Sold the bike... There was a crash... And she's back.

2008-2011 were tough years for me financially. I'm in the mortgage world, and we were hit the hardest in this depression on top of being blamed for the whole thing. I slowly sold off everything that wasn't bolted down during 2010. My income was about 1/3 what I needed to survive, and I sold every motorcycle I owned. The last one was the GS1100EZ.

I sold it to a kid Jeff and his dad. The bike was for the Jeff, he was like 19, and his dad was a big fan of the bike in it's day. I advertised it for $1950, and sold it to him for $1900. $50 off list price. He was very excited, and he understood how much I put into the bike. Selling the bike came with one condition, a promise only by gentlemen, sealed only with a handshake. That if he ever got tired of it, or was moving on, that he call or email me first. Like I would get the first right of refusal.

That was June 11, 2010. I only know because I took this picture of it as Jeff was on his way over to pick up the bike. I felt sick, and I talked with my friends about how uncomfortable the riding position was. Making the bike 4 inches longer only added to the horrible suspension and handling characteristics. The 190 rear looked cool, but made the turn-in difficult. The bike liked to go straight (like a good drag racer) I didn't ride the bike very much because it was so much to handle. I basically talked shit about it like it was an ex-girlfriend, and I wanted to make myself feel better about the breakup. FINE! I'm better without YOU!!! Bitch!

Then, just a couple days more than 2 months apart, August 14th, 2010, I get a call from the kid. He was in an accident on the bike. He pulled out on a green light and some 80 year old dude ran the red and hit him from the right side. He only hit the front wheel, but both Jeff and the bike hit the ground pretty hard. Luckily Jeff was Ok. Luckily old dude stopped. And luckily old dude had insurance. The insurance company totaled the bike, gave Jeff $2700 and let him keep the bike. He called me the day after he got his check and offered the bike back for $500. I didn't know what kind of damage was done, but I figured that for $500 I could part it out and make some money. I really didn't have the money to spend, I didn't have the money to fix it up if I bought it, and my patient wife didn't really like the idea of me buying another bike. But for some reason, this one just had to be done. It was destiny, right?

I met with Jeff a couple days later, we talked for a while. He used the money to buy a three wheeled scooter. OK. I offered him $400 for the bike and he took $450; a $50 discount. We had a laugh about that one.

Wrecked bike back with a totaled title.

It's easy to tell that the bike is only lightly damaged, and most of it is cosmetic.

Yup, I'm going to need a mirror.

Jeff told me the adjuster valued the exhaust at $750. I'm going to live with the scratch.

I'll need new ignition cover and some new stainless hex bolts.

Sure hope I can find a front fender.

Bummer about the bezel. Those are hard to find, and it's not a must have replacement part.

Master cylinder will have to go. It's cracked. I never liked the feel of it anyway. It was too small for the larger calipers I was using.

$25 - 2002 GSXR front brake master cylinder. eBay

$25 - 1150 front fender. eBay

$30 - R case cover and sticker. Bike Bandit.

$14 - 82 Nighthawk mirrors. eBay

So the bike has kind of sat around for the last 3 years. It's been sitting outside under a bike cover, under the eve of my house. It's been hard to just keep the battery charged I ride it so little. The main problem is that I bought this scooter. A 1986 Honda Elite Deluxe CH150D. It's so awful that I love a scooter, but it's so fun, practical and economical. 70mph and 70mpg. I really ride this thing year round 3-4 times a week. Sad but true. It's got the really cool flip up headlight... yea, so 1986 cool.

Along the way I found a Corbin seat for $60 used, and boy, it is used. I'll really have to sell it and buy a new one for $325 some day.

Other than that, the next biggest event that happened was a trip to PIR for the Saturday night drags August 17, 2013. This really piqued my interest back in the old GS. I did 10 passes down the 1/4 mile track and my best time was a 11.5 at 118mph. The magazine reviews in 1982 did a best of 11.4 seconds, so I figure I was pretty close to maxing her out. The stock motor is supposed to have 111 hp. That's probably at the crank and 100 is more believable. After that I started to look at how I was going to pump up the power.

I reworked the broken turn signal to work, pounded out the dent on the exhaust and for about $100 I've got the bike back on the road. I took the bike to the DMV and they changed the title to "Reconstructed". I know that's a tough brand to have on a title, but this thing is pretty unique, and really, it's a $500 bike.

It's just a $500 bike, right?

I was reading on the internets, and most of the advice said that you need to weld the crank or get an '83 crank, buy a billet clutch basket, etc. That was $1500 before you started adding power. A couple of guys suggested buying an '84-86 1150 engine instead as it already came with stronger parts and would be good for bumping the power up to 160hp. Plus it's 60 more CCs to start with and 124HP stock. The only problem is 1150 motors are quite sought after for drag racing, and they demand about $1500 when you can find one.

When I found an 1150 motor for $800 and they took $700 for it I knew I was on my way to more power. And the 1150 supposedly bolts right in. The only fitment issue was the counter sprocket cover that wouldn't clear one of the frame elements. I debated on whether I should steal the cover off the 1100 motor or modify the 1150 cover. But since I was selling the 1100, it really needed the polished cover to go with it.



