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New to the Site, Starting My First Cafe Build

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Tony Simmers, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. Tony Simmers

    Tony Simmers XS400 New Member

    Hey all!
    Name is Tony, and I just got picked up an 81 Yamaha XS400 Special. Looking to do a cafe racer build. I will be the first to admit I am very mechanically inclined, just not super experienced with motorcycles. I have owned 3 previously in my life, and this would be my 4th. I am a fairly decent fabricator so the body/tank/frame work doesn't worry me. However, due to my lack of experience, I am a little hesitant when it comes to the geometry, fork angles, stance, etc. Hence the reason I am here...lol. I am hoping to avoid any potential costly mistakes and/or unforeseen safety issues. This is to be a gift for a female friend of mine. (We won't tell her that I am going to get the mistakes out of the way on her bike, so when I build my xs650 Cafe Racer, I will know what I am doing...lol) So in conclusion, thanks in advance for any info, tips, tricks, good-hearted trash talking, ideas, advice, or input!!!
  2. motoTrooper

    motoTrooper XS400 Addict

    Welcome Tony, very nice of you wanting to make a gift for your friend. The XS400 is a great, enjoyable bike that (for me at least) has been reliable, easy to service, and fun to modify. If I were making a bike for a friend or anyone for that matter, safety and reliability would be first and foremost priority. To that end, I would set about making the braking and suspension systems as good as possible along with quality tires.

    When disassembling the bike down to its components to clean and refurbish, on old cycles I like to let the wiring sit out in the sun to warm up and be as flexible as possible before disconnecting and removing and the same when pulling back out of a storage tub before reinstalling.

    Being in Wyoming, there shouldn't be too much rust and corrosion on the bike but removing the swingarm pivot bolt can sometimes be problematic if it was never lubed. Also speaking of bolts and nuts get a torque wrench, people often think that they need to gorilla nuts and bolts together on motorcycles which can be just as destructive as leaving them loose. There is a downloadable service manual or I can send my copy to you if you want.

    Cosmetically it should be very simple to cafe the XS without needing to change any of the geometry of the frame. It is important that the bike fits the rider though and comfort is second to safety. So have a think about any kind of super low clip-on handlebars. I have seven bikes and I find comfort often surpasses appearances when I pick one to ride.

    Jeez, I'm writing a freakin' novel here. Just share some photos and ideas and we'll try to help!

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