Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
welp... been meaning to put together a thread here for a while now. Started this build last summer. Did most of the biggest changes over the course of that summer. Now I'm in the process of lowering the rear-end, relocating the battery and dropping the seat.

This is was "new" 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic (VN800B) in stock form. This is big ole swoopy thing is what I got for my for hard earned $2,000. The Miami-Dolphins-Teal burned this Bostonian's eyes, but it was mechanically sound, which was really what I was looking for - since it wasn't going to look this way for long.





First night home, and Avery can't believe the saddlebags, front fender, and backrest are already gone!





This photo was from shortly after I got it. Gandparents took the rug-rats for the weekend, so me and Mrs.Six rode to the movies (Prometheus - it was meh). She's on a 1985 Rebel 250, bobbed, with a solo seat, swing-arm mounted rear-fender, drag bars, and a ratty, satin-black, rattle-canned tank.






All the tins stripped off, ready for a trim.





That big front fender wasn't going to get thrown out though, as I decided to repurpose it as a bobbed rear fender.

Made a cardboard template so both sides would match. Traced the line w/ sharpie and then cut it w/ a Dremel.






For the front attachment point, I bent a piece of house-framing-strapping around the swing-arm pivot - works just fine to hold the very light rear fender.






Shaped, sanded, and almost ready for 'paint'.






Couldn't be happier with the new silhouette.






PlastiDip is a spray-on, rubberized coating. It sticks to just about anything, and is super durable once fully dry. I love the stuff! Only takes a couple coats, goes on evenly, and if you mess up, you can just peel it off and start over!






I PlastiDip'd the rear fender, tank, and headlight bucket. It looked good, but I decided all matte-black was a little... boring. To make it a little more interesting, I taped off a tear-drop, and put a few coats of high-gloss krylon. I like how the black-on-black two-tone look came out.






Next up was making the mounting brackets for an old boot-leather seat I found on Craigslist. Home Depot has aluminum stock for cheap... 6 bucks for a 4-foot length of this 1.5" wide stuff.






Solo-seat sprung and mounted.

(Can also see the matte/gloss line pretty clearly in this light too)






Next up was the handle-bars. I replaced the stock bars with 10" mini-apes from Santee (only $35!!). They come pre-drilled for internal wiring.

Making extensions for, and snaking through, nine wires on the left side and five on the right was a huge pain in the ass... but worth it in the end.






Bars mounted - much, much cleaner w/ the internal wiring.

Also, more importantly, a MUCH more comfortable riding position. Think about where you rest your hand on the steering wheel when you drive - the top right? This is pretty much that exact posture, times two hands.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
... continued ...



Pesky law enforcement. Wanting to have a license plate. Psh. ;)

On a stock Vulcan, the plate mounts on the rear fender. That wasn't happening on mine, so I just bent up a piece of aluminum and bolted it on where the chain-guard used to live. A $3.99 LED plate light from ebay makes it street-legal[ish].






Next thing I wanted to do was black-out the pipes. I'd seen a few bikes w/ wrapped exhaust and it really gives a nice old-school look I think. I found 50' of black, fiberglass header-wrap for $25 off ebay. Used probably around 40' of it?

Internet says to wear gloves and soak the stuff before putting it on. Another tip was to start at the end and work your way towards the motor... so the overlaps point away from the wind. So that's what I did.




With the pipes wrapped and air-filter cover blacked out. Only thing left to do is the front end!





First step was to put in progressive-rate springs and lower it a touch. Turns out it was super easy to swap springs. Just pop the top off each fork-tube, pull the old spring out, and put the new one in!





Original spring side-by-side with the progressive rate spring. The new springs come with a spacer that you cut to your desired height. I cut it to ride an inch and a half lower than stock.





Regular floor-jack works fine to get the front wheel off the ground - just lift the frame on the opposite side of the kick-stand, et viola!






In addition to lowering the front, I also wanted to black it out. Lower forks, triple-tree, and risers all drying after PlastiDip application.





Progress as of Fall 2012:










Someday kid, someday.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Spring 2013, time to get back into it!


