Saturday, December 15, 2012

20th Annual Outback Riders Toy Ride 2012

I’ve just attended what was one of the most impressive turnouts for a toy ride I've ever witnessed. A local MC, the Outback Riders have been hosting the ride for 20 years, and each year it keeps getting larger. I ‘m not sure what the official count is this year yet, but I can say it took almost an hour for the bikes to pack in the parking lot. This annual ride along with the combined efforts of the Empty Stocking fund, and the Salvation Army, greatly impact the lives of countless children in this area. I urge each and every one of you that have found your way to my blog, motorcycle enthusiast or not, please attend at least one toy ride in your life time. As a participant it is certainly a moving event. The riders, standing shoulder to shoulder in a sea of bikes, gathering with one unifying purpose in mind, helping the children, certainly leaves one awestruck. However, unless you have experienced both sides of the coin as I have, I don’t believe you can fully imagine, or grasp the magnitude of the impact an event like this has. As a recipient of the warmth, kindness, and generosity shared, and extended by the thousands of men and women that make this possible, I am forever a changed man. We all certainly want to do our best to give our children everything they want. However, often in life, circumstances arise that are out of our control. I have no words to express the utter hopeless feeling you have as a parent when you realize Christmas is just around the corner, and you don’t have any presents to give. Then, you find that friends in the community, and perfect strangers alike, all band together, standing with you, to provide a wonderful Christmas for your children. I simply have no words to express just how deep my gratitude is for these exceptional men and women. So, for those of you that have considered participating, and are wondering just what all of this is about, I ask you to reflect on the wonderment of Christmas as a child. Now realize that without the care of the many, many people involved in the Outback Riders, Salvation Army, the Empty Stocking fund, and other groups like these, those wonderful memories you have, would not be possible for some children on Christmas day. If you are familiar with this area, or know of a similar event in your community, I urge you to please, please participate in any way you can. I sincerely hope each and every one of you has a joyous holiday season, and ride safe….

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vstar 950/650 side stand

This is the Vstar 650 stand.

Here is the Vstar 950 stand installed on the Vstar 650.

Front shot of my Vstar with the 950 stand.
This is a previous picture with the original side stand.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vstar 950/650 Side Stand Swap

Well here I am again, and I owe another debt of gratitude to the friendly, and helpful members of the Yamaha Motorcycle Forum. Recently, a discussion revealed the Star 950, and 650 side stands were interchangeable. Though the 650’s is about .5 inches longer, it’s not enough to hinder its use on the 950. Why is this important you may ask? Well, for those of us striving to shroud our bikes in a cloak of “blackness”, the 950’s side stand helps. For some reason, when Yamaha built the Midnight, or Raven 650 as it is sometimes called, they decided to use a chrome stand. However, all of the surrounding parts are black. Go figure? The reverse is true on the 950. This is where the swap comes in. After finding that the stands were compatible with one another’s bike, a 950 owner and I arranged to trade stands. Paying our own shipping is the only out of pocket expense, and time is minimal. One bolt and a couple of springs… about 1 minute, maybe less. I never realized what a, dare I say, eyesore a bright shinny chrome stand can make on an all black frame and bike. Needless to say, if you have a black bike, I recommend the trade. Now however, I’m wondering about removing the rest of what little chrome is left. I guess only time will tell. For those of you 950 owners that may have found your way to my 650 blog, for you the swap is basically free chrome! I will post a couple of picture later on of the before and after. I think you’ll be surprised at the difference that small change has made. Until then, ride safe…..

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shinko Tires

After my recent purchase of a Shinko tire for the wheel swap, I must say I'm quite pleased with it. I considered other brands, but inevitably went with this one simply based on price. So far, I have about 100 miles on it, and it still looks brand new. It handles perfectly, and again, the price can't be beat. Many of the other brands extended upwards of 100+ in price, while I only paid half that on Ebay for the Shinko. As you've probably guessed, I find most of my deals for the VStar on Ebay. I will need to replace the rear wheel soon, and will definitely match up a Shinko for the rear. However, I will try and keep you informed on the quality of the tire, as I know tires are vital for those of us that enjoy two wheeled therapy. The overall verdict thus far is two thumbs up for the Shinko.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"How to" VStar 650 Wheel Swap

