Arriving ignorant, hope to learn a lot

Untame

Been Around the Block
Howdy from the Coulee Region of the Mississippi River Valley.

48 years old and never ridden a motorcycle in my life. My dad saw a couple people killed on motorcycles and wouldn't let us have anything to do with them. I have to admit, they don't seem that safe on most public roads because of the way people drive, the road conditions (sand), or worst of all... deer.

I am currently a mechanical engineer, and I have Solidworks as well as a 3D printer at my disposal. In my past I built (professionally) replica exotic cars as well as restorations of rare prewar cars (like Bugatti, Delahaye, Ferrari. Tojeiro, etc.), so I have some mechanical and fabrication experience. (But my garage doesn't have the same tool selection, and my budget is definitely more restricted!)

I am looking to pick up a Japanese cafe project bike to work on with my daughter. Ideally, I would like to get one for her and one for me to work on side by side. She is 15 years old, so I am thinking nothing bigger for her than a 350T (maybe smaller). I'd like a 350-550 twin, but not opposed to a four. Looking primarily at Honda, but would also consider the right Kawasaki. Would be cool if we had identical CB350T bikes to finish out as his/hers.

The back roads in the Coulee Region really are a treat to cruise. Don't need a lot of speed to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Here is a picture of my last build. 69cc 2-stroke Trek. :)

20231003_084251.jpg


20231003_084315.jpg
 

adventurco

Nick Ol' Eye
DTT BOTM WINNER
Welcome aboard. I will recommend a twin or single just for simplicity's sake (but mostly because I dislike having 4 carbs). Plenty of old Honda projects out there, this is a good time of year to be looking.
 

Untame

Been Around the Block
Welcome aboard. I will recommend a twin or single just for simplicity's sake (but mostly because I dislike having 4 carbs). Plenty of old Honda projects out there, this is a good time of year to be looking.
Yep. I know with my 90's Arctic Cat snowmobiles I avoid the ZRT triples for that reason.
 

Maritime

Over 10,000 Posts
Welcome, I vote Honda for a first build too. They are easy to fix, easy to get parts for and a lot of parts are common to many models and many years. I've built 5-6 over the years. Mostly resto mods, not a ton of fabrication etc. but fun. Love the idea of his/hers. There is a TON of threads here that will help you out and still active members that will too. Not like 5-6 years ago but better than a lot of forums out there today. FB ruined everything LOL. I've built 2 bikes with my son, his first CB125 and his current NT650 Hawk. My Daughter is only 5 so will be a while before she and I get to do a bike together.
 

Luugo86

'73 CB350, '78 XS650 Cafe Killer
Welcome.. there are a lot of great people on this forum who are extremely knowledgeable. Looking forward to seeing what projects you find
 

Rider52

Over 1,000 Posts
Welcome. I vote Honda too. Look at the 250 Nighthawk or the cruiser version Rebel. The engines are nearly bullet proof and parts are readily available. Both are twins with single carbs and electronic ignition.
 

Untame

Been Around the Block
Welcome. I vote Honda too. Look at the 250 Nighthawk or the cruiser version Rebel. The engines are nearly bullet proof and parts are readily available. Both are twins with single carbs and electronic ignition.
Thanks for the tips. I hadn't thought about these models.
 

crazypj

Split personality, I fake being smart
The 250 Nighthawk and Rebel are not particularly sought after bikes so should be able to get a matched pair at a reasonable price.
They do have a pretty good following and there are various custom parts available (I'm only aware of it because of a friend who had one, he bought a bigger bike and his wife got the customised Rebel)
 

Untame

Been Around the Block
I looked at the 250 Nighthawk and Rebel, and I don't think it would get us to the aesthetic we are looking for. In particular I favor a completely horizontal continuous body line under the gas tank and continuing under the seat to the rear. Also, they appear to have a greater fork angle (more like a cruiser).

Right now I am leaning toward different models for each of us. I'm eyeing this CB200T for her ($600 about 7 hours from here). And for me I am eyeing a Yamaha XS750 project bike someone has already started ($550 about a 4 hour drive the other direction - complete bike, but partially disassembled with parts catalogued and stored).

My daughter wants a real basic cafe bike with half fairing and seat with a hump at the back (don't know the technical description). She has her mind set on a bronze colored frame, dark green paint with tan striping, and a quilted brown seat.

I am leaning toward something a bit more aggressive... more toward the racer side of cafe racer. Perhaps even a full race fairing. Planning on gold aluminum wheels with red frame, fairing, tank, and seat, with blue accent stripes.

