Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ready when you are...

I will do, what these two have done some day. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow, but it's going to happen. So who's coming with me?

Disposible income...

Must be nice, fuckers.

Well, these guys are pretty cool...

Monday, December 27, 2010


Modern bikes need a little more eighties Japanese craziness! Turbos! Dorky looking fairings with built in tape decks!
Well, maybe a turbo here and there.

I went to the Austin local Roadrunners motorcycle group meet up at Cheer Up Charlies on east 6th. Making appearances were mostly a bunch of sweet looking vintage Brit bikes, but the stand out to me was an immaculate Kawasaki gpz750 turbo. When I say turbo, I mean it. I don't know what car this turbo came out of, but it looked pretty crazy squeezed in behind that engine. I like it, I like it a lot. I know that the benefits of having a turbo are only seen at speeds that I would rarely be going, but it's still cool.

Project xs400 - Front Suspension

I like my xs for sure, but the forks that come stock are just too soft. Even after i rebuilt them using heavier weight oil, I didn't notice much of a difference. Lucky for me, a friend of mine is putting a set of inverted GSXR forks on his 650 and donating the stock 650 front end to me. The front end is off of a 79', which means all the brake parts will swap over with no problem. The steering stem may be an issue, but with a little poking around on a few xs boards I've found that the stem lengths are nearly identical. With any luck the triple trees will swap right over also, but I'll keep you posted. I wont be able to start this till early march, when I do the unthinkable and drive back to Milwaukee to pick up the bike. About the only thing that I can do at this point is go to and pick up all the goodies i need to rebuild the 650 front end. I also may pick up a new tarozzi fork brace and clip ons, as the current ones will no longer fit. Sooooo.....if anybody knows a xs400 owner with a stock front end who wants to purchase any of those parts or a 650 chopper builder who wants a 400 front end, drop me a line.

My new FREEBIE forks...sorta beat, but the tubes are perfect and they aught to clean up well.

Fork rebuild shopping list:
From -
Front Fork Damper Valve Set - $49
Fork Tube Caps - $34
Progressive Front Fork Springs - $59
Fork Seal Set - $10
Fork seal Dust Covers - $20

Total = $172

yikes. At least the shipping is free.

From Fast from the past -
Tarozzi low rise clip-ons - $129
Tarozzi fork brace - $99

these two will only happen if i can sell off my current parts. If i can't, I'll try to find some cheaper alternatives. Mikes xs has a $59 fork brace, but it's not nearly as effective.

March is too far away....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Project CB750, Almost...

Well, here's a Honda 750 project that I would've loved to outline the progress of on Looks Fast, but i guess i missed out. The builder's been cooped up in his garage for the last few months so I havent had a chance to meet him till a couple weeks ago. He's a pretty smart cat and does nothing to do with bike building for a living. He did an excellent, sort of Carpy styled 750 for his first build. Really though, what I like best about him isn't his girlfriend, as the song goes, but his AWESOME garage/living space! I don't know how he found it, but I'm kicking myself for not even thinking to look for a place like this of my own. Basically, it's a full two car garage that he's lives above. Perfect. Bastard.

Back to the bike. The bike is nearly complete, but he's still trying to figure out a good comfortable handlebar set up and he's waiting for the tank to come in the mail. The tank was from Roc City Cafe, but to fit the 72' 750, a relief had to be made in the bottom of the tank on the right side for the carburetor. Aaron(the 750 owner) didn't test fit the tank while the carburetors were on so the tank was sent back, to Roc City fully painted. The Roc City guys were great about it and modified the tank for nothing. I don't you about the dealings that everybody else has had with parts resellers, but they are rarely that committed to standing behind their products. I'm definitely going to keep these guys in mind for my next project.

Roc City also has a really informative blog, which can be seen here:

I'll spend a bit more time on the bike outlining whats on it, in it and how it rides at a later date. He did take it out for a ride with a 74' 750 tank thrown on and it sounded great. Here's some pictures of it without the new tank and our ride to the Dog and Duck pub in Austin.

