For those of you who have come into Perth County Moto, you may have heard that we work with a local fabricator who made all the fixtures in our store. 'Fab-Jerry' is a friend of mine who lives around the corner from me. He also has a chopper project sitting up on the table waiting to be finished. It's a CB550 with girder front end, coffin tank, and plunger suspension. Needless to say, we have spent a few evenings in his workshop starring at the bike discussing what he is working on next and when it might be ready to hit the road. This led to us both deciding, after a few beers, that we were going to get our respective projects done this winter and on the road by next season. Easier said than done! The idea was that we would push one another to get them done and lend a hand when needed. I think at one point a "Chopper Bat-Signal" may have been suggested... OK, maybe we had a few more beers then first suggested.
Parts started dropping off left and right
A few days ago I was talking to Jared on the phone about borrowing something. I mentioned in passing that I was hoping to get started on the xs. So far all I had accomplished was to get it up on the lift. To be honest, I didn't give any more thought to the conversation once we got off the phone. About an hour later Lindz and I sat down to watch the MotoGP race when there was a knock at the door. I was surprised to see Fab-Jerry, work shirt in hand, telling me he was here to work on the xs. Alright, let's get going then! MotoGP race and subsequently Lindz abandoned for some much-needed wrench time, we headed to the shop. It took all of two minutes before we were both digging into the motorcycle. He took one side and I took the other. Parts started dropping off left and right. As the bike fell to pieces we talked about what would be kept and what could go. Of course not much was going to be kept.
Step one of many
Generally, on any other bike I have stripped down I have kept it very organized. A box of zip-loc bags and a sharpie can go a long way in organisation. The xs, however, has a very definite fate so I didn't spend much time keeping track of anything that was taken off the bike. I am sure down the road on this project I might regret that when I am left searching for a random part I didn't think I was going to need. Oh well, this is step one of many and at the moment I was more focused on getting this build moving along. As wrenches spun we went over the general plan for the bike. Will the forks be 4 over or 6 over? Will it be a springer? What is the best way to chop the sub-frame? Will there be a foot clutch? A hand shifter? A sissy bar? Motogadget? Type of tires? Kick only? Wire wheels? Along with all the other great bits that get the imagination going.
We had just pulled the engine from the frame when Lindz and Jared's girlfriend showed up in the doorway of the shop. It wasn't until we noticed that they had brought food from The Tin House that we realized the bike was all but taken apart. The only thing remaining on the frame was the front end which was being left on for the time being. Holding a Tin House burger in hands covered with engine and chain grease, we stood back to look at our mess. With the engine now sitting on the workbench and motorcycle parts all over the lift and floor, we decided that was the end of the day. In all honesty, I would probably already be behind on this project if Jared hadn't shown up. I think any good build comes together with some help from good friends. If Fab-Jerry is going to take time from his day off and show up ready to work then I have no excuse not to get my ass in gear!
A blank canvas to spark inspiration
The old xs gave up its parts without any struggle. As if wanting to be unburdened from the weight of 'extra' parts and asking for a new lease on life. It's funny how sometimes a completely stripped down motorcycle can help you see the forest through the trees. A blank canvas to spark inspiration. A path to a simplified machine that has everything it needs to start and run, and maybe even stop. I think anyone who appreciates motorcycles has a soft spot somewhere for the simplicity of what they are. An engine, a frame, two wheels and some rudimentary controls. That's it... Nothing else needed, nothing else desired.
Author: Perth County Moto - Jeff O'Neill @perthmotojeff