Month: April 2013

So much for that dream of one day owning a Vincent! LOL

The latest results from the Bonhams Auctions. She’s a real Beauty though.
CREDIT DOUBLE RED 1952 Vincent 998cc Montlhery Black Shadow 300dpi

The Bonhams auction at the International Classic MotorCycle Show at the Staffordshire County Showground topped £1.4 million on Sunday 28th April, with the top-selling lot a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow, which realised £113,500.
The fully-restored, ex-works machine formed part of the factory’s bid to set a new 24-hour speed record at Montlhéry in France in May 1952. Although mechanical failures prevented the bid from being successful, the British team returned home with eight new records, including six hours at over 100mph.
Among other auction highlights was a 1931 Brough Superior SS80 motorcycle won in a raffle more than 40 years ago and a 1914 Indian Model F once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen.
The latter sold to a European telephone bidder for £32,200, while the SS80 realised £57,500 – more than a million times the cost of the 1972 raffle ticket. Starting life as a sidecar outfit with Ipswich Police, the motorcycle was converted to solo trim and later offered as first prize in a fund-raising raffle at the Brough Superior Club. Tickets were sold for five pence each, or 50 pence for a book of 10, and second and third prizes respectively were 10 and five gallons of oil.
An eclectic selection of 30 machines owned by the late Clifford Jones proved popular with bidders, selling for a total of more than £175,000. The collection featured a number of 1950s ‘cafe racers’, as well as much modern-day racing and superbike machinery.
Meanwhile in the automobilia section, two Akai Yamaha race helmets worn by the legendary Barry Sheene in the 1980s fetched a combined total of £10,000, selling for £6,875 (Lot 105) and £3,125 (Lot 104) respectively.
Ben Walker, Head of the Bonhams Motorcycle Department, said: “Once again our auction at the ‘International’ Classic proved to be exactly that, with interest from bidders from across the globe.
“Record-breaking machines like the 1952 Vincent Black Shadow and the movie star charisma of Steve McQueen were among the draws for the crowd, and there was fierce competition for the Ducatis in the collection of the late Clifford Jones.”
For further press information please call 0207 468 8259, or email
Please credit the Vincent image to ‘Double Red’. All other images are ‘Courtesy of Bonhams’

Sweet 75 Suzuki GT500 Cafe Racer from Cycle Sports Ltd.

Another serious Suzuki build!  MAN that’s nice!

Suzuki '75 GT500

Suzuki GT500 2

Suzuki GT500 3

Suzuki GT500 4

Suzuki GT500 5

Suzuki GT500 7

Suzuki GT500 8

Suzuki GT500 9

Suzuki GT500 10

Suzuki GT500 11

Suzuki GT500 12

Suzuki GT500 15

Suzuki GT500 18

Suzuki GT500 21

Ok, finally finished our ’75 Suzuki GT500 Cafe Racer. We used your Hand controls, master cylinder, brake light switch, and mirrors. Did a studio photoshoot this past weekend and here are some of the pics.
Here is a little info on the bike:

Another Unique Custom Cafe Racer from the build team at Cycle Sports Ltd of Houston:

We have a customer, Mr Terry Shields that really likes nice vintage motorcycles. He bought a used Suzuki GT500 on Ebay in really good condition, rode it around for a while and felt he wanted to convert it into a Cafe racer. He brought it in to us and we came up with a few ideas on how to make it all happen.
We stripped the bike down to the bare frame, sandblasted it and started removing unneeded tabs and modifying it to make it fit the part. We put the frame up on a lift and started construction. Everything that was put back on was either refurbished, refinished or replaced. All specialty hardware & fasteners that we reused were replated to look new.
We found an appropriate fiberglass tank, tail/seat, and Manx style front fender from Legendary Motorcycles out of New York. We went about getting all the mounting brackets made and installed these componets. We custom built a hinge to tilt the seat up. Engine was cleaned, Painted, and all covers sent to the chrome shop. We had Jemco Exhaust Systems here in Houston build a set of expansion chambers to fit and they, as usual, did a remarkable job! We also sent the pipes to the chromers as well as many other parts. We modified a set of Yamaha R1 foot controls and Moto-Bits pedals to make the rearsets, more chroming. Wheels were stripped, Hubs and assorted hardware also chromed. New Chrome rims, stainless spokes were aquired, relaced and Dunlop K71 retro tires were installed & balanced.
For instruments we installed a Koso unit with analog tach, digital speedo, tripmeters, idiot lights, and shift light. All hand controls and bar-end mirrors are from Joker Machine mounted to a set of superbike bars. We got a Dunstall 1/4 fairing from Air-tech and made custom mounts for it. All suspension componets were rebuilt and slightly longer piggyback gas shocks were installed. We sent all the cables to Barnett and had them all rebuilt and shortened, came back looking like new. We rebuilt the carbs, painted them to match the engine, rejetted them to the pipes and installed a set of K&N airfilters.
Frame, Tank, Fairing, Tail peice and several brackets were painted with House of Color Ice Blue which really comes alive under bright lighting or sunlight. Side covers were painted Satin Black to enhance the straight line under tank & Tailpiece.
The bike runs great and handles very well, quite a bit lighter than the stock original and quite striking in appearance. Our thanks to all our vendors and friends that helped in the build!