Picked up a Guzzy on the way there...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Royal Enfeild bullet 500

The Royal Enfield Bullet is an anomaly among motorcycles. The bullet is a single cylinder production bike that has remained relatively unchanged since the 1950's. this model along with the Continental GT were Enfield's greats and among the bikes considered to be some of the original cafe racers. Enfield, like many of the British motorcycle manufacturers, started out as a rifle maker, in fact, their tag line for the bikes was "Made like a gun, goes like a bullet". They produced precision firearms and the motorcycles that they produced during early years were of equal quality. The story goes, that the Indian government ordered such large amounts of the Bullet that Enfield set up a factory in India to meet the demand. Production continued there while in 1971, the Enfield company folded in response to the rise of the Japanese bike blitzkrieg. By this time, an Indian company was the majority shareholder of Enfield's Indian production arm. The tooling and rights to the Bullet were purchased for a song and they've been in production ever since. All that, makes the Bullet the longest motorcycle production run of all time...Lesson complete.

Extra credit:

This brings us to Russ's 1995 Bullet 500. Russ, my friend and appreciator of all things cafe, decided on a Bullet for his first bike. He's made limited modifications so far, but what he's done has made a huge difference. So far for looks, he hid the normally exposed electrics, put on a new tank off eBay, a seat and clubman bars off the Enfield gear site. Go fast parts are currently limited to a new mikuni carb to replace the garbage original and a reverse megaphone muffler. Plans for the future include new sticky tires and a stock triumph style seat. I'll keep posting pictures as the bike evolves.

Here's the bike on a sunny, 70 degree December day here in Austin...

Monday, December 20, 2010

This guy rules.

When the weekend ride group met up at Cup of Joes Coffee, this guy was there with his dog. I didn't realize he was awesome till he walked over to his cx500, put his dog in a crate tied to the back and rode off.

Artz Rib House Ride

I do believe that if you live in Austin, TX, you were on your bike this last Sunday. If you weren't, I'll only accept that you must've been in the hospital or working on a project bike of your own. That's it. In which case, for those that weren't there, get well soon. The cafe racer meetup group met at Joe's coffee on congress around noon, talked bikes(go figure) and got ready for a great ride. The ride went through some of the best twists and turns that Austins metropolitan area has to offer. This being the same city that Lance Armstrong used to train in, we ran into lots of hills, banked turns and surprisingly low traffic. It was a loosely governed route and the guys on the faster bikes were great about waiting and making sure everybody stayed together. Helmet hair wasn't the only hidden underneath my helmet, I was grinning like the first time I saw a girl naked. Awesome. The ride ended at Artz Rib House where we spent time talking in between shoving BBQ into guts. Great ribs with a cool atmosphere, plus we got to hear two bluegrass bands warm up for a show that evening while we ate. How cool is that! If you're in or near Austin, come out for a ride! No judgments, minimal snobbery, just a bunch of guys that love bikes. You can find out more info here:

I'm going to attempt to jury rig a camera to my handle bars and take some video of the next ride. I'll either be posting a sweet video or a paragraph full of typed sad faces. For now, you'll have to satisfied with a pics of the bikes at Cup of Joes coffee.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Austin Moto Classics Holiday Party

As much as it doesn't seem like it, it's that time of the year again. It doesn't seem like it to this life long Midwesterner, of course, due to the obvious lack of bitter cold temperatures and snow... which freakin rules thank you. So for a little help getting myself into the holiday spirit(since for budgetary reasons i have no way to enjoy the sounds of bickering relatives, oh rats.), I headed over to Austin Moto Classics for their holiday party. Austin Moto Classics is one of the cooler shops in Austin, specializing in...well...everything. In fact, I honestly like going there just to check out some of the bikes they're working on. Everything from Harley cafe racers, 350 Hondas, Triumph rigid choppers to brand new Ducks. The shop layout is great and if I had a shop, I'd like it to look like this one. The guys at the shop are heavily into the local scene and are always ready to talk bikes, which is undeniably cool. If you're around south Austin and have pretty much any kind of bike that happens to be giving you shit, check these guys out.

