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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Virago XV920 Build


This bike isn't a fighter, but it's still a build... so I figured you guys would like it anyway.

I'm one of those people who can't not have a project of some sort going on, so it was only a matter of time before I bought another bike once I finished my Bandit build, which involved taking this:


To this:


(Build thread link is in my sig if you haven't seen it already)

This build actually started last September, so this first part will be getting you caught up on the build.

Enjoy!

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The build started when I picked up a 1982 Yamaha Virago (XV920). It's in really good condition for a 32+ year old bike, and it only has 10k miles on it.



These bikes are pretty tragic looking in stock form, but that will change soon enough.



It hadn't been started in about 10 years, so once I got home, I got right to work tearing it down to clean out the gunk.



I changed the oil, filter, and spark plugs, then drained the carbs. The bike cranked right over and gave me a little sputter, but didn't want to fully start. I blame that on the dirty carbs and the fact that the battery I was using was too small for the bike and barely had enough cranking amps to turn the big V-twin over.

The Hitachi carbs on these bikes are notorious for being a pain in the ass to synchronize and tune, so I didn't even bother. I immediately binned those in favor of a single 40mm Mikuni. Easier to tune, less 'stuff' on the bike, and they greatly improve low end power (at the expense of a little top end power, but I'm okay with that).

This build will get finished a lot faster than my last one because I'm building this for a friend of mine, and I promised to have it done by the end of the winter (it's actually going to be a surprise for his wife's birthday).

Plans for the bike were fluid, but the general direction the bike will be taking will be something along the lines of a bobber/cafe style, with a few sport bike elements mixed in.

I was excited to get to work on this project because I'd been wanting to build a Virago for awhile now. They're such ugly bikes in stock form, but there is a ton of potential hidden underneath all the crappy 80s design Yamaha covered them in.

Stripped down to the bare essentials:



This is pretty much all I kept from the donor bike.

Then I mounted up the Triumph Speed Triple front end (this was left over from my Bandit build, it was going to go on that bike before I got a killer deal on the GSXR front end on that's on it now). As luck would have it, the Triumph stem worked perfect with the Virago head bearings, so I didn't need to spend a bunch of time figuring out a custom bearing solution and/or swapping the stems on the yokes. *



I also ordered a tank from an XV750 since the factory XV920 tank is big and ugly.

 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Not long after I bought the bike, I dropped it off with my friend Rob to take care of some of the welding and fab work that I couldn't handle myself. His Skillz > My skillz



The fab work took longer than anticipated, but as usual it was worth it. Rob does amazing work. One of these days I'll have myself a proper shop/garage (instead of my basement) where I can fab things on my own... but until then Flipside is my go-to. :)

The frame was modified so the battery can be hidden under the tank, and a we came up with a new subframe for the seat that also raises the tank a few inches, and changes how it mounts to the bike.









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I bought a rear wheel from a Virago 535 to adapt to the bike, because this model wasn't available with a laced wheel, and being a shaft drive bike, my options are pretty limited for rear wheels. I machined the 15"x3" XV535 rear wheel to accept the XV920 drive flange and it bolted right up after swapping the bearings (and sourcing one additional bearing). The hub on this wheel is a little wider than the factory wheel, so I'll need to machine the axle a bit so it can slide all the way through (the spacers are "built in" on the axle on these). Bonus: I have room for a 150mm wide tire in the rear with this wheel, as opposed to the 130 it had stock.



I really wanted to use a 16" wheel on the front of this bike so I could run chunky tires, but the wider hub that the models with 16" front wheels use is too wide to work on these forks, and it would cost too much to do the machining required to make it fit for the budget I have for this bike. So, I went with a 19" wheel instead.

The front wheel is going to be a bit of a Frankenstein, but it should be fairly straightforward once I'm done with the machining. As mentioned above, the rim and hub is from a Harley, which will be fit to the Triumph Speed Triple forks (will need to lathe the axle down from 20mm to 3/4"), then I will need to machine a set of 1st gen Suzuki Hayabusa front rotors to bolt up to the Harley hubs, plus some spacers to get the calipers centered on the rotors. You don't see many bobbers with 4-piston, 320mm brakes. :rock:

 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I also started on the new electrical system. EVERYTHING is new on this wiring harness (the old stuff worked fine, but I'd rather not put 33 year old electrical components back on this bike).

