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Old 05-14-2015, 04:28 PM   #1
MayorOfBBQ OP
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I need A LOT of guidance on fork & front wheel swap 1971 Guzzi Ambo dirt road runner

first off let me say i hardly know what i am talking about

I have never swapped a fork on a motorcycle. I have only owned Guzzi's. I am well up on the guzzi stuff (which model have what sizes/specs). I know almost nothing about any other makes (besides my dad's road king which I rode for two years before I bought my first Guzzi). I never had dirtbikes as a kid, just a minibike with a 5hp Briggs & Stratton. I'm hoping some of you guys who know every bike under the sun can help me locate a good donor.

I am not a mechanic (well, I was a bicycle mechanic)

This thread will be filled with confusion and dumb questions, so if you are not a patient teacher, i will not make a good student to you.


WHY?
1. I am resurrecting (slowly) a barn find bike. I want to make a dirt road runner, some might say scrambler; I would call it a Forest Service Road or logging road bike for camping, fishing, daytrippin.. The bike will mostly run around town, up the BRP, and all over the web of dirtroads that run from my house to Eastern TN
2. I am going to raise the back end slightly with longer shocks 1-1.5" for added clearance, I figure a bigger wheel up front is the best way to get the front up
3. Im going to run chunky tires.. so I'll have to mod the front fender & supports anyway
4. im a beefy dude, 6'1 and 225.. this bike will be ridden on rough roads, loaded with camping gear and/or passenger, I want at least some minimal adjustment for preload... I am not savvy enough to care about a lot more adjustment


WHAT I GOT:
18" spoked, tube wheel with a single sided drum brake and what is regarded as a pretty crappy & hard to work on fork.
CURRENT FRONT WHEEL 100/90-18

WHAT I WANT:
*19" spoked front (a mag wheel is not a 100% dealbreaker)
*tubeless?
*disc brake (dual is better but even one would be better than what I got )
*hopefully longer/taller
*more travel
*upper & lower clamp included, I will have either my ambo stem machined to fit the clamps or vice versa (bike has a solid steel steering stem, so i think I can have it machined just about any way to make it work)
*fork, wheel, caliper(s), and disks all work together bolt-on or VERY MINIMAL need for machining spacers, etc beyond getting the guzzi stem in the clamps
*parts need to be plentiful, I'm hoping to score everything off ebay? There is no moto salvage yard or anything like that near me. Im hoping something japanese?

I don't want a big 21" dirtbike front wheel with a skinny tire
DOn't worry about the dash, bar clamps, ignition, headlight ears, etc.. I will figure that out depending on the fork

I thought a Vstrom 650 might be a good donor? I think it checks all my boxes except it's a mag wheel?

FIre away, I will clarify as I go, sure I missed a lot

oh yeah here is the bike!





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Old 05-14-2015, 07:34 PM   #2
OldDog
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I think the V or wee strom front end is probably the best solution actually. Bear in mind you want a plentiful fork as you'll want to get the right front springs etc to handle what is probably more front end weight than the V strom has. They're a popular machine so they should be fairly plentiful on places like ebay. Look for the complete front end including brakes etc. Your thoughts are correct about machining the steering stem if the V strom one doesn't at least come close to the specs you want. All you need do is work out the outer dimensions of the ambo's steering bearings then get onto a website like the all balls one which has the various bearings sizes in a chart.
Do the front end first to your satisfaction, then worry about the rear suspension units length etc. You will change the geometry of the bike with the taller front end. Bring the geometry back into a reasonable using the rear suspension generally works. The geometry is something to worry about another day though. I say that assuming you are going to lift the front up only a few or 4 inches in total.

That should get you started

Cheers

OD
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Old 05-14-2015, 10:02 PM   #3
mach1mustang351
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I agree with the above post. I would check the All Balls site and check your local auctions and salvage yards for a front end that would make the swap. I am excited to see what you do with this. I have had the same idea in the past, but I managed to talk myself out of it.
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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Thanks guys, good to know I'm on the right track..

3 vstrom questions

1. Is there a Suzuki spoke front wheel in 19" that will bolt on directly to a weestrom front end with little or no massaging?

2. I see the vstrom comes in a base and adventure model, is the upper clamp cross compatible? Looking at eBay seems I might end up with forks & upper clamp from two different sellers.

3. Also have the tube diameter & offset remained the same over many years?




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Old 05-15-2015, 10:36 AM   #5
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Oh yeah I am looking at 650 forks not 1000

Google says the 650 is 490# wet

The Ambo is supposedly around 520


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Old 05-15-2015, 11:06 AM   #6
Roadracer_Al
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I don't think there is an OEM spoked wheel that meets your criteria.

Personally, I'd look into an entire DR650 front end - wheel, brakes, forks, triples. They're stone-age simple, 10" of travel, are set up for 7/8" tubular handlbars, and and come with a decent-sized disk & spoked wheels. And they're cheap.

With a wholesale swap, you avoid dicking around with wheel spacers and the brakes work and mount as designed from the factory.

Plus, you can flog your takeoffs on eBay to fund the project.

As a bicycle mech, you are probably familiar with lacing rims.

