How do you choose your projects?


New Member
hey folks,

I've mostly finished up a GS650 and I'm considering new project options; at the very least, I'd like something to tinker with when the snow flies but I'm trying to figure what I really want to play with.

How do you guys find/decide on a new build? Are you brand loyal, or only work on one model? Price point? Accessibility? Style? Whatever comes across your path?

I'm especially interested in how you pick your "non-standard" projects (motor/frame/suspension/etc. conversions), is it mostly curiosity or trying to emulate something you've seen eleswhere?

What drives your decision making process when picking a new ride?



Over 1,000 Posts
The project right now is a '76 RD400. Because I had one new '76-'79 and missed it so much. I think for us older guys nostalgia is part of it. I got started on GL1000s because the wife wanted me to have a project and one was available nearby. Winter before last it was a CB750F that was real cheap, nearby, and needed rescue. This past winter our club had a challenge to rescue 20 bikes in 2020. I had a bunch of GL1000 parts left over so that's what I sought out. Just sold it. Hunley GL1000 just kind of evolved as I went.


New Member
This thread topic could not have come at a better time.

I finished up a project and am looking for my next one as well.
So far on the list of ideas:
1.) Evo Sportster Street tracker
2.) xr650r Honda Street tracker
3.) 70's Yamaha DT Two-stroke Street tracker
4.) 2002 CR/YZ 250 Enduro build
5.) Mid 90's WR250 Two-stroke Street tracker
6.) WR250 (plated) 4-stroke conversion to 2-stroke Street tracker

As you can see, I'm not brand specific but I like me some street-trackers. I really like the idea of a Evo Sporsters build since I have most the really expensive parts already (front end, wheels, alum tank, seat section), but the build is going to cost me a bunch more.

In the meantime, I like the idea of a smaller, simpler 70's Yamaha DT. But they're so old I'm thinking converting a plated 4-stroke to 2-stroke may be more fun.
Caveat - California is hard to find plated 2-strokes, so options are limited until you get real crafty.


Coast to Coast
My number 1 rule is don't buy a bike that does not have repair parts readily available. I'm not brand specific but I tend to gravitate toward Hondas and Harley Davidsons. I'm very familiar with both and I'm comfortable with parts interchangeability between models. Another tip is don't buy a bike without a title. There are exceptions depending upon the DMV laws in your state, but a good title stops a lot of red tape and frustration.


Over 1,000 Posts
I tend to stick with Honda twins or Yamaha aircooled two strokes, but have had Yam water cooled 2 strokes as well. What tends to happen is that I settle on a project for whatever reason - vintage race, drag, whatever and then start looking for parts and complete bikes are a great source of parts and then when the garage is full, I have to build a couple to clear space.

That way I usually have lots of options along with different pipes and bodywork. For example with GT750, I built:
Restored 76, mild restomod 75, Grand Touring (Dunstall) 74, street tracker (phat trakka) 75, and a few piles of other parts that need to be mated.

For inspiration, google the crap out of different styles or different bikes to find a look or base that works for you and start looking at what others did and decide what appeals to you about their ideas and what doesn't. A picture will emerge.

For me, they must be dead cheap and there must be enough parts around to make it work. I don't mind redesigning things but it gets to be expensive if simple parts have to be machined just to get it running and custom bikes are usually not worth anywhere near what they cost to build.

A more rational approach is to start with a running bike and then customize it to change the look without major engineering.

irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
I don't choose projects, they choose me. Sometimes, I'm drunk at Mid-O and just sold a bike, so I have cash in my pocket and I stumble into someone's spot. Sometimes a friend wants to empty their shop and I make a trade for whatever junk is piled inside. Honda's are usually the strays I take home, especially CB360s and CB750s. They're like old rock tshirts that have been washed so much the collars are shredded, they're full of holes and completely see-through. But they're so comfortable and familiar.