The factory TCI ignition on these bikes is known to be really troublesome (these bikes were one of the first bikes to have electronic ignition, and the "technology" has not stood the test of time very well), so the entire ignition system got binned and was replaced with a digital ignition system from http://www.c5ignitions.com/, the bike is also getting a Motogadget MLock keyless RFID ignition, an LED headlight, and a new 4-brush starter (the starters are also common issue on these, and were under-powered, which led to a lot of starting issues that these bikes are known for).



Organized chaos:



The wiring harness is built from scratch using all new components. I have eliminated all of the safety features, such as the kickstand and clutch switches, along with all of the dummy lights. Because I too, like to live dangerously.

I have three main circuits:
1) Headlight low beam
2) Brake/tail/turn/horn/high beam
3) Ignition coils, C5 Ignition, starter relay trigger, gauge (the gauge was supposed to be on circuit #2, but I forgot that wire in the bundle, so it ended up this one instead of having to redo everything) :oops:

The Motogadget M-Lock gets it's own dedicated 1-amp circuit straight off the battery. When I swipe the key over the receiver, that sends a signal to the main relay, which supplies power to everything else.

I used 18awg wiring for most everything, though I probably could have gotten away with 22awg for most of the harness since all of my lighting is LED.

I love how far battery technology has come the last few years.



Original battery vs. new. The new battery is barely a pound, but puts out 240cca, which might be a little on the wimpy side for these bikes, but should still get the job done. Total amperage draw for the entire electrical system (minus starter, of course, but including high and low beams) is under 20amps.

With the harness mostly done, it's time to get the bike torn down for the final machine work and some additional fab work on the frame and tank.
 

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lɐʇuǝɯᴉɹǝdx&#4
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3,518 Posts
Argh, damn you. That's the bike I wanted to put a Hossack system on, engine / frame style would make it so easy... or I think easier than the bike I used, anyhow.

Looks like you are off to a great start!
 

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Premium Member
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50,498 Posts
Good platform forra bob',ya got some trickly things going on there :thumbsup:

Batterys are amazing nowdays fer sure ,it helps out a lot with minimizing vintage/older bikes.
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
With intial mockup completed, everything came back apart for final fab and finsh work.

The pile of parts going off to powder coat and paint:



While waiting on those bits to be finished, I worked on cleaning and painting the engine.




The engine covers are coming off to get stripped and cleaned up, then they will be getting a brushed finish and clear coat (maybe, I'm prone to changing my mind at the last minute).
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As usual with any build on a bike this old, you're going to run into problems when you need to use parts that are 30+ years old. One big issue I ran into was the tank. I drilled into it to add a bung for a fuel sight gauge and went through over 1/4" of friggin' Bondo that was covering a big dent in the side.

So, out came the stud gun.

The metal is really thin on this tank, but I managed to get it back into proper shape without tearing any holes or overstretching the metal. Once that was done, I lined the tank with Red Kote to seal up any possible pin holes and let it bake in the sun all day to cure.



My powder coater just moved to a new shop and is super backed up with moving-related projects, and he was taking too long to get to my stuff, so I went over there after hours to get everything stripped and media blasted since that's the most time consuming part (one of the perks of being friends with the owner!).


 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The last big thing I needed to do is re-lace the rear wheel. I'd never laced a wheel before, so this should be interesting...


(cleaning and polishing all those little bits was not fun)

The idea of doing this was a bit daunting for some reason (tear down the engine? Noooo problem! Put 36 spokes in the correct order? Oh shit! LOL), but it turned out to not be all that bad. Only took me an hour or so, which I'd say isn't too bad for a first timer. Now I need to true it and get the tires mounted and balanced.



 

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200 Posts
A lot of cool stuff going on here man! I've never seen the battery under the tank thing before..pretty cool idea. Are u gonna put some leads on it for battery tending, etc. so u don't have to pull the tank when u need to access it? Great move on the rewiring...THAT would be quite the task for me..speaking of daunting. It seems ashame u won't get to enjoy all ur hard work once it's finished since it's going to another owner..I hope they'll appreciate all ur efforts in it.
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
And now we're all caught up and back to real time. :)

Now that I have everything back from powder and paint, final assembly has begun. Bearing races are pressed in for the stem, bearings for the swing arm are in, and the frame is mated with the engine finally. Once I have the bike back on its wheels I can pull those side covers off the engine and get them polished up (or maybe powder coated, I'm still going back and forth on what I want to do).



I also refinished the brakes. Decided to go with a dark silver for these since there was already enough black on the bike.




