Penny-pinching car geek's guide to racing, track days, and car build. DIY projects, product reviews, and interviews.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! - Revival progress

When I got my bike, it looked bad.  Really bad.  Well, the bike was in a lot better shape than it looked, but regardless, it looked bad.

About to leave sweet sweet
Southern California :(
Earlier this month I finished my assignment in Los Angeles and drove back to D.C.  I didn't get to enjoy a few days in Florida since I had another short assignment starting, so I drove straight to D.C. after spending a night in Orlando.  Since I don't have a garage here in D.C. and it is fairly cold, I haven't done some of the more involved modifications just yet.  But here is a list of what I have done, mostly while I was in California.

1. Replaced gas tank with a non-rusted out one from a red hawk

2. Re-painted the shit green paint job on the rear fairing and front fender

3. Installed Delkevic shorty exhaust and UNI pod filters

4. Rejet with Factory Pro jet kit, cleaned carbs
Final setting: 162/160 mains (f/r), 42 pilots, 1st clip position on needle, 2.5 turns out on AFM

5. Cleaned up bike a little bit

Things still to be done

1. Install racing shock that I've bought

2. Install springs and emulators, and rebuild forks

3. Install frame sliders (on order)

4. Replace chain and sprockets - the current ones are actually okay, but I'd like a fresh start for 2015

I have a bunch of more posts to do.  I haven't done my Streets of Willow post, my Socal Supermoto post nor my how to do a really good rattle-can job post.

Anyways, here is how my bike looks like now:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

M1GP Mini Moto Clinic 11/22/14

I took the M1GP mini moto clinic about ten days ago on a Saturday.  It is an event run by Young Lee of M1GP.  The clinic mainly involves renting CRF50s and doing hot laps around a kart track, but there is some instruction involved.  I had an absolute blast.

There is much to learn about riding from this clinic.  First of all, it is an excellent tool to learn racecraft.  Passing, blocking, and other wheel to wheel related stuff can be practiced in relative safety.  It will be really hard to get seriously injured on these minibikes, so you can try some moves that you didn't have the guts to on a full sized bike. 

It will help with general riding too, especially if you are a beginner.  Body positioning is really important on these little bikes.  The short wheelbase makes front-rear balance very important, and the low position of the footpegs means that you really need to hang off the motorcycle to get your knee down, or else it is too easy to lever off the rear wheel while dragging a peg. 

You also have to be really smooth, as the inputs are amplified on little bikes.  It also punishes you for mistakes since the mini bikes have such little power.  You really have to carry momentum through the corners.

I am sure this isn't the right way to do it, but I went 'balls out.'  I ignored the usual steps I take when I get on a new machine or a new track.  It is the most aggressive I've ever been on two wheels.  I believe I crashed over three times, including one where I went right over the bike and into a hay bale.  Even at these low speeds, I was really glad I was wearing full leathers.  Another benefit of being able to push hard like this is learning how bikes behave at the limit, and how to correct it. It is probably a great place to work out your survival reactions.

You do stay quite busy on these bikes.  Kart tracks have a lot more corners packed onto the racetrack.  You'll constantly be moving around on the bike.  You can practice a lot of basics, such as looking ahead, hitting the apexes, and using all of the track. 

As the time of this writing, the entry fees are 50 dollars.  This includes the CRF50 rental.  While these rental bikes are relatively indestructible, if you destroy a bike or really break something, then you owe the cost of repairs. 

This event helped me plan out my two-wheel future.  I am going to either get an XR100 or a mini GP bike like the NSR50 or the new Kayo 125.  The XR100 allows for some really, really, cheap racing but I hear the replica racebikes will carry over to full sized bikes better.  I haven't made up my mind yet. 

If you want to try it out, please check out the facebook page linked in the first paragraph of this post.  I highly recommend it!

The group was much bigger (25 people, but plenty of seat time!), but we were the guys who perverted until the end of the day :)
Photo credit: Kevin Hipp

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bike is running! ..a bit rough.

A bunch of things happened since my last entry.  I haven't asked Moyers fuel tank repair to start work on my tank yet; I sourced a used one.  I really need to call them and tell them to get started; my rusted out tank has been sitting there for a month now. 

I got the Delkevic shorty silencer and the UNI pods installed.  Since I haven't opened a CV motorcycle carb in a long time, my friend and auto mechanic Jason Kwon came and helped me rejet the bike.  Actually, he did 90% of the work and I watched. 

For those who are curious, I'm running 162F, 160R main jets, 42 Pilots (stock size), 2nd notch in the needles (2nd from top; closest to stock height) with 2.5 turns out on the fuel mixture screw. 

I installed an aftermarket fuel pump.  The previous owner had installed a mystery fuel pump.  It wasn't even mounted.  Fuel lines were everywhere, sticking outside the frame.  That is bad.  In a crash, it would surely get cut and spray fuel everywhere.  I tidied all of that up, and found a cheap, small unit to run.

I did a few other things here and there.  Replaced float bowl gasket.  Tinkerd some more with the idle mixture screw.  In the end, I got the bike running well enough for me to ride to work.  Still, I was getting a lot of popping upon deceleration and my idle was rough.  My off-idle performance was crappy though it pulled hard throughout the rest of the rev range. 

