Introduction

Choosing the Motorcycle

The first choice you have to make is which motorcycle you’re going to use for the rebuild.  Some important criteria to consider:

  1. Price – Definitely drove me to a Japanese motorcycle vs. an American (Harley) and a British (Norton, BSA, Triumph).  I got my motorcycle for $500.  An old Harley (Knuckle, Pan, Shovelhead) costs significantly more than this.  In my locale, the San Francisco Bay Area, a quick Craigslist search showed a running 1978 Shovelhead for $4,000 and just a 1946 Knucklehead frame for $6500!  Parts, tools, and repairs add up quick.  At the moment, I’m reassembling the engine.  With a horsepower upgrade and repairs, I’ve put $1000 just in the engine!
  2. Parts Availability – Even if you live in the most populated area, you’ll have to utilize the internet for parts and a lot of the labor.  Because of this, parts availability is extremely important.  After doing some research, the Honda CB was the most prolific 1970s Japanese motorcycle sold in the United States.  This, more than anything else, was the basis of my decision.  I’ve also seen a lot of Yamaha XS650 parts availability as well.  It looks difficult to find Kawasaki KZ and Suzuki GT parts, although I’ve never actually had to look for them myself.
  3. Style – Cafe Racer, Tracker, Scrambler, Chopper.  What you want your motorcycle to be at the end is extremely important.  CBs fours have four cylinders that run perpendicular to the length of the motorcycle.  Because of this, they don’t lend themselves well to choppers.  People use them for choppers, but with the wide engine, they don’t have that skinny chopper look that choppers require.  XS650s work really well for choppers.  They have skinny engines that resemble Triumphs and there are a lot of online resources and sources dedicated to turning these into choppers.
    Honda CB750

    Honda CB750

    Yamaha XS 650 (1974)

    Yamaha XS 650 (1974)

    Suzuki GT380 (1978)

    Suzuki GT380 (1978)

    Kawasaki KZ400

    Kawasaki KZ400

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