How many times have you wanted something but couldn’t quite bring everything together to make it happen? Somehow, some way the timing was just, off. It could be either not enough funds or not enough time. Or maybe it’s something as random as the planets are not in alignment. Whatever it is, the gears just aren’t meshing. I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and he told me he finally has the money to do what he wanted and actually has the time, but now that these two have come into alignment, his body isn’t cooperating. He’s got Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s a shyte thing, getting old…
On another occasion I had a bright young fellow, who was still in college, drive an hour and a half to come into the shop. He was well dressed and had obviously put some thought and money into his “look”. He came in to follow up to an email he had written to us regarding a project he was working on. He paid some dude a small pile of money to do a bunch of work on a cafe bike he had. He had seen several great looking café builds on Pintrest and figured he could pay someone to build one for him. It makes sense, we do it all the time. He got the completed bike back from the builder and was less than pleased with the final product and was hoping we could get the train wreck that was sitting sheepishly in the back of his truck, back on track. What he had was champagne taste and a beer budget and the bike reflected this. In his defense, the bike was pretty rough and none of the paint appeared to be chemical resistant. It looked as if the builder threw a few café parts on it, did some really sloppy welding with a Harbor Freight wire feed welder and after a quick rattle can paint job, stood 20 feet away from it and said “awesome, I’m done”. Clearly what he thought he was going to get and what he got were two completely different things.
Another example of this for me, is having to rely on vendors to be able to deliver our product or complete a task. On three occasions this past month we have had vendors not live up to the promise they’ve made regarding delivery which puts us in a crappy situation of having to back peddle. What makes matters worse is they all kept saying they will get to it. On multiple occasions each would apologize and tell me they will have it finished next week. So I tell my client we need just a little more time. I drives me crazy and makes me want to be able to do these things in house. I absolutely hate having to make excuses and explain to a client why their bike isn’t finished, most people are understanding and making a phone call to communicate the situation helps but I never enjoy it. It’s absolutely shocking to me that these vendors are able to keep their doors open with such awful delivery and communication skills. Needless to say we have found other vendors for the services these dip shits provide.
The crazy thing is, at some point we must to be able to have hope for things to go our way. Without hope we would never be able to begin anything. Can you imagine starting a task thinking it will never work out? Henry Ford wrote “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” I like this quote. I say, expectation can be a good thing as long as the only person you hold in the light is yourself. The moment you project expectations outward you are opening the door for some sort of B.S. and possibly failure. Unless communication is crystal clear about what your expectations are chances are under delivery will usually be the final result. The trouble with this kind of communication is it makes most people really uncomfortable. What we have to remember is we cannot do it all alone. We have to be able to rely on others for growth. The trick is finding the right people and being trusting that they will do what they say they will.
I say don’t under deliver, stand for something, set the bar high and don’t settle for anything less than what you expect.
After several weeks of endlessly scouring Craigslist a promising bike finally appeared, it was a 1994 Yamaha YZF750R and it was rough. It hadn’t been properly washed in years and wore a thick layer of grime on everything to prove it, the battered plastic was held together with zip ties and hanging off in places. The tank had a large dent in it and to make matters worse, it didn’t have a title so it could not be resold as a street bike if I didn’t like track riding. The title issue makes for a potentially low ROI since it can only be sold as a track bike. On a positive note, the seller had no idea what he had and the YZF really was a diamond in the rough. He was not a bike guy and had acquired it in a trade with some other “stuff” and was just looking to get some cash out of it. His asking price was $1200, well within my budget, and he was willing to negotiate. And negotiate he did. Don’t ask me how but I managed to get him to sell me the bike for $600, which is amazing considering the fact that the bike was nearly complete. The only things missing were a brake lever, a battery, and the air box/ air filter. I did have to pay $50 in gas to get to and from the seller. But spending only $650 left me with a very nice chunk of change for any improvements I needed or wanted to make.
A little history on the YZF… It was produced from 1993 to 1998 in two forms, the standard R and the SP model which came with a single seat. Unfortunately only the R model was sold in the US. The SP was the limited edition, homologation model of the YZF750 that was used for the World Superbike Championship and it was basically a race bike with lights. I doubt I would have gotten the SP model for $600. The YZF750R was introduced to the US in early 1994. A 1996 model was an early factory release in 1995 and won Sport Rider Magazines 1995 Bike of the Year award and made Motorcyclist Magazines “Best 50 Used Motorcycles” list.
So it would appear the YZF has the lineage to be a great track bike if we can find a way to, without breaking the bank, bring it back to its former glory with a good old GMW resurrection. We typically go at it in several phases; phase one will be wheels and brakes. The yellow OEM wheel color was simply too much for me to deal with and the paint scheme we had decided on called for black rims so the wheels would have to come off. The bearings had to come out for powder coat making it a perfect time for new ones from All Balls Racing. The tires would be replaced with Michelin Pilot Power 3’s and EBC HH pads will slide into the six piston calipers, organic compound pads in the rear. We finished off the brake system with a set of custom Venhill steel braided brake lines and fresh DOT4 fluid.
Phase two would be engine, carburetors, and a radiator flush. The valves needed checking and the valve cover gasket needed to be replaced, oil was leaking from the front. The carbs would certainly need a serious cleaning and synchronizing. While inside the carbs a Factory Pro jet kit will be installed to get the most out of the five valves per cylinder power plant. Phase three will be cleaning up the wiring harness to get rid of unnecessary connectors, eliminating the alternator and installing a more compact instrument cluster. A total loss power system makes sense only for a track bike since the only power used is for spark and starting. The YZF is a real porker, weighing in at 490 lbs. wet so the weight savings is welcomed. A lithium battery will also be used for a total weight savings of about 15 lbs. It’s not a ton of weight, I know it doesn’t seem like much but with the removal of all the parts required to make the YZF streetable plus these 15 lbs, and we’ve taken 54 lbs off the bike.