Success! Yes, the wheel swap is finally complete. First off, sorry for the slight delay with my last post on the process. We have had severely inclement weather lately, including thunderstorms heavily laden with lightning. Well, my highly conductive metal shed is not the safest place to work while there is enough voltage surging through the air to power a small city. Hence, the slight delay in my completion. I have however, finally finished the task at hand. The wheel, though not a direct swap, is much closer than some of the other conversion methods that encompass changing bearings, or drilling out fork legs. If you remember, I installed a wheel cover on the rear, giving the illusion of a solid rear wheel. Thus, adding the front wheel from the 1100 completes the look of custom wheels. So if you are interested in swapping the front wheel, and using the wheel cover as I have done on the rear, you’ll save yourself literally thousands of dollars. The last time I checked, I had a hard time even finding a company that would make custom wheels for the Vstar 650, and the price was in the 2500-3500 dollar range. The wheel cover, including powder coating it black, and the front wheel with the additional spacers, and paint was roughly a tenth of the cost of custom wheels. So if you’d rather spend the extra coin, and go the 3500 dollar route, you can save yourself some time, and quit reading here. However, if you are like me, and would rather save your money for other mods later, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what to do. To start with, the wheel I used was from a 1978 Yamaha XS 1100. I was lucky and found one on Ebay for a tad shy of 100.00, including shipping. As I’ve already posted, the wheel had both rotors, and good bearings. The price for wheels may vary some, but if you shop around, I’m sure you’ll find a good deal for less than 150.00. I also purchased on Ebay a Shinko, 100/90-19 wheel for about 55.00 with free shipping. The needed spacers, and washers, I picked up at Lowes for less than 10.00. Paint included one can each of self etching primer, gloss black, and clear coat, all were rattle cans that I picked up for about 5.00 a can. That brings my total to around 180.00 for everything. That’s it for financing the project, so now on to the work related element. If you have minimal mechanical skills, you can do this. As mentioned earlier, it’s not quite a direct swap, but with a few simple spacers you’ll be in business in no time. I guess I won’t go into detail for my measurements as they are different than a stock Vstar. I will mention though that my estimation for a stock bike would be around a half to three quarters of an inch per side. Don’t hold me to that though, it’s just a guess. I purchased an inch and a half and used a grinder to cut down the bulk of it, and then fine tuned them with my Dremel equipped with a grinding wheel. So the front wheel setup includes the stock VStar spacer, the stock VStar speedo drive, and the two spacers I made, and that’s it. Not too bad so far is it.The brake was another story though, but still not too bad. The XS1100 Rotors are thicker than the Vstars, so if you can get them “turned” to shave off the tad bit of excess that’s what I would do. I already had the brake on the wheel, and the wheel installed before I realized this. No matter how I spaced the caliper, it continued to scrub. I used the Dremel to shave off a very minute amount of the caliper to prevent the scrub, and called it done.

In brief here are the simple steps, (excluding installation of the new Shinko tire):

A) Purchase wheel, rotors, spacers, and your choice of paint. There are other XS1100 years that fit, but make sure to purchase the ones using a 298mm rotor. Check me on this, but I believe there are a few years of V-Max wheels, as well as older Venture wheels that may also work.

B) Remove Stock wheel assembly, rotor, and unbolt the caliper. You may want to completely remove the caliper, or simply place it on a box or stool next to the bike leaving the brake line attached.

C) Install the XS1100 wheel using the stock VStar spacer, axle and speedo drive.

D) Center the wheel, and take an initial measurement for the spacers. Go a tad on the safe side when making the initial cut, and fine tune the measurements as needed. This step involves installing and removing the wheel several times insuring the spacers slide in place perfectly. At this point, it’s now safe to paint the wheel.

E) After installing the wheel and rotor, place the caliper on the rotor, and hold it in place where it will be bolted to the fork leg. Adding washers as needed, space the caliper over until it aligns securely with the rotor.

 F) Make sure everything is tight, don’t forget the pinch bolt holding the axle in place. Now, take your bike out and be proud of a job well done.

This is the method I followed, it may not be the simplest, or the best, but it’s what worked for me. I am no mechanic, and don’t claim to be. I’m just a guy that enjoys working on my personal VStar, and sharing my experiences with you. If you embark on this, or any of my other projects that is totally at your discretion and you are responsible for the safe completion of your project, not me. I am simply providing you with information that you may find beneficial, but ultimately you are the one accountable for what you do with that information.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not Finished Yet, But Much Closer!

