Bobber

Here is the process of making a Bobber from A Kawasaki Vulcan 800A 1995. I will try to show you and explain the process of transformation. This is the first time I am doing this, so be indulgent. I am learning everyday, and this is what life is about no!

11/11/11
I bought this 1995 Kawasaki Vulcan 800 a couple of week ago with 21000 miles, I am thinking of making a bobber of it.
So let me tell you, when I went to see it, the guy told me the motorcycle sat for 5 years in his garage. I couldn’t start the bike because the battery was dead. The guy also told me the carb will need to be rebuilt. After coming back from Jupiter, yep Jupiter Florida, I start to work on it

First thing, I change the oil, cooling fluid, lube all the cables, clutch and throttle. I put a new battery, start it and it won’t start! I knew I need to clean the carb, I order a Haynes manual to see what I had to take off to access the carb… I couldn’t wait for the manual to arrive so here we go, I took the gas tank off, and then I found the way to get that carb. I open it after watching a bunch of video on You Tube about cleaning carb where I learn a little bit. So I start to clean the needle and the jet, the bowl where the float stays was cover with a brown varnish color. I cleaned everything gently with carb cleaner, put everything back together, put the carb back on the bike, put the gas tank with new fresh gas and some sea-foam, and turn the ignition and she fires right away. How cool is that, I was so happy, I took it for a ride, she is awesome, a lot of power, yes remember I never ride a motorcycle before so yes it is powerful.

Also I didn’t have any air filter, the one who were install was too old and the foam was falling apart, but the bike was running great without air filter just the cover on and that was it.Then I decide to take apart the front headlight, I had an extension with two more headlight, they were not working and for my bobber project I knew I should get rid of it.

After a couple of try I felt some misfires from the rear cylinder, need new plug probably, I order some NGK CRE7 on Ebay.

11/23/11

Next step was taking the pipe to paint the end with a flat black and wrap them, and I discover the back pipe was installed without gasket, incredible no!! I went to a store and ask some gasket for HD Screaming Eagle and they fit perfectly.

I realized after that I celebrated too much and the job with the wrapping was not as good as it should be.

I will fix that later.

11/27/11

I brush the chrome, I don’t like when it is too shiny, and the kind of stainless steel, brush aluminum bring a retro old school style that I like. So I did brush the chrome part on the headlight and paint the housing with the epoxy paint. The result is pretty cool.

I get rid of the turning light in the same time, and install the new bullet style (that I brushed too) on the side of the radiator. I built a metal bracket for those. Here they are after scotch-brite.

I receive my new spark plugs CRE7, the one who were in were CRE8, they were still in good shape. The rear one was blacker than the front. I keep tem just in case, if someone have any clue why CRE8?? I also receive my K&N air filter, I don’t feel the difference with or without! I had to take the carb again because I was not able to pull the choke, I didn’t clean this part because I did not have the book at this time.

12/01/11

I found a 16” front wheel on Ebay, I clean it in a bath of  apple cider vinegar, it works pretty well. Then sand with 400 grit, 2 coat of self-etching primer and high gloss epoxy from Rust Oleum.

12/05/11

I receive my tires, I ordered 2 Shinko E270 500-16 with 2 tubes. I am exciting to install the first one on that front wheel. I will have to get something like a tire balancer and get some black weight. I also need to get an axle from 800 Classic, yes they are not the same, the spacer are different. I am thinking changing my fork seal, paint the fork and both triple tree, add some rubber boots to add a vintage look

I also receive my new chain, the actual one have a bit of rust, it is time to change it

12/07/11

This morning I put the tire on a rim, I can tell this is PITA!!! I scratch the rim that I just paint….. I will have to sand again and wait a week before putting a new coat. This time I use the trick with cards I saw on the blog “Her Majesty’s Thunder” (http://hermajestysthunder.blogspot.com/2011/04/diy-painting-motorcycle-rims-on-cheap.html).

The result is awesome, I love it, a real retro look.

