Welcome to the honda shadow bobber build. Watch a couple of crazies grind on a 1993 honda shadow VLX VT600C while we try to convert it into a bobber without using kits, and trying our best to recycle all of the original parts, team Rossi style.
Here we have a 1993 Honda Shadow VLX VT600C that my cousin bought off some guy. My cousin wanted to get it running so I told him I wouldn't mind helping him out since I'm always looking for something to wrench on. The photo below was taken the day the bike was dropped off at my place. The bike wasn't really that bad looking, although I do suppose this picture does do it some justice...
So, the bike didn't run, the tires needed air and the front brake was dragging, which made moving it a royal pain in the ass, legs, arms, back, feet and soul. Shes a real piece of work.
Anyhow, a few days ago I mentioned this bike to my buddy, Jarrod, because he needed a ride, and it wasn't long after that when he made the decision to purchase it. Jarrod, of course, also decided that keeping the bike stock would be taking the easy way out...
Let's back up a bit to the day the bike was dropped off at my place.
I eventually got the bike rolled in to my garage (remember the front brake?) and started to give it a quick inspection. A few obvious problems didn't require inspecting anything really, like the front brake dragging, the fact that the bike didn't run and the overall condition of the bike, i.e. a tattered seat cover and a gas tank that looked like the previous owner had some sort of argument with, because it was, and still is, dented to hell and back.
Digging a little deeper, the bike started to reveal itself to me a bit more. The tires had a serious case of dry rot, the battery wouldn't hold a charge at all, and the throttle was sticking so bad that it wouldn't return when you released it. Easy stuff to fix I suppose, and new tires on a bike this used would be a sure fire purchase, regardless of who ended up with the bike, be it my cousin, or its not known then future owner, Jarrod.
Quick fixes - Cables, battery, front brake and more!
The first thing I did to this bike was release some pressure on the front brake so I could move the sonofabitch around without throwing out my entire body. To do that, I simply opened the bleeder valve to release some pressure. I didn't care about air or anything like that going back into the brake system, I just wanted this bitch to move around easier. I can fix that later.
After the brake was released a bit, and I could roll the bike around, I wanted to try and get the throttle to work properly. It was the quickest fix on the list, and I enjoy instant gratification, so I got at it.
Tackling the throttle turned out to be just as easy as I was planning it to be, and I was glad, because most of the time shit doesn't work out that easy for me.
First thing I did was take the throttle apart and then I took both the push and pull cables off of it and instantly noticed that someone greased the shit out of both the throttle grip assembly, and both of the cables. Whoever greased this thing used some sort of heavy duty grease used for industrial equipment or some shit. It was pretty thick stuff. Not sure why someone would do this, but I've seen stupider things done by smarter people.
So, it was obvious that the grease was gumming up the works, so I cleaned it all out of the cables using some plastic safe solvent and then re lubricated them. A temporary fix until the owner of the bike puts monies towards new ones.
Aren't they just beautiful? They should work a lot better now that they aren't packet with bearing grease, or whatever the hell was in there.
After the cables were up and running again, I cleaned the handlebar and throttle grip of all the greasy evil and re-lubricated it (properly), then reassembled it.
I didn't take a photo of the cables and throttle grip back on the bike, but to spare you the suspense, it worked out just fine. The throttle went from feeling like it had a mixture of sand and syrup in it, to having a nice and snappy (and safe) return when released. Hooray! It now works the way it is suppose to!
APOLOGY: I replaced the battery on the bike but I didn't take photos of me going to walmart, buying a replacement battery, removing the old one, and installing the new one, so anyone who stumbled across this blog hoping to read about a guy's adventure in replacing the battery on a 1993 Honda Shadow VLX will be pretty disappointed, and for that, I am sorry.
Lets fire her up!
After the battery was replaced, I was able to fire the bike up and try to diagnose the problems that my cousin said it had. Once the bike fired up, and I must say, it fired right up and idled just fine, I quickly noticed that once you pulled back on the throttle the engine would die. Something was wrong, obviously, as we pretty much all know that this isn't the normal operations of a motorcycle. I'm not a genius when it comes to engines and mechanics, but I do know enough to know that an engine requires a few things to run. Fuel, air and spark. Of course it gets more detailed than that, but we know that the bike is idling just fine, so we will troubleshoot the more obvious things first.
