• The $1000 BB Custom Mod


    reprinted from BB.com , November 2003
    copyright owned by author


    The $1000 BB Custom Mod

    Welcome once again to Customarily Minded. On this rotation of the front wheel, I'd like to dabble just a little on one of my favorite past times, the subject that my play on title mimics, the wonderful world of customizing. With the winter season creeping in, some of you will no doubt be parking your machine for hibernation. But that doesn't mean you have to ignore it, nay winter can be a blessing as it is a time when you can rip into a custom project and not lose any riding time due to the downtime involved in such projects. Hey since you won't be riding it anyway, you might as well add all that stuff you've been dreaming about all year long. Let's don our DOT approved ski caps, fire up the portable heater, and start wrenching.

    I have selected five of the more common and budget minded cruisers from the stable of the Beginner Bikes Buyers Guide. I would like to take a look at some of the possibilities available on a mediocre $1000 budget (and believe me, $1000 is cheap in the custom world) and apply them as I see fit toward each bike. First off, the bikes: I selected the tested, tried and true Honda Rebel, Kawasaki's 500 Vulcan (a bike with very little aftermarket appeal), Suzuki's 650 Savage (another bike with minimal aftermarket accessories), Yamaha's 650 V-Star Classic (chock full of aftermarket possibilities), and finally the bike I'm most familiar with, Honda's Shadow VLX. The mods I intend to depict go beyond the typical realm of intake and exhaust mods that are in most cases easily...exhausted. Nay I intend to take these bikes from their mild state to a wild state. Please keep in mind that some of the mods I would do to such machines would place them outside the realm of Beginner Bike usability, so if these mods are in your future you want to be armed with not only the knowledge of how to do it correctly but plenty of moving saddle time behind you as well.

    First item up on the chopping block is the 250 Rebel. Okay, why dump $1000 into a Rebel you ask? Heck most people buy older used Rebels for $1000 so why double the investment? First off the Rebel is a great city commuter, and if you opt for a larger bike for the freeway the Rebel still makes a great second bike to serve as a commuter in stock form or otherwise over a big touring rig. And rest assured you'll also have the most unique bike in town to boot. Okay, first things first. One call to Forking by Frank nets 8" over 33mm fork tubes at about $200. Next up let your fingers do the walking and make a few keystrokes to Bikercom for a set of forward controls at another $200. Another $200 goes into the pockets of a local wrench/welder, he'll be tweaking the steering head by making a cut in the neck and add another 15 degrees of rake. Another $50 goes to my bud Pete at Sons of Thunder Metric Customs for some rear shock work. The seat comes off to remove all the fabric and foam, and the seat pan and another $50 goes to a local upholstery guy for a slim profile seat. A hundred of the remaining $300 goes to longer brake and speedo lines, and the other two Ben Franklins make their way to a local plater along with the engine covers for polishing. Throw it all back together and you have yourself one heckuva sweet commuter that could be an extra in the Easyriders sequel.


    "We're not gonna blow it this time, Billy."

    Next item up is Kawasaki's 500cc Vulcan, the cruiser that isn't, so to speak. Many argue that the mini Vulcan needs a V-Twin to be complete, and others maintain that even without the V-Twin there's little that can be done to make it unique. Hogwash, I say...first up even though I said I wouldn't dig into pipes, since there isn't a huge selection of them for the Vulcan we'll make an exception. JCWhitney receives $140 for a set of generic sized fishtail mufflers, clamps, and reducer collars. Next up I'll take my 4" cut off wheel or an angle grinder to the stock mufflers and sayonara sucker. The new pipes go on with the set of muffler clamps/collar reducers and viola: instant custom slip-on exhaust. Thumbing through the JCWhitney catalog some more, you may spy a set of Maltese cross mirrors and a matching tail light is found in the Highway Hawk catalog, $30 and $20 respectively. The HH catalog also yields some nice forward controls, but at $450 I may have to say pass. But take their universal 4" HD styled risers at $60 (available in 10, 12, & 13mm bolt sets, one of them has to fit if not a drill or sleeves will make them fit!). A 1" diameter/33" wide set of Flanders drag bars is ordered at $35 as well. Another call to Forking by Frank and a set of 2" over forks arrives at my doorstep, and rear shocks once again go out to Pete at SOTMC for a total $250 spent on both ends. Barnett Clutch and Cable yields some stainless steel braided brake, clutch, 2" over speedo, and throttle lines at $40 a line ($200 total). Okay we're up to $725...let's see what else we can grab. Thumbing through the J&P Cycle catalog I spy some sweet 'Mirage' wedge shaped directionals priced at $45, and a set of fork clamp mounted front markers for another $35, and the rest can be sent with the stock seat out to Saddlemen for reupholstering in a racer-back styled seat. The end result is a street fighter appealing Vulcan with a little extra chopperesque rake and plenty of attitude to match.