It's starting to look like a bike again!



The stock rear wheel is currently on the bike because I'm waiting to get the laced wheel back from being mounted/balanced/trued.

The factory front end is on the bike because I'm an idiot and ruined the lower bearing while pressing it onto the stem because 12 ton press + me not paying attention = cracked bearing and tweaked stem. :facepalm:

Luckily, there was a Speed Triple lower yoke on Ebay for cheap, and that should be here in the next couple days. In the meantime, I can continue getting everything else bolted on and finishing up the electrical.

The most time consuming part about the electrical is hiding everything. I want as few visible wires as possible on this bike, so everything is run as stealthily as possible, with the majority of the wiring hidden in the frame and under the tank.

The rectifier is hidden underneath the bike, where the center stand used to be.



The coil packs are hidden in the frame where the carb boots used to be (the frame on these bikes is the air box; it's actually a pretty slick design, but I went to a single carb setup for easier tuning and low end power).



Also, now that the engine is hanging off the bike, I was able to take the side covers off the engine to get those powder coated, and to inspect the innards a bit. As it turns out, this engine looks pretty much brand new inside. Not bad for a 33 year old engine.





And a little fresh paint action.



As long as I don't break anything else while installing it, I should have the bike running by the end of the week.
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finishing up the electrical is taking longer than planned, but is progressing smoothly otherwise. I forgot where I had planned to put a few components, so remembering that has sucked up a few extra hours.

Test fit the tank to make sure everything still fits under there, and there's plenty of room to spare.

Still waiting on my wheels to get back from being mounted/balanced/trued.

 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The last seven days were hell for me. I'm never committing myself to a hard deadline again! I've put about 50 hours into this bike in just the last week. :nuts:

This is what the bike looked like on Monday:


I didn't really take a lot of pictures of this final stretch of the build, because it was mostly doing a bunch of small things, a lot of electrical work (considering how bare bones the wiring harness is, it sure took a lot of time to wire everything up!), and then stuff like bleeding the brakes, adjusting things, and giving everything a final once over.



At around 10:30 on Sunday morning, I rolled the bike outside, filled it with gas, and crossed my fingers that the tiny lithium battery I used was big enough to actually turn over this bastard and make it run for pretty much the first time in 10 years and... IT FIRED RIGHT UP ON THE FIRST CRANK! FUCK YES!! :party-smiley: :party:

Leroy was super stoked for me.



Then I took for a couple shakedown runs and made sure nothing was melting/exploding/leaking.

I haven't gotten an opportunity to take many photos of it yet. I still have a few things to finish up, like mounting the headlight and making a little bracket for the brake res. I also need to dial in the carb, and just make sure everything is perfect before it goes to the new owner.







First impressions: The bike runs great (aside from the carb needing some fine tuning), it shifts smooth, the drive train is smooth (there really is a huge difference between chain drive and shaft!), and despite the looks of the seat, it's actually quite comfortable. The bike isn't intended to be a touring bike anyway, it was built to be joy rider/bar hopper that will see 100 miles a day when ridden (if that). And no one involved cares that there aren't fenders. ;)
 

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Hack in a barn
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4,409 Posts
Damn man nice work!

Love it, FOTM material for sure...
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Glad you guys like it!

Actually, I don't care if you like it because I do, and so does it's new owner, but I'm still glad you like it. :fu: :)
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Got a few items I need to take of this week before I officially turn the bike over to it's new owner.

- Finish headlight bracket and mount headlight
- Install speedo
- Powder coat the engine covers (I painted them and I'm not happy with it, so off they come)
- Get the carb dialed in
- Put the crush washer on the oil drain plug that I forgot to install :doh:
- Move the steering stops (I went a little too aggressive on those, need to space them out a bit more)
- Shorten the kick stand a bit
- Take some more photos
- Ride it while I can before it's not mine anymore :(




Overall, I'm really happy with how the bike turned out. There are a few things I would do differently if it were going to be my bike though:
- No fairing
- 19" rear wheel to match the front to give it more of a board tracker vibe
- Different exhaust
 

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Fearless Keyboard Warrior
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The Virago is officially out of my hands now and at its new home in Arizona. Before it got shipped down there, I was able to convince the owner to spend the extra money to do the exhaust that I wanted the bike to have. This bike is really fun to ride, I was really sad to see it go.

I was also able to squeeze in a photoshoot as well for (hopefully) another BikeExif feature. These are a couple of the unedited pics.



 
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