View Full Version : 1983 Honda Nighthawk

11-22-2009, 3:36 AM
Well im new here to the forum (spotted an ad in cycle source)

figured now is a good time to get my build thread going here.

i bought my first bike a few months ago, picked it up locally off craigs list for a mere 600 bucks. 1983 honda nighthawk 550 with shaft drive. absolutely NOTHING wrong with this bike. damned near mint condition. owner had a tranny go out in his work van, needed 600 fast to fix it.

anyway, it didnt take long to stuble across some bobber and short chop pics to know what i wanted to do with it. i was originally calling the build a bobber, but after more research, i guess its more accurately a short chop. either way, its chopped no matter what detailed name ya give it :)

so anyway, this build has actually been going on for about a month now, with only about 5 or 6 days of actual garage time. i own a pizza shop, so i only get a day or two a week that i can work on it, but those tend to be really productive days. ive got a heated garage so when i hit the shop, i go to town as much as i can. but, i also sometimes dont get A LOT done, because i do a lot of research before each step that i perform. since this is my first bike, and my first build, i like to make sure i know what im doing before doing it.

so anyway, this build has been going on 4 different forums, so there have been a lot of questions asked, and answered, which have lead to everything thats been done thus far. for this forum ,i'm gonna skip over all those questions and answers since they'ed be pretty redundant now, so i'm just gonna post up all my pics and get it current.

hope yo uenjoy.... looking forward to everyones input, advice, jokes, cracks, whatever ya got :-)

11-22-2009, 3:48 AM
please remember, i am copying/pasting this build from one that is already almost a month old. while i am trying to bypass most of the questions and answers, please bear in mind that there may be some text that might seem a little out of place. you'll also find that while you might read some ideas in the initial posts, you'll find that that later in the build my mind my have changed and the direction changed, based on queestions that were asked at the time. my apologies for that.

so... here we go....

side views of the bike. i would really like to keep the softtail rear end. although i want to figure out a way to make it as low as possible. whether that means rebuilding parts of the rear of the frame or moving the lower shock mounts up and back and moving the upper shock mount in and down. not sure yet. but we'll figure it out.



11-22-2009, 3:49 AM
i like the look on the front of the bike.. just needs cleaned up a little. i would definately like to change out the square light for a round one. i'll ditch the horn or move it somwhere else. i've got drag bars on risers that im bidding on. i want to put smaller, bar end mirrors on it. and i'll probably move the turn signals down on the forks and smaller, flush mount. or maybe even mount them on the back of the mirrors to do something different. sort of like newer cars and suv's.



11-22-2009, 3:50 AM
the backend. i wish it could use a wider tire. but i've been told its not possible because of the shaft drive.i know i'll be redoing the turn signals and maybe flush mounting them onto the fender or something along those lines. not sure if i want to mount the plate off to the side, or keep it on the fender, albeit the new bobbed fender. i somewhat like the off the side look, but its also way overdone imo. thats why i'm thinkign id rather make a unique mount for the plate and turn lights on the fender and have something thats my own style.


some angle shots just i ncase it makes it easier to visualize.





11-22-2009, 3:54 AM
i'm not sure how to handle the issue of the softtail rear end. i would really prefer to keep it, since i will be ridign the bike around town, on some not so friendly roads. i prefer to keep the tire in contact with the road.

so, keeping the softtail is a real desire.

but i would also like to have the bike as low as possible and close up the gap between fender and tire. and i want a really low seat height. i'd liek to get it around 25-26" if possible. i'm thinking i can relocate the upper or lower shock mounts.

also, is there any danger to getting as low as possible, while maintaining the shaft drive. most bobbers i keep seeing are chain drive. i've only seen a few that were shaft drive.. hope we can make this work !



11-22-2009, 3:55 AM
one thing i really dont like is the pipes. for one thing.. the bike is rather quite. which is nice when you're pulling in the garage at 3 in the morning.. but i'd like a little bit of growl from them. not loud like an obnoxious harley vrod or something. but just enough that yo uknow its there.

also, on the nighthawk, the pipes are a 4 into 2 setup , and they run under the bike and out the side. problem is that they are lower than the frame. so you cant even use a motorcyle jack. maybe i might not ever NEED a jack, but i dont like not having the option. i guess the other thing that bothers me is that the pipes are taking up 3" of space, which is going to limit how much the bike can be lowered.

so, i'm thinkign i'd like to bring the pipes out the side or someother way, and have straight pipes down the side of the bikes. perhaps keeping two on each side instead of 4 into 2. id like the pipes to end around the point of the rear axle. just not sure how to get them there...



11-22-2009, 3:57 AM
soooo those are all the pics of the bike for now...

here are some of the things i'm leanign towards...

i'm currently bidding on these handlebars on ebay.. the auction is over tommorrow, so i'll be watching it closely..


11-22-2009, 3:58 AM
i'm goign to either make, or buy forward controls.

right now i'm looking at the ones from tcbros.


if i get those, i definatley want the knurled pegs instead of the smooth concave ones. i like the idea of having a peg that bites into my shoe a bit.


and of course, they also have a linkage kit which just looks like it rocks.


and, here is how they look mounted on a honda cb750



11-22-2009, 4:01 AM
and here is a short video so you can get a better look at the bike, and here how it runs.


11-22-2009, 4:04 AM
well. i had a yearning to do SOMETHING to get started...

so i went out and started lowering.

i have wanted to keep the softtail rear but wasnt sure if simply using shorter shocks would make the bike low enough or if i would have to relocate the shock mounts..

well, the shortest shocks ive been able to find online have been 10" which os only 3" shorter than the stock shocks and i knew that wouldnt be low enough but i wanted a visual.

so i pulled the shocks and dropped the bike all the way down onto the fender. it only put the shock mounts at 9" on centers. and that was with the tire smashed up against the airbox and the fender. so i thought that maybe 10" WOULD be good enough afterall.

but, i still needed a visual...

so i grabbed some scrap angle iron i had layin in the garage and made soem quick and dirty struts on 10" centers. well..... it tunred out pretty cool. dropped the bike 2" which looks like a lot more than it is.


11-22-2009, 4:05 AM
so, i went ahead and moved the fork tubes up two inches through the trees and lowered the front as well.

i LOVED the new stance.. but the kickstand didnt work anymore. lol.

so i puleld it from the bike, and cut a few inches out of the shat, and welded it back together.. now its all good.



except its still not as low as my truck :eek:


11-22-2009, 4:06 AM
so as i was standing there looking at the ike and admiring the new stance.. i wished i had not lowered it last night because today was such a nice day i wished i could ride.

so my buddy said, so go ride.

i figured, alright cool. i guess this is as good a time as any to find out if i like a hard tail or a strut rear end.. so i took the bike out for about an hour long ride.

now granted i had the strut rear and no suspension on the seat so i was prepared for a really really bumpy ride... not something i was looking forward to, and exactly why i wanted to keep the softtail..

well.... after riding around for an hour i was convinced... hardtail is NOT that bad afterall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

todays ride was enough to help me decide to go ahead and either strut the rear end or somehow make it a hardtail.

i'm not sure that i can do a conventional hardtail because of the shaft drive being part of the swing arm.. but i saw on another forum where someone did sort of a strut/hardtail.. i think i might try it..


11-22-2009, 4:07 AM
well, my bars came in yesterday, so of course i had to head out and put them on last night.

i like them.. but they are definately not made for my stock controls and grips :(

the straight ends on the bars are too short for the grip and choke and clutch componets on the left side. once everythign is clamped down as far in towards the center as possible, the grip actually hangs off about an inch and half.

on the right side, its the same, the throttle and grip hang about an inch and a half off the end of the bar.

its not so noticable on the right side, because the throttle has that stiff plastic, but on the left side though, there is no backing on the grip, so if i grab it naturally, my pinky slopes off the side.

i'm thinking i can put a slug in the end and a shot extension piece ..

it'll be temporary until i get new bar controls and whatnot to clean up the bars anyway.

anyway, here's some pics.

started stripping the bars, and remembered i should be taking pics :)

just a little naked

and all mounted back up. i like them, but like i said they are a little short side to side for all the stock controls and grips.

its also pretty cramped with all the stock stuff and makes it a little difficult to see the instrument cluster. which i think i'll probably be ditching when the goin gets goin anyway.





11-22-2009, 4:08 AM
well....... the fun has begun.

woke up saturday morning to a box on the front porch....

DAMN. tcbros got my hardtail to me in two days. i ordered like thursday night/friday morning at around 3 or 4 am, and it was here on my porch at 10am saturday morning.

those boys rock.


11-22-2009, 4:09 AM
not only did it get here quick, but it was packed extremely well, and just from looks alone i can tell what a quality product it is. everything is cut and bent perfectly. no burs or sharp edges, beefy, the whole 9. now i see why they come so highly recommended.

so, since the tailend was here, i figured i better get started and stop procrastinating.[hr]
let the teardown begin..

seat. gone.

tank. gone.

battery. exhaust. carb boots. gone.

outter rear fender. gone.

and inner rear fender. gone.
oops. i tripped and cut half my frame off!!

removed all the foot controls, brake, and shift controls.
well, thats all for tonight. started around 9pm and finished up around 4am.

11-22-2009, 4:09 AM
i could have gotten more done except for a few reasons.

1. its my FIRST time tearning apart a bike, so i've been taking my time and making sure i knew what i was doing, before doing it.

2. EVERY part that came off, got a label attached to it and got bagged in ziplock bags. i bought quart size, gallon size, and 5 gallon size. i labeled all parts. and then small things like screws, bolts, etc, simply got bagged with the parts they belong to, but all componets of any specific area are in a singel bag, with a label on it. as i was pulling wiring, i labeled each end of every wire too, for what part of the bike it belonged, and what it plugged into.

all the labeling took quite a while, but for a first timer, i think it was not only necessary, but i think it will prove to be a life saver down the road.


11-22-2009, 4:10 AM
well, i got a little more done last night. took longer cuz it was mostly wiring, so there was a lot to lable.

got the rest of the main harness pulled off the bike. and all of the front end stuff. ie: turn signals, fuse box, lights, horn, dash cluster, ignition, etc...



11-22-2009, 4:12 AM
then i cut the left over nubs off the rear. still need to grind it before i think about welding on the hardtail. of course, there is still a chunk at the bottom that has to go, after i get the swingarm out of there.


11-22-2009, 4:13 AM
so, after i had everythign stripped, i got the bike frame setup on blocks, and as i was getting everything straight, i noticed something...

my rear tire and swingarm are NOT aligned with the frame .

the tire is offset to the left by about an inch or more.

i'm guessing there is a spacer that someone forgot to put in there or something.. at any rate, i will NOT be goign off these measurements for the hardtail !!!




11-22-2009, 4:17 AM
got a lot of work done last night.

there is no reason to change the rim or axle plates. just have to make a new axle for it. basically, just what i drew above will work perfect. a straight axle with threads on either side.

also will need spacers for each side.

we got it all mocked up, axle plates in place and lower bars in place. using 1/2" all thread right now for a mock axle, and using nuts and washers for temporary spacers to get everything set right where we wanted it.

11-22-2009, 4:18 AM
so first i setup a cheap and dirty jig o nthe floor out of wood. jsut to keep the frame and tires in line with each other, so i could mark where the rear axle was and what not.

then i got the rear tire and drive shaft removed.

then i went ahead and pulled the swingarm.

and, my final talley on parts pulled.

11-22-2009, 4:22 AM
so we mocked up the rear end with 1/2" all thread as a mock axle. its just in there to help me set the axle plates where i want. and then i used bolts and washers as "spacers" so we could get it all centered before i have a real axle machined.


it kind of looks like a gigantic space there, but its actually only about 3/4" wider than stock was.


on the left i only brought the plate out the thickness of two buts and a washer to clear the stock hub and shaft housing.




the right side "looks" like its spaced out so much more, just because of the lack of the hub.

but the center of the axle plate to the center of the rim is identical on both sides and the tire is perfectly centered on the backbone of the bike. and the drive shaft lines up right where its supposed to.[

11-22-2009, 4:23 AM
cut out the last part of the frame that needed to be gone. now it just needs cleaned up and it'll be ready for mating with the hardtail.


rear tire set where it needs to be (stretched back 5") and axle plates mocked up.