You can find out more about Austin Moto Classics here:

Here's a few pics of the shop from the night of the party. Man I love the 70's bass boat sparkle paint on that Honda CB!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I love Austin TX

I genuinely love this city. I came to Austin for SXSW 4 years ago and before i stepped out of the car, I knew I was going to be living here some day. I sold my house for a loss, took a pay cut, rented a Uhaul and on a cold, snowing, December day left Milwaukee. I suppose what inspired this post is the fact that it's been just over a year ago that I left everybody I knew behind and drove 24 hours straight to get here. Or.....Perhaps it could be the fact that it's December 14 and I quite comfortably rode my motorcycle. Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, it's 7 degrees, but apparently it "feels" like -3. That's right, NEGATIVE 3 degrees. Would you believe i'm smiling right now?

Here's some pictures I took a while back, but haven't had a chance to post. Note the lack of cold white shit everywhere ruining everybody's fun. Thanks Austin.

Please excuse the photos kids, digital slr's don't grow on trees you know...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Revival Motorcyle Opening Party

The motorcycle culture is one of appreciators. Appreciators of design, engineering, ingenuity and performance. It's the one unifying trait of all motorcycle aficionados regardless of what they ride. Some of us are so passionate about these things that we surround ourselves with them and spend as much time as possible around other people that understand. Most often we do at the cost of relationships, responsibilities and way too much money. We read motorcycle magazines, watch motorcycle racing, and find any excuse to go out and ride. BBQ anyone? Anybody want to hit Sonic? When Revival Motorcycles in Austin had their grand opening party, it attracted many of these appreciators. Revival took a run of the mill space in a run of the mill building and changed it into something great. In the same way we appreciate the aesthetics of a motorcycle, we can appreciate what Revival has done with the space that they work in. Extremely well designed. These guys must be proud of what they've been able create because they supplied beer, munchies, great atmosphere and opened the party to the public. Shops like this are whats making the scene interesting and relevant here in Austin, so check them out. Cool place, cool guys and I look forward to seeing what they can do. In fact, I'll be approaching them for an interview in the future. Especially since i saw a Ducati 900ss in the middle of getting custom cafe bodywork. Sweet.

Here's a few shots from the opening...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Project CB160

True to my word, I'm going to start following my own projects as well as my friends projects here on Looks Fast. The first friend project will be a complete restoration of a late 60's Honda CB160, a.k.a. Honda Hawk. He's going to be sending updates to me all the way from his basement in the cold, unforgiving land of Milwaukee. Clearly his tolerance for the cold is much better than mine....or maybe I was just smart enough to leave. On occasion i'll be visiting to help out and check up on things first hand. To start with we've got a sometimes running 160, complete with all parts and no serious cosmetic issues. I used to ride this bike myself for a while and even with bald, rotten original tires, it was a blast.

The engine has been striped and glass beaded so its looking pretty good already. A rebuild kit was purchased off eBay with a 75mm overbore. The kit also came with new valves and valve guides. The Shop in Milwaukee bored out the cylinders and installed the new valves. The shop has been a Milwaukee icon and one of my favorite places since it opened. The guys at the shop are great, they know their stuff and have been an incredible resource for me over the years. You'll be seeing lots of them soon enough as they've been featured on the cafe racer magazine show a few times now. For more info about the shop, check out there site here:

The future for this bike holds a rebuilt engine, paint, polish, tires, and possibly a new front drum from a 350.

Here's a couple of shots of the before...

and the engine...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yamaha xs kick at the moment...

