Cafe racers I've built

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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When I delivered Luis' bike, he handed over a bunch of Norton stuff as partial payment; besides that pile of parts, I already had another pile of parts including various tanks and seats. (my spare parts pile was getting BIGGER, not smaller, the more bikes I built). To be sure, I had enough stuff to play with some mock-ups...



This red stuff; hard as a brick Corbin seat (but it looks good), and nice tank that would likely start oozing honey as soon as the modern gas hit it...



...and this black tank in fair shape-



Besides some faded red Interstate stuff, there was also some more Dunstall stuff (Reg Curley?)



...and this little High Rider tank & roadster seat



I tried out various exhaust mock-ups as well (plus a spare cafe racer seat I had on hand)-



Then I went ahead and bought another pile of parts including a set of Norton Production Racer (PR) bodywork. To this day, I don't know if it was original Norton stuff or pattern copies, but I'm guessing it was PROBABLY pattern stuff. Anyway, that settled it. I sold most of the other stuff off, including the original High Rider seat, sissy bar & ape-hangar handlebars for some decent money to a guy in Europe. Now i had my play money and I cut loose. I was able to obtain another Combat engine and got to it.

This is what rolled out of the shop in 2011- '72 Norton 750 Combat Commando Production Racer replica "Flying Banana" often referred to as "Yellow Peril"



Powdercoated frame & cradle, vernier adjustable stainless isolastics, Taylor rod-linked head steady
Overhauled forks, NJB shocks, cleaned up original Dunlop rims & overhauled original brakes; drilled disc
Home-made rearset footpegs and brake pedal, clubman handlebars and refurbished original controls
Total engine refurb with all new bearings and seals, optimized clutch stack, reed valve case breather
Combat SS cam, .020 over pistons, honed cylinder, valve job, overhauled carbs
Polished all the alloy stuff, refurbished "Green Blob" meters, K&N dual-neck air filter
Sparx electronic ignition, hand-made wiring harness, re-worked aftermarket lighting & mounts

This was a more refurb than resto, partial custom build (not a lot). This bike ALMOST cost me a pile of money when the state told me I could release it to the shippers (to NC) after it had already been inspected by law enforcement and all paperwork cleared. When they returned the paperwork as "incomplete" and were requesting a re-inspection, I was quite ticked off. Anyway, the local DMV was able to sort it out, and the title was processed to the new owner within a month.

It's a banana, but some people love bananas. Sold it under stress and barely broke even. By this time, I was doing more "part-time" computer & surveillance camera work than motorcycle work, our adopted son was a year old and growing fast, and the writing was on the wall.
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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I'm going to wrap it up with one of my most fun bikes, also a favorite because I wanted one for so long. Started in 2010, finished it in 2012.

I built this 66 Triton from scratch, after a friend of mine stumbled onto a second frame for his build-



Triumph Bonneville T120R engine, totally overhauled
Norton "Featherbed" slimline frame (650SS), powdercoated
Suzuki GS550 front end with 4LS brake, totally overhauled
Born Again bikes unit Triton engine mounts
Born Again Bikes swingarm spindle retrofit kit
MAP big bore kit, belt drive primary
Tri-Spark ignition, Amal MKII carbs, K&N high-flow filters
Excel rims by Buchanan's
Lockhart oil cooler, cartridge oil filter
Central mount early commando oil tank
Tarrozzi rearsets, clip-on bars, Magura throttle
Clip-on alloy headlight mounts & steering stops
Manx style seat, dual lead coil
Hand-wired electrical harness with each circuit fused, AGM battery
Reed valve crankcase breather

I'll probably do a start-to-finish thread on this one soon.
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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I have built a few other cafe racers, I'll keep digging through my stuff and see what pix I can find.

Anyway, within the 30+ years spanned above (1979 - 2010), I also did other stuff besides cafe racers including 16 restorations, 3 ZXR salvage builds, 17 major refurbs, a half-dozen total engine overhauls, and numerous "make-runs" & minor overhauls.
 

smarsh

Member
Wowsers, they are some incredibly cool builds, thanks for sharing, made for a great read. Looks forward to seeing more.
 

settintrendz

Adam Berg
This is awesome, Grandpaul. Next to building and riding, the stories are my favorite. So amazing. Beautiful bikes and history!
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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settintrendz said:
This is awesome, Grandpaul. Next to building and riding, the stories are my favorite. So amazing. Beautiful bikes and history!
If you like the stories, check out the sidecar section for my post on the LCR Suzuki GSX1000 Formula 1 sidecar racing!
 

MexiChriS

Member
I'm just dying for more! Wish to have as much knowledge and hand on time building, as you have with those great machines you've built... As I'm only trying to start off with Honda CB's for now. Anyways, thanks for the inspiration and look forward to more from you


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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That's it for completed cafe racers.

I do have one I'm just starting, in the "Projects" section.

I'll also do a bunch of restorations, and 3 ZRX salvage builds. Once those are posted up, I'll come back and do all the full build threads one at a time.
 

canyoncarver

'hacking is learning'
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Looking forward to seeing the ZRX salvage builds. I ride a 00' ZRX1100 and have a salvage bike same year and color. Trying to decide to part or not to part.
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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I've never parted out a bike, and don't intend to.

I fully realize I can make more money that way, but something in my head refuses to let my body go through with it.

Conversely, I will NEVER build a ZRX from parts ever again! I took a thousand-dollar licking the last time I tried that. It was a great idea gone horribly wrong considering you can buy decent running ZRXs cheaper than salvaged bikes and parts to fix them with.
 

canyoncarver

'hacking is learning'
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That's why I haven't parted out my salvage bike. I didn't buy it to part out, more of a just in case thing. Pretty sure it's got a bad rod and I currently don't have the $ to rebuild that motor. Thus my waiting..
 

grandpaul

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Sounds like the dreaded "hydo lock" from a failed petcock. Amazing what a horrible idea that vacuum valve is...
 

grandpaul

Author, "Old Bikes"
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DesmoBro said:
....is that all?
I'll be starting up two build threads, one each for the two rolling projects formerly for sale (Triton & custom Norton 880).

I'm going to build them to running, then re-list them for sale.

(I'm back in my shop, for now)
 
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