 GS750 920cc, 4-1, GS1100E swinger, 18" Sun rims, Fox Factory Shox, twinpot dual disc, CR31, Yosh cams
'74 Rickman VR250MX
'99 Kawasaki KDX220 rugged terrain ripper
PROJECTS:
'77 Suzuki PE250B
"Pure Enduro" trail beast, ported, Wiseco, TüBliss, Fox Factory Shox/RaceTech
'76 Rickman CR GS1000-1120cc roadracer, Yosh cams&4-1, RF900R fork, Works piggybacks
'79 GS425 489cc Formula 500 racer, Tempter cams, GS650 forks, twinpot brakes, DID rims, GS1100E swinger, Fox Factory Shox
'77 GS550's 650-740cc susp&brake mods

Offline Tim

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I think absolutely nothing has changed in the 100 years or so of people customizing their motorcycles.  There have always been amateurs, hacks, people with bad taste...

The thing that HAS changed is we all have cameras to take pictures of our crap so you get to see the full spectrum of stuff out there.

Chop them up.
"Quality . . . you know what it is, yet you don't know what it is. But that's self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about. But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist."

Offline datadavid

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Idk.. its still kinda funny to look at some bodged abortion and wonder what went on inside the feverish mind of the builder. And those 70's jap bikes would still be worth nothing unless they were being hacked up and abandoned, plus no more parts are made so we kind of rely upon breaking hopeless pieces of shit for parts here..
I still havent had the pleasure of mocking anyone riding a death trap irl, maybe because they are not roadworthy, which my distasteful death traps at least are.

Offline Rat_ranger

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A lot of people on here start with bikes that already need too much to restore.  Its like a triumph spitfire, you can spend 15k restoring it and have something worth 5k, or mod it a little and have fun.  The ones that are collectable enough are high priced, even in bad shape, which discourages "builders".  As for starting with a newer bike, the SV renderings look nice, but the stock frame doesn't match.  Plus in my area a running SV with title is 2.5-3k, I can pick up a ragged out UJM for under $500.
Xs650

Offline Sav0r

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    • ChrisLivengood.net
The vintage bike market as we know it will crash once the group of people who are interested in those bikes die. The American Muscle Car market is already seeing this to a degree. 15 years ago clean Mustangs and Camaros were going for crazy sums, now they are starting to fall in value. The same will happen with vintage bikes. Stock bikes won't be worth much more than chopped up ones. Entropy will continue.

My RD is a good example of a bike that would have just rotted into the ground had I not rescued it. A restoration would have been extremely costly, so instead I did what I pleased with it. Yeah, I get comments about how I wasted a good bike, but those assholes didn't see it sunk into 4 inches of dirt with the sub-frame bent, the tank smashed in, and the wheels half rusted off. As far as I'm concerned I did more to preserve that bike than the guy who has a pristine stock bike sitting in his garage. Why? Because my bike is out there in the real world getting ridden and being experienced by people. I don't look at these things as investments, they are toys. I invest in my home, my family, my toolbox, and my 401k, my bikes are for enjoyment.

p.s. thanks for the good comments above.
« Last Edit: Apr 18, 2018, 11:29:46 by Sav0r »
Sav0r the adventure.

Visit www.chrislivengood.net to get more information on my RD350 dubbed Mia Wallace as well as my other projects and snafus.

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Offline irk miller

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This subject is beaten to death here and in other forums.  I'm a member of a Mopar forum and those guys flip out even more than what's happening here. 

A lot of Japanese bikes were produced in significantly high numbers, so cutting up some of those bikes isn't exactly hurting the market.  When I quit seeing $300 CB350s on Craigslist, maybe I'll consider their collector value.  The fact of the matter is, you'll lose your ass trying to restore and profit off of restoring most vintage motorcycles.  As far as using and LTD or similar cruiser, you're suggesting that someone who you question the intelligence and capability of take a bike not meant to be a sport bike at all and make it sporty. If you don't think they can take a vintage sport bike and make it sporty, why would you think they can make a cruiser into a sport bike?  That makes zero sense. 

I've noticed a lot of the airheads have become popular to customize and cafe in recent years.  If everyone chops up their R100/7 then my R100/7 becomes even more valuable.  It's slightly modded, but easily can go back to stock.  Go ahead people, chop, chop, chop your airheads up. 

Lastly, I will say that I have learned a lot cutting up and customizing motorcycles.  I have made a bunch of mistakes.  Unfortunately, I wasn't born with unlimited knowledge of building motorcycles and there is no School of Cafe Racer Building in my hometown.  I have to learn from forums like DTT and all the mistakes I make along the way. 

Offline Sav0r

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I know a guy with a collection of Bimotas that are still in the original crates. That's just stupid.
Sav0r the adventure.

Visit www.chrislivengood.net to get more information on my RD350 dubbed Mia Wallace as well as my other projects and snafus.

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Offline datadavid

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I know a guy with a collection of Bimotas that are still in the original crates. That's just stupid.
Investors should gtfo of the bike scene.. but as previously mentioned they are all gone soon. And unless they get buried with the bimotas they will be quite affordable and useless by then..