11-22-2009, 4:24 AM
got the first lower bar mocked up.

mated to the stock lower bar with the plug inserts. had to shave them a bit as they were too large to fit inside the stock frame.

set the lower bar at 5" clearance and level.

then notched to mate it to the axle plate.



then i got the other lower bar all set, measured, cut, and notched.






and thats all for last night.

i know it may not seem like much, but that was actually a pretty productive day. took me a long time to get there last night. A LOT of measuring. checking . rechecking. remeasuring. rechecking. and finally cutting lol.

nothing is tacked in yet though. i wanted to get a good nights sleep and then go back and remeasure and check everything on a fresh mind before i tack anything in place.

if its all good, then i'll get on the upper bars tonight.

11-22-2009, 4:25 AM
long weekend at my shop so i didnt get out to the garage much. but managed to get the two lower bars and the axle plates tacked in place.

heading out for the next two days and nights to see how much i can accomplish this go round.

drilled the lower bars for plug welds, and beveled the edge for more contact area.


this was supposed to be only tacked in place, but after i did a full plug weld on each side i realized i went just a little overboard on the "tack" lol.

but, i didnt weld the seam yet, or the other 3 plug holes on each side. just the one hole on each. so technically i guess it is sort of jsut tacked in. lol


and the axle plates tacked in.


heading out to the garage now. more pics late late late tonight.

11-22-2009, 4:26 AM
up first in the garage today was the downtubes under the seat. they needed to be extended and attached to the lower bars.


instead of buying a bunch of brand new tubing, which wasnt exactly in my budget this week, i decided to recylce as much of the stock stuff as i could.


i picked up a length of 7/8" cold rold steel to use for plug inserts.

got the first recycled tube cleaned up, and a plug inserted. my welds arent super pretty.....


but they clean up well.


11-22-2009, 4:27 AM
on the left side, i was goign to run into clearance issues with the u-joint on the drive shaft, so i had to offest the downtube jsut a little.



ended up with just under a quarter inch of clearance. enough though, since it aint gonna move side to side.


and finally got the right side done.


11-22-2009, 4:28 AM
next i got the rear lower cross brace tacked in.


then i cleaned up the backbone so i could get ready to set up the upper bars.


11-22-2009, 4:29 AM
both upper bars tacked in place.


second stupid move of the day......

while notching the upper rear cross brace, i accidentaly notched it a little too close... close enough that it wouldnt slip over both upper tubes... nope, it would just fall right right through. lol

so, i tried to figure out the best way to fix it, since it was the last piece of tcbros pipe...

then came the aha moment.

i cut the brace in half. and then put in a full length cold rolled plug. i guess i shouldnt really call it a plug, since it goes from side to side, but eh its just symantics. lol.


then i got it tacked into place.


not bad for a days work i'd say.


11-22-2009, 4:31 AM
so after coming in for the night and getting ictures ready to upload i noticed in the pics that i had not yet installed a lower cross brace where the battery would go.

i knew i needed one there, not just for the batter ytray, but simply to hold the lower bars in check.

i tried to ignore it and save it till tommorrow, but it was killin me. so i got all dressed up in garage clothes again and headed back out at midnight.

next problem was which piece of the stock frame leftovers to use.....

i opted for the right side of the swingarm since its 1x2 rectangular stock. laid on its side the battery will only have a 1/2" overhang on either side. so i dont need to install two round tubes.

i love recycling ....



and while i didnt take an after picture tonight.... if you notice, after i tacked in the batter ycrossbarce, you can see that the left side downtube is a little too far forward compared to the right side.

so before coming in, i went ahead and cut the tacked and pulled that left side tube towards the rear so its lined up with the one on the right.

11-22-2009, 4:32 AM
well, i havent actually done anything out in the garage yet today.. but it was a nice day, and since the frame was all tacked up, i figured i'd take the opportunity to grab a few pics out of the jig and in the sunlight.





11-22-2009, 4:33 AM
yep. i think i'm gonna like it.


cant wait to see how it looks once the front is raked out and the forward controls are installed.


11-22-2009, 4:35 AM
well its been a busy last couple of days.

wasnt bale to work much over the normal weekend, as it was my daughters birthday party, and weekends at my pizza shop are crazy. but sunday nights i take a break until thursday, that's my weekend...

so, finally headed out to the garage last night and got back to work...

here is where i left off back on wednesday/thursday...

got the whole hardtail all welded in. still need to grind the welds and make them pretty, but its in there.


11-22-2009, 4:36 AM
so last night i headed out to get started. started the night off by pulling the motor.



then i decided it would probably be a good idea to brace the motor mounts so the frame didnt move on me while i'm raking the front.


11-22-2009, 4:37 AM
so i asked around for advice on the best way to rake the front, without having a suitable jig.

i ended up taking in alot of the advice and combing a few different methods and raked in a way that i felt would be the best, based on my experience, available tools, and available help etc...

my biggest concern was keeping everything in line.

so, i cut the two front downtubes, just above where the oil cooler mounts. we then tried bending the backbone up... wasnt happening. so we then placed a 1/4" wedge cut in the backbone, above 3/4" of the way down . and 3/4 of the way back.

the placement of the cut was decided on so that i t was behind the coils and would not interfere with the coil mounting strap. and i wanted it before the stock bend, so that it can be sleeved externally.also, i figured that by putting the cut there, i'll be able to hide the sleeve with the gas tank.

after putting the wedge cut in, it was a simple matter of just pressing down on the handlebars to send the front tire forward and the backbone up, while sending the lower frame down.

the tire moved right where i had hoped it would. and the backbone stopped jsut shy of touching back on itself, leaving me just the right amount of gap for the weld.

here are the cut downtubes.


11-22-2009, 4:39 AM
after pushign the frame down, backbone up, tire forward, etc... the gap was closed up and i put a few tacks in to hold it in place.





11-22-2009, 4:44 AM
final rake ended up at 41degrees.


i knew i wouldnt remember the numbers so i wrote them on the jig lol

starting rake was 33 degrees with 6 inches of trail.

ending rake is 41 degrees with 9 inches of trail.

only a 8 degree differance and 3 inches of additional trail.

it seems that from what i have been reading typical stock rake is around 30 with around 6" of trail. and acceptable dimensions for a manageable and ridable bike thats been raked is anywhere between 30 and 45 degrees of rake and 0 to 10 inches of trail.

so, given that i fall under both maximums, im thinking that it shouldnt be too difficult for riding.


11-22-2009, 4:45 AM
not a bad night. didnt get a LOT done.. but enough i guess.

i needed some big tube to sleeve the backbone.

i went to three different shops today and either couldnt find any or couldnt find a place willing to sell a small amount.

then i spotted the leftovers from the old swingarm.

the part that covers the drive shaft was perfect.

so i cut it off, and cleaned it up.


then cut it in half so i could use it to sleeve the seam in the backbone.


11-22-2009, 4:45 AM
then i cleaned up the weld on the backbone seam.


test fitting the upper sleeve section


and tacking it in place


upper and lower seam fully welded in.


and thats all i got done tonight..... i was going to start on sleeving the front downtubes.. but ran out of wire as i was on the last beaf for the backbone sleeve.

gotta wait till tommorrow to get my hands on more wire.. probably best anyway.. a nap would do me good at this point!

11-22-2009, 4:48 AM
so, for anyone following along with the text and not just reading pictures......

the last post brings us current.

been a busy week with my daughter turning 14, my niece turning 4, and then the ohio state michigan game... one of the busiest days for ohio pizza shops.

hoping to get back out to the garage on monday/tuesday and get the front downtubes sleeved, or cut and replaced.

and the nget all the welds ground down. soon as i do that, i can hit the frame with some paint, and then put the motor back in and move on to the next step... probably the seat and then the forward controls.

11-22-2009, 9:25 AM
YOu are a maniac! This is an awesome thread. Nothing like doing everything yourself, huh? I wish I possessed such skills. Congrats.

One opinion (and I NEVER volunteer opinions of this nature, because everyone is free to do whatever they like): don't do forwards. Mids are the new cool guy pegs, and you won't look like you're sitting in a cybertronic gyno chair from outer space.

Just my 2 cents.

Everything else is awesome. Fun, fabtastic!

11-25-2009, 4:19 AM
halwade, thanks alot for the interest and the suggestion.

unfortunately, im all about the forwards.

i HATE the stock mid controls with a passion. i dont like the way they look and i dont like the way they feel. my knees are too cramped up. forwards are where its at for me.

i have a 150cc scooter than i been riding for the last year, put 15k on it in 10 months.. and even on that ,i made a set of homemade highway pegs for it . gotta stick with the forwards so im comfy, and just for the piece of mind that the bike is laid out the way i wanted. even if its not the "cool thing" anymore.

besides.... doesnt everyone like to sit in cybertronic gyno chairs from outer space ? :) lol

11-25-2009, 4:20 AM
well, i FINALLY got back out in the garage for a few hours today. last week was all kinds of screwed up ... my daughter turned 14 monday, so we had her birthday party over the weekend, and then i took her to a hockey game, and i had to sit through twilight new moon with 500 screaming teenage girls.. uggghhhhh

so anyway... got out tonight and started working on a seat pan.

my plan for today through thanksgiving, was to finish up the downtube sleeving, grind down the welds on the frame, make it look nice. then prime and paint, and then get started on the seat pan.

well, i got the downtubes sleeved, and then decided to jump straight to the seat pan.....

first i cut out a cardboard template and started shaving it to get somewhat the shape i was looking for.


then i laid it out on 14g sheetmetal



when mr.sheetmetal meets mr.angle grinder, sometimes good things happen.



11-25-2009, 4:28 AM
after i had it all cut out, i tacked the back to a piece of 5" steel tube i had laying out from my minitruck build, and the nstarted rolling it.

took a few minutes but i got the curve i was looking for.

i wanted the bend in the back to keep me from sliding off the back of the seat.



11-25-2009, 4:37 AM
ok, before i post these pics, its important to know a few things.

1st. the seat will be placed more towards the rear, and a little lower. its just sitting in place right now.

2nd. the bag will be lowered a little, and angled to match the frame, and then the upperbag mount that connect to the frame will be angled as well, to compensate.. you'll see.

3rd. the fender sitting on there is NOT the fender for the bike. its just a trailer fender that was sitting in the garage from my minitruck, and i tossed it on there, simply to get a rough visual.

with that said... while searching the garage for some metal to use , i stumbled across an old airbag from my truck... decided to go ahead and use it on the bike instead of ordering the coil over chopper shocks for the seat.

i'll end up making a small air tank for it, and just put a shrader valve for filling the tank, and then tubing and a few small manual valves for filling/dumping the bag.




11-25-2009, 6:00 AM
i wouldnt worry about a tank. seems like a waste of space. id just run a shrader straight into the bag. or u could always take the fake oil tank approach. looks really good so far

11-25-2009, 7:38 AM
I agree, great thread with great pix..
Can't wait to see it done....
Love those rims, if anyone has any for sale

11-25-2009, 8:44 AM
i wouldnt worry about a tank. seems like a waste of space. id just run a shrader straight into the bag. or u could always take the fake oil tank approach. looks really good so far

good point. guess im coming from the minitruck mentality. my truck has 4 bags, 3 compressors, 12 gallons of tank, 8 valves, and 9 switches to control it all.

but really on the bike, its not like im gonna be lifting and lowering the seat like i would lift and lower my truck.

as long as my fittings are leak free, i pretty much dont have a need to change the air pressure in the bag once its been set for my weight.

sweet.. thanks for bringing that to light !!

and actually i am already using the fake oil tank, but its for the electrical crap and ignition, etc..