'hacking is learning'
IMHO, a good title and a running engine are the best place to start, then replacement parts availability. I've bailed on a project or two because the paperwork was the problem. Title issues vary greatly by state and age of the machine. Other than that, the bike has to speak to me somehow. Brand isn't nearly as important as utility or cool factor and the cool factor is entirely personal choice. Many of my project bikes found me too.. I fell in love with YZF750's and have 4 of them because the first one found me. Same with my KZ750 twins and Nortons.
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Over 10,000 Posts
Mine are whatever I can afford that have paperwork. I want a dual sport next but I have no brand preference on it. It needs to be in the budget and have a title. so far everything I've found is missing one of those 2 things,


New Member
Right now I'm stuck between a few options:
  • There are a few Virago's around for a decent price, mostly non-runners, though I wonder if the Virago thing has been done to death? Still, it'd be nice to playing with something different than an inline-4
  • There are actually more Honda Shadow's available locally than anything, but I'm not sure how you'd alter them much beyond cruiser/bobbers? That might prove interesting in itself though
  • A few older sport bikes have popped up, usually in rough shape, that might make a fun scrambler build
  • I'd have to spend a bit more, but there's an SV650 with an extra frame etc. online I've been eyeing. I like the exposed tubular frame look
  • or go over a few of the bits I haven't finished on my current '82 GS650e?


Over 1,000 Posts
Don't be like me... Finish the current project and you will have something to ride while you work on the next one.

Can be done.

SV is a great bike to ride but not so amenable to custom work, but with enough effort anything is possible. V twins don't makes the same sort of exhaust noise as an old school parallel twin but they do sound sort of period appropriate. A shadow might make a neat Street Tracker too.

What about a cheap Ducati? Well that's a bit of a misnomer - nothing much is cheap about a Ducati but see if you can find a lightly crashed ST or Monster and do something with that.


Been Around the Block
I know its another inline four, but I have been sorta into the kz1000's lately. I think an old police bike would make a really cool project. Like the one from mad max or something


Gold Coast, Queensland
I would start with picking a build style you want and then searching for bikes with the right geometry and frame shape.
After that decide what kind of engine you are after and what your true needs for the bike are.
I am partial to singles and twins.

Or do what I do and grab the cheapest thing around with the engine size you want, then spend years slowly working in it.

brad black

Been Around the Block
i only do ducati because that's what i deal with every day and i know them. still buy cheap ones that become complete and utter money pits. the "there's no such thing as a cheap ducati" is something that applies to me because i want to make everything perfect. some people just get them and ride them, i can't help myself.

i'd do a guzzi, but the older ones are getting pricey and the thought of having to split it for a clutch or box is way more than i can bear. the v7 are kind of fun except for being slower than a slow thing on a slow day in slowsville.

so get something that you know or are easy to work on (so you get to know), and something that at least runs is a good start. anything old can suffer from any of the myriad of old bike problems, and the more you get into a given model the more you'll find goes wrong with them generally.

if you have an end point in mind, buy something that suits the end point. don't buy a cb750c if you want a k for example, or any of the other japanese cruiser models that have different frames - mainly rake and a lower frame under the seat area - if you want that flat tank and seat line. don't buy a 90's sport bike and try to cafe it with a 70's seat and tank, because the frame is totally wrong for the look. that sort of thing. spend the money you need to buy the basis of what you want, or re-evaluate your anticipated reality.

anything that is popular will have a good parts range. anything that is common in historic racing will have a good serious performance parts supply, if you want to make it go, stop and turn.

be prepared to change ideas half way through and scrap the lot.

accept that no matter what you do with it, it will either devalue the bike or make it something that very, very few people will hand over decent money for. some people can make money out of this sort of thing, most just lose a shitload. i do, every time. but, if it's what you want, that's the price you pay. or, if you need the validation of others to make you feel good about what you do, build something that looks like the bikes you see on bikeexif/pipeburn/return of the cafe racers. and they'll still hate on it for some reason.


Coast to Coast
I work on whatever. It partly comes down to what I want at the time and what is available/affordable. Xs650- started at a $100 craigslist bike, and I have about $4k in it now. Xl75, was looking for a cheap dirt bike to mess with, it's now a cammed 120cc little beast. Triumph tiger 800, daily rider with 104k miles. Triumph Bonneville 650, picked up a complete engine for $75. Cb400f, given to me by a friend. Etc.

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