El Cheapo

El Cheapo

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Man, we've been swapping bikes around here likes wives at a swinger's club! I got the pan about 85% where I wanted it and my good friend Kim decided he was looking for a swingarm panhead and we made a deal. I should probably regret that but it helped me get rid of some debt, make it through Christmas and pick up two new projects. With that and the unit Triumph gone, I'm kind of sad, but motivated to tear into these next two.

Remind me again why I agreed to sell this thing? Oh well, Kim will treat it right and is very capable. I'm really interested to see what it evolves into with his attention to detail and patience.

The first is Project El Cheapo. Now it ain't cheap compared to McGoo's basket case CB450 he's starting, but compared to a lot of stuff out there it is reasonably affordable. Not everyone can afford a bitchin' Knuckle, and modern sportsters are a dime a dozen, so I thought I'd take a crack at one of those. We're working on a couple parts that'll help make these often looked-down on wife bikes cool. Hell, McGoo has built two cool sportys, the quad cam bastards show that it can be done a hundred different ways and even Sonny Barger rode one, so shut up.

The Donor Bike.

The goal is this; Zero to Hero in under $5,000. Totally possible, even with me, the worst wrench in the building in charge. I am not a bike builder, just a graphic designer with a motorcycle problem, so if I can do it, anyone can. The basic idea is to keep the swingarm and model it after many of the sportys found on the famous Bratstyle site from Japan. Not a total Brat rip-off, but inspired by them. OK, it'll be a rip off, but either way I think it'll be a fun exercise, I'll learn some stuff along the way and at the end, hopefully have a reliable, unique bike that is fun to ride. The donor has been bought, and I'm $3800 in the hole already. That leaves me $1200 to play with, plus whatever I can get for some of the take off parts (not too much other than the narrow glide that's already been traded off.) That chunk of the budget got me a legal, low mileage, well-maintained '98 with a recent 1200 kit on it. I put about 100 miles on it before tear down and it only has one oil leak and runs great, so mechanically it should be sound. Cosmetically, well, put it this way, it had a bell hanging from it that said "Lady Rider"...

Tidy little Brats.

The other bike I picked up is a rider just as it is, but I've got plans for it too. It's not worth doing a full resto on it since it's a G model, but it's old and therefore interesting to me, and I've never owned a side-valve-powered bike before. I'm also not old and grumpy enough yet to be interested in restoring anything. I'm not going to alter any of the original pieces on it, but some of the repop stuff is going to get replaced by my version of what would be on a period bobber of sorts. I hate that word, but it is what it is. Some of the parts on this thing are probably worth more individually than the whole package together right now, but I like it anyway. I probably won't do much to this one except ride it, until the El Cheapo is back together.