12/08/11

Yesterday I took apart the fork, I discovered the oil seal was rusty on both side and a washer was eaten by the rust, it was not in the right place! Someone mess with it. When I empty the oil, I could see the difference in color from both side, one was black when the other side was purple.

Paint the lower fork tube.

I use the lower fork tube as a balancer, and it turns out pretty well to me.

Paint the triple tree.

11/09/11

I take the rear wheel apart, and try to take the old tire from the rim, not easy at all…. I finally have to use a jig saw. Then a good clean, sand and paint.

12/13/11

I receive the axle from the Vulcan Classic, and it does not fit!!! of course the axle is bigger which means I need some lower fork tube from a Classic…..

I put the new chain, I am waiting for the new shoe brake to reassemble the rear wheel.

I found the solution for the blinker, they were blinking to fast with the new bullet I got. My guess is everything is a question of load, the original bulb was a 23w/8w and the bulb in the bullet is a 23w/6w. when I replaced the one in the bullet by the original bulb it worked fine. I just need to find some bulb with the same wattage who can fit in the bullet.

I also got my 2 shock boots, they are looking really good, perfect size, I am sure I will not have any problem with rusty washer in the fork!

12/22/11

I had to order some lower fork to fit the new axle. Of course I saw on the Vulcan forum that I could just change the bearing between the 21′ wheel and the 16′ and it will work fine!!! Too late, leave and learn, but when I receive them I realize than the front disc bracket does not fit the lower fork tube from a classic…

Thanks to the Vulcan Forum where I go to find some solution all the time and “Wolf The Russian” with the threads he posted about the Vulcan like “Scooterize”, they are really great, there is a big Vulcan community I guess, and you can find answer to your question on those forum, thanks to all of you who post and show your modification.

So now here we go, after changing the chain, installing the rear turn signal, put everything back together. As you can see I cut out the original seat, I was able to do a test drive. You can also see the license plate holder, Hugh help me with the welding, he did a great job, and for sure it is not going anywhere.

I like the look with the fat front tire, getting closer. I think the previous owner did some work on the EPA, a good thing. I ordered a bigger K&N air filter and some door trim and I will Scooterize the breather.

I had some trouble doing the test drive, only the front cylinder was firing. The rear plug was fouled, what I did was pulled off the rear plug from the cylinder head and I can heard it was firing, I gave some gas and see some black smoke coming out of the rear exhaust, after a couple of second I put the plug back on, and everything was fine… After looking online, Wolf said that a lot of people put a different spark-plug in the rear cylinder like NGK CRE6 (different heat range), and they don’t have to complain anymore with the fouled plug or misfiring.

Next step Scooterize.

Happy New Year,

Yep January 1, and finally I did the Scooterize job, it looks really good to me. I followed the instruction and it is easy to do with a Dremel. The chrome trim help for the finish. I like the K&N filter it gives a mean look. I also had to put an Air filter on the crankcase.

I get a new main jet, the one I had, was a 130 and I needed a 165. The pilot jet is a 50, which is what Wolf use. I had to do some test drive and adjust the mixture screw, 2 & 1/2 turns. the needle is an aftermarket with the clip int he third notch from the top with 2 washers on top.

Now she is really powerful when WOT. I changed the rear plug for a NGK CRE6.

I build me seat pan from a 16 gauge metal sheet. Put 3 layers of yoga mattress and some leather. It is comfortable and I didn’t put the spring yet.

I am happy how it turns, for the first seat, not too bad. I had to go to a welding shop to have the bolt weld before installing the yoga mattress.

Here is some pics of the plate under the seat to hide the battery and electronic, I know it doe not look good, we’ll see…

Here is some pics of the breather after Scooterize.

Looks Good.. I receive my new handlebar yesterday, I am going to reinstall everything on it and see if it looks ok. I think the handlebar is maybe too small and need higher riser…

I find a Sportster gas tank for cheap, a little scratch and dent but nothing major. I am going to strip the paint and try to repaint it don’t know yet what color.

