Dave's Metal #1
By James McCombe - 18 Oct 14
The great thing about project bikes is that they stack so nicely. You can get four of them in the same space one car would take up in the garage. Cheaper and easier to play with, in turn this means you can experience a more diverse selection of the two wheeled world in a far more economical manner than you could with 4 wheels. Of course, I’m talking to the converted here. However, having tinkered with cars for many a year, this realisation hit Dave squarely in the face and in short order he’d not only sourced a Street Triple and gained the requisite license but soon had a project bike lined up. Like so many of us having got sucked in this world, the appeal of classic aesthetics, cheap parts and a whole bucket of fun was just too much to resist. A venerable yet under appreciated Yamaha XS400 bought for just £400 was immediately dismantled upon arriving home. Out came the grinder and off came lugs, brackets and the rear spars before a hoop and battery box were fabbed up. Rather than the Henry Ford-esque choice of Black (Satin or Gloss, sir?) powder for the frame, Dave risked a shimmering shade of Nickel which has turned out just great. A great alternative and a darn site cheaper than genuine Nickel coating to boot. This was complemented by refurbing and repainting the tank in a deep shade of Bronze, keeping the metallic accents throughout gives a hewn-from look to the bike. A voyage of discovery into the engine was a considerably different experience for Dave. As well as a thorough clean and paint, the Carbs came on and off more times that he wished to remember in search of clean running and most of the charging system was swapped out to cure persistent issues. In fact, Dave rebuilt the entire loom, taking advantage of it to move the ignition under the seat and wire in all new lighting and controls, with neat Koso units replacing the original bulky gauges. Having tackled, fabrication, carburetion, and paint, upholstery was the next challenge. A simple Brat seat in brown vinyl keeps the looks clean. The seven spoke Mag wheels were blasted back and painted in a flat grey before being shod in some suitably chunky dual sport rubber. The front mudguard was also bobbed for looks, while the standard forks and shocks remain, being perfectly serviceable for zipping around the local Gloucestershire country roads. With everything except blasting and powder-coating done at home by Dave, it’s a shed build in the truest sense. Of course projects are rarely finished and Dave admits he wants to have another go at the seat at some point, but heck, he might as well make the most of those rare, dry Autumn days we sometimes get. But with the next project already in mind, let’s see how quickly that shed fills! Having had its first long outing at the successful Oxford DGR a couple of weeks ago, niggles have been sorted and Dave has got a tidy little tracker to blat around on. Doesn’t that last picture just make you want to hop on and razz up the gravel track? Blue skies, solitude, and the road ahead, that’s what it’s all about, eh?