Not so quick fixes - The Carburetor, and my battle to remove it.
My first guess as to why the bike wasn't running properly was the bike wasn't getting enough fuel, and the carburetors are probably funked up pretty bad. My cousin mentioned to me that the bike has been sitting for quite some time, plus the bike is old and doesn't look like it had much work done to it, if any at all, so who knows. Hell, I just went straight for the carbs, it seemed logical at the time.
Removing the carbs was a pain in the ass. After removing all of the intake shit, the airbox and hoses, etc, I got to the rubber boots that hold the carb on. The rubber boots that hold the carbs on, shown in the photo below, were so fucking void of whatever chemicals they put in rubber that makes it nice and rubbery, that these bastards were just solid plastic. After battling with busted knuckles and trying my hardest to get the carbs separated from these evil tubes of annoying, I finally decided that I would have to cut one of them off, so I did just that. With a utility blade, I CAREFULLY cut through enough of the rubber, making sure not to go through and hit metal. Once I was 95% through the boot, a tug or two with some needle nose pliers and I had it separated. Like I mentioned earlier, the boots were plastic now instead of rubber, so I wasn't really able to pull them off, even with a slit straight through the damn thing, but it gave me just enough relief to pull the carbs off.
Below is a photograph to visually help those who don't give a shit about reading my blog, but are still interested enough to see how thing will turn out. Behold!
Once the carburetor assembly was removed from the Honda Shadow, I took it over to the work bench and prepped it for surgery. After taking so long to remove them from the bike and get them on my bench, I was pretty anxious to take these babies apart and see what she looked like inside. Here are a few pictures I took to help me reassemble everything later on down the road.
The carburetor assembly looks decent enough from the outside I suppose...
Here is a "T" that pretty much crumbled on me when I tried to take the lines off of it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy about that at all. Luckily, autozone had some replacements.
The time finally came to tear into the carburetors, so I didn't hesitate to do it. I figured whatever was causing the bike to die out, must in the carbs, perhaps a clogged jet or two, or something similar at least. Nothing would have prepared me for the grit and garbage that I unleashed when I removed the float bowl. Now, I'm not sure if this is normally what an old carb looks like, and hell, maybe some of you are thinking, wow, thats actually a pretty clean carburetor, but to me, I was pretty blown away that the bike fired up and held an idle with what looks to me like straight up dirt clogging every orifice possible.
Yummy, yummy and more yummy. It makes me fuzzy inside to think that a carburetor can damn near almost function properly with this much dookie in them.
How to rebuild the carburetors on a 1993 Honda Shadow
Ok, so that heading is completely misleading. I didn't document the cleaning of the carburetors, nor the rebuild that I did on them. I am truly and honestly sorry for that. Curse me out if you want to, because I deserve it. It's just that sometimes you don't remember to take photos of everything you're doing because you're too busy doing the things that require taking photos of.
Anyhow, after the carbs were cleaned, and the rebuild kits were installed, I readied the carbs for re-assembly. Here is a few after shots of them. Looks a bit better, I think.
The gunk in there permanently pitted the float bowl, there wasn't much I could do for that.
Here are some fresh new boots, nice and squishy, just the way they are suppose to be! Should make for less leaking, and much easier assembly than the pain in the ass disassembly.
Once all of the work was done to the carbs, and everything was put back together, the bike fired up and would now run. I took it for a few laps around the neighborhood just to see if anything catastrophic would happen, but it didn't, although the bike had a slight misfire in the rear jug. A problem that would later haunt us.
Day 1: Time to chop!
We started day one knowing that we wanted to grind and cut stuff, so it wasn't long before we were doing just that...
When Jarrod brought the bike by today he had the rear fender, tail light, turn signals and license plate already removed from the bike which saved a little bit of time on day 1 and made it easier to concentrate on what we were going to cut off.