Well I had the tire mounted today, and I have to say, I’m very pleased with the looks of it. Though both tires are the same size, the thinner wheel makes a difference. The tire/wheel combo on the XS1100 wheel stands about an inch taller than the tire/wheel combo on the VStar. I didn’t get a chance to pick up any extra spacers or washers today, but will most likely do so first thing tomorrow. I did however “test fit” the wheel using the current spacers. The brake caliper will need to be shimmed over a tad to prevent having the wheel drastically off set. Otherwise, everything seems to be coming together as expected. I know you are probably wondering why I didn’t paint the wheel before I had the tire installed. The wife has already asked me this earlier, so I guess I should explain my somewhat backward logic once again. My premise is this, if I spend time getting the paint perfect, and then have it scratched while the tire is being installed, I would be none to happy. However, if I simply wait, as I have done, and likewise get the wheel and spacers all in check, then run a quick ring of 2” masking tape around the tire, I can go to work with the paint, no worries. Thus, I do not have my nice new paint all scratched up before I even get finished with the install. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There is one more point I figure I should mention. As I was looking at the spacing earlier, I was reminded that I have swapped for wider triple trees. I imagine if my VStar still had the stock width triple trees in place, this may have been a little closer to a simple bolt on and go project. I will add however that some extra spacers will be needed either way. So, if you embark on this project yourself, keep in mind the spacing will be different for a stock VStar than for what I’m discussing here. Alrighty, that’s all the news I have to share for now. With the weekend upon us, hopefully I will get this completed soon. Until my next update, ride safe….

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More on the Wheel Swap

I removed the rotors on the XS 1100 wheel, and went ahead and pulled the wheel on my Vstar. On a hunch, I removed the speedo drive, and spacer. It was just as I had hoped, both fit the XS1100 wheel perfectly. Without having the tire mounted on the rim, I did a quick comparison between the two wheels. It looks like there will be about a half or maybe three quarters of an inch difference on either side that I will need to accommodate with spacers. Hopefully I will have the tire mounted ,and balanced tomorrow and can narrow down the spacing to a more definitive measurement. I will continue to update with progress reports as I can. More to come later, ride safe....

Brief Update

I have received the XS1100 wheel I've been waiting on, and it fits the XVS650 axle like a glove. This wheel has the dual rotor set up but I'm not going to bother with swapping out the fork leg to add the needed caliper. For now, I'll just remove the extra rotor. The bearings are fine, and I do have new rubber I plan to install on it. After that, I'll determine what spacers are needed, and insure  proper fitment. Then the only thing left is to prime, paint, and clear coat it. I will update again as soon as I can, and will hopefully have pictures available of the finished product. Ride Safe.....

Friday, May 11, 2012

HardKrome Exhaust

I have been asked countless times for a video of the HardKrome exhaust on my Vstar. I finally have a quick sound clip that I've uploaded to YouTube. Check in the side bar of this page in the "sites of interest" for a link that will take you there. It may not be the greatest video, but hopefully it will give you a general idea of how the exhaust sounds. I've started a small project that I plan to elaborate on more later. I will let you know soon, until then...ride safe.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Make a Sidemount License Plate

