This seat marks one of the final steps in this build. I recently got all the parts back from PC. My tank will be done soon. I finished wiring the bike last night and everything is working! Haven’t tried to run it yet, need to do a little more buttoning up first. But I’m very, very close!
I’m VERY excited about this build.
So this took all day. I had to choose between painting the front black, and re-painting the rear black (because it looked faded) or stripping the rear to bare metal and match the front. The latter sounded easier…Maybe not the case! But there were several reasons for this. The bike doesn’t have much black on it, which is not something I do often, and I love that about it. I don’t want to go blackening up! The only black on this bike will be the frame. All else is raw metal except for the blue tank. Also, bare metal is more durable than paint! And easy to clean. So here we go.
I was just starting to clean it here. Once I cleaned it I painted it with some HARD FU**ING CORE paint stripper. And then scrubbed with a firm tooth brush. Then power washed it. Rinse repeat about 5 times and vuala!
There is a little shield for the final drive gear (you can see in the un-stripped picture) that I still have to paint and re-install. So it will look better when that’s done, and it is mounted so you won’t see that center part.
But it came out looking like new! Here they are together.
If you look close you can tell they aren’t matching spoke patterns. The one flat on the ground is the stock rear. The one leaning up with the front disk is from a Yamaha 600 Radian. It was the only front wheel I could find that had similar spoke pattern AND was the same dimensions as the rear wheel. Since I want matching tires. Now I just have to fab spacers and a caliper bracket and I’ll have a rolling and stopping machine!
So gas tank. What do I do about it? The stock one is just not going to fly, and the blue one you see in all the pics had to completely have the underside cut out in order to fit over the huge back bone of the Virago! Luckily…I found a solution.
Virago tank, meet nameless Yamaha donor tank.
Here is what’s left of the Virago original tank.
Now I know I’m not the first person to graft tanks together. But I guarantee I’m the first to graft THESE tanks together! Of course I still have lots of welding of sheet metal to do in order to seal and finish up the tank, but at least now it fits snugly on the bike using the original mounts! Today my goal is to get the wheel prepped and ready for tires. And hopefully finish the tank so I can caswell coat it soon.
Bearings came in for the steering today! So begins the mounting and shortening of the forks.
Well that was easy!…really, it was. I just tapped the races into the neck, greased the bearings and tightened it all together.
Something looks weird…right? Yup! Those forks are way to long! So lets do something about that.
Is this a sub-machine gun with suppressor attached? Or a B**A** electric impact with a huge socket!? You be the judge…
The poor end caps were so beat up from some previous owner trying to pull these apart clearly using vice grips…If you’re going to DIY a project…have the right tools! Or else pay someone else who does. Don’t ruin your bike trying to tear it apart…sheeeeesh #rantover
above are the guts of this particular, outdated inverted fork. I say outdated only because it is from a 90-95 RM125 so it is some of the first inverted forks made. They’re still great forks, just not so much to work on! Below are just some of the annoying things I had to be sure to put back properly. Of course this was only necessary because I am shortening them, I wouldn’t have to do so much if I were just replacing the seals.
So I got some 1/2″ PVC and cut it down, pulled the spring and cartridge apart and popped the PVC spacer onto the main rod inside the cartridge. Essentially I made the forks unable to fully extend. So they’re now utilizing the last 5″ of their original travel instead of the full 11″ or so. As long as this virago doesn’t do any hard core trail riding the travel I left will be MORE than enough. Reassembly was painless. Fresh oil in them, and mounted up with the new length!
This picture can be deceiving. The front wheel is sitting about 8″ off the concrete, being supported by a 2×4 and a stacked motorcycle ramp. The rear wheel is hovering just over an inch off the ground. So the bike looks tall and with an odd stance in the pic. I just ordered a set of matching fat enduro tires which should help complete the look, once I mount the front tire, I can roll it around and see how it will really look/ feel. But for now…starting to look like a motorbike again!