Look on Amazon/eBay for a 19" rim, and contact Buchannon's for spokes and lace your own rim.

http://www.buchananspokes.com/

The next question is the steering stem: the two main things which matter are diameter & length.

It's possible to move the Guzzi stem to a different triple clamp, or have a custom steering stem machined. These are services I offer, and can walk you through the measurements required.

As mentioned, All Balls has "conversion bearings". I think your conversion will be sufficiently weird that they won't have a packaged solution for you.

http://www.allballsracing.com/

If you want to save a few bucks, you can order the bearings by specifying type, outside diameter, inside diameter & thickness on eBay or Amazon. Industrial bearings are cheap - MC bearings from a dealer are the same, but are marked up 200~500%!!!
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:20 AM   #7
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Thanks Al

Yes I can build wheels blindfolded. I had considered building a front wheel, but the costs for bicycle rims & spokes vs. motorcycle rims & spokes seems a wide chasm .. Seems like I'm gonna be in for $500+ or something just on the wheel going this route?

I thought about the DR front end... But is that amount of travel not overkill?

Will I have clearance for a wider tire than what is normally on a DR?

Seems like the front fender on a DR is mounted on the underside of the lower clamp.. So no fender mounts anywhere on the sliders?

And finally, with the weight difference won't I have to swap springs to firm up the DR fork for me+ the Ambo?

I'll try to get by MR Motorcycle today and take a closer look at the DR




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Old 05-15-2015, 08:01 PM   #8
PeterW
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There are DL spoked fronts, but just new on some variants of this years bike so there won't be any second hand ones for a few years.

My suggestion would be use the cast DL wheels for now and look for the spoked replacements later.

Pete
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Old 05-16-2015, 07:38 AM   #9
Oatmeal Bonewell
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Looking forward to this. I've been kicking the idea of a beefy suspension adventure loop around for years. I lean toward a dr/xr/klr donor for cheap, plentiful, and tons of aftermarket.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:01 AM   #10
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What he said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oatmeal Bonewell View Post
Looking forward to this. I've been kicking the idea of a beefy suspension adventure loop around for years. I lean toward a dr/xr/klr donor for cheap, plentiful, and tons of aftermarket.
What Al and Oatmeal said. DR /klr parts dirt cheap or even free, xr not too far above. Much easier and way cheaper to shorten a long travel fork than to do anything else . KLR style cut springs will raise spring rate also.

I think KLR's Ive ridden weigh as much as an Ambo anyhoo.

regards,Ed
will watch for progress , Dakar Guzzi replica ?
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:08 AM   #11
lesman
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Will a California/EV front end fit? Dual disks, some are tubeless(front is an 18"?)
Same gene pool. Downsides are it could be spendy for a complete setup and time consuming to obtain(BTW front tubeless California wheel on EBay with disks $300) Many other interpretations out there.
Converting spoked rims to tubeless is not hard, not expensive and not time consuming.
It's a 2-3 day process involving 4-5 hours depending on your analness.
DL and DL type frontends are plentiful.
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Old 05-16-2015, 09:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lesman View Post
Will a California/EV front end fit? Dual disks, some are tubeless(front is an 18"?)

Same gene pool. Downsides are it could be spendy for a complete setup and time consuming to obtain(BTW front tubeless California wheel on EBay with disks $300) Many other interpretations out there.

Converting spoked rims to tubeless is not hard, not expensive and not time consuming.

It's a 2-3 day process involving 4-5 hours depending on your analness.

DL and DL type frontends are plentiful.

I thought about that, but I'd still be a 18" at front and besides the Bassa and maybe the EV, those forks aren't adjustable or especially robust. Also, they are in the same family but enough diff between the tonti & loop stuff that it's gonna be a custom job either way! And Guzzi bits are deff not as available or cheap as Japanese stuff!


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Old 05-16-2015, 10:00 AM   #13
Roadracer_Al
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If you fit a wider rim, yes, a wider tire will fit, although you should probably spend some quality time with a tape measure to avoid surprises.

A low fender is easily added. You can hang one off of a commercial fork brace, or look at clamping to the fork leg using something like this:

http://secure.chassisshop.com/partlist/5792/

Fork travel can be shortened to whatever your desired length by adding spacers to the "top out bumper" inside the fork. You can stiffen springs by cutting them - if you're shortening them, that works hand-in-glove.
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Old 05-16-2015, 11:09 AM   #14
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are there any KTM forks/wheels I should be looking at? seems to be millions f/s on ebay but I know squat about KTM stuff
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Old 05-16-2015, 11:52 AM   #15
Roadracer_Al
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Most if not all KTM stuff will be cartridge forks, which are more complicated to disassemble, therefore, harder to shorten (as in, I'd send them to a specialist instead of DIY). On the upside, you'll absolutely get much better suspension performance.

I'd look for supermoto or 690 Duke stuff - both will already be shorter than the dirt models. Although I'm not sure if the Duke came with spoked wheels.

If you want dual disk brakes, the 950 or 990 are the go-to choice. There was a a low-production, now-rare 640 model with dual disks, but why bother.
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