Modifications for my VStar have been slacking lately, so I may as well take this time to give a proper write-up for the side mount plate I made. Initially, I wanted an eye catching design. I even went so far as to cut a few of them out, but in the end, I decided on something a little more basic. To start with, I simply used paper and a ruler, measuring out and drawing the design, while keeping everything symmetrical. I then cut out and taped what I had on a piece of steel. Most hardware stores carry small squares of various gauges and dimensions. For the plate I believe I used 14 or perhaps 12 gauge. It’s not going to hold any substantial weight, but be sure what ever you use will resist a little highway speed wind. I have a jigsaw, and a Dremel tool, both with appropriate cutting blades, but for this project the jigsaw seemed like the logical choice. My plate design incorporates the contour of the tail light, so the curves took a bit more patience. For them I did use a grinding wheel on my Dremel to knock down the rough edges. I also used a vice to hold the end of the plate where the light will be bolted, and gave the other end a slight tug, bending the plate just a little. Now there is a bit of an angle difference between the area for the license plate, and that for the light. Next task was to drill the appropriate holes to mount the light, and license plate with. The tail light was a small cat eye shape, and required three holes, two for mounting, and one for the wiring, where as the license plate needed the four standard holes as found on any other plate. I used my drill, selected adequate sized bits for each hole, and punched them through. Now, for mounting the plate on the bike, I strayed from the typical plate design for VStars. Most of the aftermarket side mounts I’ve found have an extra tab on the side that is bolted on using the two rear most bolts of the rear drive. Other designs use a single mount point at the rear axle. I wanted to move mine farther up than that so my only option was bolting it to the swing arm. To do this I used an EMT hanger clamp for 1” electrical conduit, and a metal L shaped brace. The original bolt for the clamp does not provide enough support so it was replaced with a bolt/nut combo. The brace was 3x5 and a small amount was shaved off to match the width of the plate. The L brace will also need holes drilled to match those added earlier that are used to mount the actual license plate. To attach the L brace to the clamp, I simply used another bolt, and nut.  At this point you will want to ensure you are satisfied with the plate angle in reference to the swing arm, and completely tighten the bolt holding the clamp and L brace together. I should mention that I did add a couple of extra nuts between the brace and clamp for adequate spacing. Once it’s mounted, it’s difficult, or near impossible to get it tight, and it will most likely have to be removed to do so. Otherwise, the project is almost complete. At this point you can paint the side mount plate black like I did, or any color you wish. For an added finishing touch, I found a license plate frame that looked like barbed wire. I’m sure it can be found in black, however mine was chrome and thus was painted along with everything else. Once it’s dried, bolt the light on, add the license plate and frame, and slide the clamp around the swing arm, and bolt it down nice and snug. I added a little electric tape under the clamp to prevent any scratching during installation. It is a tight fit, and you will need a little elbow grease to push the inside of the clamp together for the bolt and nut.  There are assortments of chrome nuts, license plate nuts, and just generally neat looking bolts that can be used for an added custom flair. Overall, I have less than 20.00 invested. This includes the 5.00 light, and the 5.99 license plate frame, as well as everything that was purchased at the hardware store. Most of the aftermarket plates I found cost upwards of 100.00. I will admit though, you can find them much cheaper. However, I like knowing what I have was completely made by me. If you have any questions, or would like a few more pictures, please let me know, and I’ll post them right away. Until next time…ride safe.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Brief " How To" on V-Star Wiring.

I've finally made the time to finish the latest transformation of my VStar. For this entry, instead of outlining what has been purchased because my previous post has already done so, I will outline a quick wiring “how to”. For starters, my VStars current signal and brake light wiring was moved from the previous location under the fender, to it’s new home along the frame/swing arm. With the stock fender, you can find the bulk of the wiring located behind the tail light. Yamaha uses bullet terminals that can easily be unhooked. For better access, after removing the seat, you can simply loosen the 4 bolts found at the front of the struts located on either side of the bike holding the fender in place. Remove the two rear most bolts that were previously loosened on either side of the bike, and lift the fender up. A quick hint at this point, you may want to find something to aid in holding the fender up while you work. Otherwise, a headache may be in your eminent future. I’m currently running single filament bulb bullet signals that were discussed in one of my earlier postings. Thus, each rear signal requires only two wires, a hot, and ground. The OEM wiring harness colors for the 07 model VStar Custom signals are green/black and brown/black. The tail light uses the same styled bullet terminal connectors as the signals. The wiring for this consists of a black ground, and 2 hot wires. One is for a running light, and the other for when the brake is applied. For my current project however, all of the wiring was removed from underneath the OEM fender as that too was also removed. Again, using Yamaha’s bullet terminals for a quick disconnect, this task was made easy. If you plan on replacing the signals, brake light, or both as I have, you can find the bullet wiring terminals at most auto parts stores. Then it’s just a matter of crimping a new end on the newly acquired light’s wires to match the current Yamaha set up. The after market brake light I purchased has red, yellow, and a black ground. Due to the new placement of the tail light on the swing arm, some of the OEM wiring was removed completely, alleviating unnecessary extra wiring strapped to the frame. My current signal wires are hidden inside the struts, and follow them down to the base of the swing arm. I’ve joined them with the rest of the OEM wiring harness located on the left side of the bike. I have the union held in place on the swing arm with zip ties. The tail light wiring simply follows the curve of the swing arm around the side of the bike where the new license plate and brake light are located. The removal of wiring required that I install new wiring terminals for both the harness end (female) and tail light end (male). This enables me to quickly remove the lights without having a need for completely re-splicing into the wiring harness. All exposed wiring, such as that leading to the side mount license plate can be covered with corrugated plastic wire loom. I’ve posted pictures above of the side mount plate, and newly acquired fender. This is my personal blog, and I'm apt to make mistakes. If you feel I've left anything out, or If you have any questions about this most recent modification to my VStar, please feel free to ask. As always…ride safe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