11-25-2009, 8:44 AM
I agree, great thread with great pix..
Can't wait to see it done....
Love those rims, if anyone has any for sale

thanks, im havin fun building it. just cant wait to get it done and ride it !!

11-25-2009, 9:13 AM
The air bag es bueno. Looks like smooth riding on a giant MoonPie. And i love MoonPies.

11-25-2009, 9:28 AM
Just a thought but you could mount the bag down low at the bottom frame rails where it would be a little less obvious and then make a mount with two rods with heim joints to run up and attach to the bottom of the seat, you would then be able to fine tune the height of the seat as well as the air press in the bag.

BTW: Great build thread and I just sat through "New Moon with my 14yr old daughter as well so I feel your pain!


11-25-2009, 10:20 AM
oooohhhhhhh i LIKE the way that sounds....

that would certainly be different than what anyone else is doing.

there is plenty of room down on the bottom for the battery AND the bag... the ni can use some 1/2" cold rolled rods coming up from the bag bracket to the back of the seat.

you've got my brain turning now.... THANKS !!

11-25-2009, 8:34 PM
Been thinking more about it and I think it may work better with one rod and some sort of a guide to keep the rod or rods from shifting the top of the air bladder over. To get the geometry right you may need to mount the bladder at a slight angle so the seat pushes the rod straight into the bladder.

my .02 which is worth mabey .01

11-26-2009, 12:09 AM
i took your idea and ran with it.

i'll post some pics later..

moved the bag down to the lower frame rails. used one of my old upper cups, modified it a bit, to accept a heim joint on either side.

picked up some 5/16 threaded rod and heim joints, and a 1/2 hollow rod to go over it, for strength once its all set to the right lengths.

i've got a rod on either side of the bag mount going up to either side of the seat. i need to add a third rod from the upper frame crossbrace to the bag mount to keep it from tipping forward or backward.

basically its setup the same as it would be on the front arms of an s-10 pickup.

the bag doesnt need to be straight on, they work on angles too. in a front setup on a truck the upper and lower plates are typically at a 30-45 deg angle from each other.

11-26-2009, 3:32 AM
lowered the bag to the lower frame rails.

here im just figuring where i want the seat to actually rest at.


making the new bag mount


bag deflated


bag with about 10psi. (this particular bag is rated for 200) i imagine once its all set in place and with me sitting on it, my psi is only going to be about 15.


11-26-2009, 3:49 AM
went to my favorite local hardware store and picked up some parts.

5/16" all thread and 5/16" heim joints. and some grade 8 mounting hardware.

i made up two links, to connect the bag to the seat. one for each side. then i took the stock upper bag cup, and cut it down so it was decortive, but still structural. and made a few mounting holes to attach the heims.



then i drilled holes in the back of the seat jsut after the curve, and slipped the mounting bolts through to attach the other heim joints.


after mocking it up, i decided i would need a third link to connect the bag to the rear cross brace, to prevent the bag from tipping forward because of the angle of the two seat links.

so i pulled the mounting bolts for the heims on the bag, and put all thread all the way across the cup. but, i didnt have any bolts to match up to the thread, so its just sitting there till i make it to the hardware store in the morning. (if there are any open during the holiday. otehrwise it will be friday)



need to make a trip back to the hardware store for two more heim joints as well. but, this is where the third link will go to keep the bag from tipping forward or backward.


11-26-2009, 11:05 AM
damn! a three link on a bike. i love it. I have all kinds of old bags lying around the garage. i might try something like this one day.

11-26-2009, 12:05 PM
Couldn't you run the rods straight up to the seat pan? they would be shorter and the geometry would have the seat pushing directly down onto the bag.
Fuggin awesome you are not wasting any time! Giter Done!

11-26-2009, 12:50 PM
I'm new at this, so maybe this is a stupid question. Are you worried about the strength of offsetting that vertical brace to clear the driveshaft? I really like this thread, probably one of the better build threads.

11-26-2009, 1:16 PM
If you make pizza half as good as you chop, I need to get to Ohio. Awesome progress, stance and change to the bike. I always thought they looked horrendous, but yours is tits. HUGE change to a fugly bike, i know you couldnt pass up a running $600 bike.
Keep the pics comin cant wait to see her done.

11-27-2009, 2:38 AM
damn! a three link on a bike. i love it. I have all kinds of old bags lying around the garage. i might try something like this one day.

yeah, i think this bag and three link wil lset the bike apart from others for sure.

some bikers might wonder why i would use such a big bag... but i think my minitrucks buds are just gonna "get it"

11-27-2009, 2:41 AM
Couldn't you run the rods straight up to the seat pan? they would be shorter and the geometry would have the seat pushing directly down onto the bag.
Fuggin awesome you are not wasting any time! Giter Done!

i thoguht abotu putting them stright up...

but it would put the support pretty much in the center of the seat, instead of at the rear. and i would still have the issue of the forward and rearward movement. without a solid upper bag mount, the bag will have a tendancy to roam.

plus, this way, i get to run a 3 link on a bike :) lol

11-27-2009, 2:45 AM
I'm new at this, so maybe this is a stupid question. Are you worried about the strength of offsetting that vertical brace to clear the driveshaft? I really like this thread, probably one of the better build threads.

first, thanks for the compliment, truly appreciated.

second, as for the verticle brace... i dont THINK its going to be an issue. even thoguh its offset a little, its still welded in there nice and solid. the upper part where it joins the stock tube, is internally plugged with 7/8" cold rolled solid rod. and where the tube meets the lower frame rail, its got a bead all the way around the diameter of the tube.

i will also be putting gussets in as well, which have not been cut and mounted yet. i think thats the big kicker, that eases my peace of mind... but i hadnt mentioned those yet. but its on my to do list, before the welds are ground and the frame painted.

11-27-2009, 2:50 AM
If you make pizza half as good as you chop, I need to get to Ohio. Awesome progress, stance and change to the bike. I always thought they looked horrendous, but yours is tits. HUGE change to a fugly bike, i know you couldnt pass up a running $600 bike.
Keep the pics comin cant wait to see her done.

thanks alot. i appreciate that !!

and for the record.. my pizza skills are waaaay better than my fabrication skills :)

when i say i have the best pizza around... i truly do mean it... and its not just my opinion...

3 first places and a second place, at the miller light pizza challenge :)

peoples choice specialty pizza. 1st
peoples choice cheese pizza 1st
judges choice specialty pizza 1st
judges choice cheese pizza 2nd

hop on your bike... its worth the ride :)

11-27-2009, 8:48 AM
first, thanks for the compliment, truly appreciated.

second, as for the verticle brace... i dont THINK its going to be an issue. even thoguh its offset a little, its still welded in there nice and solid. the upper part where it joins the stock tube, is internally plugged with 7/8" cold rolled solid rod. and where the tube meets the lower frame rail, its got a bead all the way around the diameter of the tube.

i will also be putting gussets in as well, which have not been cut and mounted yet. i think thats the big kicker, that eases my peace of mind... but i hadnt mentioned those yet. but its on my to do list, before the welds are ground and the frame painted.


11-27-2009, 10:04 AM
Way cool build. Looks like it's a hell of a lot of work, but you will have the coolest Nighthawk out there and it will not be confused with any other bike. Can't wait to see this thing done!

12-03-2009, 10:48 AM
thanks for the encouragement guys!

well i havent gotten a lot done over the last few weeks. between my daughters two birthday parties, thanksgiving, work, a concert i took my daughter too (more on that later) and just a slew of other crap....

dont ya hate it when there are days you would love to go out to the garage and work on the bike, but ya cant because other things get in the way... like life... and then there are days when you do have the time to go out... but ya dont have the motivation to do so... ughhhh

well, last night, there was finally a cosmic realignment of the stars and i had both the time AND the motivation... so out to the garage i went..

first up on the list of last nights festivities, was to finish up the seat mounting and air bag..

i cut some tabs and welded them onto the center support bar, so that i could hang the third link for the airbag under it.



this third link, prevents the bag from pushing forward or backward when sitting on the seat.

then i cut off the temporary front seat mount, and cleaned up the area so i could weld in the permanent seat mount.


welding in the new front seat mount for the hinge.


the hinge needed to be brought back towards the rear of the bike just a little, and up above the frame rails just a little, to get it right where i needed it, and in a spot where the bolt could be removed when needed.

i short piece of tubing left over from the hardtail, proved to be just perfect. i coped it to fit against the stock rear downtube, and then coped the top of it to mount the seat hinge onto.


finally, a completed seat unit. got the 3 links cut to size, and the seat pan mounted up to the links and the hinge..



when i sit on it... its ultra comfy. and there is enough of an arc in the third link, that i can add or remove air, to raise or lower the seat 2 inches in either direction. and the air pressure in the bag can be changed to accomodate the rider thats sitting on the seat.

it was a lot of work, but i think its worth it. it'll go well with my truck, and it sets the bike apart from others.

12-03-2009, 10:57 AM
after the seat was done, i ripped EVERYTHING off, so i could finish up the last bits of welding that needed to be done, and get ready to grind the frame and prep for paint.



had to finish welding up a few spots on the underside.. like the bag bracket and battery cross brace..


i'm happy with the way the welds are coming out lately.. (i just wish they all looked like this !! )


and here is what i did with the links for the seat...

i didnt want to trust that 5/16 all thread to actually support my weight while riding, just in case... so i encased the all thread in 1/2 steel tube. its conveniently the same diameter as the sleeves on the heim joints. so once the links were all set to the correct lengths, then i slipped on the steel tubes, and welded them up.

still need to be ground smooth, but you get the idea.. now they are strong... the third link is the same way as well.


12-03-2009, 11:07 AM
well, i sent off all my dimensions to a friend that was kind enough to offer to cut my new axle and spacers for me.

so, for those of you that are engineers, or designers... i figured i'd toss up a few pics of my amazing mechanical drawings i made for him....

i was gonna use something fancy like autocad... but then i relaized i neither owned it, or new how to use it lolol

so, windows paint to the rescue.. lmao :ImaPoser:

i mean, for someone who has no clue.. the drawings aren't half-bad but they certainly arent to scale lol


then i sent him an overview of the axle itself.


and the last drawing i sent was the axle plates. since they are universal plates, the slots are the wrong size. the acle is a 15mm diameter on the nighthawk 550. and the slots are 20 mm.


so, in the end, hes making the axle, the left and right wheel spacers, and bushings for the axle plates.

and the only thing i forgot to include for him in the drawings, was the outer diameter of the wheel spacers. which ended up being 34.5 mm to match up to the landing on the gear and brake hubs.

so, thats it from last nights work.

tonight i have to weld in a couple of gussets for piece of mind, and then take a grinder to the whole frame and clean up all the welds. i may or may not get it in paint tonight, but definately by tommorrow night im sure.

12-03-2009, 11:31 AM
oh yeah.. almsot forgot about the concert....

well.... we went to see Star Wars, in Concert...

trust me... not nearly as cheesy as the name starts to imply.

a little background....

my daughter and i both play violin... thoguh i would categorize myself as a hobbyist ( learned when she did, simply to be able to play with her, and know when she is doing right or wrong) where i would categorize her as ... phenominal. now, im not saying shes a virtuoso.. but she is damned good.

she started playing in 3rd grade, 5 years ago. shes been taking private lessons every week through that whole time. shes been in the school orchestra since as well. she's played the wedding march at two of my cousins weddings, shes played a solo at every school concert since 4th grade.

last year she was in her school orchestra, as well as district honors orchestra (1 student per school) and she competed at the district solo and ensemble competition where she got perfect scores for both her solo, and an ensemble she did with 2 other violinists..

this year, in 8th grade, she is first chair, concert mistress for her school orchestra. she has once again been appointed to district honors orchestra, she is also in the all city student orchestra, and was accepted back in june to the Toledo Junior Youth Orchestra, which is a division of the Toledo Symphony. (110 violinists auditioned for the 10 available seats this year, and she made the cut) she also plans to compete in march again at the district solo ensemble competition....

not that i'm a proud dad or anything..... :D

so anyway.... star wars in concert....

for anyone who hasnt heard of it... its the Royal British Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Conductor Dirk Brosse, and Narrated by Anthony Daniels (actor who played C3PO in all 6 films)

the show is the music of john williams, selct songs from each of the 6 films, and then behind the orchestra on a 3 story led movie screen ,are montage clips from the 6 films.