An other thing, I will have to get an other seat, this 16 gauge metal shit is too fine for my 220 pounds! I can feel the seat bending while driving..

03/16/12

Hi, I didn’t do much on the bike since last time, just busy with work. But I did change the gas tank, After trying to paint it 3 times and not being happy with the result, I decided to keep it raw metal. I just put a clear coat on it from rattle can.

But this clear coat is o course not gas spill proof!!! The clear melt on contact with gas!

I missed the big gas tank, this one smaller have a range of 66 miles, when approximately 120 miles with the original gas tank.

06/12/12

Alright, time for a little update.

I worked on the bike little by little, the weather here in Florida start to be real hot, and in my little garage it is HOT…

I removed the blinker, and moved the electronic from the handlebar, just a push start button under the seat.

I did a new paint job on the gas tank, i use some silver leaf.

I change the rear sprocket for a 39 teeth, I had to cut 2 link on the chain with a grinder.

I finally get a MIG welder and did my first weld with the Biltwell hinge to the frame.

I put a new seat, this time 10 gauge, put 4 layer of yoga mattress, but still not comfy enough.

I also paint the chain guard and put it back less messy.

08/26/12

As you can see still no rear fender! I start to think I should make one with fiberglass. I’d like the kind with a duck tail but they are expensive. Still thinking about it.

I put 2 scissor spring for the seat, I bought them from La Rosa, DON’T DO THE SAME MISTAKE!!! One broke, I know I am 6’3 with 230 pounds but still… I will probably order some from Low Brow this time.

06/20/13

Little update, Done with the fender, paint and strud are done, thanks to Lowbrow to make it easy with all the part. New Biltwell handlebar, new grip.

Still have to work on the seat, it is too high, so I need to clean what is under.

So here is some pics:

DSC_0492_442

DSC_0499_449

DSC_0609_499

Fender

fender 2

DSC_0788_516

DSC_0790_518

Please feel free to leave any comment and opinion, you can also subscribe to my blog.

Thanks for watching

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46 thoughts on “Bobber

    • Thanks Derek,
      I appreciate your comment, the bike now have a rear fender, I will post some pics anytime soon.
      Don’t hesitate if you have a blog, or pic of your bike, send me the link.
      Cheers

  1. Excellent job! the bike looks stellar and I enjoyed your writing on the build, it was informative. I don’t know if you are aware of this but that image you put on the tank is the logo for the outlaws MC, beware of using outlaw biker icons as they may (or may not) appreciate it.

    • Thanks Stibbbs, I am glad you enjoyed it.
      Concerning the logo, I had the same comment on the Kawasaki blog!
      I tried to contact the Outlaws thru their website and no answer.
      And in fact this logo come straight from the movie “The Wild One”
      with Marlon Brando, this logo is also use by a rock’n roll band
      name B.R.M.C. who stand for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

      Cheers

      • Laurent, Interesting trivia with “The Wild One” is a story is based on the famous Hollister biker riot in 1947 in Hollister CA. I think the image on your bike is cool and I hope people enjoy it, but having had some small personal contact with outlaw gangs in Philly I know how territorial they can be.

      • Hi Stibbbs, I didn’t know it was from a real fact, I read the real story, yes really interesting. Concerning the logo, I can understand, I don’t want any problem and you are not the first one telling me that! I will try to work on a new design. Thanks

    • Hi Joffrey,
      Thank you for your comment and I am sorry for the late answer. Concerning the tire, it is really hard for me to tell you, since this is the first bike I ride and I always have the Shinko. This is the second one for the rear, the first one was change after maybe 4500-5000 miles, I understood at this time what a square tire means. I will tell you they look good and they are cheap, they also have good reputation for racing bike.
      Cheers

  2. Sweet bobber Laurent,
    I wanted to know about the rear fender, did you make it yourself if so what did you use to make it.

    thx in advance Bro

    • Hi Vic,
      Thanks bro, The fender come from Lowbrow, I had to cut it and drill 2 holes in the center for mounting and 2 holes for the studs. The fender match really good the tire radius, I didn’t have to do anything about that, if so you will find how to on the Lowbrow’s website.
      I build the stud with also the part from Lowbrow.
      Good luck.