Well thanks for all the crossed fingers everyone. I managed to get the seat ready for upholstery. Lots of trimming and welding! It was VERY tricky to get that perforated metal welded in place…so thin…Then I got the seat pan shaped and cut out. I’ll wait to upholster it until the tank is mounted and finished, so I can ensure a good mating of the two parts.
Misty gave me the idea to just put the metal there on the under side. I’ll use it somehow to mount the tail light…maybe individual LED’s in the perforated holes? hmmmmm
So far so good! Not sure what to get onto next. I’ll probably try to make the new 2-1 intake manifold tomorrow for the VM34 round slide carb. Then I can do the underside of the tank, then upholster and get the tail section powder coated, by then the bearings will be in for the front end, then I’ll have to relocate the brake caliper, shorten the forks, and make spacers for the new wheel, order/ mount new tires, wire it, and come up with some exhaust situation…then…done! Phew…
For the tail piece I wanted to get a little creative. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at metal fab so here is my chance! I cut and welded a “skeleton” of the tail piece together and then laid some perforated metal down to see how it looked.
But the problem with that is in the end it wouldn’t look “finished” ya know? After welding it up there would be rough edges and I can’t have that, plus I was sad to cover up the cool skeleton I made. I really wanted to keep the perforated look because I haven’t seen that before…SO I came up with a solution!
This is obviously just the beginning of this process, had to call it a night for now. Basically I’m going to shape and weld the metal separately between each piece of the frame. This solves the loose ends because the pieces are now recessed into the tail piece as opposed to being laid over top. It also allows the skeleton to become an integral part of the look as well as function. I hope the perforated metal ends up looking good in the end. I’ve decided I’ll be getting the whole sub frame powder coated black to match the frame once I’m done fabricating it.
Tomorrow I intend to have the seat done and the pan ready to upholster *fingers crossed*
Today I got the seat frame fabricated.
It is a pretty high stance, I’m 5’10” and can’t really flat foot, but that’s on the center stand, it will probably come down to a nice height when it is rolling (or maybe I’ll just have to sell it to a tall dude/ dudette!). I like the look of the re-bar. I think I may keep it raw, and keep the tank the stock blue. It already says Yamaha on it so I’m all set! Now I need to get my 18G sheet metal out and fab up the tail piece/ make a new bottom side for the gas tank. Then I’ll get the seat pan ready for foam and upholstery.
Hopefully the steering and wheel bearings will be here early next week… I really want to see it with the new front end.
So just a few hours after hearing this puppy run and taking the initial “pre-build” pics. I’ve got it stripped down to what is staying.
I know, not a lot left! Don’t worry, some new things will be going on instead. Here is the scrap pile that is getting junked tomorrow. I’d say it is about 50% of the bike haha.
Actually the mufflers I’ll be selling on eBay, they’re like new. And the carbs are getting sold to purchase a VM34 round slide to do a single carb swap with. Gonna hopefully be sweet and simple! Okay that’s it for tonight…bed time. Tomorrow I go get new bearings for the front end swap and front wheel. I probably won’t have the front end mounted and done tomorrow because there is always complications but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Stay posted!
I’ve been wanting to do another virago build ever since I finished my 750. But these days I’m really getting away from the large displacement machines so you can imagine my excitement when a 500 version popped up on CL in my favorite shape (non-running piece of yard art) and price. This little guy is VERY similar to the 750 and 920 big brothers, except sized down in every aspect. What more could I ask for? Here are a few day one pictures.
mmmmmm…fuzzy seats are classy!
This thing hurts to look at…such an ugly machine. But don’t worry! With a new front end, new wheels and tires, new sub frame and seat, and a thoroughly detailed motor and single carb conversion…this thing may not look too shabby!
These carbs are WEIRD! Down draft, cool stuff.
I was pleasantly surprised to turn the key and see lights! Then I pressed the starter button and she cranked! So I cleaned these old dusty carbs out and put them on…Lets see what happens next.