Each song, has a correspnding montage, that carries a theme, and gives people a better understanding of both the music, as well as the films.

the great thing is that yo udont have to be a star wars freak to lvoe the show, or even an orchestra nut. there were two different groups of people there.. those who love stars and could care less about classical music.. and those who love classical music and could care less about star wars... well, three groups.. those who like both..

and thats the awesome thing abotu the show.. yo uwere taking classical music fans to the movies.. and taking star wars fans to the symphony !!!

it al works wonderfully. they are on a global tour right now, and only one showing per city...

if you like either star wars or the symphony... make it to the show. yo uwont be dissapointed..


so anyway, before the concert, they have displays ( i didnt take pictures of everything) where they had actual movie props from lucas arts in glass cases. like the actual darth vadar, c3po, and chewbacca costumes. light sabers and laser guns. original character design skethes and other stuff. it was pretty cool to see, for star wars fans.

and of course... they had people in costume...

we forgot our camera at home, so i had to take pics with my phone, and after 4 of 5 blurry pics, we realized there was a big fat fingerprint on the lense of the phones camera... so after i cleaned that off, we actually got some nice pictures..








12-03-2009, 11:42 AM
here's somce pics from the show itself. we bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. we tried to get front row center, but they were snagged too quick. but we did manage to grab second row, to the right.

only one person in front of my, and didnt block my view at all.

here's the arena being setup.


from the prop display.... a piece of john williams music.. from phantom menace... notice its in PENCIL.. its the original score.


a shot of the orchestra



as a star wars fan, this was my favorite picture i was able to get..



as a violinist, this is my favorite picture i was able to get.


12-04-2009, 2:59 AM
so i made it out again tonight and got the frame all ground down and sanded.


after wiping it all down with some metal prep i hit it with some red self etching primer.


next i hit it with a few coats of grey primer.


and finally a few coats of gloss black.


in between coats of primer and paint, i also tackled the seat links and finished them up. i finished welding the seams and then ground down the welds. i got them primed and painted as well, but forgot to take a final picture.

but they look just like the picture below... except black lol.


12-12-2009, 9:34 PM
well, after a busy week, i finally had time to hit the garage and get a little done..

i painted the lower tree

got the seat bag bracket painted, and got the seat and the seat suspension mounted

then i needed to fab up some brackets for the gas tank.
i really like the tank on the nighthawk, so i wanted to keep it. i used the same front mount for the tank, but the rear mount was right where the seat was, so i switched it up and made some side mount brackets.

i started by making a cardboard template that would mate up with the frame, and then follow the contour of the rear lower portion of the tank legs.


after i had the template made, i copied it to some 1/8" steel plate i had laying around, and the nclamped the two pieces together while i shaped them with the angle gridner to make sure they were twins. then i moutned the tank, connected the brackets, and then tacked them to the frame.


after i tacked them in, i realized that on the right side, i would have to drill a hole, in order to remove the seat bolt should i ever need to..... and actually, i could have crossed that bridge when i got to it, but i had not actually mounted the seat yet.. so i kinda had to go ahead and do it now, in order to get the bolt in . lol


the seat tucks up under the rear of the tank. so im going to make a new pan, and have the front more closely match the under opening on the tank. so they flow together better.



so now here i am ... waiting for the garage to heat up, so i can head out there and get some more work done tonight... not sure whats on tonights list... but im sure it'll go into the wee hours ....

12-13-2009, 4:43 AM
so, i made it out to the garage and got some work done.

first i built a battery box, then got the steering stem and bearings all cleaned and greased, and then mounted the trees.

so, for the battery box. i started with a cardboard template. i wanted to have as few seams as possible for less welding, so i laid it out so that it could be folded up and have just 4 seams.


folded the tmeplate up and taped the seams for a test fit on the battery.


you might notice there is room around the battery. this is intentional. i wanted to be able to put in strips of rubber weatherstripping between the battery and all the walls of the box, to abosorb some shock and protect the battery a little.


after i was satisfied, then i transfered the design to the sheetmetal and cut it out with an angle grinder with cut off wheel.


after it was cutout, i went over all the bend lines with the grinder to score them. i cut just about halfway into the metal. since i dont have a metal brake the scores make it much easier to get good clean bends.


all folded up and tacked


test fitting with the battery and on the bike




12-13-2009, 4:49 AM
and just a few shots of the trees remounted..

the lower is painted, the upper is still the natural aluminum.

i completely degreased and cleaned the stem, bearings, bearing races, and the tube. and then regreased.



i think im goign to do some cutting and rewleding on the upper tree before all is said and done.

there are a lot of mounting ears up there that were for the dash, the ignition, the fuse box, etc... and none of that will be on there again. so i'll end up cutting those things off, and reshaping the front of the upper tree. but when it comes time for that, i'll be having one of my customers do it. he's the welding instructor at one of the colleges here, and he can tig like theres no tommorrow, whereas i only have mig.

12-14-2009, 5:38 AM
ok.. didnt do a lot of "work" tonight.... but i did do some assembly :D

got the front end put back on, got the rear tire mounted, and put the tank and seat back on..

after sitting on it, i rezlized just how much i hated these drag bars. so i put the stockers back on, and lvoed them all over again. i just dont like the way the stockers look. but the angles and dimensions are just right... go figure... so, i can see me making a set of custom bars in the future :)

once i was done changing the bars, i realized i actually had a rolling chassis, minus motor and driveshaft !!!

HAD to take some pics....




figured it was time to sit on it, and try out the time delay on the camera... does everyone look grumpy at 5am in the garage?


who could resist a "riding shot" all i need is some photoshopped wind and i'll be all set :) lol


12-16-2009, 5:22 AM
so a buddy of mine came over tonight and helped me get the motor back in.


we got the coils mounted, and the tank back on



my buddy took a seat... he makes the bike look big


i took a seat.. and once again made the bike look small :)


custom pizza and a custom bike, what more could a guy want


i wanted to get the brake stay mounted up for the rear drum. the linkage was a little long, so instead of making a long bracket, i jsut cut it down. the piece in the middle is what im removing..


the steel tubing that i used on the seat suspension 3 link, was a perfect fit to slide inside the brake linkage tube for a plug.


i also rotated the end 90deg. you'll see why in a moment


so, instead of trying to make a bracket to come off the frame, for the brake stay linkage to connect to, i figured, heck, why not let the frame be the bracket. this is why i rotated the end on the linkage before welding it back up.

drilled a hole through the lower frame tube, .. i'll be swapping out the bolt with all grade 8 as i do with everything else whenever possible.. but for now, this was just a bolt that we found in one of my bins


tommorrow i'm hoping to get the oil cooler mounts welded in place, and get some more work done on the seat.

12-16-2009, 11:48 AM
looking nice there

just an aside that you may know anyhows.

when you replace that bolt to the frame put the nut on the bottom. the idea is if the nut should come off then the bolt is not lost, is still in place and depending on what its doing will still do its job to a certain extent

12-16-2009, 2:09 PM
i completley agree.

i was actually going to take it to a slightly different level.... and i was going to weld the bolt from the bottom. so that it wouldnt fall out. and if i needed to change anything then i figured i would just grind it out.

but, this way seems easier for the long run.


12-16-2009, 5:54 PM
Cool. I didn't know you make a Nighthawk look that good. lol. Awesome job!!

12-17-2009, 10:43 AM
wow, never expect that when i started reading this thread. very nice work.

12-17-2009, 1:02 PM
Amazing work on your hawk. What's your pizzeria called? I hit Toledo once in a while and will totally swing by. I need a break from Tony Packo's!

12-18-2009, 5:59 AM
thanks guys. i appreciate the motivation!

rile: we've got 13 stores in toledo. .we're Vito's Pizza. and ironically, we make a Tony Packo's Pizza... were the first company tony has ever licensed his product to. the packo pizza is a pizza crust, packos chili sauce, packo hungarian sausage, onions, motz and cheddar cheeses, and topped with rings of mustard, with a side of pickles and peppers. its a tony packo dog, on a pizza crust instead of a hot dog bun :)

of course, thats just one of our 18 specialty pizzas though.. like chicken bacon ranch, steak chipotle, cajun shrimp, sweet baby rays bbq chicken, and more ... stop on out...

my store is at the corner of laskey and monroe.

12-18-2009, 6:01 AM
so today i started work on the new seat.

got the new design on contruction cardboard


then transferred to sheetmetal. 10g would be best for a seat pan, so i've been told. but, cant seem to get my hands on any locally. so i had to settle for 16g. gonna do two layers, and weld them together.


got them both rough cut, and one grinded down to final shape. drilled a bunch of holes os i could do some plug welds to mate the two layers.


clamped the two pieces together


all the plug welds done.


test fitting on the bike



i tried my hand at hammering the seat. never hammered metal before. didnt go crazy with it. but hammered over the sides just a little to give it some more strength, and make the sides a little more comfortable.

if you look close you can see that i also welded in the mounting bolts as well.


12-18-2009, 6:02 AM
then i started on the foam covering. i went to walmart and picked up a camping sleeping roll. its closed cell neoprene foam. so it wont break down, and its waterproof. and its only 5 bucks for a roll, with enough foam for probably 8 seats !


i cut out a piece just bigger than the surface of the seat. this way i can do final trim later, after its mounted on the seat pan.


i thoroughly coated both the foam and the seat pan with super 77 spray adhesive. and let it tack up for about 2 minutes before mating them.


after i pressed the two together, i worked in the curves as best i could, and then put some clamps on to hold it for a few minutes till the adhesive setup a little


then i just used a razor knife to cut out the foam to match the pan. i will later go at the foam with a sander, to shape the edges.



hopefully tommorrow i can get my hands on some leather. so i can finish shaping the foam, and then get the seat covered in some dead cow skin.

12-18-2009, 8:50 AM
Damn, you're doin work on this thing. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

I love these threads.

12-18-2009, 12:22 PM
This build is Bad-Ass.

FFS, who knew you could make a nighthawk look this good?



12-22-2009, 6:05 AM
thanks guys. nice to know people recognize the work that goes into a project. may not be the best chopper around, and certainly wont be winning any contests.. but its still built with my own two hands.

12-22-2009, 6:21 AM
well, the last few days have been fairly productive, even despite being busy at work and christmas shopping.

sunday night i got out there and started by finishing up the oil cooler mount.

i pulled the front end off, then cut a section of small tube to weld between the downtubes, then relocated the mounting bracket down to it.

i forgot to take a picture after it was painted.. but it blends in really well.



tacked in the battery box so i could make sure it didnt interfere with the universal joint, the seat, or the airbag. and made sure the battery can be pulled.



this battery box is not final though. it will be replaced when i get my new battery which is a slightly different size.

12-22-2009, 6:33 AM
tonight i went back to the seat again.

first i cut a second layer of foam for the seat top. and put a layer of spray adhesive on them.


after the glue tacked up, i put the pieces together, and then clamped them down until it set in.


like my colored clamps ? lol i picked them up at harbor freight, for 3.99 for a pack of 25. they are 1". not the greatest, but man those things come in handy.


after the glue was set, i went ahead and did some shaping on the foam. this is my first seat, and first time shaping foam, so it has some imperfections, but i am really, really happy with the results. i cut out the overall shape close to the edge of the seat pan, with a razor knife, and then went at the sides with an angle grinder with a 120grit flapdisk (cus im too impatient to use the grater and file method)




12-22-2009, 6:39 AM
and then i mounted it on the bike just to make sure it was all good and the way i was hoping, before i start attaching leather.




