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Showing posts from 2013

Riding helps me feel happier

Not sure about you, but riding my Honda CM200 Twinstar Cafe Racer brings me so much joy. There are days when I just feel so down and no matter the amount of caffeine or energy drinks I have, I'm still down. The best solution I have for that has been to ride my motorcycle.

I love the feeling of the air on my face, the roar of the motor when I'm accelerating and the freedom I feel when I'm on the open road. Just about everything regarding riding my motorcycle makes me happy.

Is a 200cc motor big enough?

It all depends on how you look at it. In terms of power and speed, no the Honda CM200 Twinstar is slow. It's not all that quick and if you try to get on the freeway with it, the experience can be terrifying. However, if you're doing city riding like I do, then it's perfect!

200cc is plenty enough to keep up with the flow of traffic and it allows you the extra power to over pass a car when needed. Like I said, it's fine for city riding where you rarely go over 60mph. I typically use mine to run small errands like going to the bank, store or meeting people for lunch or Starbucks.

Don't get me wrong, this little motorcycle has the capability to go for miles and miles. In one day I rode over 150 miles from Orange County to LA County...twice! I started off in Fullerton, rode to Orange (my old office), then went to El Monte. Then had to ride back to Orange, then to Santa Ana and from there, rode back up to El Monte. I finished my day off by riding back to Fullerton.

I di…

Kawasaki Ninja 250R vs Honda CBR250R

Check out this video of the Kawasaki Ninja 250R vs the Honda CBR250R. Both small displacement bikes.

Big tire, Big Problem

Just recently my Vintage Motorcycle, the 1981 Honda CM200 Twinstar Cafe Racer needed a new rear tire. I purchased the bike over a year ago and nearing 5000 miles since acquired, it was time to replace the rear tire. I had searched and searched for a replacement, but no one seemed to carry the old tire that was mounted, a Kenda Kruiser 16". After checking out some forums and Yahoo Groups, someone recommended the IRC GS11 Rear Motorcycle Tire 4.60-16 XF87-5376. 

 After my buddy Loren installed the new tire, I mounted the wheel with the new IRC wrapped around it. First glance, it looks awesome! Not only is it wider, but the treat pattern is more aggressive than the Kenda Kruiser. But as soon as I sat on the bike, the new tire was hitting the cafe race seat mounts that I made. Uh oh...I rolled the bike around in my garage to see if there was any other spots it was hitting. Well..sure enough it was hitting the base of the cafe seat. Basically the tire was traveling beyond the frame an…

My Woohoo moments.

I don't know about you, but every single time I ride, I am hootin' and hollerin' as I'm motoring down the road. I simply love how my motorcycle makes me feel when I get on it.
There's nothing else in the world that I feel is so exhilarating. Well actually, what comes pretty close is when I'm riding my mountain bike and I'm hitting some fun, flowy single track and it gets me into a zone where I feel so connected to the bike and the trail.

One of my favorite things that produces a woohoo is right when I launch from a red light and I'm ahead of the traffic. I also love changing lanes and over passing cars. It's a bit of a task with the Cm200, but it's still fun when I do.

The Moe of Gives a nod to the Cafe Racer

One of my long time friends, The Moe, who happens to run TheBikeGeek.Net has always had Harley Davidson motorcycles. They are beautiful machines and the one he has now is a Heritage. Not only is that a pretty motorcycle, but wow, it rides like a dream!

The other night The Moe stopped by and was eager to see the newly converted Honda CM200. He had ridden the bike before but I think the last time was about a year ago, right around the time when I first got it.

Upon arrival, he was excited to say how much he loved the way it looks. I gave him a tour of the things I've to it and all the parts I changed out and etc. I told him to grab a helmet and go out for a ride, he gladly obliged.

One thing he was surprised with was how small the Honda CM200 is. It really is a tiny bike in comparison to any Harley Davidsons out there. I think it's even smaller than a Honda Rebel. So off he went into the dark and comes back some time later with a huge smile across his face. First thing out of h…

Cafe Racer Seat may look cool, but it's a pain in the butt!

As much as I love my new Cafe Racer Seat, I can't stand how uncomfortable it is! The upholstery shop put in some sort of foam padding that really doesn't do anything other than fill up the void. I tried to put up with it for the sake of it looking good. But I found that my butt and the rest of my body was beat up after 20 miles of riding.