    (Sadly, no photo available on this one. Trust me, it was pretty cool.)

    The next victim is the the uncivilly named yet tame by appearance Suzuki Savage. First off I'll give my long time phone friend Kurt at Seeger Cycle Accessories a call for some +4 raked trees at $700. Yikes, there goes a large portion of my budget right out of the gate, time to keep it simple now. Let's see, $200 for longer forks or $50 for shorter rear shocks...okay Pete you win this round. Lowering the rear compensates for stock length tubes sitting further out on raked trees, so I'm going for the ground pounder look with $250 to spare. Steel flat fender blanks from J&P are $40 for the rear, cut to fit on my own time. The passenger pillion gets shelved in favor of the bobbed rear fender/solo look. Ebay nets me some cheap OEM Intruder risers and another $40 to Flanders for a narrow drag bar, and another 70 goes to Drag Specialties for some rear lighting and a bracket for the side mount plate. $50 goes overseas to Bikercom for a set of end mount directionals (visible from front and rear!) and the rest goes to sandpaper, primer, and orange Krylon rattlecan paint until a decent paint job can be afforded. Now this Savage truly is a beast, a ground pounding menace with jaws agape.


    A Savage worthy of the name

    Next up we have the V-Star Classic. I'm going to suggest sticking with the Classic theme this time around, I've already depicted three choppers so let's see what you can do with the retro route. $400 yields a set of wide glide stock rake polished billet aluminum triple trees. Sweeeeet...does nothing for chopper appeal but makes that fat front end look even wider. On that note, let's make it look taller too. Flanders gets $70 for a set of 15" ape hangers, and another $150 goes to Motion Pro for +15 brake, throttle, and clutch lines. Okay the front end is done and we have $380 left to blow on the other end. Easy enough, the seat pan goes out to the local upholsterer for a slim line solo seat makeover, J&P gets another $40 for a rear fender blank, $60 goes for some diamond plating and a little custom shaping/bending, and Auto Gem gets the balance for two pairs of Derringer lights (one for the brake light circuit and the other for directionals). The end result is one sweet arm and hair raising ride.


    Retro meets the stone age, going ape on the cool side with a phat V-Star

    Which brings us to the final bike in this pentamerous plethora of BB customs, the Shadow VLX. Well, well, well...where can we go with this one? The VLX is the epitome of chopper styling, so I'm going to say stick with that theme. $450 goes to Bikercom for a set of polished billet +6 triple trees ($350) and 4" fork extensions ($100). The bike's owner sets up some special arrangements with Pete at SOTMC who designed the "snotface strut" hardtail shock absorber replacement ($40) and he whips out a one off custom jockey shifter that is currently undergoing testing by the Pete for future release to the public. Cost: Free! $50 goes out for a longer brake line. Sealed beam halogen driving lights($50) replace the stock headlight, since the new angle of the forks from 4" over front and slammed hardtail rear renders the OEM headlight into a mobile bat signal. $50 nets a fork bag to cover the gap left behind by the now vacant headlight mount. Ebay yields some Jardine Forward Controls and matching rear pegs for $300 ($600 + $100 if ordered new from Jardine). The remaining $60 is spent on fabricating brackets for the jockey shifter and relocating the speedo to the lower left side of the frame. That stock VLX is now a show stopper of a chopper!


    Holy rake jobs, Batman!

    So there you have it, five budget minded beginner bikes and five budget minded custom mods done in time for the next riding season. All of these mods have all been done in the past by real people and these are real prices. One must admit, 'tis a sweet alternative to hibernation at that too, nay winter can be a time of rebirth instead. Keep the shiny side up, and see ya next time around.



    When Shadow Shack isn't shaking cans of Krylon, he answers any email sent to him via his profile


    "Customarily Minded Machine of the Month"



    Okay ya want more? Those last four customs weren't enough? Alright, since I didn't have a pic of the Vulcan I guess I owe you one, so here it is: The Customarily Minded stock bike of the month! This bike isn't a custom, but on the other hand it's not something you're bound to see everyday either. Nay this is something you'll probably never lay eyes on in real life, but here's a photo of it anyway. Honda released, in accordance to the AMA superbike standards set forth, a street version of their VFR750 race ready version dubbed the RC-45. Only a few hundred were made back in 1993, and I had the pleasure of seeing one live and in person as a guy at work owns one of these rare gems. He even let me sit on it once but in no way was I going to accept any rides on it.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The $1000 BB Custom Mod started by Shadow Shack View original post
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