Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Bike

After 87 days of searching CraigsList almost daily, I found the bike.  Actually, my boss found it, which doesn't surprise me much since he's a CL ninja.  A 1990 Suzuki DR350S with a clear Colorado title and a bad engine.  Several phone calls with the owner later, my wife and I drive to Salida to check it out.  We got the price down to $300 from $400 and drove home with Mad Max's non-running battle bike.
On paper, this bike hits all my main criteria and even checks off almost all bonus criteria.  In fact, the only thing this moto doesn't have are USD forks, but not many did for this vintage of dirt bike, so there's no points lost there.  The 6-speed transmission, rear disk brake, and wiring for turn signals, headlight and brake light (S-model of the DR350) were huge perks.  The bike also came with a Clymer manual, all original tools, spare tubes (F & R), and spare rear tire.

The dented tank, scratched plastics, worn seat, tired fork, and 4-bolt front hub won't survive this project, so their wear doesn't bother me.

The damage to the piston and cylinder is significant and apparent.  My plan is to have the cylinder bored from 79mm to 83mm to make it a 385cc bike.

The previous owner had disassembled the engine and did a pretty good job of bagging and tagging everything.  He used a cool trick for the bolts that I have never seen before.  I'm not sure I would have purchased this moto in the condition it is in if all the parts came in a shoebox.

One thing I didn't notice until I got into the garage and under some decent light was the significant scoring on the cam journals.  I noticed the rockers were seriously worn, but figured I would just replace those.  I did not realize I would need a whole new head too.  [insert frowny face here]  My guess is that this engine was starved of oil.  I only hope this was a user error and not an oil-feed problem that resurfaces after I replaced everything.

CRF disapproves of DR and is not afraid to show it.  CRF... behave.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

About Tiny War Machine

Bikes.  I love 'em.  My two-wheeled mistresses occupy a lot of my time, and my patient, loving wife will attest to that.  Over the years, I have watched many of the best riders I know alternate between pedal power and horsepower to stay fit and hone-in skills.  This year, I broke my own no-moto policy, earned my M-endorsement, and acquired a 2005 CRF450X from my good friend Ryan.  I have only one real trail ride on that moto as of today, but I am hooked; not so much with the single track that I lust for on a bike, but with wide, flowy dirt... roads.  The CRF, while a great bike, is a lot of moto for dirt road duty.  And it's also about the worst possible thing to commute on.  I want something more dirt road/fire road/back road/paved road/open road-centric.

That is where this project is headed; to build a dirt-oriented street-moto that is cheap, reliable, low maintenance, and fun.  It must have character and be something unique to me.  This is also my way of reentering into a project vehicle, which has traditionally worn an Audi or Jeep badge.  The benefit to this project as opposed to past projects is that the entire build should be less than the cost of a complete long-arm lift/coilover set and set of wheels and tires.

Project Goals:
  • Road-friendly - It will see about 50/50 pavement and dirt.  It needs to keep up with highway traffic (no more than 60mph).
  • Cheap - I hope to complete the entire project for less than $3,000.  Maintenance needs to follow the same trend.
  • Reliable - My parents live about 90 miles away.  If this moto can get me to and from their house without issue, I will have won.
  • Unique - It must have its own flavor.  I want to take pride in this moto and know it is my own.
  • Fun - Have fun with the build.  Have fun working on it.  Have fun riding it.
  • Completed within three years of purchasing the donor moto.  Sound like a long time?  Yes, but I am on a budget and will have to build when I have the spare money to do so.
I have been searching for a project moto for about three months now.  I have seen some great deals go by and have turned them down in fear that their high entry cost would consume too much of my starting cash.  XRs, XSs, TT/XTs, GSs, DRs, and CBs are all in my sights.  With a little patience, maybe I will have "that one" by mid-winter.

Main Criteria for a Donor Moto:
  • Titled
  • Single or dual cylinder
  • Four stroke
  • Air-cooled
  • 300-600cc
  • Steel tube frame
  • Large aftermarket following and parts availability
  • Not fast, but quick enough to keep up with traffic and get out of the way when necessary
  • Kick-start required
Bonus Criteria:
  • Disc brake in the rear
  • Mono-shock
  • Wide ratio transmission
  • Upside-down forks
  • Lack of electric-start and/or battery

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's coming...

Tiny War Machine is coming.  Sit tight.  Be patient.  I hope to start the project soon.