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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 09-28-2018, 01:35 PM   #1
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Default ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

Got a nice leisurely morning off here, so figured it was high time to start my build thread. I'll start with a quick overview, and then I have a list of current hurdles.

The Bike
2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R (EX-500D12)

The Story
I'm new to all things motorcycles, including riding them, but decided to take on the challenge of not just learning to ride, but wrenching and tuning them myself, and customizing them with my own design. My background is in guitar making, so I have experience with many tools, paint, and even some CNC machining. Anyway, the bike was given to me for free by a friend of my gf. It had been stored covered, but outside in rural Oregon for probably five years. I've had a relatively easy time getting it running, rebuilding the brakes, and fitting the custom parts I've used to give it the look I want. It's been a lot of fun, and I have really fallen in love with this little bike.

The Picture


The Plan
Ultimately I don't have any plans to change anything regarding the performance of the bike. I'm a beginner, so it's plenty fast for my skill level. It's a bike that is often recommended as a beginner bike, for it's relative light weight, and easy maneuverability. Everything I'm doing is purely aesthetic, and I'm doing it with mostly pretty cheap parts. If I have a crash and need to replace a turn signal, I don't want to have to drop big dollars a second time. Even that rad as fuck headlight was only $36.

Problem number one: Tach doesn't read right.
The aftermarket tachometer that I'm using works, but it reads double RPMs, because of the bike's wasted spark system. I've done some research, and there is a circuit that can be placed in line called a "frequency divider" which uses a feedback loop to divide the pulses in half. I found one place that seemed to sell a readymade one of these, but they were unresponsive to my email. I think I may have found a passive component on Mouser.com that would work, but it's expensive, and I would have to buy like 100 of them. I'm fairly certain that this is a dirt simple circuit that I could make myself, but I just can't find any "how to" information online. There's also the issue of lengthening all of the speedo/tach wires so that they can nest in the headlight bucket, but I'm certain I could do that one slow morning over coffee.

Problem number two: Bar end mirrors don't fit.
I bought a set of Schoolie bar end weights, and a set of folding bar end mirrors from 4into1 but unfortunately they don't fit. Furthermore the recesses on the weights don't fully cover the actual bar end, so there's a gap between them and the grips. I would have to have the weights (or my other end weights) lathe-turned to fit properly. Haven't had any luck finding a local machine shop for the job yet. Maybe someone here knows a machinist in the Portland/Vancouver area?

Problem number three: Body work and the point of no return.
It's no exaggeration to say that I have bit off more than I can chew. I started down this path of crafting a cafe fighter style bike, and it's turned into a huge project that I do not have the equipment or knowledge for how to finish. I am absolutely not giving up though. I have a vision for it that I think is going to be astoundingly beautiful, and when I am finished it will be a real love affair. To some degree I know how to proceed. I need to fashion custom body work/fairings, and I've looked enough at how the pros do it to have an idea for my DIY version. This involves a lot of masking off areas of the bike, applying non-hardening modeling clay, then laying fiberglass over that, and then using those fiberglass pieces as molds to make the actual panels. The down side is just that it's a shit of work. The upside is I think it will be fun, and when I'm done I will have molds that I can use to make additional parts for any of you guys that might be interested in making your bike look like mine. I don't expect too many takers on that, but hey whatever.

Problem number four: To weld or not to weld?
I may just use the custom body work as a way of covering the exposed electronic parts and cooling system parts, but some of that stuff can be relocated to underneath the gas tank or seat. Doing that requires cutting off some of the mounting tabs, and welding them back on other areas of the frame. Additionally, I am considering shortening the entire back end of the bike, to where it is just a one-seater, and cafe racer style tail/fairing. However I don't want to do that without welding some of the frame I chop off back on. Hard to explain that bit, but hopefully you guys get the idea. Sounds easy enough for someone that can weld right? Well I'm not that someone because I don't know how to weld, and I don't have a welder. I'm definitely considering getting an entry-level wire-fed flux core welder and teaching myself how to use it. Hey, I've taught myself guitar making, bike mechanics, drumming, and a bunch of other shit right? But obviously again, we're talking about a huge task here. And with the winter months fast approaching, and no indoor workshop to do any of this stuff in, I'm fearing that we might be talking about next summer's project here, and that's when I was hoping to actually ride the bike.