12-22-2009, 6:58 AM
this is the part i have been dreading.... covering with leather...

as with msot of the stuff i've done on the bike, i have never messed with leather before.

i've been reading lots of different forums and threads about covering a seat, different methods and what not.

i knew, at least for this first seat, i did not want to try tooling any designs. i jsut wanted to get my feet wet with a simple covering and stitching.

picked up some hide at a leather shop down the street and went to town tonight...

i wanted to cover the bottom first, so the whole seat would be wrapped. i couldnt figure out a way to make the holes for the seat mounting bolts.

i marked them first. then i thought about drilling, but i was worried the leather may get caught up and wrap around the drill bit. the ni thoguht about cutting them out with a razor knife, but i knew they wouldnt be perfect circles. so, after giving it some thought, i grabbed a male air fitting for an air tool. it was the same size as the mounting bolts.

i lined it up on the marks, and then a good wack with a hammer. viola... perfect circles.



the ni did a test fit, jsut to make sure everythign was all good.


after test fitting, i marked a line, a little over an inch wider than the seat pan, and then trimmed the leather down to that line, to make it easier to work with.



after i was happy with it, i went ahead and pulled it off, and shot the leather and the bottom of the pan with spray adhesive. i dont know if it was necessary, but before spraying the pan, i hand sanded the whole thing with 100grit paper, and then wiped it down with wax and grease remover. like i said, not sure it was needed, but it couldnt hurt..


after the glue tacked up, i put the leather back on, and smoothed it out as quick as i could. i learned real fast that when those two surfaces of adhesive hit each other, you do not have much time to work with it.

but i manged to pull it off and get everythign nice and smooth.



that's where i stopped for tonight.. couple reasons. first, i wanted to make sure the bottom leather was all set before i started messing with the top. second, and probably more important...... i ran out of spray !! lol gotta get some more tommorrow, then i'll get the top laid on.

12-23-2009, 3:44 AM
tonight i got the top of the seat covered in leather, and started on the stitching.

first, just as i did with the layers of foam, and with the bottom leather, i sprayed the seat foam and the back of the hide, with spray adhesive, let it tack up, then mated them.

it took a few mintues to get the leatehr pulled taught at the corners, and get the seam where i wanted it between the two layers. but after about 10-15 minutes, i had it all set, and then put some clamps on to hold the seam until the glue set in a little more.


after about half hour, i pulled the clamps off, and then trimmed the leather a bit. i trimemd it to about 1" from the edge of the pan, so that it would be easier to work with while doing the stitching. i dont want to cut in fartehr, until the stitching is done, and i decide what im gonna do with the lacing.



having never worked with leather, and after reading a how-to thread on doing your own seat, one of the methods i read, was to take the finished seat to a shoe repair man, and have them stitch around the edge. this was my original plan.

but, after talking with the craftsman i bought the leather from, he recommended a sewing awl from harbor freight. it was only 3.99 came with 4 needles and the waxed thread. i've never used one of these before, but he spent a few minutes showind me how its done. and then gave me a few youtube links to follow for more instruction.

he knew i wasnt bringing the seat back to him, because he didnt have an open sewing machine. and he figured if i was doing this for the pride of having done it myself, i might as well take that last step and sew it up myself as well.

then of cours,e while watching yourtube vids, i came across vids of edge lacing..... so, i'll be giving that a shot as well, i think, and end up hiding my sewing, with some leather lacing along the seam....

anyway, here is the sewing kit i bought at harbor freight...



and here are my results...

this is after about an hour of stitching.. .but, i'm also watching a movie at the same time. so i could be considerably farther along.. but im taking my time, enjoying it, and letting my fingers take a break lol..



12-23-2009, 8:00 AM
That leather is awesome, gotta find a place around me that has that stuff in stock. Pleather just won't do the trick, ya know?

12-23-2009, 1:07 PM
seat looks badass so far. can't wait to see it done.

12-26-2009, 2:30 AM
well, i spent some more time stitching, and finally finished the seat up.

all told, i spent 6 hours stitching, and then another 4 hours to do the edge wrap/stitch.

but... that was while i was watching tv, and taking my time.

here is the seat stitched half way around. this was 3 hours into the job.


here is the seat completely stitched. this was after a total of 6 hours. but again, thats while watching tv and taking my time.


after i was done with the stitching, i trimmed the leather to about an 1/8" from the stitching.




12-26-2009, 2:37 AM
i kept trying to figure out what i wanted to do with the edge. it just seemed unfinished.

i considered using leather lacing and one of the many braided patterns i see people use. but i figured maybe i'll save learning that for another time.

i found this particular stitch to be pretty easy, and looked nice to me. and using the same holes as the previous stitching made it a plus.


i really like it. feels like it finished off the seat just as i was hoping it would.




it took me another four hours to do the edge wrap/stitching.. but again, that was while watching tv and taking my time.

12-26-2009, 2:49 AM
while watchign youtube vids abotu stitching leather, i cam across a few very handy tips concerning protecting your fingers from the blunt tip of the needles (when i did the edge wrap, i used a blunt tip needles, instead of the sewing awl)

the tip showed making a cover for your index finger, to make it easier to push the needle through, much like a thimble, and protected your other fingertip on the backside of the leather.

then there was a tip that showed making slip covers for your pinkies. this made it easier to pull the string taught and get good tight stitches, without rubbing your fingers raw from rope burn.

just took a few scraps of leather, cut them to fit, and put a few stitches on the backside.... LIFESAVERS.



12-26-2009, 11:12 AM
Love what your doing with this bike! That seat is sweet! Can't wait to see what the finished product is gonna looki like!

12-26-2009, 2:05 PM
Great job on the seat man. I take mine to the shoe repair because my carpal tunnel doesn't allow me to do that much hand sewing. It'd be murder!
Next time you hand sew, consider saddle stitching, as its a lot stronger than that type of stitch.

12-27-2009, 2:47 AM
Great job on the seat man. I take mine to the shoe repair because my carpal tunnel doesn't allow me to do that much hand sewing. It'd be murder!
Next time you hand sew, consider saddle stitching, as its a lot stronger than that type of stitch.

thanks brother.

your how-to on making a seat is what gave me the confidence to go ahead and make mine. i was going to buy one off ebay because the thoguht of working with leather intimidated me.

thats why i was going to take it to the shoe guy in the first place :)

i'll look up the saddlestitch. cuz there are a few other things i want to tackle, like grip covers, and a solobag.

01-09-2010, 11:47 AM
Dude killer looking build. It has me stoked as ive been stuck on what to do on my bike.
I am very curious , you moved the back tire back 5"...so what will you do to extend the driveshaft? thanksa ton man awesome post

01-09-2010, 1:52 PM
dam that seat is so cleann! nice job.

01-26-2010, 11:33 PM
Dude killer looking build. It has me stoked as ive been stuck on what to do on my bike.
I am very curious , you moved the back tire back 5"...so what will you do to extend the driveshaft? thanksa ton man awesome post

we have plenty of machine shops and driveshaft companies in town. one of them will simply extend the shaft the extra 5" and then rebalance.

not sure how much it will cost. but i've had some work done on my trucks driveshaft before, and it ran about a hundred. so, we'll see.

01-26-2010, 11:34 PM
dam that seat is so cleann! nice job.

thanks alot. i appreciate it . i have things i would like to have done differently, but, for my first, im really happy with it.

01-27-2010, 12:03 AM
hey everyone. sorry for the delay in updates. been a little busy with work, with my new diet/workout regimen, and with my daughters orchestra concert..

now that that's all out of the way, i finally got some more work done on the bike.

slow going though... i knew heading into this that january and february would be slow production months. i leave on february 24th for two weeks to the dominican republic, i vacation there twice a year. so, this month and next, i'll be saving a scrap penny for the trip and not spending any on the bike.

as a result, i'll only be doing FREE work on the bike for the next 30 days.. which means, no forward controls, no fender, no paint, no driveshaft... none of that till i get back home midmarch. blah.... but i promise.. while i'm sitting on the beach, sippin on a santo libre, and soaking up the sun... i'll think of the bike at least once a day, and all the things i wish i could be doing to it, instead of basking in the sunshine.

so, here are a few pictures of what i've done lately...

so, a friend from another forum, machined a custom rear axle, left and right rear spacers, and axle bushings for the universal axle plates...


that allowed me to finally get the rear tire all mounted up.


left spacer and bushing.. amazing.


right spacer and bushing.. amazing.


then i got the seat mounted..



after the seat was moutned, we started toyign around with the pipes. cut them down, and used christmas paper rolls as mock pipes to see how straight pipes would look ;)



and thats where she sits right now.

hoping to get some exhaust tubing from the shop down the street this week, and have them do some bends for me, then i can toy around with getting them laid out a little better.

leaning towards the 2 into 1 on each side. but with a straight pipe just a hair lower than the frame all the way back.

i made the bike jsut a bit too low for me to put the pipes under the bike without fear.

01-27-2010, 12:33 AM
last night, i headed out and got the carbs installed, then started taking some measurements on the airbox i want to build. i think i can pull it off. we'll see. i'm keeping the idea under wraps till i find out if i can do it or not lol


after getting the carbs in.. i figured i would start reassembling some of the electrics.. i'm planning to rewire the hwole bike, and put all the electrics, fuses, etc, in a cylinder above the battery. but, for the time bing i just put the stock harness back on, and put everythign back where it was originally, just so i could see where everything needs to be and how it all connects back together.

afterwards, i thought maybe i better roll video...... :thumbup2:

:cheers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBu3bMqdh4g :cheers:
couple things.... its obviously really loud with those short pipes on it lol.. and there is no airbox on it right now. i had the choke on, and that was the first push of the button... started right up.. yay....

i guess using stabil in the gas before teardown, was a good thing afterall :)

you may notice also, that i was pulling manually on the throttle cable... well, that would be because mowgli and his band of gremlins broke into the garage and stole my throttle grip !!!!

i searched the garage up and down. searched in all the drawers and cabinets, under the work tables, in everyone of the marked bags, everywhere.. and i can not find my darned throttle anywhere.

looks like im gonna have to order a new one.

i'm missing both the twist throttle assembly AND the rubber grip.. i dont get it !!

oh well, it looks like they are only about 15 bucks, new, so at least thats a good thing. :puzzled:

02-02-2010, 1:24 PM
thanks everyone for the comments. as always, i definatley appreciate the support.

i finally got out again last night, to do some work on the exhaust..

all i knew going into it was that i had a general idea laid out in my head. i went to the exhaust shop and picked up some tubing. had them put a bend in it for me, and then headed home.

i expected that this would be used to lay out the pipes and see how i wanted them, and then use that, to order dom tubing and some mandrel bends so i could "do it right"

but honestly, after it was all said and done.. i love them. no need to swap them out for mandrel bent corners.

they will still get baffles put in the ends, and they will be wrapped in exhaust wrap. cant decide between white or black ....

only problem ended up being how fast it went.. and i had only boguht enough pipe for one side because they were supposed to be temporary!!! had to call it a night and went back today for tubes for the other side. lol.

so, here she goes...

started with nothing

02-02-2010, 1:26 PM
the angle on the bend for the stock pipes was not correct for the look i was going for. i wanted the pipes to run along the edge of the frame. so, i cut down the headers before the bends, and tacked in the new pipes.