Phase four will be fairing: the OEM plastic was so badly cracked, broken, and zip tied in so many places the YZF looked like more like it came from Frankenstein’s workshop than a Japanese manufacturing plant. Plus the upper is too tall. During the 90’s Airtech Streamlining developed a WSB upper and lower that makes the YZF skinnier and lowers the front by several inches which completely transforms the look of the bike. It’s a must have along with the OWO1 solo tail section they make.
We are wrapping up a spectacular build on the BBCB550 and starting a new build we will call the CB550ML. This one will have quite the engine, from a balanced crank, to Cosworth cams, Kibblewhite valves, and titanium valve stem keepers. Needless to say, it should be rev happy and sound infuckingcredible! In addition to the bitchin engine, we have a handmade aluminum Manx replica fuel tank for it.
So the decision has been made. I am now going to buy a bike, get a set of leathers, road race boots, a fresh full face helmet and take myself to a track day at the nearest road course, Carolina Motorsports Park here we come! At EDM we have a weakness for buying rough bikes and restoring them to their former glory, or making them into purpose built bikes for the type of riding we plan to do. This track bike would be no different. We didn’t have a particular bike in mind, the only criteria was that it had to be a middle weight. I’m a bit afraid of too much horse power. The bike of choice would need to be either a 600 or a 750 and the price tag could be no more than $1,500. Our total budget for the bike was $2000, with $300 of that going to tires. The idea behind the price was to keep it low just in case I crashed, the financial blow wouldn’t be too great. If you decide this is the sort of thing you want to do and have a larger budget, it will make finding the right bike quite a bit simpler. Our budget is very low which means we will have to search high and low plus find something in pretty rough condition, or a bike with no title, or both which kind of sucks but it is what it is. On Craigslist I found several beat/ stretched GSX-R’s in my price range. I also found a few CBR600’s, however they were also stretched. But I found nothing that looked to be our candidate. I did find a few SV650’s which would have been great but they were just outside my budget.
In between the hours spent scouring Craigslist for a bike, I did some research into what it takes to actually get on a track. It’s actually really simple. From what I have found you can either go to a performance school where they formally instruct you on how to ride on a track, some even provide the bike and leathers. Look for Keith Code California Superbike School. Or you can do a “Track Day” where you go out in groups and run laps, it’s a bit like an open practice day on a MX track – but not really, see below. In my searching I found there are many companies who run Performance Courses and several who run Track Days at road courses across the US so it should be easy for you regardless of the state you live in.
A friend of mine has been doing track days for several years and he suggested I go to one that Performance Riding Experience (PRE) puts on. They are on the Eastern Side of the US and they run track days once a month at three or four tracks in my region. Check their website for more details Performance Riding Experience. It looks like getting onto a track will prove simpler than finding a cheap bike.
While finding a Track Day to participate in is pretty simple, it turns out it is quite a bit different from showing up at a motocross track, paying your 25 bucks and having at it. Track Day riding is run very differently from track riding on a motocross bike. To start with your bike has to go through the scrutiny of tech inspection. You can’t run coolant in your radiator and the oil drain plug has to be safety wired. Additionally, mirrors must be removed and lights have to be covered with tape. Beginner/ novice riders have to attend mandatory riders meetings/ classes before and after each session and there will be two or more control riders who go out with your group each time. One rides at the front of the group to set the pace and one rides at the back as a sweep in case anyone has trouble keeping pace. As the day progresses the control riders move around and will provide feedback about your riding, entirely different from a track day at a MX track. Most of the open practice days I have gone to at MX tracks are a free for all with the grouping determined only by displacement not skill – it’s actually kind of sketchy…
1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.
2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs.
3. The man at the BBQ Grill is the closest thing to a king.
4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.
5. Request the late check-out.
6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
7. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.
8. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
9. Play with passion or not at all…
10. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look them in the eye.
11. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.
12. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.
13. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.
14. You marry the girl, you marry her family.
15. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.
16. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.
17. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking girl in the room.
18. Never turn down a breath mint.
19. A sport coat is worth 1000 words.
20. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.
21. Thank a veteran. Then make it up to him.
22. Eat lunch with the new kid.
23. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
24. Ask your mom to play. She won’t let you win.
25. Manners maketh the man.
26. Give credit. Take the blame.
27. Stand up to Bullies. Protect those bullied.
28. Write down your dreams.
29. Always protect your siblings (and teammates).
30. Be confident and humble at the same time.
31. Call and visit your parents often. They miss you.
Artwork by: Jeremy Collins
Hey Guys we’re making some massive progress on the 74 CB550 build we are doing for a client of ours. All that is left is paint on the tank and seat cowl. We think it looks insane! What are your thoughts? Click on the photos below to view the gallery.
We just had Robert from Fairbanks scales drop by the shop with some scales to see how fit our track bikes are. Looks like the 1994 YZF750 has been on a great diet, weighing in at 436 lbs. Down from 494 in stock trim. Jesse’s GSX-R750 weighed in at 406 lbs. down from 427. Pretty cool! We will have a video up in the next few days. Keep an eye out for it