Before I could get this sorted out, a funny thing happened today.  At the end of my 30 mile commute, when I got off the freeway, I noticed that my idle with the bike fully warmed up, was at 2200 RPMs.  I started turning out the idle stop screw to lower it.  I turned it out so much that it had effectively no idle.  I don't know what happened, but when I turned it back in, it settled at 1200 (perfect) and all of the previous problems were gone.  Great off-idle performance, no deceleration popping. 

Something definitely happened then.  I still haven't figured it out yet.  The only explanation I can think of is that something that was clogging up something in the carburetors is no longer clogging up that something.  Or a vacuum line got un-pinched. 

I'll make a separate post about the fuel pump install.  I'll also do a simple write up on which part of the carb is what, for complete n00bs so that they feel less intimidated with opening up the carbs. 

Things to do:
-Sand and paint rear fairing
-Obtain fairing stickers
-Change out front tire
-Bathe, polish, wax bike

After this, my bike will be ready for actual go-fast mods.  Before that I'm going to do a track day at Streets of Willow to do a baseline run.  This upcoming weekend I have a mini-motorcycle racing clinic, and a Supermoto school.  I am very excited!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Completely rusted out tank - Tank repair

This is a cheater post--no DYI projects here.  I bought my hawk for dirt cheap.  Dirt cheap for a hawk.  Most vintage bikes from the 80's will be worth about 1500 dollars in working, good condition.  My hawk was working, low mileage, but it had a completely rusted out tank.  I realized that when I picked at some bubbles on the paint with my fingernail; gas started pissing out.  Uh-oh.  Unfortunately it is super-hard to find an intact NT650 gas tank.

There are some options.  The most simple one is to get a tank off of a CBR600F2 or 600F3.  These
are widely available for cheap.  (Sub 100 on Ebay)  Put a modern Harley right side petcock, which is not vacuum operated--just like the Hawk-- and are universal.  By modern, I mean post 1975.  Put some spacers, extend the tabs, bolt on and widen your seat.  Done!  However, I won't be going that route. 

On an NT650, you have this tiny 3 gallon tank.  Which means you can go 150 miles on a trip.  That is another reason people install the F2/F3 tank; its bigger.

One great thing about this small tank is that it is super narrow.  This is the primary reason I will not be going with an F2/F3 tank.  Also, I love the looks of the stock tank.

I don't have any exterior photos of the tank, but here is what it looks like on the inside:
The horror!! The horror!!
What it is is an epic crap POR-15 coating.  So what will I do?

Fortunately I found these guys:
They'll take the tank, sand-blast the outer surface to get all of the paint off.  Then they'll bake it to burn out the previous coating.  They'll cut a hole in the tank to sandblast the inside as well.  Any pinholes (which I have plenty of) in the tank that go through the tank walls will be filled in, any parts of the tank that need welding will be welded in.  The inside will be coated with a badass proprietary coating and the outside will get a few coats of primer.  Apparently the tank will never rust again. 

I am not bad at rattle can paint jobs.  I did side covers on my old '72 scrambler and it looked glorious.  I'm going to do the same to this tank.  I'm thinking about a crazy color like yellow or a light orange, but I have a feeling that darker colors contrast better with the aluminum frame.  I'll keep you guys posted. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I am back! New project- Honda Hawk GT NT650 (RC31)

Well, a long time has gone by since my last entry.  I am 29, single again, and I've relocated to the Washington, D.C. area.  I took a few years off of motorsports, except for the few kart rental races I've done at Orlando Karting Center.  I have steadier income now, so I wanted to get back into motorsports.

Honda CL450 Scrambler
Before I moved to this area, which I did two months ago, I lived in Orlando, Florida.  Even though I Cafe Moto group.  Cafe Moto is one of the biggest vintage motorcycle clubs in the USA.  I rode a 1972 Honda CL450 Scrambler, then a 1982 CB750SC Nighthawk.  (I think that second link is pretty funny.)  Besides that, back in law school and before I started the LoHP Miata project, I dabbled in motorcycle track days.  I also rode motorcycles before I did my first moto-track day.
haven't been on the motorsports scene, I still got my gasoline kicks with the

So it is appropriate for me to return to motorcycle track days.  I bought the ultimate modern hipster-motorcycle, and a great beginner racing bike that you do not grow out of.  The Honda Hawk GT, also known as the NT650 RC31.  This is a lightweight, small, single side swingarm (SSA or SSSA as my old autocross friend Mike calls it, for Sexy Single Side Swingarm) bike.  This is by far the best handling motorcycle I've been on.  It is very easy to get into turns, and I imagine its cornering speeds are high.

Yours truly.  This bike actually needs a LOT of work.

I have project goals as well.  Of course, first and foremost is to make myself a faster rider.  But the other, more tangible and less wishy-washy goal is to build a street-track dual purpose bike.  Eventually, and hopefully within a few years, the bike will have fairings and will be raced in vintage motorcycle series.

The gist of it is to build a bike that will fly around a track, but is easily converted back into streetable form.  I have very interesting ideas to execute.  For example, a high priority on this project is to make it as easy and least time consuming as possible to get the bike ready for the track.

Anyways, I hope this blog continues to be read.  I apologize for the huge gap of absence and the abrupt change in the theme (4 wheels to 2 wheels), but I don't think I'll disappoint you with the contents.

PS: The Nighthawk is for sale.  Kept indoors in Orlando, FL.  17k miles, just had valve adjustment done with new chain and sprockets.  The only real blemish is in the right side of the tank.  Dented in from when I dropped it on my truck bed.  Oops. 

Till next time,