If you listened to our Cafe Racer Guide episode (#22) a few months ago, you know it was written by Jim March, and have checked out some of the awesome information he’s put together to help build your bike. Jim recently listened to the episode, and sent us an email. Here’s his comments on our discussion of his guide:
As to the podcast: basically, I was covering the performance issues which to me are top priority and wanted to leave cosmetics to the individual builder.
I do want to say something on engine size/type. If you have a 650cc twin with 55hp on tap like the Yamaha XS650 as compared to a 4-banger with similar horsepower (CB550 more or less) you get a real difference in the power delivery, esp. in newbie hands. The 4 will rev higher and the power will be peakier on the high end, whereas the twin will make power in a smoother, more controllable fashion. I think a newbie is actually safer with the way a twin makes power for the same horsepower and weight class – they’re less likely to run into a “power spike” at 8,000rpm while hammering it in mid-corner. This is esp. true if the pipes and/or carbs are modded slightly wrong :).
I used to streetrace an XS650 in the Santa Cruz mountains (NorCal) late 1980s chasing early Ninjas and GSXRs. Couldn’t pass ’em mostly, except on a very tight road I could flop it over faster and dive inside ’em due to, you guessed it, light rim weight.
My next build, and it’ll be a bit because I recently got married and cash is tight, will be a 1983 Honda GL650 or CX650 – the bigger version of the CX500 twins. I’ve been checking and early Goldwing (1000/1100) rims will graft on there properly.
As to cost, *without* doing serious cosmetics I think there’s a lot that can be done with junkyard parts and picking the right starting point, if you’re doing the work yourself.
I’ve been pondering doing the build using a long thin “moon type” aluminum tank *under* the motor to keep the weight down, run the pipes up high along the underside of an elongated seat going almost to the steering head…something you could lay dead flat on for both comfort and aerodynamics.
Also, check out the awesome magazine-fed revolver he’s built! Here’s what he said about it:
A “wild west single action” six-shot revolver ain’t supposed to have swappable mags for quick reload, auto shell ejection using tapped muzzle gas and up to 14rd capacity with no reload. Maurice does…it’s called “Maurice” because some people call it “The Space Cowboy” (Steve Miller Band reference). No other personal arm uses the same feed cycle but it had been done before on early US jet fighters based on a captured Nazi prototype 20mm cannon.