The decision to cut the rear fender support was an easy decision to make since it wouldn't be much of a bobber if the rear fender was still on the bike, so thats what we decided on doing.
We marked the bike using electrical tape where we wanted our cuts and decided to try our luck at slicing this thing up. We initially tried a dremmel which I know is hilarious, but hell, it would have worked if we were patient enough to go at it a few days.
After quickly realizing that the tools in my garage weren't suffice to cut through the frame, we borrowed a cut off / grinder and continued on our way.
A couple of rubber welcome mats to protect the rear tire, which really isn't needed considering we plan on getting new tires, but that's quite alright, because it makes us feel like professionals.
Above is a shot of our welcome mat concept bike. We are still working out the bugs, but I think its going to be a real head turner.
After finally gathering enough balls to make the most important cut of the build, we decided to just go for it. It wasn't as bad as we were expecting, although I have to admit that it was a little intimidating but in the end everything worked out just fine, and I didn't even have to use my A K; today was a good day.
After the fender support was removed, we had to move on to the seat which looked pretty shitty and wouldn't really work with what we were going for. Unfortunately I didn't take a photo of what the seat pan looked like before it was hacked up, but I did manage to take a picture of what it looked like mid way through. Behold:
The seat pan was slowly formed to our liking and had a pretty good look to it when it was all said and done, but there was one issue. If you were to sit on it, you would fall into the "danger zone", and get your shit ripped up pretty good to say the least. Not exactly what we were going for, so we had to do some quick improvising.
After searching around the garage for an answer, we came across a few L brackets that were just lying around. They were strong, hurricane rated brackets which seemed safe enough for what we were going to use them for, so we said screw it and went for it. If they can withstand hurricanes, they should be able to save us from the danger zone... right?
Anyhow, here is what we ended up with. Sorry for not showing you how we did this, but I'm sure that you get the idea.
Once the seat mount was done, we re-covered the seat pan. It isn't the best job in the world, and we know this. Lets just say that its the look we were shooting for... Ok?
Notice the fancy mounting position of the tail light? Yep, that's the original tail light, recycled. Most guys go out and buy a new tail light just for shit like this, but with a custom made bracket and some ice cold beer, anything is possible. Not only does it look cool, it costs $0.00!
Testing the light... Looks nice and works well!
The rear end is almost complete so lets get a few test shots of how a rider will look on it.
Eventually we will probably put clip on bars, since the stance fits the bike a lot better than the bars currently on the shadow.
Painting and other interesting steps
Now that the frame and seat is done, it's time to tackle the wheels, tank, and misc parts, so we got started on disassembling them.
She's not very good looking at this stage:
Painting the secondary tank red. The idea that we are shooting for is a rugged, antique look using the original black as the bottom coat, a red as the second coat, and an eggshell style white as the primary top coat. We will then gently sand down exposing the red, and black giving the tank an interestingly worn look. Or so we think.
The red tank... Actually looks cool as is. A damn good choice of red.
Off white top coat. Another damn good choice of color here.
Here are just a few miscellaneous parts drying.
Honda Shadow Exhaust Mod
Ok so initially we wanted to cut the baffles out of the stock pipes to give the bike a decent sound, without being too loud, but after having some issues, to say the least, we ended up cutting those bastards clean off and running straight pipes. The end result was a bit quieter than we were expecting so we were happy.
After cutting the pipes, Jarrod double wrapped those bastards with some quality header wrap. Looks good!
The finished product, the 1993 Honda Shadow VLX VT600c Bobber!
The time has come to bring this thing to an end, so here are a few photos to show the end result!
Well my friends, it was a fun ride getting this thing from point A to point B, and I must say, it was a blast doing it.
I'd like to say thanks to the guys who read through this and enjoyed it, we appreciate the love. I would also like to say, to all of the "serious riders" out there, and to all of the "OEM or DIE" crowd, you guys need to live a little. Try to go against the grain once or twice in your life, you might actually like it. And besides, if it wasn't for guys like us trying something new, guys who look at something and say, "Hey, what if this looked like this instead of this?", we would still be sitting around camp fires throwing stones at each other, wondering how we are going to kill our next meal.
Shut up and ride,