So here's what I did, I went to Harbor Freight and got a pack of these anti- fatigue foam floor mats. It was on sale for $9.99.
Then I took out the old foam from my cafe racer seat and traced the shape onto the anti-fatigue foam. I had to cut out two pieces since the gray foam is only 1/2" and the cafe racer seat foam was 1"
 After cutting it, I stuffed it all back into the upholstery to test it out. WOW! What a world of a difference! My butt doesn't get that stinging feeling when sitting down on my cafe racer seat.  The new foam takes up a the void in the upholstery. It's funny how stiff it looks. However, my butt assu…

Want to increase the value of your old motorcycle?

Let's say you have an older motorcycle that dates as far back as mid 70's through early 80's. You want to sell it but you're finding the resale value is pretty low. Kelly Blue Book does allow you to find your motorcycle's value, but I never felt that those were accurate.

If you want to increase your motorcycle's resale value, then listen to what has worked for me. My 1981 Honda CM200 Twinstar was purchased for several hundred dollars. The original Craigslist ad showed she was asking close to $1000. But when I arrived, I rode the bike, saw all the imperfections and offered her (the seller) what the KBB value for that model. She was shocked that I had offered so low because she had put in so much into the bike that she was basically losing money on it. She reluctantly decided to take my offer and off I went.

So the KBB value of the CM200 was $740 at the time. I gave her $760 because she didn't have change. Now the thought was to flip the motorcycle and see if…

How did I get into this hot mess?

If I think about it, this has to be one of the most fun messes I've gotten myself involved with. I'm speaking of motorcycles. Technically, just one motorcycle. Unlike most people who are into motorcycles that grew up with them, I really didn't. As a kid in the Philippines, I had learned that at one point my uncle was professional motocross racer and I have memories of him taking me around on this dirt bike and I even recall his Super Bike style race bike.
That was the extent of being exposed to motorcycles. My brother and I grew up always wanting motorcycles and we used to put cans between the fork and front tire of our BMX bikes to mimic the sound of a dirt bike.

Then in high school, I got this itch to buy a moped. It was a 1977 Puch Maxi, a blue one with 49cc. I recall paying around $150 back in 1993. I loved that thing, but I recall it always breaking down. I sold the Puch and got a Free Spirit moped, same thing, it broke down all the time. But from working on it, I le…

Project is complete...for now. 1981 Honda CM200 Twinstar Cafe Racer

After a month and a half of working and waiting (for parts), I have finally completed my cafe racer.

About a year ago, it started off as this.
To this...

Here's the list of things I did.
1. Clubman bars-$40
2. Mini turn signals-$4.00 Ebay Hong Kong seller, took 3 weeks to arrive.
3. Mini tail light-$11.00 Ebay China seller, 2 weeks to arrive.
4. Custom aluminum tail light mount-$1.00 scrap metal, friend fabricated it for me for free.
5. Cafe Racer Seat $150
6. 2 Cans of Rustoleum black spray paint, $7.00
7. 1 can of Rustoleum primer, $3.57
8. Base board for seat-$13
9. Screws, bolts and clamps-$11

Total cost for the conversion-$240.57

Not bad considering the place where I bought the seat from wanted to charge me $100 just to install it. If I had done that, It would have placed me well over $250 and that didn't even include all the other parts I needed.

This project has been a dream come true for me. Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted a motorcycle. But I wanted some…

Tools I recommend when you're converting to a Cafe Racer

There's a few items that I've had to use over and over again during my cafe racer conversion of the Honda CM200. The first and probably the most important would be a power drill. I've had to use this thing for just about every aspect of the project. The next tool is a hacksaw. If you don't have a bandsaw and all you got is elbow grease, then this is your next best choice.

But the one tool that I certainly have grown fond of would be the Titanium Nitride Coated High Speed Steel Step Drill Bit that I've used to make holes on steel plates or make the smaller ones larger on the license plate mount that I have. They look like this. I ended up buying the smaller one to the right. I paid just about $6 for it at Harbor Freight. I tell you, there's nothing like using this drill bit, it cuts through metal like nothing else!

Custom made tail light mount for the Honda CM200 Cafe Racer

My cafe racer project is going smoothly. The only thing I've had to wait for are my new tail lights and turn signals. Once I received the tail light, I had to figure out how to mount it. I decided to solicit my friend Nick's expertise since he's a fabricator.

He took some aluminum, did some measuring.
He then marked the plate on where he's going to drill and make cuts. Getting an idea on the positioning of the plate and tail light.
Then it's time to weld.  Here's the finished product mounted. Looks pretty good! Big thanks to Nick! Now if my turn signals would just come in so I can finish up this bike! 

Honda CM200 Cafe Racer Project: Mounting the seat

One of the challenges of converting any bike is figuring out how to mount the cafe seat you just bought.