CB200T.jpg


XS750.jpg
 

Maritime

Over 10,000 Posts
I looked at the 250 Nighthawk and Rebel, and I don't think it would get us to the aesthetic we are looking for. In particular I favor a completely horizontal continuous body line under the gas tank and continuing under the seat to the rear. Also, they appear to have a greater fork angle (more like a cruiser).

Right now I am leaning toward different models for each of us. I'm eyeing this CB200T for her ($600 about 7 hours from here). And for me I am eyeing a Yamaha XS750 project bike someone has already started ($550 about a 4 hour drive the other direction - complete bike, but partially disassembled with parts catalogued and stored).

My daughter wants a real basic cafe bike with half fairing and seat with a hump at the back (don't know the technical description). She has her mind set on a bronze colored frame, dark green paint with tan striping, and a quilted brown seat.

I am leaning toward something a bit more aggressive... more toward the racer side of cafe racer. Perhaps even a full race fairing. Planning on gold aluminum wheels with red frame, fairing, tank, and seat, with blue accent stripes.

View attachment 238181

View attachment 238182
There are 3-4 really good CB200 builds on here. and I think at least 2 XS750 Triple builds.
 

adventurco

Nick Ol' Eye
DTT BOTM WINNER
Having owned a CB200, if its going to be ridden on any roads 55 mph+ i would probably look elsewhere. Its a cool sounding engine and easy to work on, but pretty lethargic, and the cable actuated front disc brake is terrible.
 

Untame

Been Around the Block
Thanks for the tip. I would expect 55mph highways in the future. So 350/360? Or 400? Want something easy for my daughter to handle.
Having owned a CB200, if its going to be ridden on any roads 55 mph+ i would probably look elsewhere. Its a cool sounding engine and easy to work on, but pretty lethargic, and the cable actuated front disc brake is terrible.
 

Maritime

Over 10,000 Posts
Cable brake is shit. But easy to change to hydraulic with some alloy plate and CAD = cardboard aided design see my CB125 thread
 

adventurco

Nick Ol' Eye
DTT BOTM WINNER
This is true. It is a good learner bike. Maybe something to get running and ride before you blow it all apart to café it, maybe it will be a good fit. We lived in Houston when we had the 200, and it was just too sluggish to keep up on the roads. For backroads and twisties I'm sure it would be a fun bike.
 

teazer

Over 10,000 Posts
DTT BOTM WINNER
That's not to say that a CB200 can't be made to go a lot faster, but is that an added chore you really want to take on. The best bet is probably a KTM390 or one of the new 300s but if you want an older bike, maybe think about a CbB350 or 360. They used to be common and available. Or maybe a Kawasaki 400/440 or a Suzuki GS400/425/450.

I like small light bikes but not sure I would want to ride one on the highway. For backroads, absolutely.
 

Tim

Administrator
Staff member
My $0.02

If you're mainly interested in the aesthetic and actually riding and not worrying about being stranded, I'd highly recommend the Suzuki TU250X.

I got one for my wife but I enjoyed riding it a ton. We recently sold it, but it's a perfect platform for some simple personalization and an enjoyable ride for anybody from less than 5' to 6' tall and under 250 pounds.
 

Untame

Been Around the Block
My $0.02

If you're mainly interested in the aesthetic and actually riding and not worrying about being stranded, I'd highly recommend the Suzuki TU250X.

I got one for my wife but I enjoyed riding it a ton. We recently sold it, but it's a perfect platform for some simple personalization and an enjoyable ride for anybody from less than 5' to 6' tall and under 250 pounds.
Thanks! I will look into this.
 

doc_rot

Oh the usual... I bowl, I drive around...
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
I know you said you were looking for a twin but what about the SR400? I think they made them all the way to 2019 so you can get a newer bike in good shape for not alot. They have the classic looks and lines but have some modern amenities. The brakes on the newer models are probably way better than anything you will find on a vintage bike. I think they switched to fuel injection in 2009? lots of cool bolt on parts as well.
 
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Untame

Been Around the Block
I'm really after the process more than the result. My daughter wants to learn about wrenching, and I want to spend time with her. So I prefer a vintage bike we take all the way down to the frame. The result still matters - but I want her to know it is something done HER way with HER hands. Something you made yourself just feels more special than anything you could buy.

The more I learn about the Yamaha XS750 triple, the more I think it is the ideal bike for me. Has me thinking that maybe I should look for a smaller 1970s XS for her. Maybe some similar design language and engineering that would overlap.
 

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