As I expected now that school has started, I have far less time for my VStar. Though I haven't been able to do much to complete the current project, I will go ahead and post a picture of what it looks like with everything drilled and bolted down. I intended to powdercoat the license plate I made, along with the fender struts. Unfortunately, the powdercoat business I've been using is up for sale. I guess I will have to find an alternative place, or simply paint them. All in good time though. For now, I still have to mod a small section of the fender. The OEM Yamaha fender has a slight divit for the seat to rest in, so looks like I'll have to do a little trimming on the new fender to get the seat to rest flat on the frame. All that is left after that is just a tad bit of wiring, and painting, but I plan to give better details later so I will stop for now. Ride safe....

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Fender for the VStar

Though I haven't completed the task at hand, I'll go ahead while I have time and update my status. I decided after finishing up with the side mount plate that I would go another direction. The previous design did not look well with the tail light I'm currently using, so I decided simplicity would be best. Relying on my past, I dredged up skills I haven't used since first grade. Though tracing a license plate and light are somewhat different than making hand shaped turkeys at Thanksgiving, the general concept is the same. Yes, making the side mount plate was truly that simple. After a couple of minutes with the jigsaw and a little sanding, it was done. I've also re-routed and zip tied the wires to the swing arm. I will detail more on that later. Now, the fender, as I mentioned before, was going to be cut short. However, after a better look, and a brief mock up, I've decided to leave the fender long. I did modify the struts for a better fit. The small extensions that the bolts pass through were cut, and ground down evenly with the rest of the strut. Now the struts fit firmly against the side of the fender, without the need for drilling oversized holes. I may still shave just a little, no more than an inch or so, off the bottom of the fender for a bit of individual style. I've always been one to strive for that unique look, and refuse to have a straight out of the box bike. For paint, I've looked into ordering the 2007 Yamaha Vstar OEM black from the ColorRite website for just the fender, but have also considered having the tank, along with the fender repainted with a black other than the stock color. I guess time, and the availability of extra money will tell. I will try to finish the install, and get a few more pictures up by this weekend. Unfortunately, I can't have it painted that fast, but at least the pics will give you an idea of the new look. Again, I will certainly try to share more details of this project as time permits. Until then...ride safe.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Out with the old...

And in with the new! Now that it's the start of a new year, what better time to change a few things out on my VStar. As I've mentioned, I've been debating on changing the fender, and adding a side mount plate. Well, progress has finally starting moving in that direction. I purchased a new steel Roller fender from a seller on Ebay. It was very reasonably priced when compared to buying a used Classic fender, but even more so when considering the other new fender options that were available. I paid less than $120 shipped. You can see from the pics, though it's not mounted, and merely resting on the tire, that it is a full fender which allows for many different design options. I currently have a few that I'm thinking about, but really don't have an aversion with leaving it as it is. I will have to decide soon, as my winter break is over, and school is starting next week. This is my Senior year, and college classes have become really intense, so I'm sure my time will be limited. However, the time I've had this weekend I spent cutting out my side mount plate design. I sketched it out on paper, cut it out, transferred that design to sheet metal, and used a jigsaw to cut it out. I had to make a trip to Home Depot this evening for a couple of cut off wheels for my Dremel tool so I could clean it up a bit. The jigsaw left a few places that were a bit hard to get to, so the Dremel will come in handy for those. I've resolved to use the previous tail light due to the issues I've had with the one that was recently purchased. It's not that there is anything wrong with the light, but adding a different light that performs the same function as the old one, entirely defeats the purpose of swapping them. Besides, the older light was much brighter. As the wife pointed out, it's also much safer. The seller admitted that there was a mix-up, and the wrong light was sent. Though I will lose some of what was spent for shipping, I will receive a refund for the light. So for now, I will use the same lights that I've had. I do have another idea in mind, but I'll save that for later. My plate is full enough as it is, don't think I'll attempt to add any more until I manage to finish with some of what I've started. I do plan to make time to post a few more pics with the current progression. Until then...ride safe!