Dime City Cycles of Florida actually sells a HDPE marine grade board for about $75 to help you mount a cafe seat to a frame. Problem with that was it was too wide for what I needed. Their kit was meant for a bigger bike like a CB750.

But their kit did give me a great idea on how I can install my new seat. Here's what I did.

Went to Lowes Home Improvement and found one of these. It's composite wood used for wood decks. It was on sale for $13 for a 5"x8' piece. You can use any wood working tools to cut it down. I actually ended up using a hacksaw for most of the cutting I needed.
I took some cardboard, did some measuring and I figured out the approximate size I needed to cut down the board to.
I had to make sure I cleared the tank mount by cutting out a section of the board. The cuts are pretty crude, that's because I used a hacksaw. I eventually bought a power t…

Cafe Racer Update:Honda CM200 Twinstar

I found that it's pretty rare to see Honda CM200 Twinstar motorcycles converted into a cafe racer. In fact when I was trying to determine the size and type of seat I wanted, I couldn't really find any info on it. I even contacted a few shops and they said that they didn't have a specific cafe racer seat for my motorcycle.

It wasn't until I contacted Justin Cycles of La Habra, a local vintage motorcycle shop about a seat where I ended up meeting one of their mechanics who has a CM200 that he converted into a cafe racer. We chatted for a bit and he even let me sit on his CM200 to get a feel on how the bike would be like with a new seat.

Fast forward a couple months later, what you see is my seat mounted. I'll be providing more of an in-depth article on how I actually did it.

The shop was going to charge me $100 to install the seat for me. At the time, I figured it was a great idea and since they know what they're doing, things should go smoothly. But my budget g…

Epsom Salt+Distilled Water=LIVE BATTERY!

You may have seen in a previous post, my battery died. I was pretty bummed out about it and was dreading the thought of having to buy a new motorcycle battery. I think I paid well over $40 for the one I have and at this time, I just didn't have the extra funds.

So I did some scooby dooing and found that people had been using a solution made with epsom salt and distilled water to rejuvenate their dead batteries.

On Friday my battery was hovering around 4volts. After riding around for over an hour (kick start), it barely charged to 5volts. That's when I decided to try and do the Epsom Salt solution. Mind you, my attempts to recharge my battery was fruitless. It would only get as high as 6volts.

I had some Epsom Salt in our bathroom. Then I ran over to the grocery store to get some distilled water for $0.89.

  I poured some Epsom Salt and distilled water into a squirt bottle. I waited until the salt was fully dissolved.
 Then I poured the solution into the battery, but making su…

Dead batteries suck!

Well I stupid me made the mistake of leaving one of my auxiliary lights on over night which drained the battery. I've left the battery on the charger for over 8 hours and from the way it looks, it might be dead...dead as in dead.

Lucky for me, the Honda CM200 has a built in kick starter. But what sucks is that I may have to buy a new battery...

My 1981 Honda CM200 Twinstar

Here's my personal motorcycle. It's an 81 Honda CM200. Got it off Craigslist and it needed some major work.
The speedometer wasn't working, it needed a new clutch, brake and clutch levers. It also needed a front brake shoes. Oh the grips were in bad shape and the spark plugs were the wrong size, so when I took them out, they were damaged. I was afraid that the piston would have some ill effects from it. But so far so good.

I got into this bike after I sold my 07 Honda Elite 80. I figured this was the next step up from a scooter, right? One thing you have to know about my scooter, it was in PRISTINE condition. So after I sold it, I bought the CM200. Once I got it home I showed my wife. By that time it had been through a 30 mile ride from the place I bought from and back to my home. My wife comes out and sees this "old" bike and the first thing she says was, "What the heck did you buy? I didn't expect you to get a fixer upper..." Right when she said t…

Work on your own motorcycle

One of my favorite things to do is work with my hands. I find a level of satisfaction knowing that I fixed some thing or I could do the job my self rather than paying a shop to do so. I once worked at a bicycle shop and they would charge $6 for a tube and another $10 to install per wheel! It drove me crazy because I felt like the shop was taking advantage of mechanically-declined folks. Then again, the shop does need to make money. Now that I have my Honda CM200, I have yet to take it to a shop to get any work done. Well, that's only because I have a Clymer Manual and that thing can show you how to do pretty much everything you can think of. Plus, the Honda CM 200 is a pretty easy bike to maintain. An oil change literally takes minutes, when I changed the clutch, that was no more than half an hour. The brakes were done within 45 minutes and the rest is fairly simple.

However, I do have a confession to make. I did solicit a shop for a cafe racer seat. I'm having one custom up…