  3. Nice VN bobber. I just finished a kawasaki kz700 retromod. How far is the progress on the F100 any pics. I’m south of u in Boca.

    Keep up the good work.
    Kevin

  4. Hey the bike is awesome. How is the spray paint holding up? The gas take made it!!! I have an 09 with efi so im having problem finding a take that will fit my efi pump, im thinking of doing an external plump

    • HI Louis, thanks for the comment.
      I use the Duplicolor self etching primer followed by Duplicolor black in spray can. Then I use the 2K clear (spray can) on it. The clear was still nice when I sold the bike a few month ago and one can was plenty to do the sportster tank and I am sure you should be able to do the stock tank. I had a bit of orange peel but with some wet sanding it came pretty nice.

      • I guess the 900 classic has a different rear wheel than the 800 classic because I think the 900 has a 15 inch rear wheel that is wider than yours

      • Looks great! Did you have to buy new axel or spacers for the vn800b tire to fit? I’m looking to do the same thing on mine but i heard you need to get a new triple tree, new forks, new axel, and new spacers, to do this. Am I wrong?

  5. Looks good! Came across your searching. I’m doing the same build right now. How’s the bike been running? I’m in florida too so I’m concerned with the heat. Did you remove the thermostat?

    • Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for stopping by, no I did not remove the thermostat!
      I was concern about the heat in Florida, it is ok when driving on the highway,
      but when you are at a stop waiting for a bridge to come down, the fan turned
      on more than once. I didn’t want to take a chance.
      I sold the bike about a year ago, to start my F100 project, and with the nice winter we had here
      in S. Florida, I miss the bike. I will probably try to put my hand on a cheap one and do it all over again!
      And remember to have fun!

      Cheers.

  6. Laurent, you did an great job! I am scared of motocycles…LOL…Remember one thing…put your HELMET ON …SAFETY FIRST….
    Tu vois je ne savais pas que tu étais un passionné de motos…maintenant c’est fait…c’est du travail tout ça et beaucoup de patience …Bravo!
    Et rappelle-toi moi je suis une passionnée de poisson frais et de crustacés….LOL… donc à faire bientôt!
    Bise Jada

  7. Hi Laurent! Your build blog helped in my own build. So thank you. Could we have your permission to post a pic of your bike to our Instagram page? (Metricbobber) Thanks! Sick bike

  8. Hello,
    Can you tell me what gastank it is??What model?
    I do also bobber-project on my vn 800 and i dont now what model to choose for easy fixing
    Warm Regards from Belgium

    • hey Peter, Thanks man!
      The headlight is the original I will guess.
      This is the same one as when I bought her.
      Maybe the previous owner changed it!
      But the only thing I did was painting the housing in black.
      Good luck with yours, I miss mine, working on the F100 right now,
      but when done I will get an other VN800, they are so much fun?
      Enjoy..

    • Thanks for the kind words!
      You can find those fork boots in “4 Wheel Parts’ store, very cheap, this is the same they use on different shock,
      so you might be able to find it in your local auto part maybe.

      Cheers

  9. Love the bike. I live in Boynton Beach and also have a Vulcan 800 bobber. I’d like to do the same tank but have no clue how to do it. Would you consider meeting me to talk shop or least explain how you replaced the tank?
    Thanks

    • Hi Neil,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      I believe there is a lot of different sportster gas tank, they change they attachment to the frame.
      I remember I had to drill two holes, one for the front and one for the back, put a bolt and nut in each.
      For the front I had to put rubber grommet between frame and gas tank.
      Send me pictures of your new gas tank attachment at: lesagesound@yahoo.fr

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