Photography by: Michael Valdez

The Cycle Sports Ltd of Houston Build team:
Ken Fontenot
Jeff Wisenbaker

Awsome Kawasaki Zephyr build and a great writeup!

A special Thanks (and congratulations) to Ron Fairbrother for keeping me posted on this excellent build!




P1020161 - Copy

I’ve spent hours drooling over the bikes crafted by Sanctuary and Bulldock in Japan and longed to recreate something similar. You have to remember though, that these guys are quite well established and possess all the machinery and parts necessary to push out bikes of that quality, and what high quality they are too. However, never one for giving up, I got hold of a 1992 Zephyr1100 as a starting point. It was ridden hard first, around the Isle of Man during the Manx GP in 2011, then in November the same year, she was raped and gutted ready for my interpretation of what a Zephyr1100 should be.
Now I’m a custom Harley man now, and before that I’ve owned MV Agusta, Ducati 888, Yammy R7 and lots more, but I have always had a soft spot for the retro muscle bikes. They just look right, but way too fussy if you know what I mean, so my idea was to clean it up and make it look simpler and this is the result.
The frame is standard but de-cluttered and the factory welds ground back then Stove enamelled satin black. The engine is also standard but stripped, blasted and also stove enamelled. It was re-assembled with new seals and bearings, not to mention the new stainless bolts throughout. The airbox was junked and a new tray under the seat was fitted, this holds the collector bottle for the rocker breather.
The front end on the standard Zeph always looked way too girly, (no offence to girls by the way), so I opted for the Triumph 955i forks/yolks, which were lengthened by 50mm and given a black Nitride coating. These hold one of the Aprilia RSV wheels and 955i calipers gripping a pair of Armstrong waveys.
At the back I fitted a CB1300 swingarm, which again was a beefier option to the thin stocker and had Hyperpro make me a pair of emulsion shocks, longer than standard for that raised rear look with RAL2009 orange springs. The wheel is a rear RSV job wearing a 180 Race Attack. Under slung rear brakes with a torque arm are a favourite of mine so that had to be made to, using the modified RSV bracket and a fabricated torque arm for the swinger. Lots of other parts including the rearsets, longer stand, curved oil cooler were sourced from we-bike in japan that holds so much stuff for the Jap retro bike it’s unbelievable. Bloomin good value too, even with postage to the UK. The clutch and brake radial masters are from a Ducati 1098. Again so much better looking than the standard stuff.
The electrics were the only really tricky bit, because to me, electrickery is just plain voodoo, so I handed the standard loom over to a local auto-electrician to have the R1 switchgear woven in. A genius.
Overall, this has cost me a lot less than the cost of a new ZX10 and about the same as a new CB1000R, so overall, I’m quite pleased with the outcome, and, it was built in my garage and not a factory. It’s a great feeling that this is the only one out there. Build it, don’t just buy it!!

UPDATE:A nice 2 stroke Suzuki GT 750 Cafe/Fighter BEAST!

UPDATE:For more on this bike go HERE

In honor of the Kawasaki Triples 2 stroke gathering in Deals Gap this weekend (which unfortunately I can’t make this year) I’ll be a little heavy on the 2 stroke posting this week. So with that in mind here’s another fine bike from our roving correspondent Charles Lathe

Hey Steve,

I’m attaching a couple of shots of a Suzuki I saw at a European bike get together in Raleigh.

We nipped into Florida on 17 before turning north on 95 headed to St. Mary’s, Georgia for Easter and enjoyed the best weather we’d seen for a while. Spring is threatening to establish itself here, but it is dragging its feet this year.

Regards, Chuck
North Carolina

Suzuki 1

Suzuki 2

Seriously Radical GT550! Now that’s my kind of Suzuki!

I love these sorts of builds. “Radicalized” 2-strokes!

From: “Mark McCord”

Here’s my gt550 I got in high school brand new.2008 gsxr front end.2006 sv 650 swingarm.2006 kawasaki 636 rear shock.busa rearsets.RSD pro pipes.Bored .30 over.Carbon fiber headlight and fender.Everything is powder coated.This was a home garage build.5 months from start to finish.