02-02-2010, 1:33 PM
and then i did the second side.

still working on exaclty how i want to mount them to the frame at the rear. i'm leaning towards welding on a straight bracket that will sit over the pipes, and then have them attached to it with a bolt. or may just go with the hose clamp route like they are now.. maybe stainless zip ties. not real sure yet. i'll have to sit and stare at it for a while then it'll coem to me.

i usually change my mind on ideas about 10 times as i sit and stare. come up with a good idea. then come up with lots of reasons why it wont be practical, or will fail lolol. :mad1:





i forgot to take a final picture.. i will tongiht.. but i cut the pipes off, right where the frame tilts up in the rear to go up to the axle plate. so they are actually about 3-4' shorter than what they are in these pictures.

i originally wanted to do slash cuts in them. but once looking at it, i went for the double barreled shotgun look instead.

now i just have to get them wrapped, and baffles installed. (maybe)

it sounded significantly lower than the other side, but it was hard to tell since the other side is so loud. i'll know tonight after i finsh the left side if i'll need the baffles.. by money is betting that i will need them.

02-09-2010, 4:06 PM
It took all my effort to go through the entire thread before chiming in (just found it today). Love the Mini truck roots. (The one in my pics is one my brother and I built for a freind, which I was gonna buy, but my sis and I are now buying for my brother as a surprise when he gets back from Afghanistan). The trouble shooting skills are awesome man. Comes from building many a mini I'm sure. Just wanted to say for future reference (this was the hardest for me to wait on, but I like your solution), if you can find a junk yard a totaled "air ride" semi, you can steal the smaller single convoluted bags from the cab. It woulda fit nicely under the seat. But you solution is ingenious. Nice work my man! Like how you used a old Chevy a-arm cup for the upper mount. SO after the Honda build, you gonna body drop that S-10 in the background on these pics??? Ha ha.

02-09-2010, 4:58 PM
Need updated Pics!

This build is so rad that I can't even describe it.

You are a fucking inspiration to backyard builders everywhere. Taking a (somewhat unfairly) maligned bike, the nighthawk, and building that with it!



02-10-2010, 8:56 AM
It took all my effort to go through the entire thread before chiming in (just found it today). Love the Mini truck roots. (The one in my pics is one my brother and I built for a freind, which I was gonna buy, but my sis and I are now buying for my brother as a surprise when he gets back from Afghanistan). The trouble shooting skills are awesome man. Comes from building many a mini I'm sure. Just wanted to say for future reference (this was the hardest for me to wait on, but I like your solution), if you can find a junk yard a totaled "air ride" semi, you can steal the smaller single convoluted bags from the cab. It woulda fit nicely under the seat. But you solution is ingenious. Nice work my man! Like how you used a old Chevy a-arm cup for the upper mount. SO after the Honda build, you gonna body drop that S-10 in the background on these pics??? Ha ha.

thanks man, appreciate the kind words.

well, i have other small bags layin around as well, and had access to even smaller bags.

i wanted to use the full size bag because it was one off of my first mini i built, and people who know me would jsut get it. specially since i used the chevy cup :D and the 3 link lol.

but alas.. i wont be body droppin the sonoma.

i had plans to BD my black s10 xcab, but i sold it and then built the green single cab sonoma.

plans were to build the bike through the winter, and once summer got here, id start riding the bike again, and then BD the sonoma...

except that i sold it this week :(

that was my 3rd mini that i owned (first was a bagged and body dropped 87 nissan hardbody) and the fifth i've helped build... not sure if i'll do another ... i may jsut get a normal car. as i'm looking to score an xs650 this spring when the nighthawk is done..

02-10-2010, 8:57 AM
Need updated Pics!

This build is so rad that I can't even describe it.

You are a fucking inspiration to backyard builders everywhere. Taking a (somewhat unfairly) maligned bike, the nighthawk, and building that with it!



thanks dude.. work has been slow goin with the weather lately.. and saving for vacation..

but i got some pics coming here in just a few.. and planning to finish the left side exhaust tonght if my bro makes it over to lend a pair of hands.

02-10-2010, 9:16 AM
not really diggin this snow these last few days !!!

oh well, i still shoveled my way out to the garage... thank goodness i've got a gas furnace out there..

my replacement throttle control showed up in the mail... scored it on ebay for 10 bucks or so. i got that installed right away.


then i moved on to the driveshaft.

scored another on ebay for 10 bucks.

set them up on the bike, figured where i needed to make my cuts.

here they are both at stock length


i cut them both 2.5" past center, and then joined up the two longer pieces, which gave me the 5" stretch i needed.


gave them each a little notch, so they would interlock with each other. then put them on the bike o test for length fitment.



i was going to weld the two pieces together. but i was out of wire.. so i decided to use zip ties instead...


then i realized that the zip ties may not hold up to the torque from this super powerful racing engine..

so i used something stronger..

electrical tape.


but after posting the pics... i realized.. electrical tape isnt going to work.... there's no wires in the driveshaft !!!

so im headed out today to get something more powerful and permanant..... DUCT TAPE !!!! :banana:

but seriously.... im goign to be sleeveing the entire shaft in thick wall DOM tubing with beads around each end, and plug welds down the shafts. i'm just waiting for the tubing to show up in the mail.

02-10-2010, 12:26 PM
This is coming along great and looks good. Everytime I see how much you get done I feel like a fucking slacker. Been working on my project for almost two years.

02-10-2010, 7:38 PM
but seriously.... im goign to be sleeveing the entire shaft in thick wall DOM tubing with beads around each end, and plug welds down the shafts. i'm just waiting for the tubing to show up in the mail.

120 wall should be fine. DON'T Weld the ends, just do lots of plug welds. Welding the ends MAY change the structural grain of the driveshaft itself, and make it want to snap off.... Unless you do a long angle cut and weld, which might hold out ok....

02-10-2010, 8:41 PM
im actually notching and doing fish mouths on the end.

advice from someone else with a lengthened shaft.

and for the smae reason you posted. it was advised that too much heat right there at the end could be a problem.

02-12-2010, 4:33 AM
got my new grips in the mail.


finished up the pipes on the left side




still need to finish up the final welding and grinding.

waiting for the baffles to show up. and still waiting for the tubing for the driveshaft. white exhaust wrap showed up, so i'll probably knock that out and finish the exhaust on monday/tuesday next week.

oh, here's a video of the bike running with both sides of the exhaust done... you can hear why i want the baffles !!

also, the bike soudns really loud and fast at first, and towards the end, it gets softer and more lumbering... thats cuz its cold, so the choke is on in the first half of the vid..


02-12-2010, 2:42 PM
Dude! it looks and sounds great but pleeeeeeeze dont wrap the pipes in header wrap!
Do up some nice welds on them and ether scotch brite them or coat them!

If they were cheap shitty lookin pipes I would say yea wrap them but they look killer and fit real well and header wrap will only cause the pipes to overheat and blow out the bends prematurly.

BBQ paint trick: bead blast pipes then heat the entire length of pipe inside and out with a torch, not red hot just heated up real good then get a quality bbq paint and lay on the first coat followed by waving the torch over it to speed dry and bake on the paint. do this about 3 times (3 coats) and you will end up with a coating that will look good and not flake off for a long time.
The key to this process is the bead blasted surface (paint adheres real well) and baking the paint on with the torch (hardens the paint,makes it last)

jus my .02


02-12-2010, 4:31 PM
Really impresive what youve done with this bike. Are you planing on getting rid of the gauge cluster on your handlebars? It would make the front end look so much cleaner. jus my 02

02-13-2010, 6:48 AM
Really impresive what youve done with this bike. Are you planing on getting rid of the gauge cluster on your handlebars? It would make the front end look so much cleaner. jus my 02

Thats his new pizza oven timer/temp control unit that somehow wound up there...

02-16-2010, 1:49 PM
WOW. Just started reading your thread from the beginning. i couldn't leave the seat. Man awesome awesome awesome job seriously. Major props not to mention a craving for pizza lol. keep up the good work. Hope to see this bike finished. She's sounds really nice too by the way.

03-30-2010, 11:52 AM
i really need to see this drive shaft finished!! im doing the same to my gs850 and i think im gonna run some sorta shroud just for safety. but i wanna see the finished product first. hurry up!!!:)

04-25-2010, 2:03 PM
hey everyone.. sorry its been a while since my last update.

i went on vacation down to the dominican republic for my birthday.. it was supposed to be an 11 day trip, but i might have sorta kinda extended the trip.. just a FEW days.... to 30 total :eek: !!

i was looking at a few different restaurants down there that im thinking of trying to get my hands into for when i move down there.

anyway since i was gone so long, i had shut down things here at home that werent needed at the moment.. ie: phone, cable, internet, etc...

got back home on march 25th. but been busy with trying to get everything reorganized ... cable finally got turned back on a few weeks ago.... so here i am !!!

rest assured though, since i got home on the 25th.. ive been like a machine out there in the garage... so this will be a rather big update.

the nice weather had me motivated to get crackin out there so i could ride this thing...

and now that im all settled back in.. and ready to ride the bike.. im leaving again to go back to the DR in 4days... but this next trip is only 5 days long...

04-25-2010, 2:03 PM
so just before i left for my trip, i was working on the exhaust. when i got home, i had baffles waiting for me.. so i got those installed..





these arent high dollar baffles. i grabbed them from jcwhitney, iirc, i snagged them for like 6 bucks each... i havent really determined if im going to have to add mufflers or not. but right now i am happy with the sound.. just now sure if they are goign to be a problem for the carbs..

04-25-2010, 2:04 PM
my forward controsl showed up from tcbros while i was away..


and my tubign showed up for extending my driveshaft..



so, i cut that down to size, so i could hand it over to my buddy at the college to have the inside milled out to match the driveshaft diameter, and then have him tig weld the shafts to the tubing.



and, i picked up a trailer fender that was just the right size, for six bucks :)




04-25-2010, 2:05 PM
im probably going to run the fender more like this, so it covers a little more of the tire. i think it just kinda of goes a little better with the tank and seat.



then i started working on fabbing up the mounts for the forward controls. the exhaust presented a bit of a problem, because thre are four of them, there wasn't really a convenient spot for the forwards bracket. so i had to get creative.






04-25-2010, 2:06 PM
well, i got my freshly drilled and milled shaft back from my buddy the welding proffessor. he wanted me to check it all over and approve it, before he welded it up.



they milled out the inside, and also tapered the ends to match the taper on the shaft, so it would drop in and seat nicely.


04-25-2010, 2:06 PM
after i approved it for welding, and gave it back, he had it back in my hands again that same day. all tig welded. 12 total plugs, and beads around each end. this beast is solid.



and a perfect fit !!!!





04-25-2010, 2:07 PM
built my electric "box"

4" black pvc drain pipe, with 4" rubber caps :D




mounted the regular heatsink to a piece of flat stock welded to the frame.


picked up a cone filter for the crankcase vent tube.


04-25-2010, 2:08 PM
got the linkages for the forward controls hooked up



on my first test ride, i kept shifting backwards. i couldnt figure out why.... then i realized that i need to change the orientation of the shifter linkage. the stock link was mounted on the mounted, because it was a cantilever setup. the new one needed to be mounted on top to compensate.. so i switched it around, and got it all set. now it shifts like it should.


04-25-2010, 2:08 PM
so, i've been leanign towards this whole "garage built" theme for the bike lately. i've come up with the entire end look, the paint scheme, and everything.. not gonna say too much right now, because i want to to be a secret till i unveil it...

but, in keeping with that theme.. instead of trying to be all fancy with the rear brake. i simply kept it jsut like it was, used all the stock parts, even the pivot point. and just welded up a few brackets and bolted them.



now, about this point, i started doing some thigns that will NOT be final... but i REALLY want to just be able to ride now that riding season is here. so my goal over the last week has been to just get the bike legal, and safely ridable.. then i can start attacking small projects one at a time..

first up.... license plate and lights..

fabbed up a QUICK and simple bracket to mount the plate and light.



and then, the god awful hideous tail/brake light... again, only TEMPORARY.