Any help that any of you guys can offer is welcome, and I'll be spending some time in the custom fab section of the forum to see how you guys are doing things. I'll try not to ask too many questions.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 09-28-2018, 03:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

i'd be using foam rather than clay
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 09-28-2018, 05:38 PM   #3
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What kind of foam? The only stuff I’ve seen is large blocks that you carve, which would be a subtractive process, where what I am picturing is more of an additive process. Is there like an expanding foam I can spray on, then carve back or something? Otherwise I just don’t see how I would get blocks to conform to some of the spaces I would need to fill.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 09-28-2018, 10:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

With your steel frame a small mig' welder would be a great thing to have in your possession .Get one that uses gas to keep your welds clean and good
Mebee something like this one
https://www.eastwood.com/mig-welder-...5a-output.html

It is a def plus to be able to do your own welding and sometimes help others out without paying hefty shop fees.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoker View Post

Fucking reaper better fear me.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 09-29-2018, 02:03 PM   #5
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That’s pretty solid advice, and that welder isn’t entirely out of my budget. Now if I could just sell my other bike to pay for it…
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 10-01-2018, 07:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

Problem 1: maybe a setup error in the tach. Most have options for 1/2/4 cylinders, yours may be set wrong.

Aaron, living in Gibraltar and riding a 2014 MSX125 (Grom) with a bunch of shiny shite on it. Slow n loud!
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 10-01-2018, 04:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

It's definitely not that, or at least if that is the problem, it's not one I can solve easily. The tach is completely sealed, and there doesn't appear to be a way inside of it.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 10-02-2018, 02:06 PM   #8
make that thing forkless
forks and valves... WTF?
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

First off, welcome to CF. You've come to the right place! I've done a few EX500 projects, so this caught my attention.

I wanted to specifically chime in a bit on the body work you plan to do. Contrary to the above post (probably good intentions), clay, specifically Chavant CM-70, is an excellent material for modeling body panels. There is a reason why professional design studious use it. As you already mentioned, foam is subtractive only. It is extremely messy, and doesn't lend its self to very refined level of surface development. CM-70 is both additive and subractive. It does have a bit of a sulfur odder, but otherwise a much cleaner process. And you can maintain very high level of surface refinement and detail.

You'll need a good selection of conventional clay tools, plus a selection of "steels". You will also need to a small warming oven that can maintain about 150 degree temperature. I've heard some people have improvised with cardboard boxes and a heat lamp. It you can find a small commercial food warming oven that will be ideal.

One area that I need to correct, is that you DO NOT want to use fiberglass to make the molds. The sulfur content in the clay will react with the resin and you get a big mess. Rather, you want to make molds with plaster. HydroCal White is a good plaster to use. The plaster molds will also be much more dimensionally stable if you plan to keep them for some time. Then make the final fiberglass parts from the plaster molds.

Feel free to ping me if you want more details on this process. The seat/tail on the bike in the below photo was made using this exact process...

[IMG]DSCN9249 by andbike, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 10-02-2018, 05:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

That's awesome advice, it definitely feels like I'm in the right place. Also, rad looking bike!
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 10-04-2018, 07:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: ZeroFret's EX500 Cafe Fighter Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeroFret View Post
What kind of foam? The only stuff Iíve seen is large blocks that you carve, which would be a subtractive process, where what I am picturing is more of an additive process. Is there like an expanding foam I can spray on, then carve back or something? Otherwise I just donít see how I would get blocks to conform to some of the spaces I would need to fill.
got you, I've not read properly, thought you were making a new tail from scratch ,
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