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A Totally Bitchin Cafe Honda from Iron Spade Cycles

I had promised this last week and got totally submarined at work. Sorry Travis. Absolutely bitchin build. I’m a big fan of the unpainted look and it works extremely well here.

What do you do when a client shows up with a half started project and an Ipad filled with pictures of another builders work in some far away state, and asks you to please finish the build and make it look just like this? At first I was a little perplexed, I had never been asked to build a bike just like something already finished and all over the interweb. Well sort of but not really. I wanted it to be different, special, with my own personal touches and not totally recognizable. Many of you might think this bike looks very similar to one created by James Crowe of Crowe Customs in Portland OR for the Tarantulas. I won’t deny it, she is strikingly similar, but in this economy who am I to turn down good paying work strictly on principal? So before I dove right in, I contacted James Crowe and explained that if he was vehemently opposed to it I would decline and insist with the client that we went a different direction. I think at first he was flattered that someone liked his work so much that they wanted to copy it.

A week after our first conversation I contacted him a second time to answer a couple questions and that is when he told me, “well if I were to do it again, here are all the things I’d do differently and why.” We had a great conversation and he suggested that some aspects of a project you just can’t foresee until it is completed and road proven. We agreed that placing the oil tank under the seat created several inherent problems that needed to be addressed. After some trial and error on his part he noted the necessary longer upper shock towers to increase rear wheel clearance without increasing rear end travel. Those two small parts insignificant parts had to be custom made and turned on a lathe and then welded to the stock Progressive shocks after literally cutting off the upper shock mounts.

Although Crowe used steel for his under seat oil tank, I chose aluminum. Mostly for the alloy fittings and filler cap I already had in my shop, and for the ease to hammer form the complex shape from just a couple pieces of material to reduce the amount of welded joints. I changed my oil tank design three times after each prototype showed other inherent problems. The outer seat shell is hammer formed steel that we intentionally left the welded seams slightly visible. It follows the oil tank contour with only a 1/4 inch air gap so the hot oil doesn’t transfer heat to the seat pan and ultimately the rider’s butt.

All the engine cases and covers were disassembled and shot with glass beads, while a new top end and head work were preformed by Harold’s Machine Shop in Richmond, TX. Only the chrome of the brand new Sun rims, the stock gauge trim rings and the new halo headlight assembly were left untouched. A Carpy 4 into1 exhaust system was polished with Scotch-Brite pads and 6 layers of VHT clear were applied, only to have it bake and discolor during the break-in period. The primer-less clear coat on the bare steel tank and seat is a special DuPont PPG DAU-75 with a hardener DX-80. Carbs were treated to an ultrasonic cleaning dip, a Dynojet stage 3 kit and a set of K&N pods added to keep her on the road. Hidden under the seat are the electrical components and an 8-cell Li-Ion Ballistic battery. A micro switch cluster on the left side clutch perch serves double duty with the engine start button and horn button routed through individual 30Amp relays. The LED halo was wired to be always on and is very brite with the headlight hi/lo having a kill switch for daytime running. Rearsets are Tarrozi’s and are well engineered but have to be completely disassembled to adjust and that is a two hour job I have done three times. Many late nights over the last year to complete this build, but we are really happy with how she turned out.

James Crowe does amazing work at Crowe Customs and is a very nice guy. He was quite helpful in the few conversations we had. I can only hope that if he see’s this he will feel I did him justice. Although imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, no one wants to be copied without recognition. Thank you for the opportunity to create a unique work of art. My client also thanks you for giving us a great inspiration to follow.

If you want to see more pictures of this project and other bikes I’ve created visit my work page on Facebook at

Thanks again Steve for taking the time to help expose each of us for our talents and abilities. Talk soon, Travis

Final 006

Final 007

Final 008

Final 009

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Final 013

Looks like regular posting will resume in the next day or so.

First of all a sincere thank you to the many people who sent well wishes. The volume was significant enough to make it impracticable for me to send individual e-mail responses yet I was humbled at being reminded about the reach of this blog. The situation is far from resolved but has stabilized. Fortunately it does not involve any of my younger family. Our oldest matriarch is once again proving her very tough mettle and defying the odds.

It looks like I’ll be a single dad with my daughter for the foreseeable future as my RN wife has moved down to live with and care for her Grandmother. One of the true good ones my wife. So… I’ll be juggling a lot of assorted tasks solo for now which might make posting intermittent but I do SO look forward to sorting through the backlog of bikes that have been sent in. Even though I’m catching up, please DO keep them coming. The distractions are welcome and much appreciated.

Back soon,