04-25-2010, 2:09 PM
on one of my test rides i realized that my forward controls were too low.. i didnt think they were at first.... until my heel scraped the ground on a turn :eek:

so i pulled them out of the bracket and had them switch places with the cross brace. that raised them more than enough, AND stiffened them up more too. now they feel nice and solid.


on the next test ride, when i went to downshift.. i almost died.

seems i forgot that there was a torque tube connected to the final drive assembly, that was part of the swing arm. this prevented the final drive from roated...

i know this now.... !!!!

as i was riding, i went to downshift, and the torque caused the final to move.. and the driveshaft separated from the final drive assembly .. yikes !!

so i made a quick bracket to prevent the final drive from being up to move.


04-25-2010, 2:10 PM
now.. for rear lighting.. turn signals and brake /tail lights.. i dont want the stock light on there any longer than truly necessary.

i've been up and down, back and forth, and inside out trying to decide on what lights to use for the back of the bike...

then, my buddy comes over one day and rushes into the garage to show me something...

he had been out at a junkyard or somewhere, and came across some lights, bolted onto a really old car. REALLY old. he's not relaly sure just what kinda car it was... but he snagged the lights.. and they will look perfect on the bike !!!

but... they were really old. they were one wire lights. and the bulbs were something that i have never seen before, so i knew i wouldnt be able to replace them.

so, i took to gutting the lights. and then picked up new internal bulb holders to mount inside the housings. had to widen the hole i nthe base to accept two wires for the turn signals, and three wires for the brake/tail lights.

all gutted


the new internal bulb holder


widening the hole in the base



all reassembled with new modern internals and new wiring...


04-25-2010, 2:10 PM




i love the character these lights have. from the base and the housing. to the grooves and edges on the lense cover.






04-25-2010, 2:11 PM
i have the lights pointed up slightly, so they would be pointing up towards the driver of a car behind me.

i may angle them more level with the ground... we'll see after all four lights are mounted and i get some good views from every angle..

but, in the meantime...






and that's it for now....

i'll continue to get as much done as i can before my trip...

next major project: i need to get filters for the carbs, and then i need to get the bike to a mechanic so he can sync the carbs, and jet them.

04-25-2010, 2:21 PM
ok. since i leave in 4 days, i have been bustin ass out in the garage...

i didnt liek the way the rear lights were pointed up, so i leveled the out, and i like them alot better. and they are plenty bright, and easily visible to cages behind me.


made a different plate mount, that put the plate veritcal and put the plate light at the bottom of the mount pointing up, just do be a littel different.


finally got my airpods, and got them installed. ran into a problem.. couldnt mount all 4 on the carbs. the rear downtube/top tube and the two upper rear tubes, were in the way. so, a trip to lowes and i netted a 1.5" rubber 90 degree waste rain elbow.. perfect fit...



04-25-2010, 2:26 PM
started on the rear fender..

i wanted good structural support for it, since its goign to hold a sissy bar and seat for my daughter to ride with me..

in case i didnt mention it in a previous post, i picked htis fender up at a local feed store for 6 bucks. its a two side rounded trailer fender. was the last one they had, and it was on clearance..

i had to do a bit of hammering to get it to match the tire, but in the end i think i got it pretty close. and for six bucks, for a unique fender.. cant go wrong..



welded some tabs on the seat post, to mount the front of the fender to.





04-25-2010, 2:30 PM
made a temporary kickstand... i'll actually probably keep it, but find a better way to mount it..

in the meantime, its a 3/4" closed end wrench, with a 3/4" socket welded on the other end for a foot.

the closed end slips over my 3/4' axle nuts, and then just lean the bike over. its extremely sturdy. when i hop back on the bike, i just stand it up, and reach back and grab the wrench.

i think im gonna make a sleeve to slide it into, with a button strap, like a gun holster, to hold it.

and then i have a kickstand.. or, in need of emergency, i have a built in lug wrench... or... if some asshole pisses me off at a red light.. i could always use it to bust out his window :D :D :D lmao


04-25-2010, 2:33 PM
my buddy and i were in a goofy mood.. might have been the dominican rum.. might have been the beer... but whichever it was... it caused us to build an "OCC" bike...

i think i'll add this to my portfolio, and send it to OCC and see if i can get a job with them, after displaying to hem my AMAZING fabrication skills..

yes sir folks....

this bike has now become a local 242 PIPEFITTERS UNION Tribute Bike




04-25-2010, 2:36 PM
alright.. back to business..

started on the sissy bar, and figuring where the seat will be..






i still have some leather left from the seat. so the plan to is make a double layer foam seat and backpad just like i did for my saddle, and then wrap and stitch in the same leather, and same stitch.. ie: all 3 matching components.

04-25-2010, 2:44 PM
i wasnt really feeling the tall sissy bar.. seemed like maybe it was jsut a tad bit too high...

well, the first time i went to get on the bike, wasnt paying attention, and racked my shin on that bar, and split my leg opened, made up my mind for me..

after laying on the ground for about a half hour holding my shin and crying like a baby, i pulled it back in the garage and promptly cut it down A LOT.




thats it for today...

i have also been reading on forums how to jet and sync carbs.. so earlier this week i had a friend loan me a carbsync mannometer, and i went ahead and got the carbs synced up myself, instead of paying a mechanic to do it. and once i saw how easy it was to jet carbs, i decided to tackle that myself as well. so i ordered up some jets. stockers are 110. and common reccomendation seems to be 2 steps goign up to 120's. so to be safe, i ordered 115, 120, and 125.. so at least if i need to do some tweaking, i wont have to wait for them to arrive. they were only 2 bucks each.

and now that the jets are finally here, i'll be jetting the carbs monday and hopefully the weathers permits me to ride it and see how it turns out.

i leave on thursday to fly back down to the , so i probably wont get much done this week other than jettign the carbs...

04-25-2010, 7:47 PM
Looks awesome. Post which jets you decided to go with. I have a DOHC 750 as well and it runs like crap with pods..too much air and I'm running 120's.

Great build!

04-25-2010, 9:51 PM
Lot of progress, and looking good. I need to get off my ass and get to it. The new pictures have given me good ideas for some problems I've run into with mine.

Looks awesome. Post which jets you decided to go with. I have a DOHC 750 as well and it runs like crap with pods..too much air and I'm running 120's.

Great build!

Try the 110/75 combo and a little bit of tape on the tip of the pods. Will cut down on the airflow and let you run smaller jets.

04-26-2010, 8:39 PM
Wow, I just found this thread and read it from the begininng to the end (and it only took me an hour), The only concluision I can come up with is WOW... This ike gives me some awesome idears for my honda CX project coming up in the next month or so... If I can ever finish my Kawasaki Vn750 Rat project.

06-04-2010, 2:58 PM
How long is THIS trip to the D.R.?!?!

06-30-2010, 1:35 PM
sorry for the long delay between posts folks.

was down in the DR for a little while. still working on a few different deals down there.

basically, im trying to get my hands on a restaurant with attached 6-12 room hotel. nothing major, just a small slice of my own pie.

there are several that i'm interested in, but it will probably be at least 4 years before i make the move.

meanwhile, back here at home, i just sold my pizza shop :(

the location was not, the one i wanted from the get go, but the franchisor that it would be perfect, so we rolled with it. but the location has never been what we hoped it would be.

basically it made just enough to take care of itself, but after three years, still no profit. were it not for me working 50 hours a week, and paying collecting a paycheck from the store, i never would have made any money at all.

so, been looking for a buyer for about a year now, finally had one come along. not a great deal, but good enough. basically, sold it for what i still owe, and walked away. it really was about the best i was gonna get. i made a few grand on top, but nothing to compensate for all i put into it. but at least this way, all the loans are paid, and i was able to walk away without losing my credit, my house, etc...

many aren't so fortunate in this economy. i know too many people that have gone belly up, shut down the business, but still owe on all the loans. at least i was able t owalk away clean, having lost nothing but three years of time and effort. and even thats not a loss, it was a great experience, and prepared me for future endeavors.

anyway, on paper, everything was taken care of. the only thing that was verbal, was that i would stay on as the hired general manager and continue to run the place. dumbass. i should have had that in paper too.

sealed the deal on friday afternoon. all papers signed, money changed hands, etc...

tuesday morning, new owner let me know he didnt nee me to run the store. and fired me !!! lmao.

so i went from owning the place for three years. (and i built it. when i leased the location, it was a dirt floor. we built it from the ground up.) to getting fired three days after selling it. how how life can be so surprising at times.

so now i'm unemployed. enough cash to last me about 2 months before i need to be worried.

anyway.... i'm sure most of you came here to read about the bike, not my life story....

been working on it.. little by little. but not as much as in the winter... i've been too busy RIDING IT !!!!

i'll post up some more pics here in a few minutes...

06-30-2010, 7:44 PM
so, when i posted last, i was going to attempt to jet the carbs.

the jets came in, and i tackled that task.. having never done it before i was a bit nervous, until i actually pulled the carbs, and saw how simple it was going to be..... well, how simple the act of changing them was.. getting them right, would turn out to be another story altogether !! lol

so i figured i would start off first, with upping the main jets 2 steps. from 110 to 120. the i put it all backtogether and went for a ride or two. it helped a little, but i still had some fuel starving at low 1/3 to 1/2 throttle.

so, after a bit more research, i learned that there are pilot jets too !!

so, i asked my guy to order me up some pilot jets. the stockers are 45. so i asked him to order me 50, 55, 60, and 65..

then i left for my trip.

when i returned, i still didnt have my jets. i asked him what was up, and he said that he didnt order them because i was on vacation... wtf !?!? i specifically ordered them before because i knew it would take him a week to place the order and it would take a week for them to get here from california. and here, he waited. so now im home, ready to ride, and im looking at a 2 week wait to ride. damn.

so, i headed on over to harbor freight and picked up some micro drill bits. figured what the hell, i'll just drill out the stock jets myself. at least it will let me know if thats gonna fix the problem while i wait for him to get my new jets ordered.

the smallest bit in the kit was .5mm... it work, but i think it was probably a bit too large. it fixed the problem, but now im running rich. real rich.

i get black plugs now, instead of white. and my exhaust is pretty dark. almost soot-like coming out the back of the pipes... but my buddy said rich is better than lean.

so i've been riding it like that for the past couple weeks. STILL waiting on replacement pilot jets. i've also now gotten a chance to get to know the bike a little more, and at about 3/4 throttle, or better yet, around 5000rpm, or 50-60mph i get a lean spot. so im gonna bump the main jets up to 125 and see what that does. just been trying to hold off and wait for the pilots to get here so i dont have to keep taking the carbs on and off every other day.

had the bike on the highway last week for 120 mile round trip ride. pushed it a little up to 85. it has more in it, last year we had it at 105. but ya know, i am more than comfortable at 70-80. i'm almost 40, i aint got nothing to prove, and no reason to go over 80-85 and get out of my comfort level. but its nice to know the bike can still get up there, after all the crap i;ve done to it.

i've alos notice that gas mileage went right on out the window as well. i used to get 130 miles to reserve, on a highway ride. and about 110-120 on city driving. but now, i'm getting 87 to reserve on highway, and about 65-70 on city riding. now, i had to do a little math... i have a 3.2 gallon tank.i used to be able to put 3.0 gallons in once i hit reserve, which means i was using all but .2 gallons. but with the raised angle on the backbone, and the position of the petcock i am now only able to put in 2.5 gallons. which means i've lots 1/2 gallon of usage. but it also means that i was getting 40-43 mpg before, and now im only getting 26-34mpg. thats a huge loss in my opinion.

i'm no expert, and still learning this stuff, but i cant belive that air pods and straight pipes would cause me to lose that much gas mileage. so im guessing it must be because im running so rich right now. which is from drilling out those pilot jets with that .5mm microbiit. so, we'll see how the gas mileage changes after the replacements jets get here for the pilots..... still waiting.....