Clearly, we are all a bit partial to own bikes. Which is why it's easy to get caught up in a little brand loyalty, but I think it's important to not spend too much time concentrating on a single brand or type of bike. Honestly, this makes you just as bad as the retarded Harley gestapo, the kind of geniuses that take a running vintage Honda and drop it from a raised crane. Believe me, I've got no beef with Harley or their bikes(mostly), it's just these people give Harley riders all together a bad name. In fact, I'm FROM Milwaukee and the next project bike I'm planning is a sportster cafe bike! completely contradict myself...Who wants to see some cool yamaha xs series bikes! Like my 400, the 650s and 750s, along with the SRs make great project bikes. The great thing about sticking with a brand or series is that lots of the parts are interchangeable, thus making them far easier to find. For example, my 400 came stock with a disc brake on the right side of the wheel(D model with mag wheels). It just so happens that the stock wheel and forks have brake mounts on the left side also, which is the stock location of the disc brake on the sr500. Sweet.

Thanks Yamaha, you're the bombaha. (sorry for that one)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Project xs 400

This bike is what my blog is all about. The idea of taking a boring commuter bike, originally designed to appeal to the masses and make it into something that only cool people stare at. This was Yamaha's answer to the 70's gas crisis, a four stroke twin that had very little going for it. What it did have however was a design modeled after the coveted RD series bikes and an engine that could squeeze out 70 miles per gallon. When I saw the bike in it stock form, it was pretty easy to imagine a cafe racer hidden inside(77' and 78' models anyway) and with the price tag of 200 bucks, i couldn't resist... keep in mind it was a pretty beat version of the stock bike when i found it.

The "mighty" xs400 in stock form:

First project that I'll be outlining on the blog will be a battery tray that will hide the battery beneath the seat. I'll be using a near stock sized battery as I'm unwilling at this point to sacrifice electric start. Future entries will outline paint, upholstery and more...

here's the current bike as it stands in my friends garage.

Stay tuned...

Yikes....would you believe amnesia...abduction...


It's been a long time I know, but now I've got tons to get out there. I'm going to attempt to justify my absence, by saying that I've been learning a lot about the austin scene and meeting lots of local bike nerds like myself. That is completely true. In fact, If you'd like to do the same, might I suggest signing up here:

This group is run by my buddy Russ who rides pretty sweet fully cafe'd bullet 500. (pictures to come)

At any rate, I'll be starting a few bike/builder showcases as well as introducing a few projects by myself and friends that I'll be following with regular blog entries. These will include pictures for all the bike pervs out there. You know who you are...

Monday, March 29, 2010

I miss my R5.

Dear Current owner of my old R5,

I hope you're taking care of my now 39 year old icon. I spent a lot of time working on and to be honest, obsessing over my little 2-stroke cafe racer. It was my first bike as well as my first attempt at making a cafe bike. This was the bike that I blame for the subsequent years of credit card debt, constant cursing and the absolute joy of riding exactly the kind of bike I dreamed about. Back in the 70's, the 2-stroke craze began because those engines allowed for high power and low weight. Kawasaki's H2 was the fastest production vehicle available at the time of its release. This 2-stroke triple was faster than a corvette straight off the showroom floor. That's extremely fast for a heavy bike with drum brakes and an ancient frame design. Very, very scary. Sport bike riders of today have it easy....very easy. Even with all that, I still love em. The style is classic, the power is raw and they're impossible for me to resist. The R5, better known as the predecessor of the RD series was and will always be my 2-stroke of choice.

If you're ever looking the sell...

Awwww........true love....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

60's Style Honda Design

Honda motorcycles of the 1960's to me symbolized the style and technology of the decade. They seamlessly mixed old and new while perfectly maintaining that design across the entire product line. You have to understand that a large amount of the styling cue came directly from the Brits, but Honda took that style, improved it and added all the latest technology. I don't feel that any other manufacturer has been able to match that drive since. Think about it, electric start on all models, the beginnings of disc brakes, DOHC and 4 cylinder engines. In fact, Honda brought all of that to the world through low cost cycles. That was the bigining of the end for the British motorcycle industry.

My old 66' Black Bomber and me on a sweet 160 with clubmans...