Next up was to lower the rear. I found a Cobra lowering kit, which is just a replacement lower clevis bracket for the mono shock. A 1/2" or so drop in this connection point is supposed to equate to a 1.5" drop over all. My helper holds the new piece next to the old:





Using spring-compressors intended for a car (borrowed from AutoZone), was a bit of pain in the ass, but... finally got them compressed enough to get the adjustable on the lock-nut below the clevis:






With the rear dropped (don't have great before/after pictures, sorry), it was time to get the seat lowered too. It's about as low as it could go in stock form because this crossmember and the battery are in the way. Obviously wasn't going to let that stop progress.

Cross-member removed:






Battery relocated to the cavity where where the tool-pouch/manuals used to live:





Picked up this 1.5" angle (aluminum) at HD for pretty cheap... Two vertical pieces bolt into the brackets for the old plastic tub, and then one horizontal piece makes the shelf for the battery to sit on:





Battery is held in place by two 7" screw-type vent clamps. First bolt the clamps to the shelf, then tighten it all up:









Dremel off the little bottom part on the right-side cover, and viola! Fits over the battery like a glove!






Supposed to be rainy this weekend... hopefully I'll have time to get the pipes back on and wire it all back together :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
927 Posts
two great lookin bikes
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Finally got her back on the road again, so time for a little update :)

Wanted to add a vintage "Ford Model A" brake-light, but with the swingarm bag on the left, I decided to mount it on the right, above the pipes. To do that I just had to make a little bracket to mount on the axle-bolt:





Of course "no plan survives contact with the enemy"; it wouldn't tilt forward enough, as the round part of the swingarm blocked it's rotation:




After some hot angle-grinder action, I got it to the right angle:






So here she is mid-summer 2014. Seat-support removed, battery relocated, solo-seat lowered, 'Model A' brake-light attached, single Arlen Ness mini-oval mirror, rear-end lowered around two inches, and front-end dropped close to three.



Not sure what's next - probably figure out a replacement for the BCB seat-support.. the one I have hacked up now is doing the job, but fugly. (Probably going to get a real battery-pan there too, to replace the shelf)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Looks great! Thanks for the post. I'm starting on my Bob project this winter (NC). I currently ride a 96 800A. I'm not going with the traditional blacked out look though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Got the tank mounted and plumbed in!

First, I had to remove all the stuff that lives under the stock tank: air-intake resonator, coolant cap/thermostat, and a bunch of mounting brackets.

To move the fill-cap/thermostat, I first reversed this Y connector so it points down/forward instead of up.



Then I just cut the larger guage hoses to length. There's some flexibility in the hose, so I can fill it to fully submerge the thermostat mechanism inside.



With the coolant system done, the last thing to do was to remove all the mounting brackets. I used the dremel for cutting and then angle-grinder to get them flush. (When I was done with each bracket, while the metal was still warm, I gave it a quick coat of rustoleum black - to keep the rust away)




Tank painted and mounted! (I used 2 coats of glossy black rustoleum, 3 coats of clear, then taped off the sides and Plastidipped the center - I wanted the same two-tone black-on-black look I had with the stock tank.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Little update... I found a good deal on 10" Narrow Bourbon Apes from Legacy Cycle Parts. 28" wide, 6" center width and 3" of pullback. Think it fits the lines a lot better. Unexpectedly it also feels a lot more sporty/less cruisery riding with these









A friend saw this car around town and shared the photo. I love the vibe and the stance. One thing that caught my attention was the way the headlights were slung low. It got me thinking what I might do to get some of that look using stock hardware.



I realized I could modify the stock headlight bracket to get about an inch and a half lower and about an inch closer to the fork. I started by hanging the light lower on the bracket:



Then I slid the bracket back about an inch closer to the triple tree. This lets the front of the light rest on the triple tree.


Not apples-to-apples pictures, but ... it gives you a little idea of the before and after. I think this is all I can get out of the stock headlight. It's definitely a subtle change, but I definitely like the improvement.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top