06-30-2010, 8:35 PM
so, who's ready for some more pics...

i decided a little while back that the look i was going for, was kind of an old unkept rusty bike.

the idea was too strip all the paint off the tins, and get a day or two of surface rust, and then flat clear powder coat over the top.

i apologize, for some reason i never took any pics, but i did strip all the paint off the tank, and let it and the rear fender rust over quite a bit.

and the result, was that it looked like crap and i did NOT like it !!!

then my powdercoater (sisters boyfriend) suggested stripping down to bare metal and getting it shiny, then clear coat over that.

well, i stripped it down, sanded it up shiny... and.... did NOT like it..

i knew i didnt want to do go the whole flat black route that so many people take. but its been killing me trying to figure out what i wanted in the way of color. so, this past weekend, i took a ride down to walmart and jsut stared at the paint for about an hour. i finally walked away with a color, i wasnt too sure if i was going to like it, but i wanted something on "just for now"

well... turns out, i really liked it !!!

nothing fancy. nice and simple. and it worked. others might like a different color, or not like this one, but i'm riding it, and i'm really loving the color. it actually even feels like im riding a different bike. really gave me a whole new attitude towards the scoot.

anyway.... i guess pictures are better than words.......

06-30-2010, 8:57 PM
well, before i get to the paint pics....

my daughters seat needed some leather on it, because that blue foam just looked nasty. lol.

so i pulled out the pieces i still had left.. and both were too small for the seat parts !!!

took a ride down to the dealer i got the leather from in the first place, and he said he didnt have any more of it. nor did he have any at all.

so for the time being (i'll explain why later) i just shot over to joanne fabrics and picked up some pretty close matching marine vinyl for now. it's a close match, not perfect, but it'll work for now. and the best part was that it was 2.50 versus the 60 i paid for the leather on my seat.





i stitched it up with the same string i used on my seat, and did the same stitch patterns, to make them match better.

06-30-2010, 9:05 PM
ok, let me get to these painted pics before someone shoots me for false advertisement :) lol

so.. the color i walked away with from walmart....... cream. yeah, i said it. cream.

i was originally going to get hot pink. or purple. just so i could see the looks on peoples faces when i was out riding. because you kow there would be people that would think "wow, look at that bald, tattood, 200 pound dude on that PINK chopper" but how many would be too SCARED to say something !! lol

but, they didnt have any hot pink or a purple that i liked (thank god lol)

then i just started thinking simple... white was too white. tan was too similar to the seat. so then i thought about the cream... and i love it.





06-30-2010, 9:09 PM
and as you can see... these pics demonstrate why i had an urgent need to get the rear seat covered !!



06-30-2010, 9:20 PM
here's the rest of the rear seat. had to do these out of order, cus you eagle eyes would have spotted the cream fender :)



and here is the semi finished product. i say semi because this is still only rattle can. i'll ride it a bit, and if i decide to stick with the color then i've got a buddy that paints cars for a living, i'll hand the tins over to him or real paint. but probably not till this winter.. i wanna ride this summer !!! in the meantime, im just being REAL careful when i fill up so i dont drip any gas on the tank. i'm also thinking about a simple tribal pinstrip design on the tank in a tan color to match the seats.






so, when i painted the tins, i did it in the garage one night, and it was raining.. so i had the bike in the garage too, and got overspray that settled onto my seat. so i tried to clean it off the next day with some degreaser. didnt work. tried some mineral spirits. didnt work. tried some lacquer thinner. worked. too well. it pulled some of the dye out of the seat.. and... it worked.. lol.. i actually like the almost aged look that it did to the seat. and yes, i tried it on the vinyl rear seat, but to no avail, didnt work. lol.


06-30-2010, 9:38 PM
today i painted the shift and brake linkages for the forward controls. painted those black, they are out in the garage drying. also pulled the front chrome fender, and sanded it down, and hit it with some of the cream paint to match the rest of the tins.

and btw, since i didnt mention it...

even though the tins are painted with rattle can, i still put a little effort into them.

sanded the fenders and tank with 150, 200, and 320.

then 2 coats of self etching primer

then 2 coats of primer

then a coat of primer sealer

then 3 coats of the color.

its all gonna come off and get paitned with real paint. but not till this winter, so i wanted to make sure the paint lasted at least till then.

also, the seats, are probably going to be temporary.

the night before we left for this past trip to the DR, my ex brother in law/business partner at the pizza shop/ travel wingman went to a silent auction for breast cancer charity. he got drunk and started bidding on a custom bike seat. then won. and then remembered that he doesnt have a bike !! lol

so he gave the winnings to me.

its a company in michigan called "bad ass bike seats"

i was reluctant at first, because i really have some pride in my seat since i built it. (even though it is NOT comfortable AT ALL)

but once i contacted the dude, i found out that he doesnt make seats.. he recovers your existing seat. (pics on his website, show some nice work)

so, im gonna make new seats for the bike. POSSIBLY a king and queen, but more than likely still two separate front and rear seats. but i am definately going to hardmount both, and spend a little more time researching seat foams and more time shaping the pan and the seat, etc... and then hand it over to them for the coverings.

but again.. thats one of those things im not rushing into.. if im gonna do a new seat, and its gonna be professionaly covered, i want the base to be the best i can make it.

of course, i am still waiting to find a good deal on a BIG round headlight to replace the square one. and i still need to relocate all the fuse stuff down to the electrical case. but again, that can wait till this winter when i dont have to worry about actually riding the bike.

07-01-2010, 6:42 AM
I really like how this is going. Good call on getting a round headlight, I think it will flow a lot better. I would get rid of/downsize the dash too, but thats my opinion. Good luck dialing in the carbs, and keep up the good work, now youve got time without a pizza joint over your head.

07-01-2010, 8:39 AM
I really like how this is going. Good call on getting a round headlight, I think it will flow a lot better. I would get rid of/downsize the dash too, but thats my opinion. Good luck dialing in the carbs, and keep up the good work, now youve got time without a pizza joint over your head.

yeah, the roundlight has been on the list since the bike started. i jsut dont feel the rectangle at all.

the dash will eventually go away. but to do it..... im gonna rig up a neutral light on the bars, or in the top of the headlight. just a little green led. since this bike wont start, if its not in neutral. and then i'm gonna use just the speedo, and center mount it. unless i ditcch that too. but probably going to keep it. and then i plan to move the key down onto the frame, probably under the seat.

there is a LOT of wiring up there going into and out of the dash. so that project is going to wait till winter, when the tins are being painted. because i dont want to tackle any projects that will cause the bike to be down this summer when i've got riding weather.

i'm also CONSIDERING some short 12" apes. but those will require new brake and clutch lines... both of which are hydraulic. so i'm not sure how difficult that will be to find. and of course the dual, push pull throttle cable. but that SHOULD be easy enough to get my hands on. i'm more concerned with the brake and clutch cables though, since they are hydro not cable.

thanks for the comment!

07-01-2010, 8:54 AM
Yea, the dash can be a bitch. Trying to pull a frankenstein on a 20 year old wiring harness.
My virago was trouble, but I think mostly because they grouped wires together in weird patterns. Kept alot of the jumble in the headlight and a little box behind it. I ditched the speedo and tach and went with a schwinn bicycle computer. It was good up to 99mph, and from what I read, you dont go over 85, so no big.
I said it earlier, those nighthawks are FUGLY, but youre making this one pretty money.

07-01-2010, 3:20 PM
got the front fender painted cream.

shift and brake linkages painted black.

and threw on a front bag.



07-19-2010, 12:08 AM
so, its time for another update.

since i'm now unemployed, i did what any unemployed person would do, that has no clue when they will be back to work.......

i headed back down to the dominican republic for another week of fun in the sun :roflmao:

before i left, i bought an old fat 8" headlight and ears off grubbs, he shipped it, but i was already down on the island by time it got here. so, i had a nice little project waiting for me today when i got home...

my daughter pulling off the handlebars, so i can pull the upper tree.



bars and upper tree, removed, luckily the ears fit :) the new light is off an xs1100, so i wasnt sure, but its a near perfect fit.




the ears fit, but there was just a hair of a gap between the upper tree, and the ears. so a quick trip to lowes for some 1.5" rubber plumbing washers/gaskets, took care of that problem. now the rubber spacers can absorb vibrations, and prevent the ears from sliding up and down on the upper forks.


and, the completed headlight.



i still have plans to remove the dash assembly in the near future as well.

but for now, the light gave me exactly the look i hoped it would.

07-19-2010, 12:13 AM
here's a few pics from before the trip...

my daughter and i headed out to bike night. stopped at the gas station.. i came out to this .......


as cute as this picture is, i think it confirmed that she will not be able to take over this bike next summer. i think im gonna have to get and get my figners on a rebel 250 for her, and built it brat style, keeping the entire suspension, but doing some customizing to get a lower seat height, and a cooler, look for her.


07-19-2010, 12:20 AM
and, the night before i left for the dr, my buddy and i went to a cruise in, and before we left, we made a little video, so ya'll could see and hear the bike in live action.

:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_M0b2Gi_0Y :)

i am definately going to change the exhaust. possibly a 4-1, with mufflers.

07-20-2010, 3:38 PM
that is you of the nicest hawk i have seen...real classly...

07-30-2010, 9:57 PM
I've been meaning to come back and check this thread for a while. The bike turned out great.

08-01-2010, 9:25 AM
yeah, i think this bag and three link wil lset the bike apart from others for sure.

some bikers might wonder why i would use such a big bag... but i think my minitrucks buds are just gonna "get it"

do all minitruckers end up building bikes later on?.....i own and operate www.gravity-werx.com and now i am into metric bikes hardcore....havent had a bagged truck in about a year but kinda not into it right now....

08-11-2010, 6:07 AM
do all minitruckers end up building bikes later on?.....i own and operate www.gravity-werx.com and now i am into metric bikes hardcore....havent had a bagged truck in about a year but kinda not into it right now....

Haha Yup we do went from 3 bagged 80's toyota's a bagged 67 caddy and now im a xs650 freak!

08-12-2010, 5:05 PM
Man your scoot is coming out pretty gnarley dude. Sorry to hear about your situation I recently lost my job too anyways great job hope to see more pics soon. Good luck

08-19-2010, 3:59 PM
i dont know wether to congratulate you or hate you!!
i have a 84' vt750 (very similar but with a v twin engine) been doing it up, and WAS quite pleased with it.


very nice job anyway, definatly a few ideas im going to take with me,
ill be interested to see what you do with idiot lights and clock as im going to me doing that soon too.

08-22-2010, 9:25 AM
Little somethin that Slim , Me and another guy on this board are workin on presently, should be done in a month....and ya, its a 450 nighthawk.

http://img827.imageshack.us/img827/2640/img7060d.jpg (http://img827.imageshack.us/i/img7060d.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

07-18-2011, 5:51 PM
Just went through all the posts. man excellent work

07-23-2011, 12:40 AM
I just finished too Brandan. Took more than hour lol.

08-02-2011, 11:45 AM
I keep coming back to re-read this thread. Great little build.

05-31-2012, 4:02 PM
i like that you didnt just attach the frame rail to the shaft drive like everyone else does. im in the process of hard tailing my shaft and trying to figure out which route to take. yours looks the nicest of all that ive seen.

06-03-2012, 8:36 AM
:cheersmate: well done!

09-25-2014, 11:34 AM
Dude...I've been glued to this thread. I have an 85 cb650sc Nighthawk that's getting some love this winter. All of this is very inspinspiring. Thanks for a great job.

07-08-2018, 11:26 PM
I know this thread is old but DAMN! I had to say it turned out SWEEET!!!!!! Are you still around Teamnaptime??

07-11-2018, 8:10 PM
thanks for bumping this, i never would have seen it. fucking awesome nighthawk. i have an 82 650 that i love, but its no where near as clean and pretty as this one.

12-29-2018, 3:02 PM
goto tell you man this has been real informative just about to embark on a similar project with the 750 chain NH so pleased i seen this Top Man ..Nodz in Scotland