With this whole makeover I decided to do something about my instrument cluster. I hacked into it to correct it for my 17" front wheel, and never liked the 85 mph stop on the clock. Plus it got damaged when Jeff got hit on it. I saw another internet guy used Bandit 400 clocks and I really liked the look so I went for it. Found some on eBay and in 5 days they were mine. I basically welded the old 1100 frame points to the Bandit mounting bracket to make it work. There were some spider skeletons floating around in there and the backlight bulbs were all blown. so while I had them apart I took the liberty to set the odometer back to 30. I figure it's an arbitrary count anyway, so why not go back to the genesis?

Next came the Dynatech 2000 ignition system with it's full compliment of new plug wires and 2.2 Ohm coils.

Removing the airbox opened up all sorts of space under the seat, so I took the liberty to raise the battery box 3.625 inches so it will be hidden by the side covers now. I know that I want the battery low for CG concerns, but this is one battle where form wins over function. It's just a tiny bit cleaner not seeing that battery.

I fabricated a simple mounting bracket for the Dyna 2000 and buttoned up all the wiring.

The motor is mounted, the same exhaust is attached, but the bike is missing some critical components to go down the road. Mainly the contraptions that mix air and fuel.

Next issue was finding an oil cooler for the motor. I looked at 1150 coolers and they were fetching high dollars at $200+. When I was searching eBay, I found tons of other oil coolers for way cheaper. And they were bigger too. I finally decided on a 1995 GSX600 Katana oil cooler for $29. It came with the lines and I was going to see if I could make them work instead of spending $200 on custom lines. The problem is the GSX has 16mm banjo fittings and the GS1150 has 14mm cooler ports. I searched hours for an adapter of some sort, then one night I had an idea to just make my own. If I bought some 14mm bolts, bored them out, then welded them to 16mm nuts, I could make my own adapters. I wasn't sure if my little mini lathe could handle it, but would you believe it, it worked. Like a charm.

I took my time, and ended up mounting the oil cooler no less than 3 times before I was happy with it. It was too close to the exhaust once, then too close to the front wheel. The adapters I made ended up being too long. They bottomed out in the oil ports on the motor. It was during that oil drain/modification that I successfully spilled 4 qts of brand new oil all over my garage floor.

I had some old header wrap that's been kicking around in the garage for 10 years, and I decided to employ it. First, I think it will thermodynamically help with the cooler lines passing so close to the headers. Second, I severely blued the brand new headers 9 years ago when I first installed them with a lean bike. Third, I think header wraps are the current MC fad, and they look cool. This pic was my 2nd attempt at mounting the oil cooler, but it would collide with the front fender with the forks fully retracted.

I was on a serious prowl for a set of either Mikuni RS36 or RS38 carbs on eBay. I was outbid on 3 different sets before Larry Cook decided to let me have a set of untested carbs from his shelf. They are the RS38 carbs, which according to the Mikuni guide will handle the bike stock with exhaust and pods, as well as with head porting, cams, and a big bore down the road.

I clean up the oil spill, mount the carbs, figure out my throttle cables, and mount the fuel tank so I can see if this thing will run. It takes quite a bit of coercing, but she finally takes an idle and runs. Not without a ton of smoke from my oil spill and from the header wrap breaking in. There was a lot of smoke.

This picture just shows the browning header wrap and the final location of the oil cooler. Hopefully I'll have room to mount at least one of my horns. I used the horn mounting holes for the oil cooler.

Another upgrade that I've wanted to do for a long time was use modern Suzuki hand controls. My GS turn signal switch has been broken since I got the bike, and they were faded, old and ugly. I found a set of 2003 GSXR750 controls for $35 and bought them.

So now I'm updating the gauges, the controls, and I decided to upgrade the wiring harness while I was in up to my armpits. The GS has some funky and complex wiring, and has a few weaknesses. I have removed many of the safety features on the bike like the kickstand interrupt, and the clutch safety. I've also removed all the check panel lights. This opened up the idea of just removing all the excess wires in the harness that carry all this redundant information for the bike.

I removed the TSCU (turn signal control unit) which enables the auto cancel; which never worked for me. I also removed the CPCU (check panel control unit) because I removed the check panel when I installed the Bandit clocks.

I don't find it necessary to have an idiot light to tell me if the brake light is working. Same with the headlight; that idiot light has been intermittently telling me the headlight is burnt out when it obviously is fine. All gone now.

All at the same time I decided to use this awesome little device called the SSPB (Solid State Power Box). It takes the place of the fuse box, it has 5 built in relays, cleans up power to the ignition system, provides the bike with sophisticated fault protection. It was also designed by a GS enthusiast that worked for the Military's Skunk Works division. This thing is no joke, and a hidden gem on the bike. While I'm at it, I'm also installing a Series R/R (regulator rectifier) that should correct another big flaw with the charging system.

Phase II summary:

  1. 1984 GS1150 motor.

  2. 1995 GSX600 Katana oil cooler.

  3. Mikuni RS38 Race carbs.

  4. K&N pod air filters.

  5. 1992 GSF400 Bandit gauges.

  6. 2003 GSXR750 handlebar controls.

  7. Dyna 2000 ignition system with wires and coils.

  8. SSPB Solid State Power Box.

  9. Series Regulator Rectifier.

Phase III projected plan:

  1. Geometry analysis and modification.

  2. Aftermarket rear shocks.

  3. Upgraded/modified fork internals.

  4. Custom head porting.

  5. Web .340 cams.

  6. 1229 cc Big Bore.

It might be another 9 years before Phase 3 hits the bike. Until then, I'm going to see if I can beat that 11.5 second 118 MPH quarter mile run I did August 2013.


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